Profile for Robert Morris > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Robert Morris
Top Reviewer Ranking: 8
Helpful Votes: 2207

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life
The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 17.99

7 of 7 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, July 7 2015
If I understand Bernard Roth’s primary objective when teaching a class or writing a book such as this (and I may not), it is to help as many people as possible to formulate their own worldview rather than adopt and become hostage to someone else’s. He wants his students and his readers to gain – through a rigorous journey of discovery -- a sense of purpose, mastery, and intrinsic motivation. At some point, intrinsic motivation takes over, “and the work is its own reward.”

According to Roth, “By the end of the book, as a reader you will understand:

o Why trying is not good enough and how it is very different from [begin italics] doing [end italics].
o Why excuses, even legitimate ones, are self-defeating.
o How to change your self-image into one of a doer and achiever, and why this is important.
o How subtle language changes can resolve existential dilemmas and also barriers to action.
o How to build resiliency by reinforcing what you do (your action) rather than what you accomplish, so you can easily recover from temporary setbacks.
o How to train yourself to ignorer distractions that prevent you from achieving your goals.
o How to be open to learning from your own experience and that of others.

In this context, I was again reminded of the key insight in Ernest Becker’s classic, Denial of Death. No one can deny physical death but, Becker suggests, there is another form of death that can be denied: That which occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others’ expectations of us. Oscar Wilde once suggested, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Roth takes a Wilde a step further, suggesting, "Be your best self and then become a better you each day.” How? It’s all explained in the book.

Hence the importance of design thinking. Roth acknowledges, "It's difficult to give an exact definition for design thinking, however, but because I am one of the 'inventors' I can certainly give you an idea of its principles, which we'll get into throughout the book." Here are five.

1. Empathize: "This is where it starts. When you're doing it with other people's needs and desires in mind."
2. Define the problem: "Narrow down which problem to solve, which question to answer."
3. Ideate: Generate as many solutions or answers as possible "using any means you like -- brainstorming, mind mapping, sketching on napkins,...however you work best."
4. Prototype: "Without going crazy to make everything perfect (or even close to it), build your project in physical form, or develop the plans for what you're going to enact."
5. Test and get feedback.

As Roth would be the first to point out, identifying the WHAT of design thinking is easy enough. Explaining it clearly is far more difficult. Even then, presumably Roth agrees with Thomas Edison who observed long ago, "Vision without execution is hallucination." Both Edison and Roth are big fans of “whatever works."

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

o The Familiar Unfamiliar (Pages 26-30)
o Right and Wrong (35-36)
o Decision and Indecision (51-56)
o Moving to a Higher Level (64-70)
o Reframing (70-75)
o Twenty-Two Ways to Get Unstuck (80-93)
o The Curse of Networking (100-101)
o Trying and Doing (105-109)
o Acting Under Pressure (114-118)
o The Gift of Failure (121-122)
o Context (137-138)
o The Hard Conversations (145-146)
o Constructive Criticism (154-156)
o Styles and Cultures (156-159)
o Who's in Charge? (165-170)
o Parting Lessons from Friends (209-214)
o Life as Chance (219-223)
o The Blessing of Work (226-230)
o Motivation (250-253)

I commend Roth on his brilliant use of a multi-purpose device, “Your Turn,” throughout all ten chapters. Readers are challenged to reflect on what they have learned thus far, evaluate its relevance, and then apply it to their situation. In the last chapter, for example, after sharing his thoughts about a mantra, “It’s not about you,” he recalls a situation when he ignored it and only later realized, “It wasn’t about me.”

Then he redirects his attention to his reader: “The next few times something happens where you think people’s actions are related to what you did or did not do, tell yourself, ‘It’s not about me.’ Then note how you feel and, if possible, check out how they feel.” There are dozens of “Your Turn” deferences to the reader throughout the book.

These are among Roth’s concluding thoughts: “Be smarter than I was. Realize that your mind is trickier than you think, and is always working with your ego to make you believe you are doing better than you really are. That’s the human condition…You can choose to be the [begin italics] cause in the matter [end italics] of the circumstances of your life and you can instill in yourself the habit of achievement for a more functional and satisfying life. I hope this book contributes to these worthy goals.”

