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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

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Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way
Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way
by Joseph Michelli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.21
27 used & new from CDN$ 23.71

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best or Nothing': The Mercedes-Benz Way, Jan. 8 2016
As those who have read one or more of his previously published books already know, Joseph Michelli possesses a unique combination of talents and strengths as a world-class cultural anthropologist, raconteur, investigative reporter, and business thinker. Thanks to him, executives in all manner of organizations have learned how to develop a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. That is precisely what the Pike Place Fish Market, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, U.C.L.A. Health System, Zappos, and now Mercedes-Benz share in common.

Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell once collaborated on a book in which they explain how to create what they characterize as 'customer evangelists.' I was reminded of that term as I began to read Driven to Delight in which Michelli explains when, why, and how Mercedes-Benz leaders 'sought to make the company an experience provider that was on a par with ' if not better than ' other iconic brands.'

Let's re-run the tape: Engineering excellence, safety, and innovation were the foundation that ' over the years -- led to a very product-focused mindset. "Many Mercedes-Benz dealers in the United States (many of whom had been in business for decades) relied heavily on product quality to build customer loyalty and hadn't addressed the over all experience of customers in their dealerships. Because Mercedes-Benz had such a strong product focus, new competitors entering the marketplace added value to their products by creating a better dealership experience."

OK but so what? In fact, a great deal. "Therein lay the problem. The Mercedes-Benz retail/dealership experience was uneven and lacked a well-defined objective with attendant accountability." Given this backdrop of rapidly increasing customer expectations, variable consumer experiences, and competitors that provided high-quality customer sales and service interactions, "the leaders at Mercedes-Benz USA set out to foster new systemwide competencies to look at the entire business from the customer's perspective. Their goal became to map the customer journey, solicit customer feedback, rapidly resolve customer issues, and deliver emotionally engaging experiences 'Driven to Delight' customers." In this book, Michelli explains HOW they developed employee evangelists who would then create customer evangelists.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Michelli's coverage:

o Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) Pages 2-11, 14-16, 19-20, and 85-86)
o Driven to Delight (6-8, 14-16, 218-221, and 248-254)
o Steve Cannon (7-8, 13-15, 43-45, 105-107, 204-205, 207-208, 219-220, 225-226, 237238, 242-243)
o 'Keys to Driving Delight' (39)
o Mapping Customer Journey touchpoints (45-46, 49-50, and 63-68)
o Surveys (46-47, 119-120, 125-130, and 226-227)
o Gareth Joyce (51-52, 181-182, 193-194, and 253-254)
o Customer Feedback (79-80, 83-96, 107-108, and 131-132)
o J.D. Powers & Associates (81-95, 108-110, 207-211, and 251-252)
o Customer experience with dealerships (108-115)
o MBUSA financial issues (101-107)
o DaSH Program for employees (120-124)
o Hendrik ("Harry") Hynekamp and customer experience team (132-134)
o Employees and brand immersion program (140-147)
o Leadership Academy (147-153)
o Processes (163-172, 185-186, and 194-195)
o Customer loyalty (192-193 and 199-200)
o Transformation (208-215)
o CRM: Customer Relationship Management (237-240)

Once again, in ways and to an extent few other business thinkers can, Michelli anchors his insights in human experiences. He is a world-class empiricist and a relentless pragmatist, determined to understand what works, what doesn't, and why. He also possesses the skills of a great raconteur. Whereas other authors of business books prefer the fable genre, he favors the narrative: he sets the scene, provides the back story, introduces the main players, creates dramatic tension with real conflicts, and then traces significant developments to a satisfying climax. For me, his key point ' one that is relevant to almost any other organization, whatever its size and nature may be ' is that creating a world-class offering is not enough; it is also necessary to provide it with a world-class customer experience.

In the book's Conclusion, Joseph Michelli expresses his gratitude to Steve Cannon, Dietmar Exler, and Gareth Joyce for the critical lessons that can be learned from them about leaving a legacy. 'In essence, they help us realize that leaders must not just state their vision of customer experience excellence but also take action to manifest that vision on behalf of those they serve. Leaders should look to their people and see them demonstrate an obsession with details that make the difference between 'good' and 'the best' customer experiences. Ultimately the impact of extraordinary customer care should be heard in the stories our customers share and seen in the data garnered from customer surveys.'

