Book review: The Power of Small

Emma de Vita reviews the new book by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

Off the shelf
Off the shelf

Big isn't always best. Sometimes, it's the little gestures that mean the most - or so argue Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval in The Power of Small, their follow-up to The Power of Nice. Whether it's in our personal lives, our careers or the way we manage colleagues, it's about sweating the small stuff without taking your eye off the bigger picture.

What does this philosophy mean in practice to a charity manager? It means taking notice of the way you treat the people who work for you. It's about taking the time to be polite, to give praise when it is due and to make yourself available to listen.

Small changes can cumulatively lead to dramatic improvements in performance. This is the theory that Dave Brailsford, the brains behind the British Olympic cycling team, called "the aggregation of marginal gains" - and look what they managed to achieve ...

It's also about starting small and working yourself up to bigger things as you gain in confidence. You want to improve team morale? Start with a small gesture such as buying a cup of coffee or swapping the grumpy grunt for a cheery "good morning".

Remember, you can't win the race if you don't take that first step.

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today.

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