We developed this page for scholars and graduate students seeking to take a deeper dive into the literature used for the book. The resources should help scholars explore and refine the ideas in Progress Makers. We have NOT attempted to provide a comprehensive listing of resources. Rather we’ve highlighted key resources that we found particularly valuable. We’ve also included research questions that occurred to us during the process of writing Progress Makers. The questions need to be refined but they do provide a useful starting point.

Chapters 1 – 8

We gleaned many of the insights about exploring, refining, platforms, and progress from the following resources:

Key Resources

  • G. Anandalingam and H. Lucas, Beware the Winner’s Curse: Victories that Can Sink You and Your Company. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Gupta, K. Smith, and C. Shalley, “The Interplay Between Exploration and Exploitation.” Academy of Management Journal, 49(4) August 2006, 693–708.
  • M. Farjoun, “Beyond Dualism: Stability and Change as Duality.” Academy of Management Review 35(2), April 2010, 202–225.
  • J. March, “Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning.” Organizational Science, 2(1) 1991, 71–86.
  • M. Ridley, The rational optimist: How prosperity evolves. New York: Harper Collins, 2010.

Future Research Questions

  • What strategic planning activities contribute to or hinder how organizations define the notion of progress?
  • What are the “red flags” that an organization is moving too far down the path of exploration or exploitation?
  • How should organizations manage the relationships between platforms?
  • How can we more accurately measure when organizations (or units) are in the exploitation or exploration mode?
  • To what extent can training impact a person’s natural exploring or refining orientation?

Chapter 9: Envision the Future with Calculated Boldness


  • G. Adams, D. Balfour, and G. Reed, “Abu Ghraib, Administrative Evil, and Moral Inversion: The Value of ‘Putting Cruelty First’.” Public Administration Review 66 (5): September/October 2006, 680 – 693.
  • D. Eden, “Leadership and Expectations: Pygmalion Effects and Other Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in Organizations.” Leadership Quarterly 3 (4): 271-305, 1992.
  • D. Kelly and T. Amburgey, “Organizational Inertia and Momentum: A Dynamic Model of Strategic Change.” Academy of Management Journal 34 (1991): 591- 612.
  • H.R. McMaster, “Preserving Soldiers’ Moral Character in Counterinsurgency Operations.” In D. Carrick, J. Connelly, and P. Robinson (Eds), Ethics Education for Irregular Warfare. Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2003, 15-39.
  • K. Weick and K. Sutcliffe, Managing the Unexpected; Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007.

Future Research Questions

  • How have organizations successfully trained leaders to engage in healthy debate?
  • What specific critical thinking skills do leaders need to act with calculated boldness?
  • How do effective vrs. ineffective leaders determine where to exert influence?

Chapter 10: Cultivate a Focused Flexibility Mind-Set

The uncertainty management research provided the backdrop for this chapter. In particular, see the Uncertainty Management Matrix discussed in Appendix B. The highlights of the study were:

  1. Employees who work for organizations that embrace uncertainty tend to be:
    • more satisfied with their job
    • more committed to their organizations
    • more likely to identify with the organization
    • less cynical about organizational life

      These tendencies occurred even when employees themselves did not fully embrace uncertainty.
  2. Almost 65% of employees in the non-profit sector believe that they work in an organizational climate that suppresses uncertainty.
  3. Almost 60% of employees in the information and technology sector believe they work in an organization that embraces uncertainty.
  4. The number one ranked method organizations could use to do a better job of embracing uncertainty is to "improve their communication practices."
  5. Over 50% of non-management employees believe that they work in an organizational climate that suppresses uncertainty, compared to 42% of employees in top management positions.
  6. The age of employees does NOT appear to be related to their ability to embrace uncertainty.
  7. Organizations that embrace uncertainty have three basic competencies: 1) they cultivate awareness of uncertainty, 2) they communicate about uncertainty, and 3) they catalyze action during uncertain times.

    Note: These findings were based on a "snowball" sample of over 1,000 employees randomly selected from companies ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.


