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Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap
Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap
by Paul Leinwand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.92
45 used & new from $15.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why getting strategy and execution in cohesive alignment is a worthwhile legacy for any leader in any enterprise, February 4, 2016
Those who have read Cut Costs + Grow Stronger (2009) and/or The Essential Advantage (2011) already know that Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi are among the most insightful business thinkers now publishing books and articles that provide information, insights, and counsel of incalculable value to senior-level executives as well as to those who aspire to reach that level. That said, I think Strategy That Works (written with Art Kleiner) is their most important work thus far. Why? Because I think it will have a wider and deeper impact on any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

Just as Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton focus on the “knowing-doing gap,” Leinwand and Mainardi focus on another, equally important gap. As they explain, “There is a significant and unnecessary gap between strategy and execution: a lack of connection between where the enterprise aims to go and what it can accomplish. We have met many leaders who understand this problem, but very few who know how to overcome it…Some business leaders try to close the gap on the strategy side, looking for a better market position. Others double down on execution, improving their methods and practices. Despite their efforts, both groups struggle to achieve consistent success.” Alas, few companies have solved this problem. I agree with Leinwand and Mainardi that the problem cannot be solved with conventional wisdom and I also agree with Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Five acts of unconventional leadership are needed:

1. Instead of focusing on growth, commit to an identity: Differentiate and grow by being clear-minded about what you can do best
2. Instead of pursuing functional excellence, translate the strategic into everyday life: Build and connect the cross-functional capabilities that deliver your strategic intent
3. Instead of reorganizing to drive change, put your culture to work: Celebrate and leverage your cultural strengths
4. Instead of going lean, cut costs to grow stronger: Prune what doesn’t matter to invest more in what does
5. Instead of becoming agile and resilient, shape your future: Reimagine your capabilities, create demand, and realign your industry on your own terms

“The five acts of unconventional leadership take different forms in different companies, but there is a family resemblance across all of them. They are all critical to engendering management habits that keep strategy and execution closely integrated, so there is no gap between them. Together, they comprise a playbook for creating sustainable value.” All five are discussed in some detail (Pages 12-19).

Leinwand and Mainardi correctly stress the critical importance of organizational and operational coherence in terms of alignment among three strategic elements: “A value proposition that distinguishes a company from other companies (we sometimes call this a ‘way to play’ in the market); also, a system of distinctive capabilities that reinforce each other and enable the company to deliver on this value proposition; and, a chosen portfolio of products and services that all make use of those capabilities.”

Devoting a separate chapter to each, they explain HOW TO

o Avoid or overcome the “strategy-to-execution gap”
o Commit to an identity
o Translate the strategic to the everyday
o Put a culture to work
o Cut costs to grow stronger
o Shape the future
o Remain bold and fearless

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Leiwand and Mainardi’s coverage:

o The Unanswered Question (Pages 6-10)
o Five Acts of Unconventional Leadership (10-19)
o How the Five Acts Fit Together (19-22)
o Defining Who You Are (42-51)
o The Triggers of Identity (60-65)
o Blueprinting the Capabilities System (77-85)
o Building Distinctive Capabilities (86-107)
o Scaling Up Your Capabilities System (107-117)
o Fostering a Distinctive Culture (121-125)
o Mutual Accountability (130-133)
o Deploying Your Critical Few (138-144)
o Rethinking Next Year’s Budget (169-172)
o Recharge Your Capabilities System (175-178)
o Create Demand (179-184)

Readers will appreciate the provision of several mini-case studies (e.g. Amazon, CEMEX, Danaher Corporation, Frito-Lay, Haier, IKEA, Lego, Qualcomm), nine “Tools” (e.g. “Parking-Lot Exercise,” “Super Competitor Workshop,” and “Questions and Behaviors for Leaders”) that are inserted throughout the narrative as well as five appendices: A History of Strategy, The Capable Company Research Project, Puritone Ways to Play, Examples of Table-Stakes Capabilities, and a Selected Bibliography. These supplementary resources all by themselves are worth far more than the cost of this book.

