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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"The early bird may get the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."
, August 30, 2015
I selected an observation by Steven Wright to serve as the subject of this review because, in my opinion, more often than not, "leaving a job with no Plan B to find the career and life [one] really wants" is ill-advised. Presumably writing this book has proven beneficial to Tess Vigeland's own life and career. Moreover, presumably her intensely personal account will be helpful to many of those now struggling to cope with tensions, indecision, pressures, confusion, stress, and anxieties insofar as their career and/or personal life are/is concerned. Obviously, she has learned much of value from her association with various NPR programs, notably Marketplace, Weekend All Things Considered, and America Abroad as well as Take Two (at KPCC-LA) and Which Way, L.A.? (at KCRW-LA).
Vigeland focuses almost entire on her own life and career thus far. She still has not achieved her ultimate objective (to find the career and life she really wants) by the book's conclusion. Her readers learn lessons vicariously and must then improvise a method by which to apply those of greatest relevance to their own specific circumstances.
As I read and then re-read the book, I frequently found it difficult to identify an insight or point that she obviously wishes to share. For example in the final chapter, on Page 233, she observes, "There's a phrase that you will likely hear a lot after you've taken your leap that I started to loath over the last couple of years. `I can't wait to see what you do next!' I know it's well meaning, and I appreciate the sentiment. But, and maybe it's just me, I have always felt like that phrase was loaded with expectation." Then in the final sentence two pages later, she tells her reader, "I can't wait to see what you do next." Such muddled thinking creates and exacerbates confusion.
If there is a second edition, I presume to offer these suggestions to Tess Vigeland:
o Revise the Prologue so that the material is relevant to both (a) those who will remain in their current situation while preparing to obtain a better one and (b) those who plan to "leap" soon or have only recently done so. The information, insights, and counsel provided should be of great interest and value to those in both groups. Also, change the title to "To Leap or Not to Leap."
o Identify a series of at least five but no more than ten key insights and devote a separate chapter to each,
o Cut self-references by at least 50% (preferably more) and devote at least as much attention to "How" as you do to "What." The "Why" should be self-evident.
o Introduce each chapter with 3-5 Key Questions for the reader to keep in mind
o Add interactive exercises to the end of each chapter, to be completed by the reader
o Add an Appendix that contains all the Questions and Exercises. This will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the key material later.
o Add an Index, for obvious reasons.
One final point: The ultimate objective for anyone who writes a book such as this one is to make the reader feel that it was written specifically for them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
How and why purpose and profitability are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they tend to be interdependent.
, August 27, 2015
To what does the title of this book refer? E. Freya Williams focuses her and her reader's attention on nine billion dollar businesses that combine both social purpose and organizational profitability: Chipotle, Unilever, Whole Foods Market, Natura, Tesla, IKEA (Products for a More Sustainable Life at Home), GE (Ecomagination), Nike (Flyknit), and Toyota (Prius). Their combined annual revenue is $122.09 billion. "While the Green Giants are the focus, the book also features some next Billions -- companies that display characteristics similar to the Green Giants but have not yet reached the billion-dollar benchmark, though most are well on their way." Featured Next Billions include Warby Parker, Airbnb, The Honest Company, SweetGreen, Patagonia, and Method Home.
"Note that Green Giants and Next Billions are not boring, crunchy granola companies or obscure B2B suppliers. They are some of the most vibrant, sexy brands out there today...Together, they prove that businesses predicated on sustainability and social good aren't just a viable alternative to business as usual. They are more profitable and more sustainable financially."
In this context, I am reminded of the term "gazelle," one that refers to the classic entrepreneur of myth and reality, someone who starts a new business venture (or a new way of doing business) and aims for it to explode into a white-hot phenomenon such as Home Depot, Facebook, Jenny Craig, Netflix, Under Armour, and Instagram.
The term "gazelle" was coined by the economist David Birch. His identification of gazelle companies followed from his 1979 report titled "The Job Generation Process" (MIT Program on Neighborhood and Regional Change), wherein he identified small companies as the biggest creators of new jobs in the economy. In 1994, however, Birch revised his thesis, isolating job-creating companies he called "gazelles." Characterized less by size than by rapid expansion, Birch defined the species as enterprises whose sales doubled every four years. By his estimates, these firms, roughly 4% of all U.S. companies, were responsible for 70% of all new jobs.
