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Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking (Rotman-UTP Publishing)
Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking (Rotman-UTP Publishing)
by Jim Dewald
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.48
31 used & new from $22.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Improvement that is not continuous is merely a gesture of no enduring value, June 24, 2016
Years ago at a GE annual meeting, its then chairman and CEO — Jack Welch — was asked to explain why he admired small companies and wanted GE to be more like them. His response:

“For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy.”

W. Brett Wilson may have had this perspective in mind when observing in the Foreword: “Entrepreneurship is something [begin italics] everyone [end italics] should study for life…Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking. It’s about innovation. And if there is one lesson I’ve learned from my career, it’s that anyone, anywhere, can have/develop/enjoy an entrepreneurial mindset.”

I agree with Welch and Wilson as well as with Jim Dewald who is convinced that organizations really do prosper because they have established and then nourished an entrepreneurial mindset at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Their people are constantly asking this question: “How can we make things better and do so faster at a lower cost?” In this book, Dewald responds to these questions:

1. “What is driving the renewed interest in entrepreneurship — specifically, corporate entrepreneurship? Are we entering a new era in which corporate entrepreneurship will become essential, even for short-term success?”
Comment: Welch thought that it was essential for GE thirty years ago. That’s good enough for me.

2. “How can existing business firms best prepare themselves to be entrepreneurial?”
Comment: Leaders in many (if not most) organizations think they are entrepreneurial and most are, to varying degree. My opinion is that organizations tend to reward what they value.

3. “What are the pitfalls or barriers, and how can firms and managers best prepare for these unexpected concerns?”
Comment: “Unexpected”? In Art of War, Sun Tzu asserts that every battle is won or lost before it is fought.

When responding to these key questions, Jim Dewald draws upon a wide and deep background in all dimensions of the business world. He shares an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel to leaders who face, each day, challenges in a business world that has become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember.

His concluding thoughts: “The ability of our corporate sector it adapt to paradigm-shifting innovation is unproven at best, and horribly immature at worst (based on the bubble). The path to longevity and firm sustainability is paved with the skill of entrepreneurial thinking, embracing an entrepreneurial culture, opportunity identification, bricolage, and effectual reasoning. I hope this book will help you find [or reignite] the entrepreneurial spirit and the source for longevity for your organization.”

I share that hope.

Mousrs® Japanese Style The Japanese Courtesans Mini Portable Glazed Printing Paper Notebook Sketchbook Journal Drawing Pad 7.2''x 5.2'' SALE FOR 48 HOURS ONLY on Weekend (Geta)
Mousrs® Japanese Style The Japanese Courtesans Mini Portable Glazed Printing Paper Notebook Sketchbook Journal Drawing Pad 7.2''x 5.2'' SALE FOR 48 HOURS ONLY on Weekend (Geta)
Offered by Luke's Gift - Hong Kong
Price: $16.50

5.0 out of 5 stars For artists and writers, this is is a lovely, sturdy daily companion., June 23, 2016
I was offered this product to check out in exchange for an "honest" review and I do that now, suggesting that this notebook is of superior quality and will be of special interest and value to artists. I use it to record notes as I review books. FYI, for years I have used a Mead "marble" lined notebook that serves my needs. The Mears® Japanese style notebook has a unique advantage: Its aesthetic appeal helps to develop a more proactive attitude toward the creative process. In my case, I record more fully developed thoughts rather than "mullets" (fragments of mulling) and random, fragmented scribbles. I take the process more seriously and I think that will be even more true of artists who record sketches. Excellent paper for watercolors. It is a lovely, sturdy daily companion. Thank you.

When the Pressure's On: The Secret to Winning When You Can't Afford to Lose
When the Pressure's On: The Secret to Winning When You Can't Afford to Lose
by Louis S. Csoka Ph.D.
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.23
52 used & new from $12.14

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Champions get up when they can’t.” Jack Dempsey, June 22, 2016
All of us can identify with a situation when someone has been knocked down (emotionally as well as physically) and seems unable to recover, to “get back up.” Some do, others don’t, and reasons vary. Louis Csoka wrote this book in order to share what he has learned about how to cope with severe stress, especially when it cannot be avoided and those involved are not responsible for its causes.

