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I have read Adam Bryant's "In the Corner Office" column since it was introduced by the New York Times in 2009. Frankly, I have envied his access to those he has interviewed and admire the consistently high quality of the material that has been produced thus far. His first book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, was published in 2011 and now we have another in which he shares lessons to be learned from leading CEOs on how to create and then sustain a culture of innovation. He draws upon information, insights, and counsel shared during about 140 interviews conducted during a March 2009-May 2013 timeframe.

As Bryant explains, "Each chapter is structured much like a dinner party conversation with a large group of CEOs. I will introduce the themes, make some broader analytical points to steer the discussion, and then let the CEOs share their insights, lessons, and stories, in their own words." This is a brilliant approach, executed with meticulous care. Whereas when reading a "Corner Office" column the focus is limited to one CEO's responses, with Bryant serving as a surrogate asking questions his readers have, Bryant functions in this book as a symphony conductor or a choreographer of dance, coordinating without intruding on a lively and cohesive process. Yes, he guides that process throughout its duration but the CEOs who participate appear and reappear whenever appropriate, from one chapter to the next.

He divides the material into two parts. In, Part One, "Setting the Foundation" (Chapters 1-7), Bryant and respondents collaborate on a context within which to create or strengthen a culture on innovation, then in Part Two, "Taking Leadership to the Next Level" (Chapters 8-16), they explain how to sustain one. These are among the dozens of basic lessons that Bryant shares:

o "A successful culture is like a greenhouse where people and ideas can flourish -- where ever body in the organization, regardless of rank or role, feels encouraged to speak frankly and openly, and is rewarded for sharing ideas about new products, more efficient processes, and better ways to service customers." (Page 11)

o "A clear plan that creates shared goals will get everyone moving in the same direction and foster a sense of teamwork so the company can execute its plan quickly, and then shift direction when the need arises. Effective leaders recognize that their job is to provide employees with a simple answer to a simple question: 'Where are we going and how are we going to get there?' They also know that getting this right is harder than it looks." (30)

o "The trick, when asking people for their opinion, is to signal to the room that people are expected to be concise by framing phrases like, 'What's the ten-word pitch on that?'" (171) In this context, I am reminded of Albert Einstein's observation, "If you can't explain an idea to a six-year-old, you really don't understand it."

o "The companies that will thrive over the long haul will understand that culture is a key element of their strategy -- for attracting and training the best talent, for encouraging employees to bring their best selves to work, and for fostering an environment in which everyone feels motivated to innovate. As the global economy presents more challenges to leaders, those who create a quick and nimble culture will emerge as winners." (237)

I was tempted to quote several of the CEOs but concluded that their observations are best revealed in context because, as indicated, Adam Bryant offers what indeed resembles "a dinner party conversation with a large group of CEOs." The pace of its narrative is itself quick and nimble as well as innovative. Those who accept his invitation to attend this "banquet" of information, insights, and counsel will receive intellectual nourishment of the very highest quality. Bon appétit!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 23, 2014
“Quick and Nimble” written by Adam Bryant is collection of interesting tips generated as a product of numerous conversations author had with more than 200 company directors.

The book provides many useful advices for any business owner or executive in terms of attracting quality people who will in turn result in work well done and your satisfaction.
Bryant offers help and guidance how to move your organization faster, or in his words “how to be quick and nimble”, how to be innovative and supportive in order to be seen as company that supports creativity – in that way your company will become a preferred destination recognized by the capable and smart people who will want to work with you, enjoying their job.

It’s nice when you realize that on its pages you will not only find some new revolutionary concepts and ideas, but things that seem to be extremely well-known, though the author managed to present them in a different way that makes them meaningful, applicable and instantly usable.
The author is using the attractive idea that each chapter is structured as dinner party conversation with a numerous CEOs - Bryant introduces the themes, makes some remarks to steer the discussion that follows, and then let the participants discuss their stories and lessons.

Therefore, “Quick and Nimble” is a good-read for people who manage organizations, large or small all the same because their challenges and thinking in general are similar - using its tips, most important innovation that author advocates you will be able to improve you as a manager and organization you lead.
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on April 22, 2014
This book was not what I expected; it was better than I expected.

