Michael Watkins

Change Management, Leadership, Negotiation

Travels from Massachusetts, USA

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Michael Watkins Profile

The world’s leading expert on accelerating transitions, Dr. Michael Watkins is a bestselling author who has previously taught at such prestigious institutions as IMD in Switzerland, INSEAD in France and the Harvard Business School (Harvard also being where he earned his PhD).

Watkins’ book, The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at all Levels, has been translated into more than twenty languages and sold more than 200,000 copies. It is considered the definitive text on ‘on-boarding’. His work has garnered many awards, including the 2006 Kulp-Wright Book Award and the 2002 CPR Institute Negotiation Book prize.

Alongside his publishing successes Watkins also designs award-winning programs for transition acceleration, notably for Johnson & Johnson where he continues to teach on their renowned leadership program, the Transition Leadership Forum. He is also Harvard Business School Publishing’s content expert for their award-winning e-learning system, Leadership Transitions.

Watkins brought his experience of business transitions into another field between 1991 and 1996 as a faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he taught negotiation to senior leaders in the national security community. This experience provided him with the material for a highly regarded series of case studies on international negotiations and the book (co-authored with Susan Rosegrant) Breakthrough International Negotiation, winner of the CPR Institute’s Prize for best book in the field of negotiation 2001.

Watkins is also the chairman of the company he founded in 2003, Genesis Advisers, which helps organizations move from an outdated view that transitioning executives should sink or swim towards a new model promoting successful accelerated leadership transitions. This model has proved its real-world worth in many Fortune 500 companies and branches of the Federal Government.

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      • Dr. Michael Watkins is the world′s leading expert on accelerating transitions. Michael is the Chairman of an executive on-boarding and transition acceleration company. Previously he was a professor at IMD in Switzerland, INSEAD in France, the Harvard Business School, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Dr. Michael Watkins is a widely-published expert on leadership. He has designed award-winning programs in accelerating transitions, Future Enterprise Leadership™ development, negotiation, and corporate diplomacy.

    Michael is author of the international bestseller The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at all Levels. Considered ‘the on-boarding bible,’ more than 200,000 copies have been sold in over 20 languages. Watkins coined the term ‘Predictable Surprise’ in his book Predictable Surprises: The Disasters You Should Have Seen Coming and How to Prevent Them, which won the 2006 Kulp-Wright Book Award and was named a Strategy + Business best business book of 2004. His latest book is Your Next Move: The Leader′s Guide to Successfully Navigating Major Career Transitions (Harvard Business Press).

    A prolific writer, Dr. Watkins is the author or co-author of many books on leadership and negotiation, including: The First 90 Days in Government: Critical Success Strategies for New Public Managers at All Levels (Harvard Business School Press), Shaping the Game: The New Leader’s Guide to Effective Negotiating (Harvard Business School Press), Case Studies in US Trade Negotiation, Vol.1: Making the Rule, and Vol.2:Resolving Disputes (Institute for International Economics).

    Additional titles include, Breakthrough Business Negotiation: A Toolbox for Managers, which won the CPR Institute Negotiation Book Prize in 2002, Breakthrough International Negotiation: How Great Negotiators Transformed the World’s Toughest Post-Cold War Conflicts (2001), Winning the Influence Game: What Every Business Leader Should Know About Government (2000), and Right from the Start: Taking Charge in a New Leadership Role (1999). He is Harvard Business School Publishing’s content expert for Leadership Transitions, the award-winning e-learning system, and also has written numerous articles on leadership and negotiation for Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Leadership Quarterly, Executive Update, and Negotiation Journal.

    From 2004-2006, Dr. Watkins was a Professor of Practice in Organizational Behavior at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, where he taught leadership and negotiation in INSEAD′s Advanced Management Program.

    In 2003, Dr. Watkins founded Genesis Advisers, the leading transition acceleration consultancy. Genesis helps organizations move beyond the antiquated “sink or swim” approach to executive transitions, toward a model where successful, accelerated leadership transitions are the norm. The Genesis model for onboarding is used though the Fortune 500 and various branches of the Federal Government.

    From 1996 to 2003, Dr. Watkins was an Associate Professor at the Harvard Business School where he did research on negotiation and leadership. At the same time, Dr. Watkins began to explore how to accelerate leaders’ transitions into challenging new roles, an outgrowth of his work on change leadership. After co-authoring (with Dan Ciampa) Right From the Start in 1999, he entered into a research partnership with Johnson & Johnson to explore organization-wide approaches to accelerating leadership transitions. He created two new leadership transition acceleration programs and a new acceleration coaching initiative for J&J. He continues to teach J&J’s most highly rated leadership program, the Transition Leadership Forum in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and has over 1000 “alumni” in that company.

    Between 1991 and 1996, Dr. Watkins was a member of the faculty of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. While there, he began to teach negotiation to senior leaders in the national security community. This stimulated his research on international diplomacy, which focused on how leading diplomats negotiate in high-stakes situations. The result was a widely-praised series of case studies on James Baker’s efforts to build of the first Gulf-war coalition, Robert Gallucci’s negotiations on behalf of the U.S. with North Korea, US and UN humanitarian operations in Somalia, Richard Holbrooke and the Dayton negotiations in Bosnia, and Shimon Peres’ efforts to initiate the Oslo Peace process. Dr. Watkins’ studies of the Middle East conflict led to an affiliation with Shimon Peres’ Institute of Peace in Tel Aviv, where he taught conflict management techniques to up-and-coming political leaders from Egypt, Israel, Jordon, and the Palestinian Authority. These experiences also led him to coauthor (with Susan Rosegrant) Breakthrough International Negotiation, which combines the diplomacy case studies and analysis, and which won the CPR Institute’s Prize for best book in the field of negotiation in 2001.

