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How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything...in Business (and in Life) Hardcover – June 4, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Although the tone of this business primer suggests a commercial version of St. Paul's epiphany on the road to Damascus, consulting firm CEO Seidman hems so closely to the familiar earmarks of the genre-powerpoint diagrams, catchy acronyms, buzzwords and inspirational stories of successful, sane corporate culture-as to engender cynicism early on. Among some compelling accounts of exemplary work environments-the General Electric Durham aircraft engine assembly plant, where nearly flawless products are turned out on flexible schedules and the honor system is arranged by self-governed aircraft technicians, represents one such utopia-Seidman fails to explore the roots of those practices or why they aren't more widely imitated (GE hasn't attempted to reproduced the Durham plant model). As such, Seidman falls short of his goal-teaching leaders how to imbue their corporate culture with moral purpose-which is sure to leave readers frustrated.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“The simple thesis of HOW is that in today’s totally wired world, you are set apart by “how” you conduct yourself. Everyone is so much more transparent and connected than ever before. As a result, so many more people can now see more deeply into what you do and into you company’s operations and tell so many more other people about it via the Internet – without any editor or any filter. Therefore “how” you live you life, “how” you conduct your business, and “how” you say you’re sorry (or don’t’) matter now more than ever.
“…And we will not get out of [the global economic crisis] without going back to some basics, which is why I find myself re-reading a valuable book that I wrote about once before, called, “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything in Business (and in Life).” Its author, Dov Seidman, is the C.E.O. of LRN, which helps companies build ethical corporate cultures…We need to get back to collaborating the old-fashioned way. That is, people making decisions based on business judgment, experience, prudence, clarity of communications and thinking about how — not just how much.”–Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman
“In his book How, published last year, Mr Seidman explained why he feels behaviour (as opposed to the more fashionable management notions of engagement or motivation) is the key to organisational success….Thought leadership, and big ideas, are rare. But here is a challenging thought for you. Outbehave, outperform, outgreen – or out you go.” –The Financial Times Business Life columnist Stefan Stern
“The book has understandably received a second wind, propelled by the global economic turmoil. Books like Seidman’s on the importance of trust and building and strengthening corporate reputation are being heralded as the voices of sanity.” –Economic Times journalist Arati Menon Carroll
“Seidman, an erudite intellectual and practical philosopher, shows that in today’s transparent commercial environment, operating openly and morally is both honorable and economically necessary.” –Syndicated Get Abstract book reviewer Rolf Dobelli
“One of the more interesting and ambitious books to cross my desk lately is How by Dov Seidman. The appeal of Seidman’s work is that he’s taken such a sweeping view of the business world in his explanation of how we think, behave and govern — as individuals and organizations — influences our achievements in the marketplace.” –Chief Learning Officer Magazine editor Brian Summerfield
“…Behaving as if everyone is armed with your personal information is a very good idea, according to author Seidman, because they are. He also discusses the ethical and moral implications of all this openness. Seidman is an experienced and worldly observer, so he is not unrealistic about the baser instincts that motivate many of us. Nonetheless he also presents a hopeful and positive future where lying and obfuscation are less possible and ultimately unacceptable because there are fewer places to hide.”
–The Miami Herald reviewer Richard Pachtert
“In his superb book on corporate behaviour, HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything ... in Business (and in Life), Dov Seidman tells the story of the New York City doughnut seller who taught him a valuable lesson in business trust…Doing the right thing has always been good for business. What Seidman's book makes clear is that regardless of whether it is in Sydney or in Auckland, being open about the manner in which a corporation operates, trusting customers and insisting on maintaining standards which enhance reputations, is now of global significance. Investors everywhere are looking at issues relevant to integrity.”
– The New Zealand Herald reporter Stephen Loosley
"…Companies with a should-do culture can outperform those with a can-do culture because they value intellectual capital, not just human capital, and forward-think about the impact of "What’s next"…An integral component of Mr. Seidman’s should-do advocacy also involves connecting outside knowledge to the organization. The nature of should-do firms involves asking questions, change and accuracy of communication. Being inquisitive makes them aggressively search for "what they don’t know". Miscommunication is the Achilles heel of any firm; when a mouse click can send information around the globe, a company’s reputation can be damaged by an errant email. Mr. Seidman’s personal anecdotes illustrate how should-do firms deal with their thirst for knowledge and communicate effectively.”