Joined by Art Kleiner, Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi ask their reader to think of this book as a call to action — “an invitation to become a better leader through the alignment of strategy and execution. Coherence makes every aspect of leadership easier in the long run. It continually focuses your attention on the most important things your company does. It enables you to define a world that your company can help to create. It is a worthwhile legacy for any leader in any enterprise.” As Michelangelo is reputed to have observed centuries ago, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”


Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works
Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works
by Roger L. Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.19
67 used & new from $14.79

5.0 out of 5 stars “Yes, the world can get beyond better – and social entrepreneurs prove it’s possible.”, February 3, 2016
As you probably know already, the word entrepreneur, as it was coined by economist Richard Cantillon, literally means “bearer of risk.” That is especially true for those engaged in social entrepreneurship. According to Roger Martin and Sally Osberg, social entrepreneurs “can be contrasted with both social service providers [e.g. Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity] and social advocates [e.g., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference] in that social entrepreneurs both take direction [begin italics] and [end italics] seek to transform the existing system. They seek to go beyond better, to bring about a transformed, stable new system that is fundamentally different than the world that preceded it.” In this volume, Martin and Osberg respond to two questions whose answers are different but interdependent:

“Just what is social entrepreneurship, and who can legitimately be considered a social entrepreneur?”
"How do successful social entrepreneurs do what they do, and what can be learned from them?”

They propose a four-stage process within a framework of transformation. First, understanding the world; next. envision a new future; then, build a model for change; and finally, scale the solution. They wrote this book with four primary audiences in mind: “First are current and aspiring social entrepreneurs, including students of social entrepreneurship…Second are funders or potential funders of social entrepreneurship, whether individuals or institutions akin in spirit to the Skoll Foundation…Third are the context regulators o9f social entrepreneurship…Fourth are teachers of social entrepreneurship.”

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Martin and Osberg’s coverage:

o Building a theory of SE (Pages 5-11)
o Equilibrium Change (11-16 and 199-200)
o Understanding the status quo (18-19 and 81-94)
o Building a changed model in SE (19-20)
o Social transformation from equilibrium change (32-39)
o Identification for citizens and citizenship (66-72)
o Experimentation in SE (81-82 and 94-98, and 121-123)
o Molly Melching (82-83, 85-93, 95-102, and 115-116)
o Envisioning social transformation (107-124)
o Andrea and Barry Coleman (108-109, 111-114, 116-117, and 121-124)
o Deforestation in Brazil (125-130 and 133-135)
o Change mechanisms (135-137)
o Capital costs (148-153)
o Designing for scaling and costs (167-170)
o Adaptability (177-181)
o Sustainability of fisheries (183-195)
o Equilibrium Change (199-200)

What is the nature of the social transformation to be achieved? Roger Martin and Sally Osberg: “Social transformation – by which we mean positive, fundamental, and lasting change to the prevailing conditions under which most members of a society li9ve and work – is almost always the result of a successful challenge to an existing equilibrium. Individuals and groups take aim at the status quo, attempting to shift it to a new and superior state in which prevailing conditions are substantially improved for the majority.”

Given the nature and extent of stress and complexity throughout the world today, you may ask, “What can I do? What can only a few of us do?” Those are fair questions. I presume to suggest that an observation by Margaret Mead be kept in mind: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”


Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
by Adam M. Grant Ph.D.
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.20
46 used & new from $12.15

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why originality starts with creative thinking, is driven by a vision, and can eventually have global impact, February 2, 2016
Adam Grant wants to “debunk the myth that originality requires extreme risk taking and persuade you that originals are actually far more ordinary than we realize…the people who move the world forward with original ideas are rarely paragons of conviction and commitment… They, too, grapple with fear, ambivalence, and self-doubt. We view them as self-starters, but their efforts are often fueled and sometimes forced by others. And as much as they crave risk, they really prefer to avoid it.” He goes on to suggest that originality itself starts with creativity: “generating a concept that is both novel and useful. But it doesn’t stop there. Originals are people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality….This book is about how we can all become more original.”

So, there are valuable lessons to be learned from an original thinker. For example, Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates, a firm that has “the strongest culture they had ever encountered in an organization, the landslide winner” by those most familiar with it. It handles almost $200 billion in client investments. Dalio is also one of those featured by Al Pittampalli in Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World. “Dalio doesn’t hold a mysterious almanac from the future that tells him which bets to make, like Biff Tannen from Back from the Future II. In fact, the secret to Dalio’s accuracy doesn’t lie in [begin italics] what [end italics] he knows. The secret is in [begin italics] how he thinks [end italics].” Dalio is wholly committed to what Roger Martin characterizes as “integrative thinking”: be receptive to and welcome the best available information (including opinion) from the most reliable sources and then subject it to a crucible of analysis. Daly is what Grant characterizes as a “shaper,” an independent thinker: “curious, non-conforming, and rebellious. They practice brutal, nonhierarchical honesty. And they act in face of risk, because their fear of not succeeding exceeds their fear of failing…The greatest shapers don’t stop at introducing originality into the world. They create cultures that unleash originality in others.”

