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Rethink: A Business Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation [Kindle Edition]

Ric Merrifield
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

It's a totally human condition, a trap that ensnares virtually everyone. Just as when we tie a route to a destination so much so that when someone else takes a different route "why are we going this way?" it usually doesn't matter "how" you get there. This "how" trap also takes place at work, people intertwine "how" they do their job with the outcome of "what" they are doing that sometimes obvious decisions are masked, and missed. We know how to focus on process: the how of business. That's why this book shows that we're leaving so much value on the table and that's what this book exposes with vivid examples, while at the same time offering guidance on ways you can take advantage of this new business lens. Business architect Ric Merrifield shows how to rise above the clutter of your "hows" to expose what does and doesn't need attention. You'll learn to identify the activities most critical to success and those that that are borderline, redundant, or even counterproductive. Along the way, Merrifield presents powerful case studies from companies as diverse as ING DIRECT and Eclipse, Amazon.com and Procter + Gamble: firms that have learned how to cut costs, strengthen innovation, and profit from change all at the same time.



Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

It's the trap that ensnares virtually every business.

 

We focus on process: “how” we're doing the job. And we forget about the bigger issue: “what” we're doing and “why” we're doing it. That's why we're leaving so much value on the table. In Rethink, business architect Ric Merrifield exposes this problem with vivid examples and introduces breakthrough techniques for overcoming it.

 

Merrifield shows how to rise above the clutter of your “hows” to expose what does and doesn't need attention in your organization. You'll learn to identify the activities most critical to success, as well as those that are borderline, redundant, or even counterproductive. Merrifield helps you get past the parochial, subjective viewpoints of ground-level participants...find more cost-effective ways to achieve core goals...capture better information for prioritizing investments...identify hidden sources of value...use technology-driven plug-and-play management to increase efficiency and agility...and reconfigure your company to ride nonstop waves of change.

 

Along the way, Merrifield presents powerful case studies ranging from ING DIRECT to Amazon.com to Procter & Gamble. These diverse companies have learned how to cut costs, strengthen innovation, and profit from change all at the same time. Using the lessons in this book, you can, too.

  

• Rise above low-level processes and narrow perspectives

• Step back, identify what really matters to the organization, and act accordingly

• Understand the hidden connections that can make or break your business

• Make profitable changes without setting off destructive chain reactions

• Expose activities where people, process, and technology matter...and, equally important, where they don't

 

About the Author

Ric Merrifield spent nearly 15 years in various consulting roles helping organizations define and achieve their goals. Since joining Microsoft, Merrifield has spent more than 10,000 hours as a business architect and has filed twelve patent applications all with the goal of helping companies rethink their operating models and get out of the “how” trap described in the pages of this book.

 

Merrifield recently coauthored “The Next Revolution in Productivity,” a June 2008 Harvard Business Review article focused on case studies that highlight needs of the organization and the opportunity to rethink business operating models before making major technology changes. Merrifield is an alumnus of Lakeside School in Seattle and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

 


Product Details

  • File Size: 303 KB
  • Print Length: 244 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0137031653
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (March 6, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001UL3AFK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,026 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's About Context, Business Ecosystems, and IT Impact September 18, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book on the recommendation of a colleague whom I have known for twenty years, both of us members of the Silicon Valley Hackers Conference started by Stewart Brand and now managed by Glen Tenney. When I came to buy the book and saw all of the very short, very empty, largely negative reviews, I was surprised. Trying to understand this, and having looked up the author's history, I speculate that a bunch of folks bought this book because of who the author is (Microsoft's business rethink strategist and innovator), and then did not have the contextual background to appreciate the story line.

Of course the books suffers some from being a book-length expansion of a core idea originally published in the Harvard Business Review, "The Next Revolution in Productivity" (free online at Phi Beta Iota), but from where I sit, 47 of the 53 reviews miss the whole point, and I am not that thrilled with the remaining six, but they did help me.

POINT NUMBER ONE: Businesses are eco-systems within eco-systems. The industrial era has piled up a mish-mash of stovepipes, conflicting chains of command, etcetera etcetera. Until Web 2.0 (I'm working on Web 4.0) there was not much one could do about it, but now Information Technology (IT) has reached a point where it CHANGES EVERYTHING. Bare bone zero sum reviews are a priority.

POINT NUMBER TWO: The Cloud is the Context. Location is now generally irrelevant, knowledge and trust and reliability of performance are higher values, and in fact forcing individual performers to center on a fixed point (desk, secretary, coffee pot) is COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE. However, you cannot send them out as lone rangers without giving them a suite of software & services (S+S).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality Information August 16, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Rethink by Ric Merrifield is subtitled "a business manifesto for cutting costs and boosting innovation." This might make you think that the book is all about how to tweak and tune your current options to make them run more efficiently. Quite the opposite. Ric wants you to reevaluate your entire organization and come up with ways to do things DIFFERENTLY - which will save you money and help your final product reach its aims more effectively.

This mantra is repeatedly constantly in the book. Yes, start by looking at HOW you do things. You send FAXes. You answer phone calls with orders. Then step back and think about WHAT you are accomplishing. You are distributing status updates. You are bringing in orders. You could do those things far more efficiently if you just focused on those "whats" and thought up different ways of how they could be done.

