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Confronting Reality: Doing What Matters to Get Things Right Hardcover – October 19, 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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The Amazon Book Review
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In their 2002 bestseller, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan identify why people don’t get results: they don’t execute. Bossidy and Charan are back with another stellar study on organizational behavior that shows how companies can succeed if they return to reality and examine every part of their business. Confronting Reality is based on a simple concept, but many companies approach strategy and execution in a surprisingly unreal manner and even the simplest of measurement methods, like the business model, are not applied correctly.

Cisco, 3M, KLM, Home Depot, and the Thomson Corporation are just a few of the companies that Bossidy and Charan examine. To demonstrate how to examine a business using the business model, Bossidy and Charan map out external variables, financial targets, internal activities, and an iteration stage (defined as a time to "make tradeoffs, apply and develop business savvy") to prove how a dynamically evolving business model will help improve performance.

"The version of the business model we have developed is a robust, reality-based process for thinking about the specifics of your business in a holistic way. It shows you how to tie together the financial targets you must meet, the external realities of your business and internal activities such as strategy development, operating tactics, and selection and development of people."

Larry Bossidy, retired chairman and CEO of Honeywell International and Ram Charan, author of What the CEO Wants You to Know and Profitable Growth Is Everyone's Business, have once again shed industrial-strength light on how to run a successful business. --E. Brooke Gilbert

Amazon.com Exclusive Content

Amazon.com Interview: Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan


Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan are back with Confronting Reality to show how companies can succeed if they get back to reality and examine every part of their business. Amazon.com senior editor E. Brooke Gilbert interviewed Bossidy and Charan to discuss the current business climate, their new book, and future projections.
Read the interview.



Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan Discuss the Airline Industry

Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan discuss the airline industry's failure to confront reality based on a recent Wall Sreet Journal article and their new book as a backdrop.
Read their comments.



From Publishers Weekly

On the heels of their business bestseller Execution, retired Honeywell chairman and CEO Bossidy and corporate guru Charan take a step back and focus on the more fundamental issue of figuring out what to execute in the first place. The message is simple ("relentless realism"), and their solution is a return to the "ancient analytical tool" of a three-part business model that includes external realities (such as customer demand and industry conditions), financial targets (such as cash flow and revenue growth) and internal realities (such as operational and workforce capabilities). Bossidy and Charan use that model to analyze how companies such as EMC, Cisco and Sun reacted to the meltdown of the high-tech sector, and how Home Depot built efficiency, 3M reignited growth through innovation and Thomson Corp. restructured its focus. The book loses steam in the final quarter, getting repetitious but still managing to make a few familiar points feel fresh, some as simple as developing one's own "business savvy" and "need to know." The authors use the same winning formula as in their first book. The concepts are basic, the tone is conversational and the content is not unique, but sales of the previous book (600,000 in the U.S.; 1.5 million worldwide) and the authors' personal platforms virtually guarantee widespread attention in the business media and corporate sales.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1st edition (October 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400050847
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400050840
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Peter Leerskov on November 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There are many good and new things in this book. Unfortunately, the good things aren't new, and the new things aren't good.

I have reviewed Charan and Bossidy's book on EXECUTION as well as Charan's book on PROFITABLE GROWTH. Both were great readings that asked us to confront reality in order to do what matters to get things right.

I've just read CONFRONTING REALITY. And I cannot help asking myself, why it was published at all? It doesn't add any new material compared to their marvellous bestseller; Execution. Instead this book spends most of its time telling case stories on the subject. I find too many of them too long and too boring.

The authors' new focus on the vague concept of the business model is still a mystery to me. Why not build on strong concepts such as McKinsey's business system or Porter's value chain with proven track records. Please, confront reality!

My advice is that you buy Execution instead. It's much better. It has a clear concept, a stronger structure - and exactly the same highly important messages.

If you're a hardcore fan - like I am - of Charan and Bossidy's execution concept, you may just want to have this as an audio book for a long highway trip... that's how I managed to get through it.

Peter Leerskov,
MSc in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Larry & Ram lost me, and I hope most of you, with their very first example. The new CFO, with no knowledge of the company or plant other than reading a few spreadsheets, with about 3 comments convinces the General manager to close the plant, fire everyone, desimate the town and move to China. The coatings company described was high end, high service, specialty-focused and anything but commodity. The workers were unusually dedicated. They had some time. For the GM to do anything other than allow THE WORKERS to confront reality and give them a shot at reengineering the place is a complete travesty. I've seen it work many times and I am no bleading-heart union man. Bossidy & Charam set this up as a great example, but it is a pure, short-term, initial price analysis with NO consideration for total cost and total value. The GM might have been able to save a business, save a town and actually win customers -- or yeah, move to China afterall. But no one will ever know. Larry and Ram sure don't. Get real, guys.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is excellent for entrepreneurs and junior managers who have bought into the myth that optimism is a foundation for success. Bossidy has a wealth of corporate management experience and offers some compelling case studies (although sometimes I wish he would have gone into more detail). Bossidy does not explain the flaws of positive thinking, [...] but he does write a practical perspective on the power of confronting reality. I recommend this book [...] to rise above mediocrity and create optimum results.
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Format: Hardcover
I got this book because of their previous book, "Execution". The core idea in "Confronting Reality" is the Business Model, which is, simply put, looking at three factors: External Forces, Internal Capabilities, and Financial Goals, before deciding on how to solve problems and set direction.

The issue is that the book is full of case studies (too many from ex-GE execs - I wonder how wide these guys travel outside their "GE Club") but one idea. The illustrations at the end of every case study are always the same - they don't even go to the trouble of customizing the three factor model to show how Sun is different then Cisco for example - and the point is always the same. This should not have been a book, but instead limited to an HBR article or something like that.

The best part is Bossidy's style of how he interacts with teams and asks good questions....but "Execution" is much better at this.

The title was catchy and Bossidy is a pro at this topic of facing reality and turning around businesses...but he should have either invested more to fill it out or skipped it all together.
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Format: Hardcover
Larry Bossidy was legendary at General Electric, Honeywell, and Allied Signal. He and consultant, Ram Charan, have written two books based on his experience and his effectiveness. The first book was Execution: The Art of Getting Things Done. I believe that for most folks, especially in small to mid-size businesses, Confronting Reality is a more effective book. As a consultant and a leadership trainer, I found that confronting reality is one of the things that is very hard to get people to do. As human beings, we seem to be programmed to see the world the way we want it, rather than the way it is. The result is that we need to have some kind of a method for determining what reality is.

That's worth doing, because the most effective executives that I have known are those who start with a clear idea of the situation they're facing. They are relentless in pursuing a clear picture of the reality they face, so that they can develop plans for dealing with it and changing it.

In fact, that's the basis for almost all effective strategic planning programs. You start by determining your current situation, the current state of affairs. From there you look at the end state, the place you want to go, and you develop plans for getting from here to there. That, essentially, is what confronting reality is about.

The book begins with three excellent chapters. "When Reality Bites" lays out the case for a systematic way of confronting reality and taking action. It uses two examples. One of those, the positive one, is the example of Lou Gerstner when he was the CEO of IBM. In fact, Gerstner's own book, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?, is an excellent companion to this book.

Chapter Two gives a description of why the world is changing.
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