These are among the dozens passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Grant’s coverage:

o Warby Parker (Pages 1-3, 7-8, 14-17, 20-22, and 57-60)
o Dave Gilboa (7-8, 20-22, and 58-59)
o Martin Luther King, Jr. (11-14 and 241-242)
o Steve Jobs (12-14 and 87-90)
o Entrepreneurs (17-18, 22-23, 33-34, and 68-69)
o Idea generation (35-38, 136-137, and 245-246)
o Intelligence community (62-64 and 78-79)
o Carmen Medina (62-68, 70-71, 78-82, 84-87, and 89-91)
o Babble (68-74)
o Lifecycles of creativity (108-113)
o Conceptual innovators (109-112)
o Lucy Stone (114-116, 118-119, 127-131, and 133-134)
o Elizabeth Cady Stanton (115-116, 118-119, and 126-131)
o The Lion King (134-135, 137-138, and 189-195)
o Jackie Robinson (146-148, 153-154, 159-160, and 171-172)
o Birth order (148-159)
o Parenting (159-171 and 252-254)
o Edwin Land (175-1176 and 183-187)
o Groupthink (176-179 and 185-186)
o Dissenting opinions (185-187, `189-1q90, 193-195, and 201-202)
o Ray Dalio and Bridgewater Associates (187-191, 194-1986, and 199-209)
o Devil’s advocate (191-195)
o Culture of advocacy (197-198)
o Resistance movements (219-220 and 225-227)
o Anger (235-242)
o Actions for impact (245-254)

Here in Dallas, there is a farmer’s market near the downtown area where several merchants offer fresh slices of fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now include three brief excerpts from Grant’s insightful an eloquent narrative.

On the power of vuja de: “The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists…The starting point is curiosity: pondering why the default exists in the first place. We’re driven to question defaults when we experience [begin italics] vuja de [end italics], the opposite of déjà vu. Déjà vu occurs when we encounter something new, but it feels as if we’ve seen it before. Vuja de is the reverse – we face something familiar, but we see it with a fresh perspective that enables us to gain new insights into old problems.” (Page 7)

On building coalitions across conflict lines: “Harvard psychologist Herbert Kelman observed that conflicts [begin italics] between [end italics] two groups are often caused by conflicts [begin italics] within [end italics] the groups…Kelman finds that it is rarely effective to send hawks to negotiate. You need the doves in each group to sit down, listen to each other’s perspectives, identify their common goals and methods and engage in joint problem solving…and thereby avoid the narcissism of small differences” that could preclude resolving the given issues. (142-143)

On what research reveals about how founders’ hiring decisions shape the destinies of their companies: “Across industries, there were three dominant templates: professional, star, and commitment. The professional blueprint emphasized hiring candidates with specific skills…In the star blueprint, the focus shifted from current skills to future potential, placing a premium on choosing or poaching the brightest hires…Founders with a commitment blueprint went after hiring differently. Skills and potential were fine but cultural fit was a must. The top priority was to employ people who matched the company’s values and norms…When founders had a commitment blueprint, the failure rate of their firms was zero – not a single one of them went out of business…Founders cast a long shadow. Skills and stars are fleeting; commitment lasts.” (179-180)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that Adam Grant provides when explaining how and why non-conformists move the world with original thinking. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think it is a brilliant achievement. Those who share my high regard for Originals are urged to check out an earlier work, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success (1913), also published by Viking and now available in a paperbound edition.


Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity
Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity
by David A. Livermore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.95
27 used & new from $18.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why most differences can be bridges rather than barriers …if you allow them to be, January 31, 2016
In this exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking book, David Livermore addresses two questions whose answers are different but interdependent::

“How can you utilize perspectives to come up with better solutions?”
“ And what part of the innovation process needs to be adjusted to leverage diversity for better innovation?"

