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Left on Red: How to Ignite, Leverage and Build Visionary Organizations Hardcover – June 2, 2008
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The Amazon Book Review
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"This book provides inspiration and guidance for entrepreneurs and executives" (Strategy Magazine, December 2008)
From the Inside Flap
What does it take to build a company capable of changing the world? Constant innovation, and ideation? An obsessive, almost insane sense of urgency? Business Velocity and IQ? In Left on Red, venture capitalist and recognized innovator Bill Glynn presents an insider's view of the way great businesses are built.
Visionary, game-changing companies like Google and Apple don't just appear out of nowhere. Instead, they are built by maverick leaders and business commandos willing to throw the rules out the window and disrupt the status quo. They don't just "think outside the box"for them, there is no box at all. With great personal, financial, and social risk, true innovators throughout history have overcome the most complex constraints society can throw at them. Naysayers, deal prevention teams, and the social order, like red lights, are meant to slow or stop progressive movement. Taking a left turn at a red light or driving right through itlike real innovationis dangerous, a little crazy, and certainly a lonely sport not for the weak-willed. But if you have the guts and smarts to try it, the rewards are well worth it.
Most companies stifle and discourage their most creative employees and leaders. Only today's best companies constantly and perpetually seek out visionary employees, encourage ideation, and use every means necessary to improve their business and products. Those companies know how to build a business environment that promotes innovation and rewards risk-taking. Left on Red shows how they do it, revealing the way today's best business leaders implant innovation and change into the very DNA of their businesses.
Corporations are inherently risk averse, yet taking risks and breaking rules is the only way to truly innovate and compete. If you're an entrepreneur or an executive, Left on Red provides the insight, ideas, and examples you need to build the kind of culture of innovation and creation that's necessary to survive the systems and markets meant to keep you and your team bottled up.
Those people who change the world are mavericks and free thinkers who choose to swim against the current, cut against the grain, or turn Left on Red. For anyone who has a vision and wants to build a business that's unique, exciting, and different than anything that's come before, this book will show you the most direct route to innovation. It will teach you how to overcome red light people and systems along the way. Left on Red points out the obstacles and people that stand in the way of progress and warns that someone will end up being crushed under the weight of change. Will it be you or them?
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Top customer reviews
I happened to hear author Bill Glynn being interviewed on national radio when his "Left on Red" was released and was compelled to put "Left on Red" at the top of my "must read" list. Glynn, "one of the world's top fifteen innovators" and venture capitalist, has written what I would call a "breezy" book (215 pages of the largest font I have seen in years) based on his experience and observations. The book's cover promises to provide an insider's view and examples of: 1) how great businesses are built; 2) how to create cultures of innovation and creation necessary to survive the systems and markets meant to keep individuals and teams bottled up; and 3) what is the quickest route to innovation.
Topics include The Visionary (Business is War), The Future (Not the New Media - the New Medium), The Art of a Deal (The Two-by-Four and Return on Innovation), and the Strength of Social Capital (Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies and Ideation). The format he uses begins with his observations and examples, followed by Tactical Takeaways (a summary with bullet points), and an Insider's Viewpoint (comments by various innovator's).
For me, the book was a great disappointment. Before I go on, I will admit to a bias as I come from the life science industry which is a world apart from Glynn's very fast paced 5.0 existence. The upfront investment and potential human costs in medical research and commercial development of new medical therapies follows a very different paradigm for innovators.
With the exception of a few Insider's Viewpoints and some aspects of the Strength of Social Capital, the book offers the reader very little other than tiresome glib comments and clichés. Glynn notes that colleagues have commented on his fast-paced style and his ability to get to the endgame before anyone else. I suspect "Left on Red" reflects his overall approach to life.
Glynn is critical of the books, "Who Moved the Cheese" and "One Minute Manager," believing they belong on the shelf in a bookstore. For me, "Red on Left" makes a threesome.
"Let's take a look at the laws of leadership and the multitude of books you can buy like Who Moved My Cheese? and The One Minute Manager among many others, and place them into a pile of rubbish. My theory is that if you have to read about how to be a leader you should go buy some Huggies Pull-Ups."
Glynn compares Left on Red thinkers to the commandos in an army, those able to sneak behind enemy walls in the middle of the night and sever the lifeline of the competition. They single-handedly change the fate of the business landscape. In contrast, but also vitally important, are the infantry who follow the commando and stabilize and manage the landscape. The infantry are followed by the police, who maintain the future operations. In business, Glynn points out that you must know who you are and also how to work with all three.
Commandos, or innovators, breath predictions about the future that will dynamically change the way we think, interact, and communicate. Yet, some things never change. Glynn's future is filled with interactive TV and advertising, life-like virtual worlds, and nano-technology breakthroughs allowing humans to think and communicate as machines do in a flawlessly meshed network. Yet, there is an important distinction between the medium and the content. The medium will change -i.e. the progression of listening to music on an 8-track then to a Walkman to a CD to an iPod - but at the end of the day, the demand for the content keeps the production of music alive. Predicting how the mediums change and how technological business models evolve dominate Left on Red thinking.
Beyond the nascent ideas propelling revolutionary change is getting to market quickly. Glynn's key advice is centered around rapidity and he antagonizes the 'patience is a virtue' mantra. Get to market as quickly as possible with as much force as possible lest your competition will beat you. Speed is the name of the game. Knowing your competition and anticipating your vulnerabilities is also key, so you'd betting have an all-star team, the best money can buy.
Easier said than done? It helps if you know people. Glynn's suggestion: keep your Rolodex filled, constantly massage your professional and social network, and become an individual who people value. Prime examples are what he calls Superconnectors. They are people in the shadows that connect people and drive the catalyst for future deals. They know people from all walks of life who can help others.
The core of Left on Red thinking is innovation, and Glynn notes that the majority of people don't have the will or capability which is required to produce the next Google. Too plugged into consumerism, the status-quo, against change, and thinking big, the masses have difficulty seeing above their comfortable stability. It's the rare combination of brilliance and determination that make entrepreneurs successful. That so, Left on Red thinking should be left for the untamed lion poised to take over the Serengeti watering hole.
With regard to recent technical innovations, Bill always seems to be at the center of the universe. Is it luck that explains how someone can always be at the right place at the right time? Luck doesn't seem to play into it; one gets the feeling that Bill brings the action with him, and innovation orbits him. Although I wouldn't want him to be my sons' Driver's Education instructor, if I were establishing or running a technology-related business, I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather have on my team. "Left on Red" makes for an energizing (and profitable!) read.