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
by Cal Newport
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.60
9 used & new from CDN$ 24.10

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle, Jan. 7 2016
Those who aspire to “connect sacredness inherent in traditional craftsmanship to the world of knowledge work” would be well-advised to keep Aristotle’s observation in mind. What we do habitually defines us, for better or worse. In this remarkably insightful book, Cal Newport explains how – over time –he became a “deep work machine” and how almost anyone else can also become one. Her examines a process that is easy to describe but for many – if not most – people immensely difficult to sustain: focus only on what is most important, ignore or eliminate everything that isn’t, develop habits that support rather than distract attention, and – meanwhile – allow sufficient time for personal growth and professional development.

Although an adept deep worker earlier in his academic career, Newport reached a point when he realized that there was still substantial room for improvement. “I returned to my MIT habit of working on problems in my head whenever a goo0d time presented itself – be it walking the dog or commuting. Whereas earlier, I tended to increase my deep work only as a deadline approached, this year was relentless -- most every day of most every week I was pushing my mind to grapple with results of consequence, regardless of whether or not a specific deadline was near. I solved proofs on subway rides and while shoveling snow. When my son napped on the weekend, I would pace the yard thinking, and when stuck in traffic I would methodically work through problems that were stymieing me."

He notes that during this period or renewal and recommitment, he doubled his average work productivity as a classroom teacher at MIT while writing a book and published nine peer-reviewed papers -- all the while maintaining his prohibition on work in the evening. "To leave the distracted masses to join the focused few, I'm arguing, is a transformative experience. The deep life, of course, is not for everybody. It requires hard work and drastic changes in your habits." That said, deep work is -- and always will be -- "way more powerful than most people understand"…until they read Newport’s book.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Newport’s coverage:

o How to Become a Winner in the New Economy (Pages 28-33)
o Deep Work Helps You Quickly Learn Hard Things (33-37)
o The Principle of Least Productivity (61-66)
o The Cult of the Internet (66-70)
o A Neurological Argument for Depth (76-82)
o A Psychological Argument for Depth (82-86)
o A Philosophical Argument for Depth (86-91)
o Decide on Your Depth Philosophy (101-112)
o Deep Work Scheduling: Philosophical and Journalistic (110-117)
o Ritualize (117-121)
o Make Grand Gestures (121-126)
o Don't Work Alone (126-134)
o Execute Like a Business (134-142)
o Be Lazy (142-154)
o Don't Take Breaks from Distraction. Instead, Take Breaks from Focus (159-166)
o Meditate Productively (169-174)
o Memorize a Deck of Cards (174-179)
o Apply the Law of the Vital Few to Your Internet Habits 192-203)
o Quit Social Media (203-209)
o Don't Use the Internet to Entertain Yourself (209-214)
o Schedule Every Minute of Your Day (221-227)
o Quantify the Depth of Every Activity (228-232)
o Finish Your Work by Five Thirty (236-242)
o Become Hard to Reach (242-256)

Some of these have an implied prefix such as "How to" or "Know how to"; others are clearly an admonition, perhaps even a challenge. Obviously, Newport agrees with Albert Einstein's determination to "make everything as simple as possible...but no simpler." Also with Peter Drucker's observation, "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." And also with Stephen Covey: "Spend much less time on what is urgent and much more time on what is important."

Obviously no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the quality and value of the information, insights, and counsel that Cal Newport provides but I hope I have at least indicated by I am so grateful to him for what I learned and am now applying amidst my own distractions.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out two others: Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow and Marty Neumeier's Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age.

Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently
Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently
by Dawna Markova
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.18
34 used & new from CDN$ 20.76

5.0 out of 5 stars "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.", Jan. 6 2016
All organizations need effective leadership as well as effective communication, cooperation, and collaboration at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. These needs are even greater now than ever before, given the nature and extent of competition in what has become a global marketplace. More often than not, high-impact results are achieved by teams. The Mead quotation reaffirms the importance of that fact. Here's another of her insights: "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else." I agree with Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur that there are almost no limits on what they characterize as "the transformative power of collaborative thinking" can accomplish. This is what Tom Davenport and Brooke Manville have in mind in their book, Judgment Calls, when offering 'an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance': [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics]. That is, 'the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control."