The gazelles beat out the elephants (like Walmart) and the mice (corner barbershops). When you hear politicians say, "Small businesses create most of the new jobs," they're really talking about young and growing firms. They are talking about gazelles.
These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Williams' coverage just in Chapters 1-5:
o The Business Case for Sustainability (Pages 8-11)
o The Six Factors of Green Giant Companies 11-14)
o Meet the Iconclastic Leaders (20-25)
o Anatomy of an Iconoclastic Leader: The 4 Vs (26-47)
o Techniques for Winning with the 4 Cs (47-50)
o Defining Disruptive, and, Delivering Disruptive Innovation (54-84)
o How to Do It: The Five Stages of Disruptive Innovation (84-93)
o Why Does Business Exist? (99-102)
o A Battle for the Soul of Business (102-105)
o Purpose in Action (111-116)
o Why Purpose Drives Profits (116-123)
o Find Your Purpose (123-130)
o Criteria for Selecting a Purpose (130-132)
o The Six Structures (139-168)
o Strategic Philanthropy (168-171)
I commend Williams on her patient and thorough examination of what separates current and imminent Green Giants from those with whom they compete for admiration as well as sales and profits. For example, in Chapter 2, she identifies and discusses five principles that guide and inform the disruptive innovation initiatives of a Green Giant:
1. Make it better, not just greener
2. Embrace the counterintuitive
3. Bet on yourself
4. Engage the problem solvers
5. Cultivate pervasive innovation
Obviously, each is easier identified than implemented. One of the biggest challenges is to get people to think innovatively about innovation. She also explains why purpose drives profits in Green Giant workplaces: Purpose = plan, Self-motivated people, and Loyal customers. Commitment to the purpose will sustain the plan as well as sustain active and productive engagement by all stakeholders. In Chapter 6, Williams explains the need for what she characterizes as a "new behavioral contract," one that has three pillars: Pre-responsibility, Truthparency, and Experimental Collaboration. Details are best revealed within her narrative, in context.
Robert Sher has much of value to share in Mighty Midsized Companies: How Leaders Overcome 7 Silent Growth Killers. Sher is one of the first business thinkers of whom I am aware who focuses entirely on midsized companies: those whose annual sales are between $10-million and one billion dollars. The almost 200,000 midsized companies in the U.S. account for about a third of the U.S. GDP and a third of all U.S. jobs. He wrote this book for those who are leaders in these companies to help them face unique challenges. He duly notes that their nature may be essentially the same but the extent (i.e. scale) of each challenge can differ significantly for those leading companies with $10-million in annual sales companies than for those leading companies with one billion dollars in annual sales.
Not all leaders -- indeed only a few business leaders -- who read this book will be able to transform their organization into a Green Giant. That's not the point. What all business leaders who read this book can do is help make their organization much "smarter" in terms of how it creates and then sustains purpose and profitability that are interdependent. In her book, E. Freya Williams offers an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that can help leaders in almost any company -- including those that Sher and Birch discuss -- to achieve that admirable, albeit elusive objective.
How to increase our understanding of "the dynamics of human society, and hence our ability to plan for the future"
, August 26, 2015
Alex ("Sandy") Pentland is among the most influential thought leaders in a new field that is called social physics, "a name coined two centuries ago by Auguste Comte, the creator of sociology. His concept was that certain ideas shaped the development of society in a regular manner." He and Lieberman offer a new understanding of human behavior and society, one that has immense implications and significance as social media continue to evolve in ways and to an extent Compte could not possibly imagine.
As Pentland explains, "To understand our new, hyperconnected world we must extend familiar economic and political ideas to include the effects of these millions of digital citizens learning from one another and influencing one another's opinions. We can no longer think of ourselves as only individuals reaching carefully considered opinions; we must include the dynamic social effects that influence our individual decisions and drive economic bubbles, political revolutions, and the Internet economy."
In Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, Matthew D. Lieberman offers his own brilliant examination of the principles of the social brain with a wealth of information and insights, presented with language that non-scientists such as I can understand. His primary purpose is to explain why and how the human brain is wired to think socially. That is, to make connections, to read the minds of others, and to "harmonize" with others in the groups with which we connect.