You won’t find a roadmap to self-knowledge in this book, nor even a compass. It isn’t about Bernie Roth. Absorb and digest the material. There will be several times when you have a chance to consider an insight. It can serve as both a mirror and a window. What you see in the mirror will help increase your understanding and appreciation of who you are now and who you can become. You will also be better prepared to share your enriched and enlightened humanity with others.

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine could possible do full justice to valuable information, insights, and counsel that he provides in abundance. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it.

Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
by Matthew D. Lieberman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.25
33 used & new from CDN$ 9.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant examination of the principles of the social brain (in layman's terms), July 6 2015
The best works of non-fiction tend to be research-driven and that is certainly true of this one as its annotated "Notes" (Pages 309-365) indicates. To Matthew Lieberman's great credit, he presents a wealth of information and insights with language that non-scientists such as I can understand. His primary purpose is to explain why and how the human brain is wired to think socially. That is, to make connections, to read the minds of others, and to "harmonize" with others in the groups with which we connect.

As he observes, "Just as there are multiple social networks on the Internet such as Facebook and Twitter, each with its own strengths, there are also multiple social networks in our brains, sets of brain regions that work together to promote our social well-being. These networks each have their own strengths, and they have emerged at different points in their evolutionary history moving from vertebrates to mammals to primates to us, Homo sapiens. Additionally, these same evolutionary steps are recapitulated in the same order in childhood."

Connection: Over time, humans have developed a capacity "to feel social pains and pleasures, forever linking our well-being to our connectedness." The more connected we are, the more secure we feel and the happier we are.

Mindreading: Humans have also developed "an unparalleled ability to understand the actions and thoughts of those around them, enhancing their ability to stay connected and interact strategically." This allows people to create groups that can "implement nearly any idea and to anticipate the needs and wants of those around us, keeping our groups moving smoothly."

Harmonizing: "The sense of self is one of the most evolutionary gifts we have received. Although the self may appear to be a mechanism for distinguishing us from others and perhaps accentuating our selfishness, the self actually operates as a powerful force for social effectiveness." We connect or agree to have others connect with us when our wish is to be social. We harmonize when we are willing to allow group beliefs and values to influence our own. In a phrase, our wish is to "blend in."
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Lieberman's coverage in the first seven of twelve chapters:

o Social Networks for Social Networks (Pages 9-12)
o Default Social Cognition (19-23)
o The Social Brain Hypothesis (31-33)
o Inverting Maslow (41-43)
o The Anterior Cingulate Cortex and Human Pain (50-54)
o Our Alarm System (61-64)
o Sticks and Stones (66-70)
o Varieties of Reward, and, Working Together (79-83)
o The Axiom of Self-Interest (83-86)
o Why Are Social Rewards Rewarding? (92-95)
o Everyday Mindreading (105-109)
o A System for General Intelligence (112-115)
o A System for Social Intelligence (115-118)
o Social Thinking Is for Social Living (120-123)
o Practice Doesn't Always Make Perfect (126-129)
o The Miracle of Mentalizing (129-130)
o Mindreading Mirrors? and, Cracks in the Mirror (137-143)
o Making the Social World Possible (149-150)
o I Feel Your Pain (152-155)
o Being a Social Alien (161-165)
o The Broken Mirror Hypothesis (168-172)
o Social Cognition (177-178)

It would be a good idea to keep these three brain regions in mind -- Connection, Mindreading, and Harmonizing -- when involved with one or more social media. To a varying degree, in different ways, they shape what Lieberman characterizes as "the social mind." This is perhaps what he had in his own mind when pointing out that, to the extent that we can characterize evolution as designing our modern brains, "this is what our brains were wired for: reaching out and interacting with others. These are design features, not flaws. These social adaptations are central to making us the most successful species on earth."

Matthew Lieberman duly acknowledges that there is yet a great deal more to learn about man's sociality from psychology, neuroscience, and beyond. That said, "we have a great opportunity to reshape our society and its institutions to maximize our own potential, both as individuals and together as a society."