This is precisely why collaborative intelligence, "thinking with people who think differently," is so essential to making the right decisions. "Collaborative intelligence (CQ) is a critical component of mind share, because it allows you to recognize what expertise is present and what is missing." Markova and McArthur then add, "Think of this book as an operating manual for one another's minds...Think of this book as that operating manual which helps you understand the differences in how people around you think." And do indeed remember meanwhile "that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Markova and McArthur's coverage:

o Rate Your CQ (Pages 13-15)
o The Four Essential Strategies of CQ (18-19)
o Breakthrough Practices (19-20)
o How Do You Pay Attention to Attention? (31-34)
o The Three Languages of Thought: What Triggers Your Attention to Shift? (36-38)
o Mind Patterns: Four Steps (40-43)
o Chart of the Patterns Matter? (59-64)
o How Do You Create the Conditions for a Team to Open Its Thinking? (92-96)
o Growing the Thinking While Growing the Organization: Using CQ in a Whole Company (97-99)
What Are Your Unique Thinking Talents? (109-111)
o 35 "Thinking Talents" (112-120)
o Why Do Thinking Talents Matter? (128-139)
o Walk Curiously in Another Person's Shoes (146-150)
o Engaging a Person Who Challenges You (150-155)
o The Three Kinds of Inquiry (177-184)
o Using the Inquiry Compass (185-193)
o How to Get Past Clashes in Styles of Inquiry and Move Toward Collaboration (200-203)
o Three-Step Inquiry: Success-Based, Intentional, and Influential (208-210)
o Aiming Your Attention, and, Aiming Your Intention (222-228)
o Using Attention, Intention, and Imagination to Create Forward Momentum (229-232)
o Aiming Collective Attention Questions for Leaders (245-248)
o Appendix: Utilizing Mind Patterns in Work Situations (Pages 261-337)

When concluding their book, Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur note that "the root of the word 'respect' means to look again, to see or consider oneself, other people, situations, and challenges as if for the first time." Perhaps they are channeling T.S. Eliot's insight in Four Quartets: "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." Those who read this book will be required to complete a journey of self-discovery, to be sure, but they will realize -- perhaps for the first time -- that they have been seeing what they expect to see, hearing what they expect to hear, and doing what they expect to do. These are self-limiting habits. "They offer comfort without challenge, reassurance without insight, and certainty without imagination."

For those who remain hostage to what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes as 'the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom,' the wealth of information, insights, and counsel provided in this volume can help them to make much better decisions, both alone and in collaboration with others.

Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation
Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation
by Neel Doshi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.19
36 used & new from CDN$ 15.85

5.0 out of 5 stars How to make every single person in your organization solve problems 10% better, 10% faster, and with 10% more persistence, Jan. 5 2016
According to Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, “We wrote Primed to Perform to reveal the science behind the magic [of building a high-performance culture]. Over the last two decades, we built upon about a century of academic study with our own original research. We analyzed tens of thousands of workers, from programmers, consultants, teachers, and investment bankers to frontline workers in legendary cultures like Southwest Airlines, the Apple Store, and Starbucks. We found that the magic behind great cultures is actually an elegantly simple science...we found that what it takes to create the highest performing cultures is actually predictable...Most importantly, we've developed a set of approaches and tools that help leaders build their own legendary cultures where people are primed to perform."

I agree with Doshi and McGregor that "the best way to motivate people is not through rewards or threats, but by inspiring people to find play, purpose, and potential in their work." That is, activate self-motivation in others by creating a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive.

The objective is to establish and then sustain total (self-) motivation (ToMo) throughout the given enterprise. How? Details of that process are best revealed within the narrative, in context, but the process consists of several interdependent steps, based on two separate but interdependent realities: (1) direct motives (e.g. play, purpose, and potential) typically increase performance and indirect motives (e.g. emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia) typically decrease it, and, (2) the more directly connected the motive is to the given activity itself, the better the performance becomes.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Doshi and McGregor’s coverage in Chapters 1-9:

o The Science of Performance, and, Culture Matters (Pages xii-xxii)
o The Motive Spectrum (5-13)
o Betting on the Underdog (14-18)
o Total Motivation (ToMo): Predictable and Universal (20-23)
o Bird' Eye-View of Southwest Airlines ToMo (25-28)
o Creative Destruction (34-38)
o The Great Wave (48-50)
o The Fuel of Adaptability (55-57)
o The Study of Complexity, and, Born to Adapt (60-64)
o Blame's Immune System, The Antidote to Blame, and Deblaming Your Life (77-85)
o Fro0zen by Design (90-92)
o Diagnosing ToMo (107-120)
o Four Styles of Leadership (127-130)
o The Fire Starters (130-132)
o A Company of Fire Starters (140-144)
o It's All in the "Why" (147-149)
o Your Objective: The "anchor of your organization's identity" (149-154)
o Your Heritage (158-161)
o The Impact of Identity (163-167)