He identifies three options:

1. Opt out of the situation by quitting.
2. Attempt to eliminate the causes.
3. Improve response.

For many people, #1 really isn’t an option. They endure as best they can and may — or may not - attempt to eliminate or alleviate the causes. Csoka recommends #3 and provides a wealth of information, insights, and counsel that can help almost anyone who reads this book to improve how they respond to severe stress.

In this context, I presume to share a few thoughts of my own. First, stress is not necessarily bad. It can stimulate rather than debilitate and give focus to effort. Some people need deadlines. They are more productive if they know the dos and don’ts when attempting to complete the given task. The stress to which Csoka refers diminishes self-confidence, enthusiasm, energy, stamina, and worst of all, hope.

Also, all of his recommendations take into full account the importance of decompression. Workplace burnout helps to explain why, on average, less than a third of employees in a U.S. company are actively and positively engaged. More than 70% are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”), or actively disengaged, working to undermine the success of their company.

Finally, positive stress will help to accelerate the personal growth and professional development in any workplace environment whereas negative stress will prevent them.

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

o Mindsets (Pages 13-17)
o Mental strength (13-22 and 25-29)
o Desired behavior inventory (25-29)
o Peak Performance Skill Level Self-Assessment (27-29)
o Goal Setting (34-35 and 51-68)
o Adaptive Thinking (35-37 and 71-82)
o Stress and Energy Management (37-39 and 85-121)
o In-Depth Look at Training (43247, 131-132, and 160-162)
o Neuro Training (44-45)
o Outcome Goals (55-56)
o Controlling the Negative Voices in Our Heads (74-78)
o Rules of Stress Management (116-121)
o VUCA framework for self-assessment (167-183)
o Learned Instinct (174-175 and 180-183)
o Situational Awareness (176-180)
o Chelsey (”Sully”) Sullenberger and U.S. Airways flight 1549 (183-188)
o Commander’s Calm (190-196)

I agree with Louis Csoka that in a world that has become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I (at least) can remember, it is imperative to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” And keep in mind that stress is not necessarily bad. Also, some causes of stress can be avoided or overcome (if not eliminated) such as improving communication skills (e.g. making performance expectations crystal clear) and identifying the right question to answer or the right problem to solve.

Also, I agree with him about the importance of establishing a workplace culture within which individual awareness (Ellen Langer calls it “mindfulness,” same thing), self-reflection, self-control, and self-regulation are encouraged, indeed cherished — and rewarded as well as recognized — because they leverage positive stress to achieve high-impact results. Champions in the boxing ring get up when they can’t. So do peak performers in the business world.

When the Pressure’s On is a brilliant achievement. Bravo!

The Innovation Formula: The 14 Science-Based Keys for Creating a Culture Where Innovation Thrives
The Innovation Formula: The 14 Science-Based Keys for Creating a Culture Where Innovation Thrives
by Amantha Imber
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.83
40 used & new from $11.32

5.0 out of 5 stars To paraphrase Henry Ford, “If you think you can or think you can’t create a culture where innovation thrives, you’re right.”, June 21, 2016
What can leaders in almost organization do to establish a workplace culture in which innovation or creativity will thrive? Amantha Imber has identified several “keys” (i.e. components or factors) of such a workplace culture. Each poses unique challenges and most are interdependent.

Imber’s material is rock-solid. She draws upon a wide and deep base of direct experience with all manner of organizations. I agree with her that innovation is – or at least should be – an ongoing process of using creative thinking to improve products and services, of course, but also improve the processes by which to create or generate demand (marketing) produce and distribute whatever is offered, and meanwhile minimize waste of resources (especially hours and dollars).