Let's all hope that, sooner than later, the process of natural selection -- guided and informed by principles of the social brain -- will enable the humanity we share to overcome will overcome and eventually eliminate the inhumanity that endangers so much of the world today.

Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantage
Transformative HR: How Great Companies Use Evidence-Based Change for Sustainable Advantage
by John Boudreau
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 44.41
30 used & new from CDN$ 9.43

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the principles underlying evidence-based change bring clarity and validity to decisions about human capital, July 3 2015
In my opinion, John Boudreau is among the most original business thinkers now publishing articles and books. He makes unique and substantial contributions to thought leadership with regard to establishing and then sustaining a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. I read Transformative HR when it was first published and recently re-read it, curious to know how well Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan's insights and counsel have held up. If anything, they are even more relevant -- and more valuable -- than they were in 2011.

As they explain in the Introduction, "Evidence-based change is a kind-set and approach to making HR decisions. In evidence-based change, the principles covered in the first five chapters of this book [logic-driven analytics, segmentation, risk-leverage, integration and synergy, and optimization] are combined with a robust change-management process to ensure a sustainable competitive advantage for the organization."

I agree with them that "the transformative future is not an idle dream; many organizations have made great strides toward applying the principles of evidence-based change and reaping the rewards." In fact, Part Two consists of six in-depth case studies of six companies -- Royal Bank of Canada, Coca-Cola, Khazanah National, IBM, Ameriprise Financial, and Royal Bank of Scotland -- demonstrate how the five principles have been applied. Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan suggest a number of lessons to be learned from each. Thoughtfully, they also provide an Appendix, "Summary of Lessons Learned" (Pages 233-239)

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Boudreau and Jesuthasan's coverage:

o The Five Principles of Evidence-Based Change (Pages xv-xxi)
o Understanding Logic-Driven Analytics, and, The "Analytics" in Logic-Driven Analytics (5-11)
o Creating Buy-In and Developing a Logical Framework (17-19)
o Supply-Side Segmentation, and, Demand-Side Segmentation (30-34)
o Making Segmentation Happen (39-41)
o Portfolio Theory and Risk Diversification (60-62)
o Integration and Synergy Within the HR Function (79-82)
o Mechanisms for Integration and Synergy (84-85)
o The Optimization Mend-Set (98-101)
o Analytical Approaches to Optimization (102-106)
o Royal Bank of Canada: A Diversity Program That Thrives on Integration (116-119)
o Royal Bank of Canada: Integration and Employee Commitment (126-128)
o Coca-Cola: Integration Without Squashing Flexibility (139-142)
o Khazanah National: Doing and Feeling Leadership Development (150-153)
o Khazanah National: The Leadership Gap (155-158)
o IBM: Human Capital and Globally Integrated Enterprise (170-172)
o IBM: The Payoff (178-180)
o Ameriprise Financial: Getting the HR Basics Right (185-187)
o Ameriprise Financial: Million-Dollar Turnover and Other Opportunities (196-198)
o Royal Bank of Scotland: Listening to Employees (204-207)
o Royal Bank of Scotland: Rethinking Leadership (212-215)

In their Conclusion, Boudreau and Jesuthasan reflect on what they have learned from their wide and deep experience, then shared in this book. The material they provide really is evidence-driven. Establishing and then sustaining a workplace culture really does pose significance challenges to business leaders who pursue that worthy objective. They are challenged to provide leadership that is courageous, results-driven, and flexible rather than hostage to what Jim O'Toole so aptly characterizes in Leading Change as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Boudreau and Jesuthasan suggest a number of first steps that begin with an analysis of risk associated with incentives and conclude with identifying democratic change in mature markets. Because all six of the exemplars are large global companies, I hasten to add one other point: With appropriate modification, almost all of the insights and counsel that John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan provide can be of substantial value to leaders in almost all other companies, whatever their size and nature may be.