  • C. M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1997.
  • G. Day and P. Schoemaker, Peripheral Vision: Detecting the Weak Signals that will Make or Break Your Company. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2006.
  • De Meyer, C. Loch, and M. Pich, “Managing Project Uncertainty: From Variation to Chaos.” MIT Sloan Management Review 43 (2) 2002: 60–67.
  • K. M. Eisenhardt and D. N. Sull, “Strategy as Simple Rules.” Harvard Business Review 79 (1) 2001: 106-119.
  • P. Martin de Holan, N. Phillips and T. Lawrence, “Managing Organizational Forgetting.“ MIT Sloan Management Review 45 (2) 2004: 45–51.
  • P. Ormerod, Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction, and Economics. New York: Pantheon, 2006.
  • J. E. Russo and P. J. Schoemaker, “Managing Overconfidence.” Sloan Management Review, 33 (2) 1992: 7-17.
  • N. Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. New York: Random House, 2007.
  • S. Thomke and D. Reinertsen, “Agile Product Development: Managing Development Flexibility in Uncertain Environments.” California Management Review 41(1) 1998: 8-30.

Research Questions

  • How do we train people to overcome natural cognitive biases?
  • What signals do organizational leaders send that encourage or discourage their organizations to “embrace uncertainty”?
  • How do successful organizations build “focused flexibility” into their organizational DNA?

Chapter 11: Enlarge the Circle of Engagement


  • C. Argyris, “Skilled Incompetence.” Harvard Business Review 64(5) 1986: 74-79.
  • P. Clampitt and M. L. Williams, “Conceptualizing and Measuring How Employees and Organizations Manage Uncertainty.” Communication Research Reports 22 (2005): 315-324; K. Sweetman, “Embracing Uncertainty.” MIT Sloan Management Review 43(1) 2001: 8-9.
  • S. Finkelstein, Why Smart Executives Fail and What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes. New York: Portfolio, 2003.
  • D. C. Hambrick, “The Top Management Team: Key to Strategic Success.” California Management Review 30 (1) 1987: 88-108.
  • J. Hughes and J. Weiss, “Simple Rules For Making Alliances Work.” Harvard Business Review 85(11) 2007: 122-131.
  • K. Lovelace, D. L. Shapiro, and L. R. Weingart, “Maximizing Cross-Functional New Product Teams’ Innovativeness and Constraint Adherence: A Conflict Communications Perspective.” Academy of Management Journal 44 (4) 2001: 779-793.
  • G. Pisano and R. Verganti, “Which Kind of Collaboration is Right for You?” Harvard Business Review 86(12) 2008: 78–86.

Research Questions

  • How can leaders determine when a group has too much diversity to accomplish a task?
  • How do leaders in organizations with many stakeholders (e.g. government agencies, institutions of higher education) insure that the working groups are optimally sized?
  • How does the pace of organizational decision-making augment and limit employee “buy-in”?

Chapter 12: Foster Growth of Investment-Worthy Employees


  • D. Allen, P. Bryant, and J. Vardaman, “Retaining Talent: Replacing Misconceptions with Evidence-based Strategies.” Academy of Management Perspectives 24(2) 2010, 48 – 64.
  • J. W. Dean, P. Brandes and R. Dharwadkar, “Organizational Cynicism.” Academy of Management Review 23 (1998): 341-352.
  • R. Guimera, B. Uzzi, J. Spiro, and L. Amaral, “Team Assembly Mechanisms Determine Collaboration Network Structure and Team Performance.” Science, April 29, 2005, 697–702.
  • S. Jordan-Evans and B. Kaye, “Retaining Employees.” In Business: The Ultimate Resource. Edited by C. Coffin, Cambridge: MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002, 196-197.
  • H. Nalbantain and R. Guzzo, “Making Mobility Matter.” Harvard Business Review 87(3) March 2009, 76–85.
  • S. Sidle, “Do Teams Who Agree to Disagree Make Better Decisions?” Academy of Management Perspectives 21(2) May 2007: 74–75.

Research Questions

  • What personal growth investments do employees of different generations (cultures) value?
  • How do we more accurately measure the return on investment of different employee growth opportunities?
  • How does the pace of an organization’s environment influence the degree and type of investments made in employees?

