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Doing What Matters: How to Get Results That Make a Difference - The Revolutionary Old-School Approach Hardcover – September 4, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a business book that reads like a case study, turnaround artist and brand-builder Kilts walks managers and CEOs through the lessons he learned while resuscitating shaving-company Gillette. Having revived Nabisco, Kilts was planning to retire until famed investor Warren Buffett persuaded him to upgrade Gillette. With an analytical tone, Kilts describes how he moved the company off the ledge and paved the way for a bidding war. The book is likely to resonate with CEOs accustomed to dense discussions of corporate successes, businessy acronyms (like ZOG, or zero overhead growth) and sorting through heaps of advice. On rare occasions, Kilts gets folksy, as when describing the loss of perspective that comes with immersion in an organization's culture: If you put a frog into boiling water, it jumps out, Kilts writes. If you put a frog into cool water and slowly raise the temperature, the frog gets cooked before it knows what's happening. The slow boil is bad for business, he reasons. But overall, it works as an approach for this book. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Jim Kilts transformed Gillette. Before his arrival, the company was a study in self-deception. Great brands were being mishandled, operational and financial discipline was non-existent and fanciful promises to investors were standard practice. In record time, Jim excised these business pathogens. I've learned much from Jim. So, too, will readers of this book."
--Warren E. Buffett

"Doing What Matters is an insightful and practical approach to business by a transformative leader with a great track record of success."

--Jack Welch
Jack Welch, LLC

Jim Kilts is a proven wizard at making companies run.
--Wall Street Journal

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307351661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307351661
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,589,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Keith Pings on September 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What really matters to Kilts is the P&L. Interesting watching Flip this House, where they find neglected, undervalued properties then rip out sections, cut down trees, paint, touch up, add cosmetic touches and then sell for a profit. Reading Kilts Kilt's book, somehow reminded me of the show. "Let me tell you how I flipped two distressed properties", Nabisco and Gillette. "The prior management screwed up, but I saved them. Let me tell you how".

At the same time, I have also started reading "What Really Matters - Service, Leadership, People & Values", by John Pepper from P&G. These two books seem to provide a very interesting contrast between Kilts the Manager and Pepper the Leader. I'll come back to this contrast later.

Overall, I find Kilts book a tough read, drab, bouncing topics and oft repeating. At times it drifts into irrelevant details, not tightly linked to the point of the chapter. For example while discussing the need for intellectual integrity; he drifts to telling us about his invention of Country Time Lemonade and Crystal Light. It could have benefited from better editing for readability and flow. I find it hard to guess what Lorber and Manfredi added, other than writing and maybe analogies like boiling frogs?

Kilts' is a proven excellent manager of the P&L and in his book reminds us of a number of very valid business basics, which amazingly some CEOs forget. Kilts' book discusses the fundamental that the P&L needs to be controlled and highlights the disasters of companies (Nabisco and Gillette) who lost sight of a disciplined P&L and focus on building brands.
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Format: Hardcover
Many years ago, Patrick Rivett described his efforts to teach problem solving model building to his students as showing them "what goes on in an analyst's head when he is taken round a soap factory." You can describe Jim Kilts' Doing What Matters as "what goes on in an experienced CEO's head when he takes over a company that needs to turn around."

Hardly anyone has better credentials to write a book like this one. Kilts had an exemplary career in packaged goods. He was a successful CEO at Kraft and led turnarounds at Nabisco and Gillette.

When he took over at Gillette, the company had missed estimates for years. The stock had tanked, shedding 60 percent of its value. Even so, 65 percent of the executives received "exceeds expectations" evaluations. Every one of them thought their department or division was performing above average.

What would you do in a situation like that? This book is about what Jim Kilts did. The subtitle is really better than the title: "How to get results that make a difference--the revolutionary old-school approach."

The book is divided into four sections. The first is "Fundamentals, Attitudes, and People Matter." It's worth the price of the book all by itself.

Kilts starts, appropriately enough, with advice to focus on fundamentals. Unlike most management writers, though, he tells you what he thinks fundamentals are and how he focused on them when he approached the challenge at Gillette.

Throughout this section and the book there are dozens of bits of wisdom. Here are some.

"Key metrics will vary, but they always exist."

"The time that really matters is the work I do before the clock starts ticking on the first one hundred days.
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Format: Hardcover
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of an observation by Peter Drucker in 1963: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." That observation should be kept in mind by those who assign work as well as those who are then expected to do it ("to do more and better work in less time and at a lower cost," etc.) With the assistance of John Manfredi and Robert Lorber, James Kilts has written a book in which he shares what he has learned from his business career thus far, especially from his years as CEO of Kraft, Nabisco, and Gillette. The book's title would even more accurately indicate his core business principles if it were "Do Well What Really Matters" or "Do Well What Matters Most" but the subtitle is just fine: "How to Get Results That Make a Difference - The Revolutionary Old School Approach." The inclusion of the word "revolutionary" is intentional and its appropriateness best revealed within Kilts's narrative.

In the city where I live, we have a number of outdoor markets at which slices of fresh fruit are offered as samples of the produce available. In that same spirit, I frequently include brief excerpts from a book to help those who red my review to get a "taste." Here is a representative selection of Kilts's insights from his years as a CEO:

"You not only have to sort out what you should pay attention to and what you should ignore, you must do so with [begin italics] revolutionary [end italics] speed and decisiveness. Yet, even with disaster staring them in the face, people from the lowest to the highest levels in many organizations often prefer to `rearrange the deck chairs.' They'll give lip service to stepping up performance, but in practice they go about business as usual.
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