I read this book in preparation for an interview I conducted with Adam Bryant for Chief Optimist Magazine, a Xerox publication. For context, I should explain that I was writing a feature meant to synthesize insights from Bryant's 300-plus interviews with the world's top CEOs for Chief Optimist readers, most of whom are senior executives. I was hoping for an easy read and expecting to write a clean, clear article offering tips anyone could apply. But I was pleasantly mistaken...

I dove into it hoping to find simple truths, common themes and easily digestible insights that could be replicated quickly and effectively by my readers, but I instead found an interesting and colorful conversation about what it means to be a great leader in a contemporary business environment. Inside, Bryant offers few panaceas and almost no easy answers, which is likely why anyone giving this book a negative review was disappointed. (Either that, or because they do not recognize that being "quick and nimble" is not about the singular pursuit of operational speed or efficiency but rather happens only as the result of a truly effective culture forged and driven by an intelligent and deliberate senior leadership team.)

In my mind, this book stands in protest of the prescriptive business books that have become popular today, many of which fall just as quickly as they rise. Quick and Nimble is an attempt to address the real complexity of business leadership today, not to dumb it down.

If you don't want to have a candid "dinner conversation" (to use Bryant's words), complete with debate and intelligent dissension with a hundred of the world's smartest CEOs, do not buy this book. If you want someone to sell you an idea for the cover price that you can apply to your business, be disappointed by, and eventually jettison in favor of the next business fad, do not buy this book. If you hope Bryant will give you all the answers so you don't have to work for them, you don't belong in this dinner conversation. Do yourself a favor and buy another book.

On the other hand, if you want to take a step back and look at the problems your organization is facing from a 3,000-foot view, alongside some really smart people who are facing similar problems, buy this book. If you're interested in contemplating the finer points of leadership, including dichotomies, dumbfounding challenges and deep organizational quandaries, buy this book. If you aren't looking for a textbook with a simple structure, but an interesting free-time read that wends across a wide range of issues and topics, steadily growing in complexity, buy this book.

I have read many business books and interviewed hundreds of good thinkers, myself. I got a lot more out of Quick and Nimble than I expected to. I hope the people who read my article about Bryant and this book did, too. If you're looking for a quick fast food burger, you might not come back and write a 5-star review, like I did. But if you can appreciate a good dinner conversation, I'm certain you will enjoy it as much as I did.
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on February 28, 2014
Overall, a quick read that has some insights sprinkled throughout the book. I did not like the writing style, which became very repetitive and tiresome after the first couple of chapters. Most of the expert's advice is nothing but platitudes. The book could have been half the length and would have been much more compelling.
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Adam Bryant interviewed 200 CEOs from 2009 to 2013 and used the words they told him to write this book. He talked to a variety of people, and gathered a lot of stories. Trouble is, a collection of stories loosely organized together does not make a very good book. It's like going to a big buffet restaurant and sampling a tiny bit of every dish they have there. I would soon long instead for a solid meal. Same with this book. I wanted something that had more substance to it, not that zigged and zagged around.

That said, some of the stories were valuable. If you like to read a lot of ideas, and pick out the ones you like for further thought, this book might work for you. The book did not work for me, though.
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on March 5, 2014
This book gives great leadership advice about work climate and organizational goals. It also talks about how to sustain organizations that have been in existence for a long time as well as start ups.
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on April 5, 2014
After seeing a short segment about this book on Morning Joe, I knew this was a book that it needed to read. The book is as good as advertised. I really got several ideas that I could use at work within the first few chapters.
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on December 24, 2014
A very interesting and fun read based on interviews with a large number of CEOs and other business leaders. The is a great amount of information and hearing from different perspectives makes the book well worthwhile.
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on April 15, 2014
Alas, I had such high expectations after seeing the author on TV, but the book has nothing to offer just a lot of platitudes. Anyone who would benefit can't have had any experience in an organization of any size.
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on June 1, 2014
This book was a great and easy read that essentially regurgitate what many top CEOs of leading organziations find worked for them. The company culture and the way they operate came to the forefront in this book and how they decide to address diffrent work culture or lack thereof. The authors was able to get references from these CEO and add them as takeaways for success.

A great read for anyone who is planning to lead a business or is leading a business or any organization big or small and want to get some insights as to the approach.
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