Sales Management (The Brian Tracy Success Library)
Sales Management (The Brian Tracy Success Library)
by Brian Tracy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 12.06
22 used & new from CDN$ 3.94

5.0 out of 5 stars The essentials of how to recruit, manage, and motivate a team of high-performing sales professionals, July 1 2015
This is one of the volumes in The Brian Tracy Success Library, all published by AMACOM. Tracy has already written one or more books of greater length and depth that examine these and other major business subjects. What he has now done with each of the volumes in the series is to condense with consummate skill the most valuable information, insights, and counsel within a 100-page format, in this instance the most valuable lessons he has learned about sales management.

Briefly but substantially, Tracy covers essentials of that include selecting and recruiting sales champions or those who have the potential, develop a sales game plan, inspire individual commitment with singleness of purpose, select appropriate incentives, nourish team members' self-image to boost sales, demonstrate respect and appreciation, brainstorm sales solutions, conduct game-changing performance reviews, and lead by example. He selected 21 specific subjects or themes most relevant to effective sales management and devotes a separate chapter to each. Briefly but substantially, Tracy covers these and other essentials of sales management.

I agree with Tracy: "The sales manager is one of the most valuable and often one of the least appreciated executives in a company. It is the sales manager who sets the standards and quotas for the salespeople and ensures that they achieve them. The development of excellent sales managers is an essential requirement for all successful business enterprises."

Achieving and then sustaining business success (however defined) depends almost entirely on nailing the fundamentals every day at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. In this book, Tracy focuses on the fundamentals in sales management. Mastering them and then applying them with high-impact is the challenge you now face. I urge you to embrace it with passionate tenacity and rigorous self-discipline. He explains how and why an effective sales manager "must be a friend, a counselor, a confidant, a stern taskmaster, and an efficient business-oriented executive, all at the same time."

These are among Tracy's key points of greatest interest and value to me. First, he explains how and why salespeople and their manager should spent at least 75% of their time in the field, in face-to-face contact with current and prospective customers, and spend no more than 25% of their time in their office completing paperwork. He also discusses what great sports teams and great sales teams share in common and suggests how to identify high-potential salespeople among those interviewed for a position. In fact, citing "The Law of Three," he recommends that (a) at least three candidates be interviewed for each position, (b) prime candidates be interviewed at least three times, (c) at three different locations, and (d) that at least three people be involved in the process.

It is important to keep in mind that the best sales managers must bed both effective leaders and effective managers. They must think strategically in terms of organizational goals, priorities, and resources but they must also think in terms of ABC: Always Be Closing. They close on the candidates they want to hire and they inspire salespeople to be self-motivated generate leads, close on sales, cultivate relationships, and recruit their customers as evangelists," as an extended salesforce.

Presumably Brian Tracy had two different readers primarily in mind when he wrote this book: those who are sales managers now, and, those who aspire to become sales managers. This book can also be of substantial value to those entrusted with responsibility to fill a sales management position, either with a hire or a promotion. As is also true of each of the other volumes in The Brian Tracy Success Library, the price at which Amazon now sells it ($8.43) is not a bargain; it's a steal.

* * *

Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations. His goal is to help as many people as possible to achieve their personal and business goals faster and easier than they ever imagined.

To learn more about him and his work, please visit the dedicated area that Amazon has created for him.

Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine
Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine
Price: CDN$ 18.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to lead a customer-driven business transformation by establishing value for the role of the chief customer officer, June 24 2015
This is a sequel to Chief Customer Officer, published in 2006. The material in that volume has been revised and updated to accommodate all that has happened...and not happened...since then but its core thesis is even more relevant now than it was then: world-class companies share five customer leadership core competencies. Here they are, in essence

o Treat customers as the most precious asset
o Focus on providing an experience that is most desirable to the customer
o Listen to customers to learn how to improve that experience
o Make customer experience development as important as product development
o Sustain proactive customer leadership at all levels and in all areas

I agree with Jeanne Bliss about the importance of these core competencies while presuming to point out that companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable with the greatest cap value in their industry. It would impossible to build a "customer-driven growth engine" unless and until everyone involved in customer relationships (directly or indirectly) is wholly committed. Years ago, when then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher, was asked to explain the spectacular success of Southwest Airlines, he explained, "We take great care of our people, they take great care of our customers, and our customers take great care of our shareholders." Kip Tindell (CEO of The Container Store) and John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) are among those who share that opinion.

