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The Go Point : When It's Time to Decide—Knowing What to Do and When to Do It

Michael Useem

Retail Price: $25.00
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Format: Hardcover, 272pp.
ISBN: 9781400082988
Publisher: Crown Business
Pub. Date: October 3, 2006

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

The Go Point—the moment of truth when you have to say “yes” or “no” when it’s time to get off the fence.

Michael Useem—through dramatic storytelling—shows how to master the art and science of being decisive. He places you smack in the middle of people facing their go point, where actions—or lack of them—determined the fates of individuals, companies, and countries.
  • Why on earth did Robert E. Lee send General George Pickett on an almost suicidal charge against the Union lines at Gettysburg?
  • How does the leader of a firefighting crew make life-or-death decisions, directing his people—with little information about weather patterns to guide him—to go up or down the mountain? One direction means safety, the other danger.
  • You’ve just assumed responsibility for a scandal-wracked corporation, a company teetering on the brink of disaster. What you decide over the course of the next several days will have consequences for thousands of employees and investors. How do you fulfill your responsibilities?
Michael Useem makes you feel as if “you are there,” right in the center of the action. He was there: tramping up and down the mountain where firefighters made their momentous decisions; walking the battlefield at Gettysburg to see for himself just what General Pickett faced before making his ill-fated charge; going into a trading pit where million-dollar buy-and-sell decisions are made that affect fortunes of both the firm and the person making the call.

You’ll discover why some decisions were flawless, perfectly on target, and others utterly disastrous. Most of all, you’ll learn how to make the right calls yourself, whether you’re changing your career, hiring an assistant, launching a product, or deciding on a potential acquisition or merger.

Smartly written and offering unusual insights into the minds of decision makers such as General Lee, The Go Point will provide the guidance for you to move with confidence when it’s your turn to get off the fence.


“Great decisions are the hallmark of a successful executive. In The Go Point, Michael Useem provides invaluable insight into how to make the critical call.”
—Larry Bossidy, retired chairman and CEO of Honeywell International and coauthor of Execution and Confronting Reality

“The Go Point is a tour de force of a tour through battlefields and boardrooms, illuminating the differences between brilliant and tragic decisions. Michael Useem is a wise, witty, and understanding guide whose insights can dramatically improve leadership and decision-making skills. Go for it!”
—Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, bestselling author of Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin and End

“Michael Useem . . . spells out in plain English the consequences of making hard and fast decisions, when they matter most and impact teams of people. There are plenty of books on leadership, but few that explain how to take a team from one place to the next. This one is the best.”
—Maria Bartiromo, journalist and CNBC anchor

“This exciting book is a valuable guide to effective decision making. The Go Point’s great strength is to put the reader inside the heads of fascinating, often heroic people as they seek to ‘get it right,’ under pressure and with incomplete information.”
—Steven Kerr, managing director and chief learning officer, Goldman Sachs & Co.

“In The Go Point, Michael Useem identifies the essence of what it takes to prepare for moments of decision. He draws from an array of compelling accounts to help us appreciate what is essential for decisive decision making when it really counts.”
—Peter M. Dawkins, vice chairman, Citigroup Global Wealth Management, U.S. Army Brigadier General (Ret.)

“How does any leader know what to do and when to do it? Here Michael Useem, one of America’s foremost thinkers about leadership, unravels that mystery in a fast-paced, well-written, and unforgettable book. Highly recommended for everyone with courage for the arena!”
—David Gergen, professor of public service, director, Center for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

“In his latest book, Michael Useem walks you up close to your moment of decision, and, with examples from some of the most pivotal go points in human endeavor, shows you how to master it. This is by far the most practical book on decision making I have ever read.”
—Marcus Buckingham, author of First, Break All the Rules; Now, Discover Your Strengths; and The One Thing You Need to Know

readers index
Reader's Index 
Send us your favorite quotes or passages from this book.

• "Ultimately, every decision comes down to a go point—that decisive moment when the essential information has been gathered, the pros and cons are weighed, and the time has come to get off the fence. The go point is not always a matter of 'getting to yes.'' Rather, the go point is that instant when the choice gets made, whether no or yes, and the commitment moves from consideration to action. How you jump at the moment can make a vast difference, not only for yourself but also for all around you." Pg. 19

About the Author

Michael Useem, the author of The Leadership Moment, is the William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, as well as the director of its Center for Leadership and Change Management. Professor Useem takes his students to the ends of the world—the Antarctic, the Andes, and the Himalayas—to learn about their personal and professional go points. Professor Useem earned his doctorate at Harvard University and has published widely, including in the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Fast Company. He is also the editor of the Wharton Leadership Digest and lives in Marion Station, Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents

Deciding with Consequences for Others
1In the Heat of the Moment33
2Getting Into the Decision Game65
3Using the Net93
4Seeing Ahead117
5Making Decisions144
6Transcending Personal Profit182
7Unforced Errors207

Photo, Art, Case, and Simulation Credits261

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