–Syndicated columnist Jim Pawlak
“HOW is a radically different and compelling approach to competing in business today. Dov Seidman connects the dots in an original way, focusing on transparency, trust, and reputation as important drivers of success. We're all aware of the implications of operating in a transparent, wired, global marketplace. What Seidman has done is crystallize how we now need to think and act to win in this new world.”
–Chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc. Jeff Kindler
“Dov Seidman’s intellect and passion—brilliantly displayed in HOW’s well-written and entertaining case studies, anecdotes—show us a new way to think about enduring success in times of change. Seidman’s penetrating insights into what really matters in a wired world challenge the very best in each of us to see what is right and wrong in everyday decision making.”
–U.S. Senator Bill Bradley “In HOW, Dov Seidman takes the idea of 'success' even further, redefining it as a quest for significance. Isn't that what we all really want? To have a positive impact, to make a difference, to excel? To do that you have to achieve significance, and Seidman brilliantly shows you HOW. This book will change your life in profound ways.”
–Author Marcus Buckingham
“Dov Seidman ’s book introduces you to the world of how in a way that will revolutionize the way you think about, assess, and experience success.”
– Former Chief Learning Officer, Goldman Sachs and former head of leadership development at GE, Steve Kerr
“HOW is a trip through the lens of a first-class observer. Dov Seidman captures the life lessons that impact how we should think and respond in today’s world. HOW’s clarity and common sense make it a must read for aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere.”
–Chairman, Equity Group Investments, Sam Zell
“This book is the ultimate guidebook for successful living. Its truths are simple but stunningly powerful.”
– Author Marianne Williamson
“We do business on every continent. Everywhere we go, Dov Seidman's message rings equally true. HOW provides valuable insight for anyone who believes their company culture and core values can determine their ultimate success.”
–Massimo Ferragamo, Chairman, FERRAGAMO USA
“Dov Seidman captures the power that Ray Kroc instilled in us at McDonald’s from the day he opened his first restaurant in 1955—a culture based on values puts the customer first. In today’s world, focusing on the ‘how’ is critical to accelerating momentum. HOW is required reading for anyone seeking enduring success in business or life.”
– Jim Skinner, CEO, McDonald’s Corporation
"The hottest adviser on corporate virtue to Fortune 500 companies."
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The studies and examples on the pay-offs from using values and culture to "outbehaveÃ¢" competitors and build branding and reputation from the inside out inspired me to get a copy of this book. Intrigued by the title, and anticipating lots more meaty research and rich insights, I was disappointed.
As famed American satirist, Ambrose Bierce, (most known for writing The Devil's Dictionary) once put it, "the covers of this book are too far apart." How is least twice as long as it needs to be. Like gold mining, you have to move, crush, and refine a lot of rock to get the nuggets. Seidman's stories are long and way too detailed with some sections or entire chapters providing rambling flashes of the obvious.
The book's gold is in Chapters Ten and Eleven dealing with organizational culture. Seidman "Spectrum of Culture" starts with "Anarchy and Lawlessness," moves up to "Blind Obedience," then steps up to "Informed Acquiescence" and culminates with the strongest and most successful culture of "Self-Governance." His chart on "The Five Hows of Culture" (pages 228 and 229) is an excellent summary of behaviors, characteristics, signs, and steps to each type of culture. He then builds a strong "Case for Self-Governing Cultures" (Chapter 11) that finishes with these short sections showing why self-governance is the future of business:
- Self-governing cultures thrive on the free flow of information
- A leading company needs to be a company of leaders
- Values-based self-governing cultures encourage employee development
- Self-governance builds universal vigilance
- Self-governance shifts decision making from the pragmatic to the principled
- Self- governance is a higher concept
Unfortunately, Seidman strikes a strongly dissonant note when, in a chapter he calls "The Marlboro Man and Me," he rationalizes his company's involvement with Philip Morris (which he says, in a masterful understatement, faces "reputational challenges") by saying that LRN is not concerned with the "what" (cigarettes) but only with the "how." Separating "what" from "how" is analogous to, and just as dangerous as, seeking to justify foul means to attain noble ends. A company that claims to promote values-based leadership has no business helping Philip Morris - which has a long and reprehensible history of deceiving adult smokers and luring children to become replacement smokers for those it kills off - do a better job of "how" when their "what" is pushing a product responsible for a worldwide epidemic of addiction, disease, suffering, and death.