As I worked my way through this book, I was again reminded of another. Jackie Huba and Ben MbcConnell wrote a book in which they explained how to create "customer evangelists." First, there must be "employee evangelists" and Bliss addresses that, notably with material provided on Pages 168-171 that includes a Code of Conduct to Employees. Leaders must inspire workers to become self-motivated customer leadership evangelists. One of the best ways is for leaders to serve as role models of customer leadership evangelism.

Bliss makes brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include a "Reading Road Map" for this book, mini-commentaries located throughout her narrative that focus on 33 customer leadership exemplars, "Action Lab" interactive exercises and assessments through each of nine chapters, checklists of key points, worksheets, and summaries that facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

Bliss provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel when explaining HOW TO:

o Define the Chief Customer Officer with clarity
o Unite leadership initiatives to ensure role adoption, community, ownership, and accountability
o Honor and manage customers as precious assets
o Align leadership with nature and extent of customer experience
o Build a "customer listening path"
o Establish and manage a revenue erosion early-warning system
o Sustain a shared commitment to customer-driven growth
o Design a five-competency "Maturity Map"
o Recruit, interview, and evaluate candidates for CCO position
o Then select the person best qualified
o Ensure the CCO's success with a full commitment of support from CEO and other C-level executives

As Jeanne Bliss explains, "My goal in writing this book was to establish clarity for what it takes to lead a customer-driven business transformation, and to establish value for the role of the chief customer officer." She succeeds. Indeed, much of the information. insights, and counsel that she provides (with appropriate modification) can be helpful to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Many (if not most) companies cannot afford a CCO but all businesses need everyone involved in the given enterprise to be customer-driven. Peter Drucker nailed it "If you don't have a customer, you don't have a business."

The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life
The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life
by William Duggan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.89
32 used & new from CDN$ 15.21

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "your first six senses tell us who you are. Your seventh sense tells who you can be., June 16 2015
Opinions are divided with regard to what is generally referred to as the "Aha!" moment -- referring to Eureka! ("I have found (it)") reputed to have been exclaimed by Archimedes -- when there is a breakthrough in understanding. Some believe that it is the latest step or stage in a scientific process whereas others see it as an isolated experience. In Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement, William Duggan observes, "Suddenly it hits you. It all comes together in your mind. You connect the dots. It can be one big 'Aha!' or a series of smaller ones that together show you the way ahead. The fog clears and you see what to do. It seems so obvious. A moment before you had no idea. Now you do."

This in essence is strategic intuition. It is very different from ordinary intuition such as vague hunches or gut instinct. "Ordinary intuition is a form of emotion: feeling, not thinking. Strategic intuition is the opposite: It's thinking, not feeling. A flash of insight cuts through the fog of your mind with a clear, shining thought. You might feel elated right after, but the thought itself is sharp in your mind. That's why it excites you: at last you see clearly what to do." Strategic intuition is also different from snap judgments (i.e. expert intuition such as Malcolm Gladwell discusses in his book, Blink), hence the importance of developing the discipline needed to recognize when a given situation is new. In that event, "disconnect the old dots, to let new ones connect on their own." It is this term, "discipline," that differentiates it from all other forms of intuition.

In his latest book, Duggan acknowledges the importance of this sixth sense but also notes that one's intuition only works "when you encounter something very similar to what you've seen before. If the situation is new, your sixth sense isn't enough...For a new situation, you need a new idea. And your s8x sense cannot give it to you. Your intuition gives you the same idea, again, faster and better with each repetition. For new situations, for new ideas, you need something else."

What would that be? The seventh sense because it is the mechanism of the human mind that produces new ideas. As Duggan explains, "It's the epiphany, the flash of insight, the Eureka moment -- in the form of an idea you never had before. And in its highest, rarest form, it's an idea that no one else had before either. The seventh sense is how new ideas are born. And not just new ideas, but useful ideas. Human achievement advances through flashes of insight that come from the seventh sense."