The techniques he uses to help you out of your current box are similar to many other self-help books. You build a grid with four parts - high value / low performance, high value / high performance, low value / low performance and low value / high performance. The HV/LP are the ones you must actively fix. The HV/HP you can luckily just monitor. The LV/LP should be outsourced or eliminated. You're not doing them well anyway, and you don't really need to waste the time. The LV/HP is a waste of resources - people are doing really well things that don't need to be done. Sic those people on something more valuable.

There are good real-life examples in the worlds of Amazon, jet planes, online banking and other areas. You hear about specific issues they faced and how they were overcome. Cranium, the fun board game, went through numerous rethinking rounds before it reached success.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs up - Video Interview with Ric Merrifield June 16, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Length: 9:55 Mins
"Rethink" arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago and after completing it, overall, I would give it a thumbs up.

For me, the second half of the book was the most interesting part. The case studies were good, and I felt they brought the book's thesis to life. While I found myself thinking about core competencies and value curves when I was reading the book, I could also see how creating 'what' heat maps would integrate quite nicely with other business frameworks like these. They all fit together.

Looking back at my experience of reading the book, my favorite chapter was the 'Key Concepts' chapter. Personally I feel that all too often, the authors of business books spend too much effort expanding a single insight to the requisite thickness, only to omit a proper summary or useful cheat sheet that the reader can go back to for easy reference. The 'Key Concepts' chapter also gives you a glimpse into the level of detail and complexity that these 'what' heat maps actually deliver in practice.

So, if your organization is seeking to escape the 'how trap' and refocus its energies on identifying the 'what' changes that will have the greatest impact, I encourage you to check out "Rethink" by Ric Merrifield.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Great book! Re-think provides the clarity into business conversations to focus on the What vs. How. The premise of the book is that people and organizations fall into the "How Trap" all too often focusing on "How" to accomplish something, vs. really focusing and more importantly agreeing on the "What" that is needed. I have been practicing What vs. How conversations with great results. I have found it to be an effective tool for getting out of the weeds, especially in conversations with technical folks, and driving more engaging conversations with customers. People are often enamored with the shiny object problem, and elegant technology driven solutions, and all too often lose sight of what they are attempting to accomplish. I highly recommend reading re-think, and putting the principles into practice - results will follow. View it as a tool for framing engaging conversations and reining in sideways dialogs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
This book was good for me. It helped my on my way Chief Techology Officer. It really helped to get my priorities straight. I read this book three times to really understand it. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Paul M. Provencher
2.0 out of 5 stars re-cycled ...
This books thesis is focus on "what" you are going to do before working out "how" you are going to do it, which is the first step in innovative thinking/brainstorming and problem... Read more
Published on July 21, 2011 by Mike
4.0 out of 5 stars Good basics
As many other reviewers have written, the book is good, not great. It seems easy to focus on "what" is important to a business and what you're doing vs HOW you're doing it, but the... Read more
Published on August 28, 2010 by banana wind
4.0 out of 5 stars Think Toyota and what they used to do.
Many large or elder businesses go through cycles. Quick and nimble to begin with, to later so slow and unreactive they can no longer lead the market, only follow and slowly die. Read more
Published on August 26, 2010 by Courtland J. Carpenter
3.0 out of 5 stars Good info
Pros: This book is about business problem-solving, specifically in the area of using technology to reduce wasted money. The information is useful and logically organized. Read more
Published on July 21, 2010 by City Of Rocks
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Method for Determining 'What' to Change
You know you and your company have to innovate and constantly change to stay competitive. But, what should you change? What will improve your revenues and profits? Read more
Published on July 10, 2010 by Brett Clay
4.0 out of 5 stars Savvy guide to reorganizing your business operations
Business architect Ric Merrifield says many executives get hung up on the "hows" of running a firm: the techniques, tactics and technologies their companies use to operate. Read more
Published on February 1, 2010 by Rolf Dobelli
2.0 out of 5 stars Great advice if you have never run a small business.
If you have run a small business, you probably will have the same reaction as me when reading this..

"Yeah, but so what? Read more
Published on October 15, 2009 by Sam I Am
3.0 out of 5 stars I want something new
For someone new to business this book might be helpful For anyone else who is used to reading these kinda of books it seems like rehashed business ideas...anyone have new ideas??
Published on August 1, 2009 by L. Maupin
2.0 out of 5 stars This was pretty dry
For me, this book wasn't a very interesting read. The overall idea is to concentrate on the "whats" that your business should focus on rather than the "hows". Read more
Published on July 23, 2009 by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Ric Merrifield spent nearly 15 years in various consulting roles helping organizations define and achieve their goals. Since joining Microsoft, he has spent more than 10,000 hours as a business architect and filed twelve patent applications all with the goal of helping companies rethink their operating models and get out of the "how" trap described in the chapters of his book Rethink. Visit http://www.rethinkbook.com for more information about the book.

He also coauthored "The Next Revolution in Productivity" for Harvard Business Review on how organizations can rethink operating models before making major technology changes.

Merrifield lives in Seattle with his son George and is an active leader in the cub scouts. He is an alumnus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and Lakeside School in Seattle. Ric is has rowed competitively for over 20 years, he was an Eagle Scout, and enjoys catching Dungeness crab by hand at low tide.

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