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Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 4, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
As the business world becomes increasingly competitive, global, and adoptive of new technologies, companies worldwide are constantly searching for answers about how to best evolve to meet their customers™ needs and to stay abreast of their competitors. Taylor (Mavericks at Work) asserts that change is the name of the game; he takes us on an inside look at 25 companies that have grown ever more adaptive to not merely survive but thrive in today™s challenging environment. Taylor™s book is intended to guide leaders in launching fresh initiatives and rethinking œthe logic of leadership itself as they work to rally their colleagues around an agenda for renewal. The work achieves its promise with actionable prescriptions and meaningful examples, such as how organizations like the Girl Scouts have redefined their brand and revitalized their mission, how Zappos has reimagined retail and service, and why, like IBM, leaders must constantly challenge the status quo by examining the self-reflection and commitment to innovation. An engaging and briskly written read, this will captivate and benefit business people interested in change and innovation. (Feb.)
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In the depths of the Great Depression, economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, evoking a basic animal instinct within us to do something productive and procreative, even in the face of hard times. Taylor, a former Harvard Business Review editor and cofounder of Fast Company, a full-color business magazine, begins this discussion on creative solutions for tough economic times by reviewing the pioneering companies that got their start during recessionary environments: Federal Express, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments, among others. The radical solutions he proposes may be as simple as bucking the trend. Case in point, online shoe and apparel retailer Zappos.com, which has developed an almost cultlike customer loyalty by encouraging buyers to call in to their 24/7 phone line and offering a full one-year return policy. Taylor profiles 25 companies and organizations from the Providence, Rhode Island, police to the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to illustrate how radical thinking can transform companies and excite management and staff to tap into their group genius. --David Siegfried
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This all being said, the weaknesses of the book really lie in sections where Rickards goes beyond reporting history to promulgating ideas of a coming collapse, much of which is based on some assumptions he makes about the importance of gold and how nations will respond to the slightest hiccup in confidence in fiat currencies like the US dollar. For example, the opening chapters are actually pretty interesting as the author lets us in on the first ever "financial war games" exercise sponsored by the US government (he got to play a major role due to research he'd done on systematic weaknesses in financial markets). The funny thing is the author tells of how he basically rigs the exercise to go in the direction he wants by commiserating with a friend over dinner (who is assigned to an opposing team) to push for a coordinated interest in launching a new gold-backed currency. The plan initially backfires and is almost not allowed by moderators until Rickards rallies support, then sells all of his team's gold to the opponent in a sort of self-sacrifice effort to make his friend's plan work after all! If anything, it shows how fragile world economics are at present where a strategic blunder by one nation could turn into absolute turmoil if other nations also make small mistakes in response.
The meat of the book is in the three sections on Currency War 1, 2 and 3. It is interesting to get a perspective also on the G20 conferences and responses to the latest financial crisis. His later chapters on the IMF and their use of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) is also enlightening and a good intro to learn more on this topic that might grow considerably in importance. I think the chapter on the hypothetical of returning to a gold standard and its implications should be taken with a grain of salt. What I did appreciate though was his response to Ben Bernanke's research on the role of gold in worsening the Great Depression. This is an important discussion he left out of his book The New Case for Gold. All in all, its a good quick read and I think you'll enjoy it.
international struggle for economic domination, and as pawns they are among the first casualties. The book offers a lively history of the debasement of all the paper currencies which has occurred as a result of the gamesmanship among nations and the ineptitude of the politicians.
The US dollar has lost 97% of its purchasing power since the Federal Reserve was established in 1913. Mr. Rickard's book offers several scenarios as to the fate of the last 3%. The recent failed Bund auction in Germany should have been a wake up call for America. But no one is paying attention!
Buy this book while the few dollars it costs still have the wherewithal to buy anything!