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Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits that Masquerade as Virtues
Jake Breeden

Retail Price: $25.95
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Format: Hardcover, 224pp.
ISBN: 9781118345917
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Pub. Date: March 4, 2013

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

We all know the "sacred cows" that are revered in the workplace—the conventional wisdom to try your best, work well with others, and produce excellent work. But these cherished nuggets of advice, in practice, have a dark side that can lead to career-limiting, unintended consequences.

Based on Jake Breeden's experience coaching thousands of leaders in 27 countries and on the latest research in behavioral economics, neuroscience, and psychology, Tipping Sacred Cows reveals what it takes to overcome the dangerous behaviors that masquerade as virtues at work and how you can lead with fewer self-imposed limitations and greater results. In this groundbreaking book, Breeden identifies the dark side of the seven most common sacred cows at work:

Balance: Disguising indecision as a bland compromise that attempts to achieve many things but ends up accomplishing nothing

Collaboration: Creating a culture of learned helplessness with little individual empowerment and accountability

Creativity: Wasting time and money coming up with new ideas because it feels good, not because it's needed

Excellence: Spending too much energy producing perfect work instead of developing the quick-and-dirty solution needed now

Fairness: Keeping score and evening the score to make sure no one gets more than their "fair share"

Passion: Racing down a path seeking success only to find burn-out and misbehavior instead

Preparation: Planning to do work instead of productively working out just-in-time solutions with just the right people

For each of these seven sacred cows, Breeden offers proven, powerful strategies for how you can overcome their allure and achieve real results.

Tipping Sacred Cows shines a light on the hidden traps that lie between good intentions and good results, clearing a path so you can finally realize your fullest potential at work.


"We all know to be wary of our vices, but should we keep an eye on our virtues too? Jake Breeden warns us that even sacred managerial values—such as collaboration, creativity, and fairness—can backfire if pushed too far. Might you be suffering from too much of a good thing? Better read this book and find out. Tipping Sacred Cows is entertaining, provocative, and practical—a rare trio."
—Dan Heath, coauthor, Decisive, Switch, and Made to Stick

"Sometimes, conventional wisdom isn't wise at all. Breeden takes a sharp look at seven 'unassailable' virtues and stress-tests them; they emerge not weakened, but strengthened. Tipping Sacred Cows rescues genuine wisdom from the jaws of platitudes—it helps us avoid the herd mentality at work and become stronger, more thoughtful leaders."
—Charles H. Green, coauthor, The Trusted Advisor and The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook

"Breeden turns traditional workplace values like fairness and excellence on their head and demonstrates how tunnel vision can be the downfall of an otherwise promising career. Tipping Sacred Cows is a must-read for anybody managing the complexity of today's business world."
—Alexandra Levit, author, Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can't Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success

"Breeden's alternate view to long-held beliefs will change the way you think, work, and lead."
—Claire D. Hughes Johnson, vice president, Google Offers Product, Google Inc.

"Tipping Sacred Cows provides practical approaches to help develop the mindset needed to successfully challenge old ways of thinking and create positive change in workplaces around the world."
—Hari Nair, managing director, Global Innovation Center, Kimberly-Clark

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About the Author

Jake Breeden teaches on the faculty of Duke Corporate Education, the world's top-rated provider of custom executive education. He has taught leaders in some of the world's leading companies, including Google, Starbucks, Cisco, Microsoft, and IBM. He has an MBA from Duke University and lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where his three daughters keep him laughing and learning.

Table of Contents

1Meet Your Sacred Cows1
2Bland Bold Balance25
3Automatic Accountable Collaboration49
4Narcissistic Useful Creativity69
5Process Outcome Excellence95
6Outcome Process Fairness119
7Obsessive Harmonious Passion141
8Backstage Onstage Preparation167
9Extinguish Your Backfires187
The Authors205

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