“Diversity by itself does not en sure innovation. Diversity combined with high cultural intelligence (CQ) is the capability to function effectively in culturally diverse situations.” These are the capabilities of cultural intelligence that Livermore identifies:

o CQ Drive: Your interest, drive, and confidence to adapt to multicultural situations
o CQ Knowledge: “Your understanding about how cultures are similar and different”
o CQ Strategy: “Your awareness and ability to plan for multicultural situations”
o CQ Action: “Your ability to adapt appropriately when working and relating interculturally”

“All CQ four capabilities (Drive, Knowledge, Strategy, and Action) are a part of culturally intelligent innovation, but the one that is most essential for creating climate for culturally intelligent innovation is CQ Strategy — the degree to which you consciously address and use cultural differences to come up with better solutions.”

In Part II, he introduces the 5D Process. It consists of five components:

1. Define: Align Diverse Expectations and Goals. "Learn the importance of creating a shared, metal model for using
diversity to create better, innovative outcomes. And gain leading practices for aligning diverse expectations on a team.”

2. Dream: Generate Diverse Ideas. “Discover the challenges and opportunities for generating ideas from a diverse team. And gain leading practices for generating ideas on a diverse team.”

3. Decide: Select and Sell Your Idea. “Understand the influence of cultural differences for how you select and pitch an idea. And gain leading practices for selecting and selling your idea to diverse users.”

4. Design: Create and Test for Diverse Users. “See how cultural differences influence and perceptions about design and utility. And gain leading practices for designing and testing for diverse users.”

5. Deliver: Implement Global Solutions. “Prepare for implementation by minimizing potential conflict and maximizing the strengths of a diverse team. And gain leading practices for managing implementation of your innovative solution”

He explains in detail how to accelerate the development of these five capabilities.

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me, also shared to suggest the cope of Livermore’s coverage in Part I (Chapters 1-6):

o Introduction (Pages 1-5)
o The Diversity of Diversity (8-14)
o ROI of High CQ for Organizations (22-25)
o Redefining Innovation (30-31)
o Culture Shapes Your Attention Priming Your Subconscious to Innovation (33-34)
o Priming Your Subconscious to Innovation (35-38)
o Corporate Culture Trumps National Culture (42-44)
o How to Pay Attention to Innovation (44-46)
o Core to Innovation (50-51)
o The Danger of Minimization (52-54)
o How to Improve Perspective Taking (61-66)
o It Starts with Self-Control (70-77)
o Problem Finding (79-82)
o How to Increase Focus (82-85)
o Universal Influences on Development of Creativity (88-90)
o How to Use the Power of Space (101-102)
o Calculating Trust (110-117)
o How to Build Trust on a Diverse Team (118-122)

Then in Part II, Livermore introduces the 5D process for culturally intelligent innovation (Chapters 7-11), followed by an Epilogue, Appendix A (“Cultural Intelligence — What’s Your CQ?) and Appendix B (“Glossary of Cultural Value Dimensions”). He is to be commended on his brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include various Tables and Figures as well as bullet point checklists, boxed “nuggets” in the form of key points about power and impact, and “Climate Assessment” diagnostic exercises such as “I’m Confident I understand a diversity of our users’ perspectives” (on Page 67) with three options: Not Confident, Somewhat Confident, and Very Confident. These devices serve two separate but interdependent purposes: They focus on key issues, and, they will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the material later.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the quality of the material that David Livermore provides in abundance. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of his book.

Two final points: It would be a fool’s errand to attempt to apply all of his recommendations. It remains for each reader to determine what among the information, insights, and counsel is most relevant to the needs, resources, concerns, and objectives of their organization. Also, nourishing one’s cultural intelligence is not a project or objective; rather, it is a never-ending process. In First Corinthians, St. Paul discusses a concept that aptly describes the healthiest organizations today: All have a CQ culture that does indeed have “many different parts, one body.”

TAGs: Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity, David A. Livermore, AMACOM, Why most differences can be bridges rather than barriers …if you allow them to be, “How can you utilize perspectives to come up with better solutions?”, “And what part of the innovation process needs to be adjusted to leverage diversity for better innovation?”


Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts
Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts
by Jon Younger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.73
31 used & new from $16.25

5.0 out of 5 stars How all manner of companies gain competitive advantage with new and better ways of managing talent, January 30, 2016
All organizations need effective leadership and management at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Moreover, no organization of which I am aware has ever had too much talent despite efforts to accelerate the development of leadership and management skills while recruiting those with the talent needed or with high potential. Jon Younger and Norm Smallwood focus on the challenges when organizations attempt to “source and then manage outside experts.” In this context, I am reminded of the fact that Greeks coined the term “barbarian” more than two millennia ago. Its original meaning is “non-Greek.”