As Imber well realizes, the term “code” with regard to individuals is comparable with the term “secret sauce” with regard to organizations. Just as there are defining characteristics of great organizations, there are defining characteristics of exceptionally creative people. Breaking a code does not necessarily mean that the knowledge gained will be effectively applied. The same is true of any formula, once in hand. The great value of this book will be derived from the options that Imber identifies and the context within which she examines each. This material will be of essential and substantial value to leaders as well as to those who aspire to become one.

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

o “Innovation Culture Audit” (Page xxxiii-xxxii)
o Challenge 3-12)
o Esty marketplace (3-15, 92-93, 133-135, 141-142, and 150-151)
o Autonomy (3-25)
o Individual factors driving innovation (21-40)
o Goals (22-23, 111-118, and 162-163)
o Carol Dweck and the growth mindset (z37-39)
o Team level factors driving innovation (41-72)
o Creativity (42-72)
o Intellectual stimulation: Team(43-53)
o Support from teams (53-60)
o Cohesion and innovation (55-57)
o Team collaboration (61-72)
o Communication (68-69, 112-113, and 172-173)
o Individual factors driving innovation (73-118)
o Support from leaders (78-85)
o Impacts of leaders on teams (78-81)
o Risk Taking (121-137)
o Failure (122-127)
o Cohesion (139-143)
o Participation (149-162)
o Steps in innovation process (151-156)
o Physical environment (163-173)

With regard to the 14 “drivers of an innovation culture,” the companies annually ranked among those considered to be the most innovative (e.g. probably few (if any) of them have tall at full strength all of them time. (How could they?) In my opinion, and presumably Imber agrees with me, the key to success (however defined) is to have all of the factors operative and interdependent, in ways and to the extent appropriate. It remains for leaders to provide the coordination that is needed at all levels and in all areas throughout the given enterprise.

This book was written for those who are determined to establish or strengthen a workplace culture within which innovation is most likely to thrive. It remains for each reader to recruit those who share that determination and, together, formulate a game plan based on what the “Innovation Culture Audit” reveals. Select a leader. Set priorities. (Be sure to check out “What Now” Pages 175-176.) Agree on the division of labor. You may wish to consider creating a “sprint team,” using a model developed by Google and thoroughly explained in Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, written by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz, and recently published by Simon & Schuster. Most of the information, insights, and counsel you need are in Amantha Imber’s book. Pay special attention to the “Key Points” section at the conclusion of each chapter and review them frequently.

If you ever have any doubts about what you and your colleagues can accomplish together, keep this observation by Margaret Mead 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.”

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms
Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms
by Richard Schmalensee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.96
65 used & new from $13.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to help those with a need for a product or service to connect with those who can provide it, June 20, 2016
The concept is obviously simple, one than can be traced back to the ancient markets in Athens and Rome as well as throughout Egypt where goods and services were also exchanged on the same cashless premise: by barter. Establish a location (a "platform") where those in need of a product or service are able to connect with those who can provide it. Today the Web provides (by far) the best meeting place for buyers and sellers of almost everything. Payments are processed electronically.

In Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy--And How to Make Them Work for You, Geoffrey Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary pose two interesting questions: How can a major business segment be invaded and conquered in a matter of months by an upstart with none of the resources traditionally deemed essential for survival, let alone market dominance? And why is this happening today in one industry after another?'

Here's the answer to both questions: "the power of the platform," a new business model embraced by Airbnb, Uber, Alibaba, and Facebook'and previously by Amazon, YouTube, Wikipedia, iPhone, Upwork, Twitter, KAYAK, Instagram, and Pinterest, among others. As is also true of the Worldwide Web that Tim Berners-Lee devised more than twenty years ago, the platform's core functions are connectivity and interactivity. Its overarching purpose is to "consummate matches among users and facilitate the exchange of goods, services, or social currency, thereby enabling value creation for all participants."