As he observes, "Just as there are multiple social networks on the Internet such as Facebook and Twitter, each with its own strengths, there are also multiple social networks in our brains, sets of brain regions that work together to promote our social well-being. These networks each have their own strengths, and they have emerged at different points in their evolutionary history moving from vertebrates to mammals to primates to us, Homo sapiens. Additionally, these same evolutionary steps are recapitulated in the same order in childhood."
These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me in the first six chapters, also listed to suggest the scope of Pentland's coverage:
o Preface: The Origin of the Book (Pages vii-x)
o What Is Social Physics? (4-10)
o Living Lab Data Sets (13-14)
o Language/Nomenclature: "Some Quick Definitions": (19-21)
o Social Learning (29-31)
o Idea Flow, and, Idea Flow and Decision Making (32-37)
o Exploration (39-42)
o Habits, Preferences, and Curiosity (46-55)
o Habits versus Beliefs (55-58)
o Common Sense (60-61)
o Social Pressure (65-70)
o Digital Engagement (70-75)
o "The Mathematics of Social Influence" (80-84)
o Collective Intelligence: Measuring What You Manage, and, Productivity (92-96)
o Collective Intelligence: Creativity (96-103)
o Shaping Organizations: Engagement (108-112)
o Shaping Organizations: Exploration (112-114)
o Shaping Organizations: Social Intelligence (116-119)
Pentland seems to have an insatiable curiosity to understand what works, what doesn't, and why insofar as "our new, hyperconnected world" is concerned, then share what he has learned with as many people as possible in his books and articles as well as through his central involvement in undergraduate and graduate programs at MIT as Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and Director of the Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program at MIT where he directs the Human Dynamics research group and leads the Connection Science initiative. In Social Physics, when explaining how social networks can help to make us smarter, he focuses on subjects such as these:
o How to use data to understand how human societies evolve
o How to locate good ideas and make good (better) decisions
o How all of us can work together more productively and more enjoyably
o How patterns of interaction translate into collective intelligence
o How to shape organizations and social intelligence through visualization of interactive patterns
o How social incentives can be used to create instant organizations and guide them through disruptive change
Note: This material (Pages 120-130), all by itself, is worth far more than the cost of the hardbound edition of this book.
o How mobile sensing can enable cities to become more healthy, safe, and efficient
o How social physics and big data are revolutionizing our understanding of cities and development
o What a data-rich future may look like
o How social physics might help us design, a human-centric, data-rich society
Long ago, Thomas Edison suggested that "vision without execution is hallucination." Pentland does indeed have a compelling vision of what can be accomplished in "our new, hyperconnected world" but, being a diehard pragmatist with what Ernest Hemingway once characterized as a "built-in, shock-proof crap detector," he full recognizes the challenges to be faced in months and years to come.
Hence the importance of social physics that "helps us to understand how ideas flow from person to person through the mechanism of social learning and how this flow of ideas ends up shaping the norms, productivity, and creative output of our companies, cities, and societies. It enables us to predict the productivity of small groups, of departments within companies, and even of entire cities. It also helps us tune communication networks so that we can reliably make better decisions and become more productive."
Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Alex ("Sandy") Pentland provides but I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of his book. I wholly agree with him that "the propagation of human action habits by means of social learning can be accurately modeled from easily observable behavior using heterogeneous, dynamic, stochastic networks. This capability is transformative for increasing our understanding of the dynamics of human society, and hence our ability to plan for the future."
Social Physics is a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
"It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist." Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
, August 25, 2015
According to Jack Phillips and Patricia Pulliam Phillips, "This book focuses directly on how to develop a human capital (HC) strategy in today's turbulent and changing environment. Too often, HC strategy encompasses a classic and traditional approach to human resources (HR): recruiting the best people, preparing them for assignments, motivating them for his performance, and retaining them for several years. While all this is necessary, it is more helpful to have a strategy that fits into the current environment and context." More specifically, an HC strategy "must effectively address the demographic changes in the workforce, current skill shortages and mismatches in labor markets, societal and structural shifts in organizations, the persistent energy crisis, globalization, and important environment challenges. At the same time, strategy must be feasible, actionable, measurable, and implemented with remarkable success. This book addresses twelve forces that must be addressed in HC strategy."
