Power, for All by Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro (Book Review)

With Professor Tiziana Casciaro at Hearst Management Institute, where she taught a class on change management. 2023 May.

I’ve been a keen student of power dynamics throughout my career, and my friend, Professor Jeff Pfeffer’s works on power have provided valuable insights in my journey. When I came across “Power, for All: How it Really Works and Why It’s Everyone’s Business,” by Professors Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro , I was drawn to the perspective they brought to this complex subject. As I prepared for Professor Casciaro’s class at the Hearst Management Institute, reading this book felt like an appropriate prelude.

Professors Casciaro and Battilana’s work has expanded my understanding of power, supplementing the insights I have gained from Professor Pfeffer’s writings.

As we navigate the nuances of power, it’s important to remember that multiple perspectives can coexist, each offering valuable insights. My good friend, Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, whose works I hold in high esteem, presents a view of power that I strongly agree with. His understanding of power dynamics has profoundly shaped my professional journey, a testament to the validity and impact of his work. My review of “Power, for All” does not contradict or challenge these views. Rather, it introduces an additional dimension to the discussion. By engaging with a diverse range of viewpoints, we can enrich our understanding of this intricate subject, equipping ourselves to navigate the multi-dimensional world of power.

They explore power as a tool for achievement, not as a weapon of manipulation. Their perspective is nuanced and empathetic, painting power not as a zero-sum game, but as a means to create a positive-sum outcome, where all parties can benefit. It’s a view that resonates with my experiences in organizations where power dynamics are intrinsic to operations.

In their thorough guide on how to wield power responsibly, I found many parallels with my professional experiences. Their exploration of the ethical use of power mirrored my four years working as CTO at The New York Times, where the editorial and business sides, although distinct, needed to collaborate for the collective good of the organization. This delicate balance of power, integrity, and mutual respect became a bedrock of my leadership approach in subsequent roles at The Wall Street Journal, News Corp, McKinsey & Company, and Hearst. Professors Casciaro and Battilana’s emphasis on ethical power utilization aligns seamlessly with my life’s motto: “Victory is winning people over, not defeating others.

The idea of democratized power that Professors Casciaro and Battilana propose is thought-provoking. It introduces a new dynamic applicable to diverse, fast-paced modern organizations like the AI startup You.com, which I have been advising since its founding. This vision of power distribution challenges traditional hierarchical structures and advocates for a collaborative, inclusive model, promoting creativity and innovation.

Beyond the professional sphere, “Power, for All” holds personal significance for me. As a father, it aids me in teaching my son Fitz about not just power, but also the complexities of human behavior, societal structures, and empathy. These lessons are central to our shared learning experiences, and Professors Casciaro and Battilana’s book serves as a valuable tool for imparting them.

Just like my commitment to fitness, where discipline, consistency, and perseverance have driven me to work out for at least an hour daily without missing a day for over 1150 days, the pursuit of understanding power requires a similar mindset. Professors Casciaro and Battilana’s book is an essential addition to my library of resources, informing and guiding my personal and professional endeavors.

“Power, for All” is an illuminating exploration of power dynamics in modern society. It advocates for power to be shared and wielded responsibly, emphasizing collective good over personal gain. It’s a roadmap for leaders, a guide for individuals, and a reflection of past experiences. Whether you’re a CEO, a student, an engineer, or a parent, there’s something in this book for you. It’s a testament to the true power of “Power, for All”: democratization, ethical usage, and an emphasis on collective benefit.




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