In the first chapter, Younger and Smallwood note that in today’s highly-competitive global marketplace, “the need for ‘expertise on tap’ continues it expand. Organizations are thus increasingly reliant on a widening range of functional external experts to acquire and master the capabilities to perform and grow.” This is especially true of technical expertise. I agree with Younger and Smallwood that many (if not a majority) o0f organizations that hire “outside experts” treat then as “separate, and not equal. Most managers who never dream of treating externals like internals. External agile talent is hired for expediency, for the short term, to fill a specific need. But the companies depend more on the agile talent for fulfilling strategic capabilities, that mind-set won’t cut it anymore. ’Separate, and not equal’ is precisely what is causing the problems just outlined.

Younger and Smallwood write this book to explain how to avoid or solve those and other problems. They offer an abundance of information, insights, and counsel with regard to achieving several important strategic objectives. More specifically HOW to

o Achieve competitive advantage through agile talent
o Define the most promising business opportunity
o Formulate and refine an appropriate strateg
o Attract and welcome agile talent
o Get talent in proper alignment with the organization
o Ensure professional excellence
o Grow talent "that you don't even own"
o Engage and collaborate with your talent
o Lead agile talent
o Lead the changes by driving innovation
o Turning what you know into what you do (i.e. no “Knowing-Doing Gap")

Younger and Smallwood are to be commended on their brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include dozens of Tables (e.g. “assessing a capability resourcing plan” on Page 34, “The three approaches to agile talent” on 154, and “ critical conditions for developing leadership at the highest levels” on 191) and Figures (e.g. "Five important criteria in work design” on 119 and “Making agile talent work:” on 189) as well as eleven assessment tools:

1. “How agile-talent-aligned is you organization?” (23)
2. “Identifying the capabilities required for success” (32)
3. "Identifying potential problems of the four aligning categories” (37)
4. “Getting feedback on your employer brand” (77)
5. “Assessing the career stage of an individual or job” (101)
6. “Determining the right mix of stages among externals and internals on your team” (108)
7. "How well does your organization’s commence nations support agile talent?” (124)
8. “How well do you sponsor agile talent?” (138)
9. “Determining a prospective talent manager’s emphasis in working with agile talent (144)
10. “The pilot’s checklist: identifying what leads to the success or failure of a change venture” (162)
11. “Using the organization virus detector: identifying the three most important cultural risk factors in managing change in your organization” (164)

These devices and other supplementary resources will facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of especially valuable material later.

I agree with Jon Younger and Norm Smallwood that, ultimately, “the effectiveness of agile talent in any organization will turn on the quality of leadership. The leadership code [Page 133] provides a systematic and helpful way to think about what competent leaders do.” The best leaders serve as role models. In this context, they must demonstrate agile leadership in all of their relationships. If an organization’s leaders think in terms of internals and non-internals -- or allow anyone else to -- it cannot succeed or even survive.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 2, 2016 1:16 PM PST


One Simple Idea, Revised and Expanded Edition: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work
One Simple Idea, Revised and Expanded Edition: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work
by Stephen Key
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.69
48 used & new from $12.20

5.0 out of 5 stars From acorns to oak trees, January 29, 2016
This is a revised and expanded edition of a book first published in 2011. Its subtitle suggests that the material will help the reader to turn their dreams “into a LICENSING GOLDMINE while Letting OTHERS DO THE WORK.” If only that were easy to do. The fact remains that very few “simple ideas” have that potential. However, there are exceptions that Stephen Key examines in the book.

Years ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. purportedly observed, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Let’s assume for purposes of discussion that you have a “ simple" product idea. You have three options:

1. Do nothing.
2. Obtain working capital and take that idea through a process of design, research and development, production, marketing, etc.
3. Enter into a licensing agreement with someone else who then takes the idea through that same process.