All that said, let's not ignore the importance of the sixth sense. It is absolutely essential, for example, to emergency room staff members because almost all of those entrusted to their care are strangers. Decisions must be made based on prior experience as well as training. The same is true of firefighters and countless others who much cope with immensely complicated situations, to be sure, but they are not unprecedented situations.

I am grateful to William Duggan for providing an abundance of information, insights, and counsel about the nature and power of the seventh sense. He includes dozens (hundreds?) of real-world illustrations of how flashes of insight -- in unfamiliar situations -- can reveal extraordinary ideas, ideas that would otherwise be inaccessible. He explains the science behind the sixth sense and how it differs from other human mental capabilities; he then provides practical tools and exercises that will help his reader discover and develop their own seventh sense. Ultimately and inevitably, the value of the material in this book will be determined by the extent to which a person can free their mind, formulate and execute a personal strategy map, and then focus on a question to be answered or a problem to be solved that is of greatest interest and potential importance. That will serve as a strategic objective that requires a process of networking to be achieved.

As I thought about all this while reading the book, I began to make all manner of correlations with some of the greatest breakthroughs in innovation throughout human history. Only a seventh sense could have suggested to Johannes Gutenberg, for example, that combining a wine press with separable type could somehow (perhaps) mass produce copies of a document such as the Bible. I am also reminded of another situation, centuries later, when Wilbur and Orville Wright recognized that "the difficulty was not to get into the air but to stay there." They built their first aircraft from split bamboo and paper. Kitty Hawk (North Carolina) had open space and an ample supply of a precious commodity: wind. The idea was to master gliding, after which Wilbur reckoned it would be easy to add a motor. "Maintaining equilibrium was the key--not much different than riding a bike."

Granted, few (if any) of those of us who read this book will experience such a flash of insight but we can indeed stimulate, nourish, and develop a seventh sense that, when needed most, will perhaps help us to recognize, to understand what we need to know when all of our other capabilities cannot.

Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes
Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes
by Margaret Heffernan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.34
31 used & new from CDN$ 10.18

5.0 out of 5 stars The "paradox of organizational culture": it makes a big difference although comprised of small actions, habits, and choices., June 13 2015
I have read and reviewed all of Margaret Heffernan's previously published books and most of her articles in various prominent journals as well as interviewed her. In my opinion, she is among the most valuable business thinkers, presenting valuable insights with rigor and eloquence. Her latest book, Beyond Measure, offers an excellent case in point. It is a follow-up to her eponymous TED Talk and I urge everyone to watch that video at the TED website as soon as they can.

Here's her thesis: "Institutional cultures are non-linear systems. Small changes -- listening, asking questions, sharing information -- alter beyond measure the ideas, insights, and connections those systems are capable of producing. Each of these small things generates responses that influence the system itself. And everyone, from CEO to the janitor, makes an impact."

Personal digression. Years ago, I was retained by a Fortune 50 company to help design an online "suggestion box" that would enable employees throughout the enterprise to suggest ways to reduce waste, improve a process. etc. A recent hire in the mail department at its headquarters made this suggestion: except when absolutely necessary, send all mail for next-business-day delivery only on Fridays. Did that "small change" have a "big impact"? Within the first few months, it began to save about $80,000 a month.

This is what Peter Sims affirms in his book, Little Bets, when recommending an experimental approach that involves a lot of little bets and certain creative methods to identify possibilities and build up to great outcomes eventually, after frequent failures. Constant experimentation ("learn by doing") is fundamental to this approach, as indicated, as are a playful, improvisational, and humorous environment; immersion in unfamiliar situations, localities, circumstances, etc.; definition of specific questions to answer, specific problems to solve, specific objectives to achieve, etc.; flexibility amidst ambiguity and uncertainty in combination with a willingness to accept reorientation; and, as indicated, constant iteration (reiteration?) to test, evaluate, refine, test again, etc. Those who are curious wish to understand what works. Experimental innovators have an insatiable curiosity to know what works (or doesn't), why it works (or doesn't), and how it can be improved.

