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The Compromise Trap


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Table of Contents

1. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
2. How Does This Happen To Good People?
3. The Anatomy of a Devil's Bargain
4. Cheating the Devil at His Own Game
5. Playing a Bigger Game
6. Seeing the Larger Playing Field
7. Pursuing a Worthy Enough Goal
8. Finding Your Teammates
9. Building Your Strengths
10. Keeping Your Own Score
11. The Cycle of Encouragement
12. Background: More About The Interviews

About the Author

Elizabeth Doty has spent thirty years working in and around large organizations, in three different careers. She began in the hospitality industry, where she served as a manager for more than eleven years, mostly in four-star hotels. After earning her MBA from Harvard in 1991, she joined one of the top ten U.S. reengineering firms, working in the trenches with client teams in a variety of industries to achieve radical improvements in quality, delivery time, and profitability. Finally, in 1994 she launched her own consulting firm, focused on diagnosing breakdowns and dysfunctions in large, complex organizations and helping such clients as Intuit, Hewlett- Packard, and Archstone-Smith capitalize on hidden opportunities to improve performance. Based on these varied experiences, Elizabeth is intimately familiar with the inspirations, dilemmas, and absurdities of organizational life. Fundamentally concerned with the interlocking challenges of individual and organizational integrity in their broadest sense, Elizabeth brings a background in systems thinking, organizational learning, process improvement, and change, as well as more interpersonal and individual disciplines such as conflict management, leadership effectiveness, and personal engagement. Her particular passion is for untangling the thorny, complex problems that hide goldmines of opportunity, such as the systematic obstacles to delivering a desired customer experience or the real reasons for persistent field-home office conflict. She is even happier when untangling these problems involves listening to people's stories about their work. A chronic interviewer, Elizabeth has a deep curiosity about the dilemmas, goals, and challenges of people in every role and organizational level. Since 1990 she has spoken with more than four hundred people about their work, resulting in several thousand index cards covered with tiny print, multiple case studies for leading U.S. business schools, and the opportunity to contribute to William Ury's research for his recent book, The Power of a Positive No- How to Say No and Still Get to Yes (New York- Bantam, 2007). Hearing all these perspectives has permanently handicapped Elizabeth's ability to judge people as good or bad but has left her infinitely optimistic about the opportunity for change. She is currently focused on encouraging individuals to engage more actively and constructively in the systems of which they are a part, as a critical element in their own well-being, for better organizational performance, and for greater alignment of organizational actions with the needs of the larger world. She is well aware that the only way for anyone to sustain such a focus, of course, is with a sufficiently large dose of humor and humility about the likelihood of ever fully achieving it. Elizabeth received her BA in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1985 and earned her MBA with honors from Harvard in 1991. She has presented at the Systems Thinking in Action conference, Business Ethics Network, Story in Organizations, and the North American Simulation and Gaming Association and has been published in Strategy + Business magazine, the Pfeiffer Annual- Human Resources Management, and Seminars for Nurse Managers. She speaks on compromise, professional quests, saying no, and organizational integrity. She currently lives in Albany, California.


"The Compromise Trap will confirm the experience of all who work in systems. It is insightful and well written and aims us in the right direction."
-Peter Block, author of Stewardship and The Answer to How Is Yes

"Human nature has a strong compassionate, cooperative base that needs to be rediscovered. Elizabeth Doty's systemic and realistic approach provides guidance on how we can make the world a better place for everyone, not just for ourselves."
-Napier Collyns, cofounder, Global Business Network

"The Compromise Trap is thoughtful, pragmatic, and provocative and a pleasure to read."
-Joseph L. Badaracco Jr., John Shad Professor of Business Ethics, Harvard Business School

"Elizabeth Doty has brought greater depth of understanding to one of the major dilemmas of organizational life: what causes people to do what they believe is not right? I hope this book encourages everyone to avoid the compromise trap and provides leaders with insight that will help them create healthy organizations where people and the business thrive."
-Nancy Southern, Chair, Organizational Systems Program, Saybrook Graduate School

"The Compromise Trap clearly and directly addresses an essential principle for navigating toward a more sustainable economy-acting from the center. Without acting from what is true for each of us, our collective actions may not realize our intentions, which is a great risk indeed."
-Stacey Smith, Managing Director, Advisory Services, BSR

"An engaging and easy-to-understand analysis of the traps we weave at work and, frankly, in our daily lives. This book is relevant to anyone looking to 'redefine the game.' With the ethics breakdowns in business over the past decade, it is a must-read for every business school student and businessperson up to and including the C-suite and the board."
-Steven F. McCann, retired Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Longs Drugs Stores

"The Compromise Trap reveals the pandemic of incremental soul- selling in the workplace, as people compromise bit by bit until one day they wake up in disbelief at the full cost. Read this book and liberate yourself and your colleagues from the indentured spiritual servitude that sometimes seems required to earn a living. A how-to on the emancipation of the soul at work."
-John Renesch, businessman-turned-futurist, senior executive adviser, and author of Getting to the Better Future

"I agree with Doty: you cannot outsource your integrity to your leader. The Compromise Trap is an important book, not only for our corporate lives, but also for our health and wholeness as a society."
-Roger Saillant, former senior executive, Ford Motor Company

"Elizabeth Doty has touched on one of the often-secret dilemmas of organizational life: how to stay true to your deeper 'knowing' as you navigate the delicate terrain of organizational politics, ethical forks in the road, personal well-being, and competing loyalties. Her pioneering illumination of practical steps we can take, both individually and collectively, to embrace the higher possibilities inherent in even the most difficult situations is a great contribution to organizational leaders and members everywhere. Brava!"
-Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, cofounders, The World Cafe, and coauthors of The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter

"Stephen Covey once told me, 'Integrity is the value you place on your relationship with yourself.' The Compromise Trap addresses how to deal with the small temptations that chip away at that value and shows us how to protect the integrity and purpose in our lives. The Compromise Trap is absorbing and entertaining, but, most important, it's a book
for our times."
-Mike Harvey, Change Facilitator, Dow Chemical Company

"Doty explores the tangles of thought, feeling, loyalty, and pain that we all carry in our hearts. How do I rationalize my values with those of my organization? What do I do when they are in conflict? Can I fully participate in the moves of the organization while still honoring my deepest values? This book offers us a way to think about that trap and six valuable tools for setting our own path, shedding light on a powerful hidden force that slows much of our individual and shared success."
-Herb Wimmer, retired Facility Manager, Chevron Corporation

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