It is a rare product that generates thousands, then millions, perhaps even billions of dollars in sales and is on “the other side of complexity. Of course, very few of those who select option #2 reach that other side and the same is true of the “someone else” with whom a licensing agreement is made. Why? There seem to be two primary reasons: the product itself and/or the aforementioned process. Key offers an abundance of information, insights, and counsel to help achieve success in there two separate but interdependent areas.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Key’s coverage in Parts One-Six:

o Welcome to the New World of Innovation (Pages 13-15)
o The Golden Churn (19-23)
o Manufacturing 101 (31-36)
o A Few Practical Tips, and, Study the Marketplace (40-48)
o Discover Sleeping Dinosaurs (48-50)
o Make a Game of It! (54-57)
o The Four Characteristics of a Winning Idea (59-64)
o Trust Your Gut (68-70)
o Will It Sell? Evaluate Marketability of Your Idea (75-77)
o Is It Doable and Affordable? (83-84)
o Types of Prototypes Prototype (95-101)
o A Primer on Patenting (107-110)
o Inventor’s Logbook: Still a Must-Have (112-114)
o A Necessary Precaution When Sharing Your Idea (127-129)
o When to Toot or Silence Your Horn (129-131)
o Create a Door-Opening Benefit Statement (136-140)
o Create a Deal-Generating Sell Sheet (140-142)
o Create a Professional Image (151-152)

Those who purchase this book will the “next best thing” to retaining Key and having him working with them on every phase of the process that begins with what is, initially, “a simple idea” (e.g. selling books online) and then (a) taking it to market or (b) consummating a licensing agreement with someone who will. Because this is a revised and expanded edition, it includes new material that is probably in response to different questions that have been asked during the last five years.

Here are Stephen Key’s concluding remarks: “To play this game, you do not have to be a creative genius. You don’t even need to come up with your own ideas; you can play — and win — by connecting people with great ideas to the companies that want to license them. If you have a passion for innovative products [or an innovative way to distribute products or ideas], a penchant for selling, and some licensing expertise, you, too, can reap the rewards of the licensing lifestyle by becoming a product scout. That’s the beauty of the licensing lifestyle.”

It’s not a lifestyle for everyone. However, it is certainly worthy of consideration. Reading and then re-reading One Simple Idea will help you make the right choice, whatever that may be.


Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World
Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World
by Al Pittampalli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.25
52 used & new from $12.58

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why leaders should demand to know whatever they need to know, especially if it is contrary to what they now think, January 27, 2016
Those who are persuadable have a mindset that is both willing and able – indeed eager -- to consider diverse perspectives, especially those that challenge their cherished assumptions and premises. The healthiest organizations are those in which principled dissent is not merely encouraged; in fact, it is required.

This is what Al Pittampalli has in mind when suggesting that being persuadable demonstrates “the genuine willingness and ability to change your mind in the face of new evidence. Being persuadable requires rejecting absolute certainty, treating your beliefs as temporary, and acknowledging the possibility that no matter how confident you are about any particular opinion – you could be wrong. It involves actively seeking out criticism and counterarguments against even your most long-standing favored beliefs. Most important, persuadability entails evaluating those arguments as objectively as possible and updating your beliefs accordingly.”

I agree with Pittampalli that persuadability is “a vastly underappreciated advantage in business and life.” He identifies and explains seven practices of persuadable leaders, practices distilled from cutting edge research from cognitive and social psychology. Here they are:

1. Consider the Opposite
2. Update Your Beliefs Incrementally
3. Kill Your Darlings
4. Take the Perspective of Others
5. Avoid Being Too Persuadable
6. Convert Early
7. Take on Your Own Tribe

“These simple yet powerful habits have accelerated the path to success for some of the best leaders in the world, and they have the potential to do the same for you.”

There are several people I know who feel threatened by – and indeed resent – information and opinions that differ from theirs. Paradoxically, at least in my experience, those who possess the greatest self-confidence are most persuadable as Pattampalli defines it. But of course here are others so set in their ways that even Bob Cialdini could not get them to consider another perspective. With rare exception, dull people have stale ideas.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of his coverage:

o Hedgehogs and Foxes: ACCURACY (Pages 21-29)
o Changing Course: AGILITY (29-36)
o The Supershrinks: GROWTH (36-43)
o The Autonomous Leader (47-49)
o Ralph Waldo Emerson, Joseph Campbell, and the Culture of Heroic Defiance (51-55)
o The Illusion of Nonconformity (61-65)
o The Flip-Flop Hunter (70-75)
o Abraham Lincoln, Master of Reversals (79-83)
o The Motivated Confirmation Bias: Why We Like Ourselves Too Much for the Facts to Count (88-92)
o The Unmotivated Confirmation Bias: Why Not Mattering Can Still Matter (92-99)
o The Art of Sacrifice (122-124)
o Lean Entrepreneurs and the Fastest Way to Truth (124-130)
o Why Power Has a Difficult Time Perspective Taking (144-147)
o Recruit Others to Help You Kill Your Darlings (134-140)