These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of the book's coverage in the first five of 14 chapters:
o Are People Necessary? (Pages 1-3)
o A Brief History of Valuing Human Capital (4-7)
o The Expanded Role of Human Capital (8-11)
o Barriers to Change (11-12)
o The Importance of Linking Human Resources to Strategy (13-15)
o Strategic Planning Process (17-23)
o Opening Stories: Costco, Trader Joe's, and Quiktrip (29-31)
o Organizations that invest only the minimum in people (34-37)
o Invest Until It Hurts (46-50)
o Determining the Payoff Needs (57-61)
o Determining Business Needs (61-65)
o Determining earning Needs (65-67)
o Developing Objectives for HR Programs (70-73)
o Why Talent Is Critical to Success (79-83)
o Needed: A System for Talent Management (83-88)
o Acquiring Talent (88-92)
o Developing Talent, Managing Teams, and Retaining Talent (92-97)
With regard to the passage "A Brief History of Valuing Human Capital" (4-7), these are some thought-provoking comments in Rodd Wagner's most recent book, Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They're Real People: "Your people are not your greatest assets. They're not yours, and they're not assets. They are someone's son or daughter, brother or sister, mom or dad. They're people -- people for whom you have a crucial stewardship and with whom you are building a personal legacy that will last long after you have retired. Do right by them, make them happy, and they will be the major force behind the success you share with them, and the best part of being privileged to be a leader."
This is precisely what Jack Phillips and Patti Phillips have in mind when observing, "No resource is as valuable, or expensive, as your people. By learning to provide high-level strategic direction, you not only improve how people work and what they focus their efforts on achieving, but you also deliver the bottom-line results your organization needs to thrive in the future."
Years ago when then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher, was asked to explain the extraordinary success of Southwest Airlines, he replied, "We take great care of our people, they take great care of our customers, and our customers take great care of our shareholders."
It is no coincidence that most of the companies annually ranked among those most highly admired and best to work for are also among those that are annually ranked most profitable with the greatest cap value in their industry.
Jack Phillips and Patti Phillips seem to be on a crusade to help as many leaders as possible to create and then sustain a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. Those who share my high regard for their brilliant book are urged to check out two others: Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by
Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson (Harvard Business Review Press) and Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations, co-authored by Rich Karlgaard and Michael Malone (HarperBusiness/An Imprint of HarperCollins).
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." John Quincy Adams
, August 24, 2015
Most of the volumes in the "HBR Guide to" series consists of anthologies of articles previously published in Harvard Business Review in which their authors share their insights concerning a major business subject such as Better Business Writing, Getting the Right Work Done, and Project Management.
As is also true of volumes in other such series, notably HBR Essentials, HBR Must Reads, and HBR Management Tips, HBR Guides offer substantial value in cutting-edge thinking from 25-30 sources in a single volume at a price (each at about $12-17 from Amazon in the bound version) for a fraction of what article reprints would cost.
What we have in this volume is material created by one thought leader, Mary Shapiro, in collaboration with HBR Editors. She presents a three-stage process -- Build Your Team's Infrastructure, Manage Your Team, Close Out Your Team -- and devotes a separate section to each. Shapiro seems to be a diehard pragmatist, eager to share everything she has learned about leading teams: what works, what doesn't, and why. Presumably she agrees with Warren Bennis that "managing people is like herding cats." (That's the title of one of his most popular books.) In today's global marketplace, with multi-cultural demographics within a multi-national framework, managing people may seem more like herding kangaroos on steroids.
I was previously unfamiliar with Shapiro's work and welcomed this opportunity to share her thoughts and feelings about how, when leading teams, to "balance skills and styles, establish clear roles, and promote healthy dissent." Over time, there have been countless great teams in athletics (e.g. 1927 New York Yankees), science (the Manhattan Project), entertainment (the Disney animators who created Bambi and Pinocchio) and in business (Xerox PARC and Lockheed's "Skunk Works"). With all due respect to teams that have several dozen members, I presume to suggest that some of the greatest breakthroughs in human achievement were achieved by teams of only two or three.