Doshi and McGregor provide an abundance of information, insights, and counsel as well as hundreds of real-world situations in which people with whom the reader can identify attempt to is to establish and then sustain total (self) motivation (ToMo) within a workplace culture. Special attention is devoted to companies that are annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for, notably Apple Stores, Google, Gore & Associates, Medallia, SAS, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Toyota and Whole Foods Market. It is no coincidence that most of them are also annually ranked among the companies that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their industry.

Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor make a key point when observing that, to create the highest levels of performance, leaders “must balance two opposing forces – tactical and adaptive performance – in every single person and process.” Where to start? They suggest five “simple ideas” to consider (on Page 285) and wish their reader great success, as do I.

The Granularity of Growth: How to Identify the Sources of Growth and Drive Enduring Company Performance
The Granularity of Growth: How to Identify the Sources of Growth and Drive Enduring Company Performance
by Patrick Viguerie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 49.99
30 used & new from CDN$ 15.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Here is a rigorous analytical foundation for understanding growth and the architecture needed to manage it, Jan. 5 2016
I read this book when it was first published (in 2008) and recently re-read it, curious to know how well its key insights have held up since then. If anything, they are of greater relevance and value now than they were then.

The co-authors – Patrick Viguerie, Sven Smit, and Mehrdad Baghai – wrote this book in response to a key question that most C-level executives now ask themselves and others at least once a day: “Where will profitable growth come from and how can we sustain it, if not increase it?” I recently conducted a workshop for a Fortune 100 company’s senior management team and that is what most of them identified when I asked them which question do they find most difficult to answer.

Whatever their size and nature may be, most organizations face many of the same challenges although, obviously, there are differences in terms of extent or scale. Viguerie, Smit, and Baghai explore the particular challenges faced by large organizations in driving and sustaining growth. "The first of these is a basic numbers problem: the bigger you are, the harder it is to drive the next quantum of growth...The second challenge facing large companies has to do with longevity: the longer you've been in business and the larger you are, the more likely it is that your business is maturing. As it does so, it will almost certainly encounter the problems of aging: innovation starts to slow and returns gradually decline. What's more, the sheer size of a mature organization can produce inertia." Viguerie, Smit, and Baghai share their thoughts about how to prepare for and then respond effectively to such challenges.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of this book’s coverage:

o Value creation (Pages 2-10, 214-215, and 220-224)
o Company categories: Challenged, Growth Giants, Performers, and Unrewarded (4-8 and 214-217)
o Granular issues (33-36 and 105-106)
o Direction of growth (68-69)
o Balancing acquisitions and divestitures (92-96)
o Growth map (112-121)
o Low momentum companies (124-127)
o Architecture of granularity (138-143)
o Procter & Gamble (144-151)
o Growth and company architecture (153-161)
o Scale platforms (176-185)
o Granular and cluster-based growth (188-202)
o Deloitte (193-200)
o Key performance indicators (194-2002)

As I worked my way through Viguerie, Smit, and Baghai’s lively as well as eloquent narrative, I was again reminded of Jack Welch’s comments at a GE annual meeting many years ago when he was chairman and CEO and explained why he thought so highly of small companies:

““For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy.”

Why is granularity the central theme of this book? According to Viguerie, Smit, and Baghai, it refers to the components within a larger system such as GE’s. “A description of a system is more granular (or ‘fine-grained’) if the description involves a larger number of components. For example, planet Earth could be described in terms of continent s, countries, states and provinces, cities, towns, and villages, in order of increasing granularity.”

So what? In fact, a great deal. Patrick Viguerie, Sven Smit, and Mehrdad Baghai offer an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that will help prepare business leaders, especially in large organizations, to identify sources of growth that can drive enduring company performance. They would be among the first to agree, however, that it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to apply everything they suggest for consideration. Shrewd readers will focus on what is most relevant to their own organization in terms of its resources, values, and strategic objectives. The challenge remains the same for both organizations and individuals: grow or go. To paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith, what got them here won’t even allow them to remain here, much less get to there, whatever and wherever “here” and “there” may be.