Note: Pittampalli is spot-on when stressing the importance of perspective taking to effective leadership. Think of it as “strategic emotional intelligence” to help gain an advantage, to be sure, but also to nourish a relationship of mutual trust and respect, not only in the workplace but in all other dimensions of human experience.

o Develop a Habit of Perspective Taking (153-154)
o The $125 Spoon and Other Costs of Being Too Persuadable (159-162)
o Beware “The Resistance” (165-166)
o How to Be Decisive without Being Close-Minded(167-168)
o Persuadable Leaders and Accelerate Collective Progress (173-174)
o How Social Movements Happen (174-177)
o Three Degrees of Influence (180-183)
o The End of the End Zone? (183-186)
o The Benefit of Leniency, and, The Importance of Being Flexible (191-195)
o Challenging Your Own Tribe (197-201

Here is a brief, representative selection of Pattampalli’s comments on four persuadable leaders:

On Abraham Lincoln: “The story of the Great Emancipator is a complex one filled with inconsistencies [about slavery, colonization, and allowing ’the Colored man’ to vote]. And inconsistency, despite its detractors, is what is often required in great leadership…You can’t evaluate consistency or inconsistency [e.g. Abraham Lincoln’s ‘flip-flops’] without looking at the context that surrounds it. Without all the facts and influences, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether someone is acting with integrity or not.”

On Jeff Bezos: “Unsatisfied with patiently waiting to be convinced that his favored beliefs [about digital books] were wrong, Bezos was intent on killing them himself. And it paid off — big. Amazon and its Kindle device dominate the digital book world…Ordinary open-mindedness leads to ordinary growth and agility, but as Bezos proved, active open-mindedness leads to extraordinary growth and agility.”

On what makes most of billionaire Ray Dalio’s investment decisions so successful: “Dalio doesn’t hold a mysterious almanac from the future that tells him which bets to make, like Biff Tannen from Back from the Future II. In fact, the secret to Dalio’s accuracy doesn’t lie in [begin italics] what [end italics] he knows. The secret is in [begin italics] how he thinks [end italics].”

On Alan Mulally: He "saved Ford Motor Company, not by staying the course but by continually changing course in response to new data…To accommodate the unexpected delay [of introducing a new model, the Ford Edge], Mulally’s overall plan for Ford would have to change. But that was the whole point. This mindset is the essence of agile leadership.”

One final and, yes, obvious point: The fact that someone is persuadable by no means reduces the need to be persuasive when attempting to convince that person to think and behave differently than they would otherwise. All great leaders will give thoughtful consideration to information that is valid, to logic that is solid, and to evidence that is sufficient and (if possible) verifiable. They also have built-in, shock-proof crap detectors.


Leaper Vintage Casual Canvas Backpack Rucksack Book bag School Bag Travel Bag Satchel Bag Black
Leaper Vintage Casual Canvas Backpack Rucksack Book bag School Bag Travel Bag Satchel Bag Black
Offered by LeaperDirect
Price: $33.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded All Expectations, January 20, 2016
I rate this product outstanding in all respects: design, quality of materials, construction, durability, ease of use, range of selection options, purchase price, and functionality. I selected it (in different colors) as a gift for three grandchildren this past Christmas and all are, like, "totally pleased"...as am I. This really is a superb product. I appreciate the opportunity to put it to a rigorous test.

Note: For those purchasing one for a child, the younger the child, the darker the color selected. Yes, these backpacks are very durable but get quite a beating from younger children. Until recipient is nine or ten, I recommend black or dark blue.

* * *

Disclaimer: I was offered this product at no cost in exchange for an “honest” review. I assume full responsibility for all my reviews, including this one.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2016 2:20 AM PST


The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions into Positive Results
The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions into Positive Results
by Bob Nease
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.72
50 used & new from $9.73

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the “intent/behavior gap” is and how to minimize it, if not eliminate it, January 19, 2016
Bob Nease is on to something. He really is. With regard to the “intent/behavior gap” and its significance, he observes, “Because we are wired for inattention and inertia, we often let things slide and go with the flow. Over time, this causes a big, persistent gap between what we want to do (were we to stop and think about it) and what we really do.” There have been gaps in human experience since the Garden of Eden. A few years later, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton wrote an HBR article and then a book about the knowing-doing gap. There are other behavioral discrepancies such as the doing-knowing, promising-delivering, and beginning-completing gaps. Good news: none is permanent. Bad news: none is easily reduced, much less eliminated.