In business, for example, pairs such as Walt and Roy Disney (Disney), Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard Hewlett-Packard), Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger (Berkshire Hathaway), Howard Schultz and Howard Behar (Starbucks), Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft), Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple), Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream), Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google), and Jerry Yang and David Filo (Yahoo!). There have also been several great trios. My point is, great teams do not have to be large but all great teams need leadership as well as members who, together, possess outstanding talent, skills, and experience sufficient to the given challenge. With only minor modification, almost all of the material that Mary Shapiro provides can be of great value to those who lead any team, whatever its size and nature may be.
Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out three others: Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable; Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations, co-authored by Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone; and Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration, co-authored by Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman.
An electronic means by which to obtain information whenever needed and from wherever it is located and accessible
, August 24, 2015
As I began to read this book, published in 2006, I was again reminded of an incident when one of Albert Einstein's colleagues at Princeton playfully chided him for asking the same questions every year on his final examination. "Quite true. Each year, the answers are different." The same can be true of the "essentials" on which Bill Glover and Himanshu Bhatt focus. They remain the same after almost a decade. Indeed, according to my Wiki source, they have been essentially the same since Mario Cardullo's device was patented on January 23, 1973, "the first true ancestor of modern RFID, as it was a passive radio transponder with memory. The initial device was passive, powered by the interrogating signal, and was demonstrated in 1971 to the New York Port Authority and other potential users and consisted of a transponder with 16 bit memory for use as a toll device. The basic Cardullo patent covers the use of RF, sound and light as transmission media." However, in recent years, the nature and extent of potential applications and consequent benefits have increased far beyond anything he could possibly have imagined.
As Glover and Bhatt explain, their book "is for developers who need to get that first RFID prototype out the door; systems architects who need to understand the major element6s in an RFID system; and project managers who need to divide work, set goals, and understand vendor proposals. [I presume to include residents of the C-suite who are called upon to allocate resources to proposed RFID initiatives.] Students and instructors should find enough detail here to use this book as a supplementary text for a study of RFID. Even those with considerable experience in RFID should find this book a useful update on the latest developments [as of 2006], with enough of the [timeless] fundamentals to serve as a reference."
They hasten to acknowledge, "This book is probably not for anyone who wants either a cursory overview of the technology or a deep discussion of supply chain management, manufacturing, access control, or conspiracy theories. These are all interesting topics in their own right, but this is only one book!" Fair enough. However, I remain convinced that this volume can -- and will -- serve as a suitable primer for aforementioned residents of the C-Suite...or be of incalculable valuable to the preparation of one. (Please see the comments about each chapter on Pages x-xi. These could provide an excellent framework for the material provided.)
These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Glover and Himanshu's coverage:
o The Case for RFID (Pages 2-6)
o Application Types (10-18)
o A Confluence of Technologies (21-23)
o Key Functionalities (24-32)
o RFID System Components (32-48)
o Information Storage and Processing Capability (67-71)
o How Tags Store Data (79-87)
o Tag Features for Security and Privacy (102-104)
o Physical Components of an RFID Reader (108-110)
o Parts of an RFID Printer and Applicator (111-113)
o Protocol Parts: Reader and Vendor (119-125)
o RFID Middleware Motivations and Logical Architecture (137-141)
o Commercial RFID Middleware (162-167)
o RFID Data (172-176)
o Edge Deployment Options (189-193)
o Capabilities Needed for Edge Development (193-194)
o Standards and Technologies (194-196)
o Standards (215-217)
o Technology (217-227)
Make no mistake about it. With all due respect to the potential applications and benefits of an RFID system, there are also challenges, as indicated in a Q&A from the second part of a two-part interview of Mark Roberti, founder and editor of RFID Journal:
* * *
Morris: To what extent does an RFID system pose unique leadership challenges?
Roberti: Great question. The biggest leadership challenge is accepting that radical change for the better is possible. Some people have become disillusioned with all technology because promises haven't been kept and goals haven't been met in the past. With RFID, you often get more benefit than you can imagine, so a leader has to be convinced that new things really are possible and then imagine how their organization can change.
I'll give you one quick example. A retailer did an in-store pilot and saw a 20 percent increase in sales due to better on-shelf availability. Management canceled the project and refused to provide additional funding because it believed 20 percent uplift wasn't possible. Mindboggling.