Joy Ride
Joy Ride
by John Lahr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.24
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5.0 out of 5 stars For those who love the theater, here is a magic carpet on which to take a joy ride of their own, Dec 25 2015
This review is from: Joy Ride (Hardcover)
I have previously read all of John Lahr's profiles and reviews for The New Yorker and am delighted to have so many of them assembled in a single volume. My second reading indicates that most of them have retained their liveliness. With regard to the book's title, Caryn James addresses it in her own review for The New York Times: 'To John Lahr, joy in the theater is as much about artistic ambition and intellectual rigor as it is about simple happiness. The word infuses Joy Ride'He finds deep cultural resonance in August Wilson's Seven Guitars, about blues musicians in the 1940s, because 'it teaches through joy, not through reason.' The Broadway director Susan Stroman (The Producers), whose personal sorrows include the death of her husband, says, 'Tapping into joy ' it saves you.' And of Ingmar Bergman, whom he visited at home on the island of Faro, Lahr finds 'another kind of joy' in 'the audacity of Bergman's camera, in the vigor of his argument.' The word morphs as it meets its subjects.' I noted more than a dozen other inclusions of joy. I share James's regret that he did not include actors among his subjects his Joy Ride, notably his interview of Helen Mirren and his profile of Sean Penn.

Lahr's skills as a journalist share much in common with those of a New Yorker colleague, Lillian Ross. Both are astute observers, keen listeners, and bring to life their interactions with those of in greatest interest. For Ross, as indicated in recently published Reporting Always: Writings from the New Yorker, they would include (in alpha order) Edward Albee, Julie Andrews, Coco Chanel, Charlie Chaplin, Clint Eastwood, Federico Fellini, Ernest Hemingway, Gayle King, Willie Mays, Al Pacino, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench (together to help promote their film, Ladies in Lavender, at the Tribeca Film Festival), and Robin Williams.

Whereas Ross describes them in terms with which her readers can associate, Lahr's approach focuses on the "show people & their shows" as both human beings (for better or worse) and incomparable artists. As he explains, his aim in Joy Ride " is to bring the theatergoers up close and personal with the artists and their processes, with the plays and playwrights, with what they seek to express, and how they express it." In addition to Bergman, Stroman, and Wilson, they include (again in alpha order) Tony Kushner, David Mamet, Arthur Miller, Harold Pinter, Sam Shepard, and Mike Nichols. He also shares his thoughts about productions of five of Shakespeare's plays as well as more recent works that include Private Lives, Sweeney Todd, Oklahoma, The Rose Tattoo, and Carousel.

I am deeply grateful to John Lahr for providing what I view as a magic carpet on which I have been able to take a joy ride of my own. I view this book as a precious gift and have waited until this day to thank him for it.

The Daily Edge: Simple Strategies to Increase Efficiency and Make an Impact Every Day
The Daily Edge: Simple Strategies to Increase Efficiency and Make an Impact Every Day
by David Horsager
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.28
30 used & new from CDN$ 21.27

5.0 out of 5 stars “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler." Albert Einstein, Dec 23 2015
The narrative consists of 35 “Tips” on how to accelerate and enrich personal growth and professional development. As David Horsager explains, a daily edge is an advantage almost anyone can gain when one’s priorities are crystal clear and there is a sharp, constant focus on serving those priorities. Horsager agrees with Stephen Covey that people tend to spend too much time and energy on what is urgent and not enough on what is important.

I share Horsager's appreciation of the importance of setting priorities that can help to guide and inform our thoughts as well as our plans and behavior. However, circumstances can change significantly. When they do -- more often than not -- priorities need to be re-ordered. He offers a sound framework within which appropriate modifications can be made, if and when necessary.

He recommends a process that begins wherever you are now; he explains how to identify the objectives you wish to achieve; and then helps you determine what must be done -- and how it must be done -- to complete a journey from where you are to where you wish to be.