As for the intent-behavior gap, how to formulate the new behavioral change strategies needed to get at the root of the problem? Ease: “If you think intention and behavior move in lock step and you see that someone’s behaving badly, you’ll conclude that bad intentions are the root cause. And then you’ll pursue strategies to change those underlying intentions. But once you understand that bad behavior can result from good intentions, you start to pursue a completely new set of strategies: one that is focused on activating good intentions rather than changing good ones. The Power of Fifty Bits shares seven practical strategies that can be used to activate people’s good intentions.

With regard to this book’s title, “fifty bits refers to a startling statistic: of the ten million bits of information out our brains process each second, only fifty bits are devoted to conscious thought. This limitation means that, to a large degree, humans are wired for inattention and inertia, which in turn leads to a gap between [as previously noted] what people really want (were they to stop and think about it) and what they do.”

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Nease’s coverage:

o Fifty Bits Design Versus User-Centered Design (Pages xix-xxi)
o The Intent-Behavior Gap (3-6)
o Brains on Autopilot (15-17)
o Three “shortcuts” to building strategies that unlock good intentions (20-40)
o The Seven Strategies for Fifty Bits Design (40-42)
o Designing with Active Choice (51-56)
o Putting Recommitment to Work (59-63)
o Commitment Contracts (66-69)
o Why Precommitment Works, and, Designing with Precommitment (69-74)
o Designing Using Opt-Outs (82-84)
o Cues for the Clueless, Clues for the Cue-Less (91-94)
o Finding the Flow, and, Designing by Getting in the Flow (98-101)
o Words Matter — Washington, DC Edition (105-107)
o Two Magic Words in Customer Service (109)
o Reframing Choices Using Social Norms (109-112)
o Reframing Choices Using Loss Aversion (112-113)
o Reframing Attention on a Key Attribute (113-114)
o Designing by Reframing the Choices (115-118)
o Accidental Exercise (121-122)
o Designing with Piggybacking (125-127)
o Why Is Easy So Good? and, Why Easy Isn’t Always Better (135-138)
o Designing with Wise Simplification (138-141)
o The Contraceptive CHOICE Project (145-148)
o Making the Most of Fifty Bits Design (148-150)
o Guardrails (150-152)
o A Better Way to Better Behavior (155-158)

The principles and seven strategies of fifty bits design are best revealed within the narrative, in context, but — in my opinion — they can be mastered by almost anyone during a relatively brief period of time. Don’t be misled by the appeal of “practice makes perfect” because perfection is a never-ending process rather than an ultimate destination. However, the more time, thought, and effort you invest in understanding what fifty bits design is, what it isn’t, and how it works, the more effective your behavioral change initiatives will be.

Since beginning the process that Nease recommends, I have concentrated on three specific behaviors of mine that I wanted to change. That process continues as I compose this brief commentary but I want to share one personal experience that may be of interest: I am also changing how I think about trying to help others to change. For example, one of the three aforementioned behaviors is becoming a more attentive listener. As that occurs, I realize, I am also serving as — or at least suggesting — a model for others to emulate.

Here are Bob Nease’s concluding remarks: “Better behavior is mission critical for everything that matters to us as individuals, families, organizations, communities, and as a species. My deep hope and strong belief is that fifty boots design will be an important part of our success.” I share that hope and am now at work on strengthening that belief. Like everyone else’s, my life really is a work-in-progress.


Leaper Thickened Canvas Laptop Bag/ Shoulder Daypack / School Backpack/ Causal Style Handbag
Leaper Thickened Canvas Laptop Bag/ Shoulder Daypack / School Backpack/ Causal Style Handbag
Offered by LeaperDirect
Price: $15.99 - $28.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded all expectations, January 19, 2016
I rate this product outstanding in all respects: design, quality of materials, construction, durability, ease of use, range of selection options, purchase price, and functionality. I selected it (in different colors) as a gift for three grandchildren this past Christmas and all are, like, "totally pleased"...as am I. This really is a superb product. I appreciate the opportunity to put it to a rigorous test.

* * *

Disclaimer: I was offered this product at no cost in exchange for an “honest” review. I assume full responsibility for all my reviews, including this one.


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