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

o Introduction (Pages 1-5)
o Difference Makes a Difference (9-13)
o Crucial Differences (16-18)
o Making the Most of Mistakes (19-22)
o Teaching Empathy(25-26)
o Time Compounds Social Capital (31-34)
o Power Listening (35-38)
o Hours Up/Productivity Down (42-44)
o Quiet Time Together (46-50)
o Crunch -- Then Detox (51-56)
o Curiosity Smashes Silos (57-59)
o Divergent Thinking (63-70)
o Making Opposites Work (70-72)
o The Elevating Impact of High Expectation s (75-76)
o Leaders Believe (81-82)
o The Best Idea Leads (84-85)
o The Problem with Power (87-90)
o Epilogue (96-97)

I agree with Margaret Heffernan: "The aim of a human life is not one that is free of human flaws and friction but one that enriches, and is enriched by, others. Similarly, the goal of a great career or organization isn't the elimination of error but a relation ship with the world that is renewable because it grows as it gives. And for that you need all the small things that life has to offer: silence and noise, action and reflection, focus and exploration, time, respect, errors, inventions, humility, and pride in the human capacity to think again...So my one more simple thing is to ask: What small change made a big impact on your work? On your culture? Let your mind wander. You'll find it. Then share it.

One final point: I congratulate those involved with TED Books for this volume's superior design and production values, notably MGMT Design and the Simon & Schuster team. Bravo!

Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others
Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others
by Tacy M. Byham
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 31.77
24 used & new from CDN$ 18.76

5.0 out of 5 stars "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.", June 11 2015
I agree with Jack Welch's insight that serves as the subject of this review. Throughout history, great leaders are those who seem to have a "green thumb" for "growing" others to become leaders. For decades, especially during Welch's tenure as chairman and CEO, GE was among the major corporations where executive search firms "hunted" for the best candidates ("heads") for senior-level executive positions. I thought about all this as I began to read Tacy Byham and Richard Wellins' book as well as another, The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader, co-authored by Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Rosen, and Robert Wiltbank.

The title of their book is a word that they chose very carefully to describe exemplary leaders. "Catalysts drive action. But there's more. In science the term catalyst refers specifically to an agent that is [begin italics] required [end italics] to activate a particular chemical reaction. In other words, chemical catalysts don't just make things happen; they make things happen that wouldn't happen at all without them. They accomplish this by reducing the barriers that would, under normal circumstances, prevent a reaction. That is exactly how the growth leaders - our corporate catalysts - overcame growth gridlock [i.e. an entrepreneurial initiative is neutralized by administrative skepticism] and the terror of the plug [i.e. an arbitrary, often unrealistic revenue target] in their organization."

This is essentially what Byham and Wellins had in mind when formulating their own concept of catalytic leadership, exemplified by someone "who ignites action in others. That ignition might jump-start a change in an inefficient process, spawn a new idea for a new product, or, most important, effect change in others." In their book, they identify and discuss the defining characteristics of a Catalyst Leader:

o Asks and listens
o Fosters innovation
0 Provides balanced feedback
o Builds trust
o Focuses on other people's potential
o Collaborates and networks
o Empowers others
o Encourages/nourishes personal growth and professional development
o Energizes and mobilizes both individuals and teams
o Gets action in proper alignment with strategy

Whatever their size and nature may be, Byham and Wellins are convinced -- and I agree -- that all organizations need such leaders at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise, and, that such leaders can be developed. How? They answer that question in their research-driven book. First, they present "a clear picture of what catalytic leadership is really about." Next, they introduce the concept of leadership brand, one that can cement their reader's standing as an effective leader. There are "clearly identifiable practices associated with your leadership brand that separate truly effective leaders from average to poor ones. Finally, they "share some secrets for making every interaction a successful one. As a leader, you have dozens of conversations [Doug Conant characterizes them as 'touch points'] with others every single day. Your ability to connect with them -- by making people feel valued, heard, motivated, trusted, and involved -- will go a long way toward making you a perfect leaders!" If not perfect, at least a significantly more effective one.