Each of the 35 "Tips" is accompanied by a brief but insightful explanation of HOW to use it to accomplish much more, in much less time, that will have much greater impact. These are among the Tips of greatest interest and value to me:

#1: How to formulate a 90-day Quick Plan and then make it work
#3: How to take full advantage of the "Power Hour" each workday morning
#4: How top complete 3-5 tasks better and faster by do them at the same time
#7: How to select and complete the right tasks to complete when you are most creative and productive
#10: How to use the last 15 minutes of a workday to prioritize and plan the tasks to complete the next day
#22: How to determine which tasks would be most efficiently completed together

This is a self-help book in the most admirable sense of the term. Although Horsager provides an abundance of insights and counsel, it remains for each reader to take ownership of beginning and then continuing the aforementioned "journey."

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out two by Ken Robinson, written with Lou Aronica: The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (2009) and Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life (2014).

StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work
StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work
by Marcus Buckingham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.63
39 used & new from CDN$ 17.86

5.0 out of 5 stars How to identify and then leverage the strengths needed to accelerate personal growth and professional development, Dec 23 2015
Those who have read one or more of Marcus Buckingham’s books — First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (1999), Now, Discover Your Strengths (2001), and Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance (2007) — already know that his mission in life is to help as many people as he can to accelerate their personal growth and professional development. In my opinion, StandOut 2.0 is his most valuable and will be the most influential book he has written…thus far. He provides an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that can help team members, their leaders, and individuals to identify, nourish, and the leverage the strengths they need to achieve success, however it may be defined.

What’s in it for you?

More specifically, he explains

o How to find your edge (i.e. competitive advantage) and make it work best for you.
o How to take full advantage of the potential benefits of the StandOut Assessment
o How to use three lessons — “Your Genius Is Precise,” “Remember Who You Are [and Aren’t],” and “Always Sharpen Your Edge” — to build your strengths
o How strengths-building can accelerate innovation
o What specifically each of the strengths roles requires and how to fill each role to achieve high-impact

These are the nine roles:

ADVISOR: You are a reliable, highly-valued source of wisdom and knowledge.
CONNECTOR: Your are a catalyst and bridge-builder.
CREATOR: You make something new.
[INNOVATOR: You make something better],
EQUALIZER: You maintain appropriate balance and proportion.
INFLUENCER: You are persuasive because others trust you and respect you.
PIONEER: You embrace opportunities to explore/understand what is unfamiliar.
PROVIDER: You nourish others’ needs.
STIMULATOR: You inspire self-motivation in others.
TEACHER: You enjoy learning as much as you enjoy sharing what you have learned.

People tend to be oblivious to their unique (albeit under-developed) strengths, as are others with whom they most frequently interact. That said, it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to become an outstanding performer in each of the nine roles. Let the results of the new StandOut Assessment suggest on which two or three to focus. With all due respect to the strategy “Let your light so shine before man,” it is equally important to know where and how to shine that light, first within the as-yet undiscovered self and then in all areas of one’s life.

Personal note: I give Marcus Buckingham high marks in each of the nine categories. He is as caring as he is bright. As I suggested earlier, he is on a mission. How else to explain why he continues to write books such as this one?

He devotes all of Chapter 5 (Pages 39-84) to discussing each of these nine, using a template that consists of eight components:

o The Definition [of the given role]
o You at Your Most Powerful
o How to Describe Yourself [resumés, in interviews, performance reviews]
o How to Make an Immediate Impact
o How to Take Your Performance to the Next Level
o What to Watch Out For
o How to Win as a Leader, as a Manager, in Sales, and in Client Service
o How to Manage Me

Buckingham urges his readers to complete the new StandOut Assessment because it will reveal (a) what their greatest strengths are now and (B) which strengths (albeit under-developed strengths) are most likely to help them find their edge, sharpen it, and thereby become a peak performer in months and years to come. He suggests they think of the results of the new StandOut Assessment as a “Rosetta Stone” to make sense of the human complexity to which Walt Whitman refers in Song of Myself: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.”

HBR's 10 Must Reads 2016: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review (with bonus McKinsey Award–Winning article "Profits Without Prosperity”) (HBR’s 10 Must Reads)
HBR's 10 Must Reads 2016: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review (with bonus McKinsey Award–Winning article "Profits Without Prosperity”) (HBR’s 10 Must Reads)
by Harvard Business Review
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.59
26 used & new from CDN$ 20.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Ten Plus the McKinsey Award Winner, William Lazonick's 'Profits Without Prosperity, Dec 22 2015
This is the second volume in what I hope will become an annual series of anthologies of the best articles that appeared in Harvard Business Review during the previous calendar year. Frankly, I am pleased and relieved that I was not among those who were charged with making the selections, each of which is eminently worthy. I commend the Editors on the excellent Introduction. It brilliantly sets the "table" for the intellectual "feast" that follows.

