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Book Review: True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development by Bill George and Doug Baker

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True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development by Bill George and Doug Baker is about forming cohesive small groups to support us during challenging times. Small group membership requires a willingness to challenge life’s assumptions, comfort with self-reflection, the ability to listen and the sustained ability to commit time to a common effort. Ideal candidates have a sense of humor about life, they like small group interaction and are good listeners, as well as facilitators.

Individual small groups possess common norms. Examples of these
norms are openness, trust, respecting uniqueness, empathy, withholding judgment, providing constructive suggestions and attendance. Barriers to group cohesiveness are lack of member commitment, absence of suitable boundaries, dominating behaviors,lack of sharing and the violation of group normative values.

High performing groups usually have good attendance, high levels of trust, adherence to explicit norms, meaningful discussion topics, regular retreats or meetings and a periodic group assessment. On occasion, groups struggle for reform for a variety of reasons. i.e. new blood is needed, people quit,the group segments into one or more splinter subgroups.

Early in the life of a True North Group, members may meet to build intimacy and trust. Each may discuss early life experiences, obstacles in life, self-awareness issues, values, passions, motivations, talents and personal relationships.

Bill George and Doug Baker have established a True North Groups Institute to support individual True North Group efforts. Institute leaders are available to support facilitation of the formation of new True North Groups among individuals and within organizations of varying complexity. There is a help line support to enhance the effectiveness of existing groups. A registry exists for professional facilitators to assist in new group formation and performance. There is an extensive bibliography with authoritative references.

Overall, Bill George and Doug Baker have crafted a very useful book for conveying the essential elements of small group formation, as well as the practical implementation problems which need to be addressed at various juncture points where small groups meet and debate.

Small group formation and interpersonal interaction are difficult hurdles for organizations to traverse. The guidelines in True North Groups make this process of group formation much easier with a step-by-step implementation scheme and a thorough delineation of classic pitfalls and coping strategies.

The methodologies explained in this book are suited ideally for new system projects in data processing organizations, as well as human resource efforts at encouraging small group formation in corporate organizations, as well as governmental organizations. The precepts in this book could be extremely helpful in crafting a budgetary framework for Congressional groups meeting later this year.

Professional negotiators could utilize the methodologies outlined to manage small group issues at the neighborhood or regional level in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas around the globe.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.