Unlike the traditional linear value chain, platforms scale more efficiently and more quickly by eliminating gatekeepers; unlocking new sources of value creation supply and demand; using data-based tools to create community feedback loops; and centering on people, resources, and "functions that exist outside the operations of a platform business" such as Uber, "complementing or replacing those that exist inside a traditional business" such as a taxi cab company.

If possible, Platform Revolution and Matchmakers should be read in combination. Yes, David Evans and Richard Schmalensee discuss several of the same companies and address some of the same issues but, as I think the co-authors of both books agree, the importance of understanding the new economics of multisided platforms --- and then leveraging that understanding --- requires as much information, insights, and counsel as can be obtained.

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

o Frictions (Pages 7-20)
o OpenTable (7-8 and 9-14)
o Critical Mass (9-14 and 69-83)
o Network Effects (21-31)
o Microsoft (26-27 and 106-110)
o Apple (126-127 and 142-143)
o Internet Service Providers (45-47)
o Creative Destruction (49-51)
o YouTube (73-76)
o eBay and Pay Pal (81-82)
o AT&T (113-114)
o Alibaba (158-161)
o Ecosystems (100-121)
o Amazon (105-106)
o Aventura Mall (121-122 and 129-133)
o Design and Value (121-133)
o Externalities (128-140)
o Governance Systems (135-148)
o Apple Pay (149-150 and 156-164)
o M-PESA Financial Services (167-181)

Evans and Schmalensee provide a brilliant examination of one of the most interesting business developments during the last decade: the matchmaker company, one "that helps two or or more different kinds of customers find each other an engage in mutually beneficial interactions. Matchmaking does not involve literally finding matches for people" like the old village matchmaker would try to do for a potential marriage ' but rather finding good trading parties. A payment card network, for example, helps retailers and customers get together and transact by using the same, agreed-upon payment method.'

They examine dozens of example of these "mutually beneficial interactions." The Web also plays a major role by facilitating, indeed expediting transactions almost anywhere, almost anytime, between and among almost any organizations and/or individuals. I commend David Evans and Richard Schmalensee on the abundance of uniquely valuable information, insights, and counsel in their book, provided within a lively and eloquent narrative.

Whatever the size and nature of a platform may be, it serves two timeless and timely functions: connection and interaction. Needs and interests are certain to change in years to come and the same is true of products and services as well as of the technologies and systems involved. I have no idea what the platforms will look like but I am certain there will be matchmakers then who share much in common with matchmakers today.

ESPIRO Premium Mirrored Aviator Sunglasses For Men Women Flash Mirror Lens UV400 Protection
ESPIRO Premium Mirrored Aviator Sunglasses For Men Women Flash Mirror Lens UV400 Protection
Offered by ESPIRO
Price: $69.99

5.0 out of 5 stars If anything, they exceeded my expectations., June 18, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have worn Ray Ban sunglasses (RB3025 Aviators) for decades and think very highly of them in terms of their functionality, design, and durability. I agreed to exchange a review of the ESPIRO glasses for an "honest" review of them mainly because I was curious if glasses that resemble Ray Bans in photographs also resemble them in these respects (i.e. functionality, design, and durability). My opinion after several months of daily wear? They do. Frankly, I see no significance differences. Others have noted the accessories that come with the ESPIRO glasses.They are value-added benefits, nice to have, but of little interest to me. My concern was that the ESPIRO glasses would look just fine but soon prove to be "cheap." So far, they have held up just fine. Why pay more? From now on, I won't.

Wine Opener Set 4 Accessories Essentials with Luxury Box (Lever Corkscrew and Wine Aerator Decanter)
Wine Opener Set 4 Accessories Essentials with Luxury Box (Lever Corkscrew and Wine Aerator Decanter)
Offered by KEds Ltd.
Price: $59.00
2 used & new from $33.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Superior quality at a remarkably affordable price, June 18, 2016
This is a combination of products of the very highest quality in terms of
design, functionality, and materials. Over time, we intend to purchase
several sets to serve as wedding, housewarming, Christmas, and general
purpose gifts for family members and friends who have exquisite taste and
are very demanding in terms of performance and durability as well as
aesthetic appeal. Bravo!