Chapter 13: Seek, Nurture, and Evaluate Actionable Ideas


  • R. Baron, “Opportunity Recognition as Pattern Recognition: How Entrepreneurs ‘Connect the Dots’ to Identify New Business Opportunities.” Academy of Management Perspectives, February 2006, 104–119.
  • J. Fagerberg, “Innovation: A Guide to the Literature” in The Oxford Handbook of Innovation, eds. J. Fagerberg, D. Mowery and R. Nelson, 1-26. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • E. Hippel, Democratizing Innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.
  • G. Hirst, D. van Knippenberg and J. Zhou, “A Cross-Level Perspective on Employee Creativity: Goal Orientation, Team Learning Behavior, and Individual Creativity.” Academy of Management Journal 52(2), 2009, 280-293.
  • J. Lipman-Blumen, The Allure of Toxic Leaders. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, 20.
  • C. Prahalad, C. and M. Krishnan, The New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-Created Value Through Global Networks. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Research Questions

  • How do the unwritten rules used during organizational meetings influence the organization’s ability to generate actionable ideas?
  • What is the impact of the external environment on the degree of innovation and continuous improvement?
  • How do highly innovative organizations (vrs. less innovative) screen, nurture, and select ideas from outside the organization?

Chapter 14: Select, Detect, and Correct the Proper Errors

The chapter represents our recent research that is still in the developmental stage. A downloadable white paper is available regarding the research. Listed below are the research highlights:

  1. The three most frequent types of errors organizations recognize are:
    • Customer service (rank 1)
    • Quality of product or service (2)
    • Hiring decisions (3)
  2. The three least frequent types of errors organizations recognize are
    • Personnel promotions (rank 15)
    • Management of change (16)
    • Management of information (17)
  3. There is a wide gap between the error management practices of well-led and less well-led organizations. Well-led organizations tend to promote more learning from errors than their counterparts.

Do Organizations Learn from Their Errors?

Error Type
Well-led Organizations
Not Well-led Organizations
Customer service
Quality of product or service
Management of crises

Note the survey and sample details below:

Survey Profile
  • 17 error types
  • 12 communication items
  • 5 demographics
  • 212 employees
  • 42% male, 58% female
  • 19-69 years old
  • Education: varied
  • Organizations: varied

*For a discussion of how the researchers distinguished between well-led and less well-led organizations, see P. Clampitt and M.L. Williams, “The Selection, Detection and Correction of Organizational Errors: The Role of Communication.” Paper presented at the International Communication Association, May 2009.

Key Resources

  • C. Argyris and D. Schon, Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1978.
  • N. Ron, R. Lipshitz, and M. Popper, “How Organizations Learn: Post-Flight Reviews in an F-16 Fighter Squadron.” Organization Studies 27 (8) 2006: 1069-1089.
  • D. Tjosvold, Z. Yu, and C. Hui, “Team Learning From Mistakes: The Contribution of Cooperative Goals and Problem-Solving.” Journal of Management Studies 41(7) 2004: 1223-1245.
  • B. Zhao and F. Olivera, “Error Reporting in Organizations.” Academy of Management Review 31(4), 2006: 1012-1030.

Future Research Questions

  • What organizational norms, practices, and policies inhibit error reporting and correcting?
  • How do effective organizations use error detection to spur innovation (or continuous improvement)?
  • How do effective organizations harness the power of social networks to select and detect errors?
  • When leaders admit their mistakes, how does that impact their credibility and effectiveness?

Chapter 15: Practice Receiver-Centric, Strategy-Based, and Feedback-Driven Communication

Communicating for Managerial Effectiveness (4e) provided the underpinning for this chapter. Also note that the insights for this chapter emerged from research on the construct of “communication satisfaction” and communication audits conducted in a wide variety of organizations.

Key Resources

  • P. G. Clampitt and M. L. Williams, “Decision Downloading.” MIT Sloan Management Review 48 (2) 2007: 77-82.
  • D. Tourish, “Critical Upward Communication: Ten Commandments for Improving Strategy and Decision Making.” Long Range Planning 38 (2005): 485–503.
  • K.M. Sutcliffe and K. Weber, “The High Cost of Accurate Knowledge.” Harvard Business Review 81 (5) 2003: 74–82.
  • Janis, Groupthink. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983.
  • E. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovation. New York: Free Press (5th edition), 2003.
  • P. Salem, The Complexity of Human Communication. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2009.

Future Research Questions

  • How does the proliferation of communication channels (social media, blogs, etc.) shift the communication strategy of effective leaders?
  • How can we more accurately measure if leaders are “receiver centric,” “strategy focused” and/or “feedback driven”?
  • How do we more accurately measure the return on investment (ROI) of various communication activities?



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