The articles average about 15 pages in length. (Keep in mind that Amazon's "Look inside" option creates immediate access to the table of contents in all of the anthologies: HBR 10 Must Reads, HBR Guides to, HBR on, etc.) Executives with little (if any) time for reading business books and journals will welcome the material in HBR's 10 Must Reads 2016: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review. They will receive a briefing on cutting edge thinking about timely topics such as these:

o Why and how performance management needs to be reinvented
o The transparency trap and how to avoid it
o What strategy unravels...and what to do about that
o The authenticity paradox
o The discipline of business experimentation
o What do when senior managers won't cooperate
o How to establish workplaces that move people
o Ho0w connections, sensors, and data are revolutionizing business

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, we have a Farmer's Market at which several merchants offer slices of fresh-cut fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now present three excerpts that are presentative of the high quality of all eleven selections.

"[Employee] ratings are a distillation of the truth -- and up until now, one might argue, a necessary one. Yet we want our organizations to know us, and we want to know ourselves at work, and that can't be compressed into a single number. We now have the technology to go from a small data version of our people to a big data version of them." Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall

"The corporate resource allocation process is America's source of economic security or insecurity,as the case may be. If Americans want an economy in which corporate profits result in shared prosperity, the buyback and executive compensation binges will have to end. As with any addiction, there will be withdrawal pains. But the best executives may actually get satisfaction out of being paid a reasonable salary for allocating resources in ways that sustain the enterprise, provide higher standards of living to the workers who make it succeed, and generate tax revenues for the governments that provide it with critical inputs." William Lazonick

"When their companies fail to translate strategy into results, many executives point to a weak performance culture as the root cause. The data tells a different story. It is true that in most companies, the official culture -- the core values posted on the companv website, say -- does not support execution. However, a company's true values reveal themselves when managers make hard choices -- and here we have found that a focus on performance does shape behavior on a day-to-day basis." Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, and Charles Sull

Given the quality of the articles in this anthology, its price (if purchased from Amazon US, $17.24) is not a bargain, it's a steal.

Think Out Of The Box
Think Out Of The Box
by Mike Vance
Edition: Hardcover
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A classic source for thinking more clearly and making better decisions, Dec 19 2015
This review is from: Think Out Of The Box (Hardcover)
I have just re-read two books co-authored by Mike Vance and Diane Deacon. This one and Creating Mega Results: A proven creative process for achieving record-breaking success</em>. Some of the material in it is dated in terms of relevance to today's global marketplace but, that said, the basic principles that Deacon and Vance affirm are timeless, relevant to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

For example, Vance and Deacon stress the importance of having a vision, 'a crucial component in the formula for success. They also suggest ' and I agree: 'What we do is determined by what we are. What we are is determined by what we think. What we think is determined by what we experience. What we experience is determined by what awe are exposed to and what we do with that exposure.'

They provide a number of mini-profiles of creative geniuses:

o Norman Brinker (Pages 31-34)
o Thomas Edison (60-62)
o Louis L'Amour (79-81)
o Frank Lloyd Wright (92-94)
o Dr. Vernon Luck (121-124)
o R. Buckminster Fuller (137-140)
o A.C. (Mike) Markkula (152-153)
o Jack Welch (171-173)
o Walt Disney (185-193)

According to Wikipedia, the concept of 'thinking outside the box' is generally credited to a nine-dot puzzle "which John Adair claims to have introduced in 1969. Thinking outside the box (also thinking out of the box or thinking beyond the box) is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking. The term is thought to derive from management consultants in the 1970s and 1980s challenging their clients to solve the 'nine dots' puzzle, whose solution requires some lateral thinking."

My own take is that lateral or alternative perspectives on problems or questions often expedite resolving them. Back in the days when I spent most of my time in an office interacting with colleagues and clients frequently, there were very serious issues to be addressed and I found that my thinking about them was easier and better during a weekend, away from the office. In essence, the "box" to which Vance and Deacon is a mindset, not a location. It is imperative, however, that efforts made to solve the right problem or answer the right question. As Peter Drucker wisely observed decades ago, "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." Mike Vance and Diane Deacon can help those who read this book to avoid making that mistake.

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