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Free, Perfect, and Now: Connecting to the Three Insatiable Customer Demands: A CEO's True Story Hardcover – March 3, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Free, Perfect and Now tells how one CEO nearly quadrupled his company's market value through the power of the Internet and some daring management. Written by Bob Rodin, president of electrical distributor Marshall Industries, Inc., the book is about the struggle to give customers what they want: reduced prices, higher quality, and speedy service. "Who in the world is figuring out how to serve customers at a lower cost? Closer to perfect for your customers' changing values? Faster?" Rodin writes. "We ask ourselves those questions every day at Marshall." Rodin is renowned in the trade for overseeing the creation of an award-winning business-to-business Web site--launched in 1994, far ahead of the competition. A disciple of management guru W. Edwards Deming, Rodin describes his company's astonishing rise over six years. He changed the culture by ridding the company of contests and bonuses and freeing managers from meeting quarterly objectives. One of his most revolutionary moves: abolishing commissions for his 600-strong sales staff. As far as Rodin can determine, Marshall boasts the only major sales team in the U.S. that gets paid strictly by salary and profit-sharing. That means sales pros can move customers to the Internet without worrying about losing commissions. But Rodin cautions that the Internet also means relentless competition. Even as this book was released, Marshall lost a major customer and its stock price was cut in half--Rodin may need to work some magic again. This book is for senior executives, middle managers, and businesspeople open to some radical methods for expansion. --Dan Ring

Review

George Gendron Editor, Inc. magazineCall me crazy, but the last thing we need in business is another "Big New Management Idea." What we could all use -- whether we are part of a big organization or a small one -- is more trustworthy information about the implementation of the ideas we already have. Free, Perfect, and Now is the perfect business book for our times, one of the few authentic accounts I've read of how companies really manage to transform themselves. No New Economy babble here -- real people, a real company, pulling off real change."

Warren Bennisauthor of On Becoming a LeaderOne of the most remarkable, firsthand stories of wealth creation I've ever read! For anyone who wants to understand the "on the ground" narrative of how entrepreneurs work, how innovation leverages intellectual capital, and how ideas -- business ideas -- can improve the quality of life, this is the book for you.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter Harvard Business School, author of Rosabeth Moss Kanter on the Frontiers of ManagementRob Rodin's personal journey to innovative leadership is told with candor and wit -- it's the real story of how things get done in the best companies. The lessons learned by this world-class change master will resonate with every CEO or wannabe CEO, and the down-to-earth advice for managers on every level can help almost any business to profit and grow.

Alan Webber, founding editor, Fast Company magazineThese days, lots of companies talk about change and transformation. But if you want to see what it really takes to become a fast company -- and what it really looks like -- read this book.

Bruce Karatzchairman and CEO, Kaufman and Broad Home CorporationWith great candor about his setbacks as well as his victories, Robert Rodin offers compelling advice on making an organization succeed. He combines a broad vision of the future with the management skill to deal with the present -- a rare talent indeed! Because all of us -- even those in government -- serve "customers," this is an important book for any organization. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Printing edition (March 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684850222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684863122
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. B. Merrifield on May 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone struggling with how to adapt to too much cumulative change within their industry will benefit from reading this book for several good reasons. If for starters you believe, as I do, that the internet will have revolutionary effects on all traditional industry and education models, then this book offers an unusually open and thorough explanation of how Marshall Industries created and has continuously improved a great B2B web site capability. Marshall is easily the best within all distribution channels, and Advertising Age has rated Marshall's web site as the #1 B2B capability for all industries.
But, the internet case study is actually a downstream result of a tough and on-going transformational change process that Marshall has been going through since 1992. Back then, Marshall's business environment was changing faster than their top-down by the numbers and incentive plan culture could handle. So, instead of trying harder in out-dated ways the company decided to try to become a learning organization that would transform itself - an enormously tough and risky under-taking. Because so many other companies are currently in the same learn, die or sell-out situation, they need prescriptive help, and this book has an effective delivery style for the medicine.
The book is written in a first person, narrative style, which makes it an enjoyable, read, but more importantly Rodin has distilled good management theories down to a basic, comprehensible level grounded in a real story. Readers will, as a result, find particular problems described in ways that will strongly connect to their own similar problems. They will go on to borrow many of Rodin's analogies for getting the same messages across to their employees.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Rodin presents in this book both a corporate survival guide and a tight specification for engineering the re-invention of conventional business. Based upon his own experiences, Rodin rolls out a blueprint of controversial methods and bold innovative means to transform a company that "works", into one which thrives in the globalized electronic marketspace of today. Nothing is safe. Everything from Mission Statements to corporate structure itself is examined, questioned, torn down to basics and rebuilt without the un-necessary un-functioning parts. Centered around the customer, and inspired by the Total Quality Management doctrine of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Rodin identifies and attacks the conventional "system" as the greatest challenge and foe to product quality, customer satisfaction, and ultimately corporate success. Part case study, part instruction guideline, this book provides the tools necessary to examine the culture and corporate organization of any company. More importantly perhaps, the book motivates the reader to go out and "operate" like any good surgeon would after a thorough patient examination.
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Format: Hardcover
Marshall Industries was in trouble, facing the pressures of modernization and internal discord. Today, it is an effective Internet-adapted company. CEO Rob Rodin (with writer Curtis Hartman) explains how he transformed his firm. He tells his personal story, including how he recognized the need for dramatic change, and planned and implemented a strategy. This excellent book tracks his saga and discusses general principles and how-to tips leaders can apply to create effective change. This isn't just another leadership book. Rodin involves you in his personal story. He candidly outlines the difficulties he faced in his company when he tried to get everyone involved in his transformation mission. The book captures a spirit of suspense (rare in business writing). You want to know what will happen next because it is well crafted and dramatic. We [...] recommend this engaging read to those involved in leadership, change, and strategy issues, or anyone who enjoys a page-turner.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for anyone in the business world, whether they work with the Internet now or will in the future. If you want to find out about how a company completely transformed their business and became the model for an industry, it's all here. I recommend this book to all my colleagues and they all have the same response, "Wow."
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Format: Hardcover
This book provided me with a perspective I had not thought about. As a senior manager I now see myself as an architect with a design opportunity. The ideas in this book empowered and inspired me to change my company.
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By A Customer on February 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Free, Perfect and Now is an outstanding book and provides a real tool for the development of internet strategy
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Format: Hardcover
Shows how he revamped the company to focus on the customer, including eliminating incentives that seem reasonable but actually yield the wrong result. One of many interesting tidbits: by adopting and actually following a focussed mission statement ("serves our business partners by adding value with a commitment to continuous improvement, innovation, and mutual satisfaction"), he provides a tool for employees to challenge management when *they* don't live up to it. Another gem: customers don't want a salesperson, they want a solution.
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