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Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 4, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As the business world becomes increasingly competitive, global, and adoptive of new technologies, companies worldwide are constantly searching for answers about how to best evolve to meet their customers™ needs and to stay abreast of their competitors. Taylor (Mavericks at Work) asserts that change is the name of the game; he takes us on an inside look at 25 companies that have grown ever more adaptive to not merely survive but thrive in today™s challenging environment. Taylor™s book is intended to guide leaders in launching fresh initiatives and rethinking œthe logic of leadership itself as they work to rally their colleagues around an agenda for renewal. The work achieves its promise with actionable prescriptions and meaningful examples, such as how organizations like the Girl Scouts have redefined their brand and revitalized their mission, how Zappos has reimagined retail and service, and why, like IBM, leaders must constantly challenge the status quo by examining the self-reflection and commitment to innovation. An engaging and briskly written read, this will captivate and benefit business people interested in change and innovation. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

In the depths of the Great Depression, economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, evoking a basic animal instinct within us to do something productive and procreative, even in the face of hard times. Taylor, a former Harvard Business Review editor and cofounder of Fast Company, a full-color business magazine, begins this discussion on creative solutions for tough economic times by reviewing the pioneering companies that got their start during recessionary environments: Federal Express, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments, among others. The radical solutions he proposes may be as simple as bucking the trend. Case in point, online shoe and apparel retailer Zappos.com, which has developed an almost cultlike customer loyalty by encouraging buyers to call in to their 24/7 phone line and offering a full one-year return policy. Taylor profiles 25 companies and organizations from the Providence, Rhode Island, police to the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to illustrate how radical thinking can transform companies and excite management and staff to tap into their group genius. --David Siegfried
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Learn more about five companies and organizations featured in Practically Radical [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061734616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061734618
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Taylor is a cofounder of Fast Company and coauthor of Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win (with Polly LaBarre). He has published numerous essays and CEO interviews in the Harvard Business Review, and hosts a blog on being "Practically Radical" on HarvardBusiness Online. He's written columns for the Sunday Business section of the New York Times and for The Guardian ( London). A graduate of Princeton University and the MIT Sloan School of Management, he lives in Wellesley, MA, with his wife and two daughters.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With this book, Bill Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company, continues in his passion to help leaders create change and fix what's wrong with their organizations. His books inspire and provide real-life stories, fueled by Taylor's own experiences and personal interviews with people who make things happen.

My favorite section of the book is Part III, "Challenge Yourself." (The other two are "Transforming Your Company" and "Shaking up Your Industry.) The lessons here are palpable, and for me the most valuable was in Chapter 8 and Taylor's interview with Boston Scientific cofounder John Abele. Taylor focused on a more personal story rather than the more well-known aspects of Boston Scientific. I won't spoil the story, but the insights from it helped me understand the delicate balance of collaborative leadership. It's not simply collective intelligence that solves a problem, but "collective capability." That is, leaders create the conditions in which diverse people work together to solve a tough challenge. The crux, as Abele says, is that "leaders can't be so self-effacing that they become invisible. They have to create a reason to collaborate and a platform to make it possible."

Taylor's book creates these conditions as well, conditions in which "diverse and dispersed groups of people can rally around a cause, sort through a problem, and make tangible progress on difficult-to-achieve goals." I hope that Taylor continues this with a companion website to this book to let leaders share their ideas, issues and stories.

The book ends with a Practically Radical Primer: 10 Questions Every Game Changer Must Answer. This is a quick-hit section that offers a lot of insights and challenge-yourself questions to help you create the changes you want to see happen.
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Format: Hardcover
Dan Pink has characterized this book as being "the most powerful and instructive change manual you'll ever read" and I certainly share his high regard for William Taylor's book. Most change initiatives fail and reasons vary from one situation to the next. However, as Taylor explains in this book, organizations cannot be transformed unless and until those who lead them first transform themselves and thereby serve as exemplars to others. He also points out that organizational transformation requires having effective change agents at all levels and in all areas, not only in the C-suite, what Cynthia Barton Rabe characterizes as "zero-gravity thinkers" - innovators "who are not weighed down by the expertise of a team, its politics, or `the way things have always been done.'"

Taylor agrees with Rabe that zero-gravity thinkers have "psychological distance" from the setting in which they work, "renaissance tendencies" that draw on a range of interests and influences, and "related expertise" that allows them to find the points where blue-sky ideas intersect with real-world opportunities. They are visionary pragmatists: they see possibilities and realize how difficult it will be to make them realities.

For example, Taylor cites what he calls "Five Truths of Corporate Transformation" (Pages 83-93):

1. Most organizations in most fields suffer a kind if tunnel vision, which makes it hard to envision a more positive future.

2. Most leaders see things the same way everyone else sees them because they look for ideas in the same places everyone looks for them.

3. In troubled organizations rich with tradition and success, history can be a curse - and a blessing. The challenge is to break from the past without disavowing it.

4.
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Format: Hardcover
I have heard much about Mr. Taylor and his innovative ideas. After reading Practically Radical I now see what the buzz is all about. It is refreshing to hear new ideas and actual examples of those ideas being used around the world, especially during these tough economic times. I have already started to use some of his phrases with my staff (Humbition,Vuja de). I have even put the phrase on page #199 on the bottom of my inter-office e-mails "The most effective leaders no longer want the job of solving the organization's biggest problems or identifying its best opportunities. Instead, they recognize that the most powerful ideas can come from the most unexpected places: the quiet genius buried deep inside the organization." I would highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I dog eared three pages in the introduction, yeah this book is that good. Practically radical is a must read, it makes you look at business in a different way. I will forever understand business strategy more thoroughly because of this book. The way Mr. Taylor writes is thought provoking and helps you better understand his points. He has an amazing mind on business and this book proves it. Purchase this book and you can thank me later.
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Format: Hardcover
There is some disagreement about whether Einstein was the first to say, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

But regardless of who said it, the belief is repeatedly challenged in William C. Taylor's PRACTICALLY RADICAL--an excellent book that will get you thinking about change in your company or organization . . . and how you can use it to help things become even more energized.

The author, cofounder and founding editor of the magazine FAST COMPANY, looks at a wide range of for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations to determine how they have been able to succeed in today's tough times . . . among those profiled were Zappos, Swatch, the Girl Scouts, Interpol, fast-growing banks, high-flying airlines and Providence Police Department.

What I liked were the many ideas that I got from reading that can be applied to virtually any situation, such as this one:

* Why is this unlikely group of civilians sitting on the command session of a big-city police department? Because Chief Esserman has opened his mission-critical meetings to anyone who wants to attend: government officials, high-powered community leaders, grassroots activists, ordinary citizens, even members of the press. Virtually anything and everything about crime in this troubled city is open to the public and on the record every Tuesday morning at 8:30 sharp. In return, virtually anyone and everyone who wants to play a role in reducing crime has a seat at the table. Rhode Island may have a reputation, as the Times noted, for "parochialism" and "insecurity"--but there is nothing parochial about these gatherings, and most of the participants are secure enough to speak their mind.
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