Another challenge is that RFID can impact every corner of a company. A manufacturer, for example, can use RFID to improve supply chain, warehousing and manufacturing operations, as well as marketing and after sales support. So a leader has to bring these pieces together to achieve an integrated success. You don't want separate systems in each area. It is doable, but it takes special leaders to make it happen.
* * *
In addition to leadership challenges, there are also significant organizational challenges. Here's one: Effective communication, cooperation, and collaboration between and among those involved in multiple locations, especially if the given workplace is multinational. Bill Glover and Himanshu Bhatt offer this example: "You have a great system in place, but your suppliers are still sending signals by carrier pigeon. [You must] work with your less-enlightened trading partners and show them how to improve their own processes. RFID is an evolving technology, so taking a leadership role will allow you to define the agenda and the standards for future integration. Wal-Mart did an example of a company that has approached a potentially disruptive technology by choosing to lead in its development. As Dr. Alan Kay said, 'The best way to predict the future is to invent it.' If you keep it all to yourself, you'll just have to change your system when one of your partners chooses a completely different approach."
As is also true of most of the other insights and counsel provided in this book, that was excellent advice in 2006 and it is even more valuable today.
A superior product
, August 19, 2015
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. I also wish to divulge that my wife is a gourmet cook and former assistant manager of two Williams-Sonoma stores. Her opinion of this product is far more credible than mine. The Five Star rating is hers.
Based on feedback from more than a dozen people who have prepared meals in our kitchen, this multi-purpose rack gets a Five Star rating in all respects. Two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a daughter who cook (another son doesn't) have also used it and then purchased one for themselves. It will also be a popular Christmas gift this year.
It is good-looking, sturdy, and versatile; fits easily in the dishwasher. Stores easily in a lower cabinet. Great product at an attractive price.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"You are the author of your life"...for better or worse.
, August 19, 2015
This is an expanded and updated edition of many of the insights and counsel first introduced by Bill George in Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value (2003), True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (2007) with Peter Sims, Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide (2008), co-authored with Andrew McLean and Nick Craig, and True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development (2011), co-authored with Doug Baker.
Years ago, Warren Bennis defined leadership as "character in action." In the Preface to Discover Your True North, George cites these remarks by Bennis: "It is not just a superficial question of style, but has to do with who we are as human beings, and with the forces that have shaped us. The process of becoming a leader is much the same as the process of becoming an integrated human being." In fact, I presume to add that, however different leaders throughout history may have been in most respects, all are authentic in that they know what their True North is. Their lives were guided and informed by it.
Much of the material in this volume was generated by interviews of 47 global leaders: "how they discovered their True North, developed as authentic leaders, became global leaders, and stayed on the course of their True North throughout their lifetimes...their stories and beliefs about leadership showed a high level of congruence with the earlier interviewees." (About 125 leaders were interviewed for True North 2007.) The 47 include (in alpha order) Warren Buffett, Arianna Huffington, Donald Graham, Arianna Huffington, Steve Jobs, Sallie Krawcheck, Nelson Mandela, Alan Mulally, and Sheryl Sandberg.
For those who don't already know, George explains True North as "your orienting point -- your fixed point in a spinning world -- that helps you stay on track as a leader. It is derived from your most deeply held beliefs, your values, and the principles you lead by. It is your eternal compass, unique to you, that represents who you are at your deepest level.
"Just as a compass needle points toward a magnetic pole, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership. When you follow your eternal compass, your leadership will be authentic, and people will naturally want to associate with you. Although others may guide or influence you, your truth is derived from your life story. As Warren Bennis said, 'You are the author of your life.'"