Presentation Skills 201: How to Take It to the Next Level as a Confident, Engaging Presenter
Presentation Skills 201: How to Take It to the Next Level as a Confident, Engaging Presenter
by William R Steele
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.95
11 used & new from $11.32

5.0 out of 5 stars How you present yourself when interacting with others will probably determine what they think of you, for better or worse, June 15, 2016
Years ago, Maya Angelou observed, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I was again reminded of that wisdom as I began to read the Second Edition of Bill Steele’s book. From the Preface: “I need to stress that this book is NOT a step-by-step guide to creating and delivering presentations. I titled it Presentation Skills 201 because it assumes you know the fundamentals and you’re now looking for ways to enhance your skills. This book is a collection of the ways I would recommend you strongly consider.”

Keep in mind that the term “presentation” refers to a variety of situations that range from a confidential discussion with one’s supervisor about compensation, a promotion, and/or career opportunities to a public presentation to an audience off several thousand people at a conference. Whatever the given subject or agenda may be, whatever the nature and extent of the given circumstances may be, Steele correctly stresses the importance of the same fundamentals. They comprise a seven-stage process and Steel devotes a separate chapter to each.

1. PLANNING: Benjamin Franklin insisted, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Abraham Lincoln once said if he has six hours to chop down a tree, he would use four of those hours sharpening the axe. Plan what you will do and how you will do it…and be prepared to make adjustments and modifications.

2. PREPARATION: Sun Tzu asserts in Art of War that every battle is won or lost before it is fought. Planning and Preparation are inseparable and interdependent. Michael Porter suggests that the essence of formulating a strategy is deciding what NOT to do. Similarly, as Steele makes crystal clear, it is imperative to plan and prepare a presentation that omits whatever is non-essential. “Brainstorm first, then organize,” “Don’t Prepare More Than Enough,” and “Answer the ’So What?’” are spot on.

3. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Anders Ericsson coined the term “deliberate practice,” practice that is sharply focused, rigorously disciplined, and preferably under expert supervision. Rehearse until you reach a point at which you seem so natural that no one would ever guess that you rehearsed so thoroughly and so frequently. Like Sabatini’s Scaramouche, seem effortless.

4. WORK WITH A TEAM: This is especially important if help is needed with research, fact checking, and use of multi-media equipment and resources. Discuss the details and issues of the given situation only with those who will offer candid as well as informed opinions. Steele and I agree with Ken Blanchard: “Feedback is the breakfast food of champions.” Just be certain that those from whom you request know what they are talking about and will pull no punches.

5. DIMENSIONS OF DELIVERY: There is much to be said for looking and sounding “like a winner.” It is also true that even if you insert a large cow pie in a blue Tiffany box and tie a yellow ribbon around it, it’s still a cow pie. Keep in mind that about 70% of your impact during a face-to-face interaction will be determined by body language and tone of voice. Oscar Wilde advised, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Quite true but I presume to add, be your BEST self.

6. PLATFORM: Re-read my comments for #5. In Chapter 6, Steele provides some of his most helpful advice. (So does Maya Angelou.) “Sound like you care” and you better care or the audience will see through artificial passion. Don’t overcook the “meal.” Let the content seem as natural as the presentation of it. Above all, relax. These moments are what you so carefully prepared for them. Appreciate them and your audience will, also.

