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Book Review: Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

Book Review: Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

Author:  Liz Wiseman (2010).

Format and Publisher:  Paperback – 268 pages.   Published by HarperCollins Publishers

Review:  © Wayne Mallinson (14 March 2016) at

Novation Now (Pty.) Ltd, a South African company, provides training and services in systematic innovation to companies, government organisations, not for profit organisations (NPOs), and to groups of private individuals.

A Unique Point in Time

Liz Wiseman has come up with a book Greg McKeown that is spot on, for the issues of this decade.  Not that Multipliers and their opposites, known as Dimishers haven’t always existed.  Both types will be familiar to you, and they both will inhabit our futures.  It the right time to recognise that bringing out our inner Multiplier and suppressing our pesky Diminisher tendencies is a brilliant idea.  Right here and right now.

The Most Valuable Asset of the 21st Century Institution

No, it’s not you or me necessarily.  Rather it is the knowledge workers and their productivity in the 21st century.  Peter Drucker mentions the contribution of management in the 20th century:  A fifty-fold productivity increase of the manual worker in manufacturing.  Liz Wiseman calculates that Multiplier managers can double the productivity of knowledge workers over that gained by Diminisher managers.  I doubt that this figure has the correct basis of calculation.  Double is too low.

Lean manufacturing examples show fourteen-fold speed improvements, five-fold gross profit improvements, one-hundred-and eighty-fold waiting time reductions for customers, and other radical figures from knowledgeable manual workers.  If knowledge workers create ‘clever’ systems, then – and it is happening today – much manual and thinking work will be automated by computers and robots.  History will record N-fold productivity where N will likely outstrip fifty by far.

Bill gates catches the ‘times we are in’ in a twitter post that came today, “Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.”  Liz is systematically offering innovative ways to work with people based on research.

What is a Multiplier?

Multipliers are leaders who create an atmosphere of innovation, productive effort, and collective intelligence.  Multipliers use their own energy and thinking to focus on extracting and extending the genius of others around them.  They get the very best thinking, creativity, ideas, discretionary effort, energy, and resourcefulness from their people.   Double for Liz, N-fold in my view.

What is a Dimisher?

A Dimisher is not a bad person, it is just someone that believes others are not as smart as them, and will not figure things out without them, and never will.  I was all for Multipliers when I read the book, but as I looked at the detailed practices of both Multipliers and Dimishers gained from the research, I became less sure.  It seemed that on occasions (many occasions) I could have ticked the boxes as she politely says, “as an ‘accidental Dimisher’.”

Why the Book is a Good Read

Liz shares the five disciplines of multipliers: One. They attract and optimise talent; Two. They … (buy the book and read more).  For each of the five disciplines she provides the detailed steps such as the Talent Magnet looks for talent everywhere and ignores boundaries.  They label the genius of their colleagues and then ensure it is utilised by connecting them to opportunities that will make them shine.  For each Multiplier practice, there is an unequal but nasty correlating Diminisher practice the Talent Magnet’s opposing Doppelganger is (‘Ta Da’” The Empire Builder: One who hoards resources while at the same time under-utilises them.

The Outcome

One. Multipliers develop talent Dimishers use talent; Two. Three.  Four. Five.  Multipliers, as investors, support workers Diminishers, as micro-managers, control workers.   Point five was a bonus.  Space and ethics preclude me from summarising the book.  It is worth reading if you can ensure that you will put its Multiplier practices into action.

Liz Wiseman’s Primary Challenge (Heavily Paraphrased by Me)

As you read the book, ponder it and attempt to amplify your inner-Multiplier and please shed your Diminisher tendencies.  This will make you a more pleasant conversationalist and person to work with.  It will at least, double the productive outputs of those who work for you.

Wayne Mallinson

My Challenge to you – If you liked or disliked the review, please comment.  It will make me smarter!

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