These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of George's coverage:
o Introduction (Pages 1-11)
o Your Life Story Defines Your Leadership (20-21)
o The Journey to Authentic Leadership (25-40)
o Why Leaders Lose Their Way (44-47)
o The Collapse of Mike Baker (50-51)
o Daniel Vassela's Long Journey (57-60)
o Crucibles of Leadership: Oprah Winfrey, (61-67)
o Coping with Tragedy (74-75)
o Becoming Self-Aware (82-87)
o Vulnerability Is Power (89-92)
o Reflection and Introspection (92-95)
o David Gergen: Crisis Strengthened His Values (103-105)
o Jon Huntsman: Testing Values Under Pressure (111-115)
o Warren Buffett Finds His Sweet Spot (123-128)
o The Power of Sharing Openly (147-148)
o Coach [Bill] Campbell: Silicon Valley's Leading Mentor (152-154)
o True North Groups (155-157)
o Measuring Your Success (176-177)
o My Defining Leadership Experience (194-196)
o Penny George: It's Never Too Late to Become a Leader (211-213)
o Anne Mulcahy: Empowering People in Crisis (219-224)
o Empowerment Is Accountability (235-238)
o Paul Polman: Transforming Unilever's Global Leadership (243-247)
o Developing Global Intelligence (251-256)
In one of Warren Bennis' several dozen books, Geeks and Geezers, he and co-author Bob Thomas introduce a process -- they call it a "crucible" -- during which, under severe stress, some executives become a great leader and others do not. Here's what they say: "In interviewing more than 40 top leaders in business and the public sector over the past three years, we were surprised to find that all of them--young and old--were able to point to intense, often traumatic, always unplanned experiences that had transformed them and had become the sources of their distinctive leadership abilities.
"We came to call the experiences that shape leaders 'crucibles,' after the vessels medieval alchemists used in their attempts to turn base metals into gold. For the leaders we interviewed, the crucible experience was a trial and a test, a point of deep self-reflection that forced them to question who they were and what mattered to them. It required them to examine their values, question their assumptions, hone their judgment. And, invariably, they emerged from the crucible stronger and more sure of themselves and their purpose--changed in some fundamental way."
This is precisely what Bill George has in mind when stressing the importance of locating one's True North and then following it. "I hope that you, too, will commit to becoming an authentic leader who will Discover Your True North. The world faces important problems. Your leadership, teamed with that of other leaders who are similarly committed, is needed to build sustainable business, government, and non-profit organizations that collectively make this world a better place to live for all the people who inhabit it." Quite true. All such organizations need effective leaders but principled, value-driven leadership is also needed in families, communities, and all other human relationships.
If someone asks you if your brand's significance is global, local, or personal and your answer is "yes," this is a must read.
, August 18, 2015
I agree with Larry Light and Joan Kiddon: "Many of the important factors that are changing our world are also affecting the way we build and manage brands. First, three forces -- globalization, localization, and personalization -- are increasing simultaneously...Second, there is a demographic challenger of our world becoming older and younger at the same time...Third, people have conflicting desires for individuality and inclusivity...Fourth, technology has an increased effect on customer behavior and the power of the mobile mind-set...Fifth, trust in institutions continues to decline...All of these factors are increasing at different speeds but at the same time."
There are days when I am reminded of a passage in William Butler Yeats's classic poem, The Second Coming:
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
Light and Kiddon introduce what they identify as "The Collaborative Three-Box Model," an exciting development during the evolution of global brand marketing. (Brand managers who ignore this development have probably never heard of, much less read, the Yeats poem. I commend it to their attention.) Here's the sequence: Create the brand vision in Box #1, define the global brand plan to win in Box #2, and then in Box #3, bring the brand to life. Light and Kiddon quote one of my intellectual heroes, Charles Handy: "Federalism responds to all these pressures, balancing power among the center of the organization, those in the center of the expertise, and those in the center of the action, the operating businesses."
Long ago, Handy recognized that need for an organization to be both big and small, autonomous and interdependent, steadfast and flexible. Of course, Sun Tzu discusses all this (and much more) in the "Estimates" chapter in Art of War. The Collaborative Three-Box Model adapts some of Handy's approach "but adds the discipline and process for day-to-day operation as well as being a model of mastering the matrix for building powerful global brands."