    A native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, Dr. Watkins received a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. Following graduation, he worked as a project engineer on alternative energy projects, and commissioned and tested an experimental wind-diesel hybrid generator in Northern Ontario. He then did graduate work in law and business at the University of Western Ontario, prior to completing his Ph.D. in Decision Sciences at Harvard University under the tutelage of his mentor, Howard Raiffa. Dr. Watkins’s early research focused on negotiation in new product development teams, and he did extensive research and consulting at Ford of Europe in the U.K. and Germany.

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Michael Watkins's Speech Descriptions

Taking the lessons learned from his bestselling and award-winning books as well as his top-rated learning programs, Michael helps you to prepare for the next step forward in your career. Whether you are anticipating an internal promotion or a move to a new company in a different country, Michael’s wealth of knowledge and expertise will help you to identify and overcome the classic challenges of transition.

Michael identifies the need for leadership to adapt itself to changing conditions within organizations. Leadership which does not follow transitions is inevitably left behind, and Michael can help you to master the art of adaptive and inspirational leadership.

As the author of The First 90 Days, widely acknowledged to be one of the top 100 business books of all time, Michael not only identifies the challenges of transition for you but provides you with all the tools you need to manage them successfully.

    Your Next Move: Navigating High-Stakes Changes
    You’ve got big ideas and ambitions, and have done well…so far. But are you really ready for what’s next? Michael prepares you for the 8 classic transitions—including an internal promotion, managing former peers, on-boarding, and an international move—that you will face along the road to becoming a senior leader. He also discusses the challenge of organizational change and the impact of company-wide acceleration programs.

    Hero or Steward: Matching Leadership Style to Organizational Change
    The most successful leaders adapt their leadership style as conditions change in their organizations. You may be facing the “hidden transitions” that are part of normal growth and downsizing—or coping with a merger, reorganization, or new leadership. Michael explains the critical relevance of leadership style, and how you can master the art of adaptive and inspirational leadership for ongoing success.

    Your Next 90 Days: Thriving in a World of Continuous Transitions
    Welcome to your next challenge! Be it the First 90 Days, or the next business challenge, you need to take the time to assess yourself and the situation you are facing to maximize your results. Make an investment in your success and plan Your Next 90 Days. Based on the international bestseller, The First 90 Days, recognized as one of the top 100 business books of all time.

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Books by Michael Watkins:

    Your Next Move: The Leader′s Guide to Navigating Major Career Transitions
    “Whether you’re going for that promotion, looking to jump ship, or change careers entirely, Michael Watkins’s Your Next Move is a book you’ll want to read.” So starts the positive review of Your Next Move on the influential 800 CEO Read website. It’s true that all leaders – no matter how seasoned – need guidance through the professional changes that define a career. In fact, transitions into new roles are the crucibles in which leaders get their toughest tests, and they′re the defining factor in professional careers today. Yet far too often, leaders fail to transition effectively into new roles. The resulting costs are high, for individual careers and for organizations.

    In Your Next Move, leadership-transition guru Watkins shows how you can survive and thrive in all the major transitions you will face during your career—including promotions, leading former peers, on-boarding into a new organization, making an international move, or turning around or realigning an organization. With real-life examples and case studies, Watkins illustrates the defining hurdles associated with each type of transition. He then provides the insights, strategies, and tools you′ll need to accelerate through these crucial turning points and continue moving up in your career.

    The necessary complement to the author′s bestselling guide The First 90 Days, which has been translated in more than 20 languages worldwide, Your Next Move offers the keen observations, tried-and-true management wisdom, and practical good sense Watkins is renowned for. It′s a vital resource for any manager or executive seeking to maintain career momentum.

    To quote the reviewer from above: “It’s not just about ‘moving’ but about what happens when those actions are taken. Success or failure are the two options, and which option you emerge with will determine what happens going forward. Watkins’s book definitely has the research and insight to equip you for the better of the two paths.”

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    The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels
    Whether challenged with taking on a startup, turning a business around, or inheriting a high-performing unit, a new leader′s success or failure is determined within the first 90 days on the job.

    In this hands-on guide, Michael Watkins, a noted expert on leadership transitions, offers proven strategies for moving successfully into a new role at any point in one′s career. The First 90 Days provides a framework for transition acceleration that will help leaders diagnose their situations, craft winning transition strategies, and take charge quickly.

    Practical examples illustrate how to learn about new organizations, build teams, create coalitions, secure early wins, and lay the foundation for longer-term success. In addition, Watkins provides strategies for avoiding the most common pitfalls new leaders encounter, and shows how individuals can protect themselves-emotionally as well as professionally-during what is often an intense and vulnerable period.

    Concise and actionable, this is the survival guide no new leader should be without.

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    The First 90 Days in Government: Critical Success Strategies for New Public Managers at All Levels
    More than 250,000 public sector managers in the United States take on new positions each year and many more aspire to leadership. Each will confront special challenges from higher public profiles to a greater number of stakeholders to volatile political environments that will make their transitions even more challenging than in the business world. Now Michael Watkins, author of the bestselling book The First 90 Days, applies his proven leadership transition framework to the public sector. Watkins and coauthor Peter Daly address the crucial differences between the private and public sectors that go to the heart of how success and failure are defined, measured, and rewarded or penalized.

    This concise, practical book provides a roadmap that will help new government leaders at all levels accelerate their transitions by overcoming nine transition challenges, ranging from clarifying expectations to defining goals to building a team to managing personal stress. The authors also offer detailed strategies for avoiding major transition traps.

    Zeroing in on the challenges faced by new government leaders, The First 90 Days in Government is the indispensable guide for anyone seeking to lead and succeed in the public sector.

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