7. LANGUAGE USE: Probably because of the rapid emergence of the social media, people have been marinated in clichés and, in fact, the term “cliché” has itself become one. Steele fully realizes and understands this, of course. There challenge is to speak with afresh voice, using language that helps to tell a story (i.e. background, given situation, people, acquisitions and/or problems, developments, and resolution). Again, Steele’s advice is solid (e.g. “retire” your favorite words and phrases, eliminate unnecessary qualifiers, avoid or translate jargon) and my only suggestion re language use is to check out the “USAGE” section in Stanford K. Pritchard’s The Elements of Style: Updated and Annotated for Present-Day Use, 2nd Edition (2012). I also highly recommend an earlier edition, The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition (1999), co-authored by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White with the Introduction provided by Roger Angell (White’s stepson and himself a great writer).

Bill Steele thoroughly explains how to complete each of these stages. He adds a Q&A section in Chapter 8 and then “Challenging Audiences” and “Virtual Presentations” in the next two chapters. I agree with him that almost anyone can — over time — become an exceptional presenter. As indicated earlier, I think the material in this book has a rather broad range of applications, from a private conversation involving two people to a formal presentation so several thousand.

Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity
Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity
by Ken Segall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.94
53 used & new from $11.50

5.0 out of 5 stars “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.” Albert Einstein, June 15, 2016
Einstein’s admonition helps to create a context for Ken Segall’s brilliant explanation of how smart leaders defeat complexity, especially now when the global marketplace seems to become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember. Complexity resembles (in my opinion) kudzu as it captures and enslaves individual lives and even entire organizations.

Seagull focuses on nine themes or dimensions of simplicity, asserting “Simplicity isn’t simple.” Rather, it is on a mission, in the air, loves a leader, is a team spirit, is true to the brand, fits all sizes, is sleeker, creates love, and is instinctive. Long ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. observed, “I do not care a fig about simplicity this side of complexity but would, give me life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Helping as many people as possible to get to that “other side” is why Segall wrote this book.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Segall’s coverage in Chapters 1-4:

o The Science of Simple (Pages 8-9)
o The Transformational Power of Mission (13-16)
o Finding a Mission That Scales (16-18)
o Simplicity Starts Here (23)
o Values Guider Behavior 25-29)
o Values Transcend the Product (29-32)
o Strong Values Inspire Bold Action (35-37)
o Integrity Is a Powerful Value (37-40)
o A Culture of Commitment (48-51)
o Leaders Who Empower, Not Dominate (55-57)
o Serving as Chief Uncomplicator (58-61)
o Keeping the Start-up Simple as It Grows (68-72)
o Focus Starts at the Top (72-75)
o When Leading for Simplicity Failed: The JCPenney Story (75-82)
o Brilliant Hires Are the Key (87-91)
o “People Are the Whole Ballgame” (91-96)
o “The Art of Firing” (101-103)
o Values Are an Employee Magnet (103-105)
o Simplicity Is a Group Effort (105-106)

In my opinion, some of Segall’s most valuable material is provided in the final chapter, “Finding Your Road to Simple.” He offers fifteen specific recommendations that will help his reader formulate a “road map to developing a road map — an outline of strategies to consider and actions you might take as you set out to leverage the power of simplicity.”

All of the most significant journeys that people take in life should begin well and that’s really what this chapter addresses. In fact, with only minor modifications, this same material offers wise and practical counsel to everyone who is involved in all major organizational change initiatives. “Making a company simpler typically requires steely determination, a touch of relentlessness, and marathon-like endurance. There’s only one reason why any sane leader would launch such an initiative. It’s worth it.”

Although Steve Jobs devoted his life to creating insanely great products, he realized that he needed an insanely simple organization to do that. Ken Segal lmakes a key point: Jobs never diminished the challenge of simplification. “But in the same breath he said that once you achieve simplicity, ‘You can move mountains.’ He wasn’t talking about himself. He was talking about you. The philosophy he expressed can be embraced by anyone, in any company, in any industry. To begin, you only need to put your stake in the ground.”

Your move.

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets
Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets
by Kevin Maney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.73
51 used & new from $10.75

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to achieve and then sustain a competitive advantage in almost any marketplace, June 14, 2016
In this book, Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney explain how almost any company can dominate its competitive marketplace. Category design is one of the key concepts that they examine. What is it? “Category design is about creating a new space and ecosystem for an innovation. An innovation without category design wins you a Techcrunch award.