These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Light and Kiddon's coverage in the first seven of 13 chapters:
o Game Changers (Pages 10-13)
o The Collaborative Three-Box Model (14-16)
o The Collision of Three Forces (22-25)
o Global, Local, and Personal Implications for Brand Management (29-31)
o Game Changing Trends as Problems (36-50)
o Potential Marketing Opportunities (51-55)
o What Is Value? (59-61)
Note: Warren Buffett once observed, "Price is what you charge and value is what others think it's worth." (64-66)
o Trust in a World of Distrust and Mistrust (73-75)
o Two Kinds of Trust (76-80)
o The One-Box Model: Global Standardization (90-92)
o The Two-Box Model: "Think Globally, Act Locally" (92-94)
o The Collaborative Three-Box Model (100-102)
o The Four Steps of Box 1 (107-116)
o Making Box 1 Work (116-121)
Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the value of the information, insights, and counsel that Larry Light and Joan Kiddon provide in abundance. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of their brilliant book. For those now struggling to manage effectively at the intersection of globalization, localization, and personalization," one that bears resemblance to a combat zone, I highly recommend New Brand Leadership. If additional assistance is needed, I strongly recommend two other sources: Voltaire's Candide and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do." Michael Porter
, August 13, 2015
Throughout the last several decades, I have been retained by hundreds of companies (start-up to Fortune 50) to help their leaders formulate or update the given strategy. At the initial meeting, I ask each of those involved to identify what the given organization's primary strategy is or should be. On average, fewer than half know what a strategy is and even fewer know what theirs is or should be. For present purposes, let's think of a strategy as a "hammer" that drives "nails" (tactics) to achieve the given results. This is what Sun Tzu has in mind (in Art of War) when observing, "All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved." More recently, Jack Welch suggests, "You've got to eat while you dream. You've got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that."
In Part 1 of this book, Bob Caporale introduces four "solo" proficiencies that almost anyone can master in order to complete a seven-step creative strategy generation process. The proficiencies are Analysis ("Where are we now?"), Recollection ("Where have we been?"), Intuition ("Where do we want to go?"), and Artistry ("How are we going to get there." The statement by Michael Porter that I selected as a title for this review correctly stresses the importance of relevance. Those who master them will become much better prepared to formulate an appropriate strategy. The adjective "appropriate" is critically important. That is to say, the answer to the basic question for each of the four proficiencies should be relevant. In Part 3, he provides what he characterizes as "a quick reference resource" for how to build an appropriate strategy from preparation through production. The abundance of material provided serves as a "toolkit" that contains "Quick Reference Guide," "Strategic Presentation Guideline," and "Tidbits of Wisdom."
"So this book is about correlating the very creative process of writing music with the equally creative process of composing strategies. It is a highly personal account, and you will undoubtedly see that throughout. But to focus on my process would be missing the point. What I am really hoping to do by using this simile (i.e. compose and execute strategy as one would compose and perform music] to encourage you to find and apply your own creative process to the art of strategic planning. All of us are creative beings, whether that creativity displays itself through music, art, writing, performance, business, or science. The trick is to find whatever it is that you are passionate about creating and apply that same process to your business strategies."
These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Caporale's coverage:
o ARIA Proficiencies: Analysis, Recollection, Intuition, and Artistry (Pages 7-26)
o Preparation Stage (31-57)
o Baseline Analysis (50-53 and 69-70)
o Inspiration Stage (59-82)
o SWOT Analysis (63-72)
o Developing a Vision (72-79)
o Genre Stage (83-105)
o Market/Customer Segmentation (88-102)
o Ideation Stage (107-138)
o Go-to-Market Plan (119-135)
o Arrangement Stage (139-166)
o Orchestration Stage (167-188)
o Implementation Team (170-187)
o Production Stage (189-208)
o Implementation Strategy (194-199)
I agree with Bob Caporale that the seven-step process he recommends -- or another that is comparable with it in terms of comprehensiveness and cohesion -- can help business leaders in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) to ensure that there is a strategy in place that can guide and inform efforts to achieve the given objectives. In fact, "whether you are a composer, an artist, a screenwriter, a theatrical producer, or a business strategist, these are the seven steps that will be required to produce your creative work of art. And make no mistake about it: the very best business strategies are indeed creative works of art.
To those who insist they are not "creative," I urge them to read Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, co-authored by Tom Kelley and David Kelley and published by Crown Business/Random House (2013). They insist that almost anyone can develop a creative, human-centered mindset and help achieve breakthrough innovations. "As brothers who have worked together for thirty years at the forefront of innovation, we have come to see this set of misconceptions as `the creativity myth.' It is a myth that far too many people share. This book is about the opposite of that myth. It is about what we call `creative confidence.' And at its foundation is the belief that we are all capable to highly creative thinking...Creative confidence is a way of seeing that potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt. We hope you'll join us on our quest to embrace creative confidence in our lives. Together, we can all make the world a better place."