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Review: Unstuck: A Tool for Yourself, Your Team, and Your World

Poor, dull Jack. All work and no play. He really needs to get Unstuck, one of the most playful, visually compelling business self-help guides in years. Authors Keith Yamashita and Sandra Spataro believe that just about everybody is stuck in one way or another, and they offer engaging advice on how to get the bubble gum off your shoe. They begin by helping readers recognize the symptoms of being stuck, encouraging them to get out their pens for scribbling those symptoms right in the book. They admit that the road to the land of unstuck is full of potholes such as office politics, distorted values, and lack of credibility, and they supply plenty of real-world scenarios from companies such as 3M, Continental Airlines, and even NASA to illustrate first how to cope and then how to prosper.

BACKSTORY A fusion of Spataro's research and Yamashita's one-on-one work with CEOs and senior executives, the book takes their "flashcard" approach to problem solving--each two-page spread can almost stand alone as a touchstone for sparking large-scale change within a team or an entire organization.

TAKEAWAY The authors categorize the various reasons for feeling stuck into the Serious Seven: overwhelmed, exhausted, hopeless, directionless, battle-torn, worthless, and alone. They ask a number of smart questions that can help cure your type of stuck if you open yourself up to them. Particularly notable is a smart dissection of office politics, outlining the difference between relational (where egos and agendas play) and task based (where it's about what to do and how).

WHAT WE LIKED The authors never allow the Serious Seven dysfunctions to become excuses for staying stuck. The stories of how actual companies have used the various approaches keep the text lively.

WHAT WE DIDN'T The overly graphic design may leave some readers' retinas crying for relief. Calls to action such as "Create a mind gap to see the difference in people's views" will seem too pie-in-the-sky for more traditional team leaders.

WHAT TO SAY TO SOUND LIKE YOU'VE READ IT Everybody gets stuck. Now there's no shame in it. Thousands of business books get published on managing change, but few have as much useful advice for blasting personal and organizational roadblocks.