"Innovation with category design turns you into a powerful, enduring business. Disruption is a by-product of creating a new category that happens to suck the life out of an old category — the way’s cloud-based software emasculated the on-premise CRM software industry. But plenty of great new categories don’t disrupt anything. Airing didn’t disrupt hotels. Hotels are doing fine. Disruption should never be a goal. Create something great, and it disrupts, well then you get the Disruptor merit badge.

“Category design is the discipline of creating and developing a new market category and conditioning the market so it will demand your solution and crown your company as its king.” More specifically, here are what specifically category design is and does:

o It drives the company’s strategy to become a category king.
o Involves product and ecosystem design.
o Is part of a company culture.
o Is about creating a powerful and provocative story that causes customers to make a choice.
o Is marketing, public relations, and advertising in combined/cohesive/collaborative focus

“Above all, category design is making all of these components work together, in lockstep, feeding off each other, so each action builds momentum for both the category and its king. In that sense, category is like a musical score for a symphony. Just as every part of the orchestra needs to play the same score together, every part of the company needs to execute category design together.” Ramadan, Petterson, Lochhead, and Maney explain HOW all this can be accomplished.

As I worked my way through their narrative, I was reminded of another recently published book, The Three-Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation, in which Vijay Govindarajan introduces a comparable approach to problem solving. Here’s the paradigm:

Box 1: Optimize the current business.
Box 2: Let go of the values and resources that fuel the current business but fail the new one.
Box 3: Invent a new business model.

“Success in each box requires a different set of skills, attitudes, practices, and leadership.” Success also requires seamless coordination of initiatives in each box to achieve the aforementioned objectives. For example, if the company is not functioning at peak efficiency (in Box 1), it will lack sufficient resources and commitment to build its future (in Box 2), and complete the transition to the future (in Box 3). Just as Boxes 2 and 3 must be protected, Box 1 must remain focused and undistracted. Moreover, with the three boxes kept in proper balance, a business can change dynamically over time. Yes, there are differences between this approach and the one proposed in Play Bigger but both have the same objective: achieve and then sustain competitive advantage.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of co-authors’ coverage in Parts I-II (Chapters 1-7):

o Legendary Questions, and, True Stories of Kings and Kingdoms (Pages 3-9)
o Category Kings Defined (9-13)
o Introducing Category Design (18-21)
o Bad Category Design: A Cautionary Tale (21-24)
o Why Categories (27-42)
o A Category Crowns a King (46-49)
o Great Category Design in World History (50)
o What the Hell Is Category Design? (51-56)
o The Ol’ Frotos (From/Tos): (59-65)
o The Courage of Category Design (65-68)
o Inspiration to Insight (71-78)
o Insight to Category (78-86)
o Insight to Category The Story That’s Not Original (86-89)
o Timing in a POV Is…Well, Not Everything, but Close, and Expressing Your POV (106-112)
o Reality Bites Implementing Category Design (123-127)
o Implementing Category Design (127-131)
o Stories of Gravity (140-146)
o The Play Bigger Guide to Mobilization (145-148)
o How to Get Attention (149-152)
o What a Lightning Strike Does to Brains (155-157)
o Hijacks and Hijinks (161-166)
o The Play Bigger Guide to Strikes, Hijacks, and Attention Grabbing (166-169)

Ramadan, Peterson, Lochhead, and Maney provide an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that – together –provide just about everything C-level executives need to create and develop a new market category and condition that market so it will demand their solution and crown their company as its king.

Where to begin? My suggestions: First, re-read the Play Bigger, then recruit 5-8 others to form a “Sprint” team such as the ones created at Google to achieve high-impact results with innovative thinking. Whoever leads the group should read Jake Knapp’s Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, written with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz. Those who question what a few people can accomplish should consider this observation by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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