As indicated earlier, Byham and Wellins identify and discuss the defining characteristics of a Catalyst Leader. They also respond to questions such as these:

o What are the core concepts and values of Catalyst Leadership?
o What is the Leadership Brand? What is it not?
o How to bring out the best in you?
o How to bring out the best in others?
o Ho to make people feel heard, valued, and motivated?
o How to improve communication, cooperation, and collaboration between and among everyone involved in the given workplace?
o How to drive results with focus, measurement, and accountability?
o How to attract, develop, and retain the talent needed in given workplace?
o How to establish and then sustain w workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development thrive?
o How to provide as well as receive and then act upon the most helpful feedback?
o How best to measure both individual and organizational performance?
o How to improve the nature as well as the extent of both internal and external connectedness?
o How to avoid or eliminate what Jim O'Toole so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom" in the given workplace?

No brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the wealth of material that is provided in this book but I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it and its authors. Here are Tacy Byham and Richard Wellins' concluding thoughts: "When people ask you what you do for a living, tell them you're a leader. And mean it." Adding, "We believe that leadership is a craft that is perfected through the focused dedication of time, attention, and self-awareness -- not unlike a chef, artist, or surgeon. When you become a leader, whatever your level or industry, it becomes your profession. We believe that you have an obligation to invest the time and effort to become the best leader you can be." I presume to paraphrase an inquiry by Hillel the Elder (110 BC - 10 AD): "If not you, who? If not now, when?"

Hbr's 10 Must Reads 2015: the Definitive Management Ideas of the Year From Harvard Business Review (With Bonus Article "the Focused Leader," the McKinsey Award-Winner by Daniel Goleman)(Hbr's 10 Must Reads)
Hbr's 10 Must Reads 2015: the Definitive Management Ideas of the Year From Harvard Business Review (With Bonus Article "the Focused Leader," the McKinsey Award-Winner by Daniel Goleman)(Hbr's 10 Must Reads)
by Daniel Goleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.03
40 used & new from CDN$ 15.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Here's an abundance of cutting-edge thinking to help business leaders solve today's critical challenges, June 9 2015
Harvard Business Review Press now publishes several series of anthologized articles that first appeared in HBR. One of them is the HBR's 10 Must series on which the focus is on a general subject such as Essentials (my personal favorite), Change Management, Collaboration, Communication, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership, a total of twelve thus far. To them we can add another focus: a calendar year. All but two of the articles in HBR's 10 Must Reads 2015 were published in 2014. Dan Goleman's "The Focused Leader," a bonus, and David A. Garvin's "How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management" were published in 2013. In December, HBRP will publish HBR's 10 Must Reads 2016: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review (with a bonus article, William Lazonick's McKinsey Award-Winning article, "Profits Without Prosperity").

As the HBR Editors explain, "Some management challenges never go away (the mysterious art of managing talented people is chief among them). Others are solved for one generation and then crop up years later in response to new market conditions. Still others really do get settled -- at least for one set of people in one place. Our hope is that the pieces in this volume -- the big themes they raise, the big ideas they put forward, and the practical guidance they detail -- will help business leaders solve today's critical challenges in their own jobs and organizations."

In this context, I am again reminded of an incident many years when one of Einstein's colleagues at Princeton gently chided him for asking the same questions on the final examinations each year. "Quite right. Each year, the answers are different."

Briefly, the material in this volume can help business leaders to:

o Lead by focusing their attention on the tasks, issues, questions, problems, etc. that are most important
o Identify, locate, and establish new (better) management practices that will strengthen the given organization
o Manage much more effectively one of any organization's most precious resources: time
o Evaluate and rethink vital functions such as HR and marketing
o Complete a transition from a yearly planning cycle to formulating a winning strategy
o Make better long-term organizational decisions with an eye to national and global economic trends

Several of the contributors to this volume have earned and deserve their prominence in thought leadership. Clay Christensen ("The Capitalist's Dilemma"), for example, as well as Goleman ("The Focused Leader"), W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne ("Blue Ocean Leadership"), and Roger Martin ("The Big Lie of Strategic Planning").

However, in my opinion, some of the most valuable material in this volume was contributed by several with whose work I was previously unfamiliar. For example, Julian Birkinshaw, Tarun Khanna, and Patty McCord. Here are three brief excerpts (i.e. samples) from their articles.

"By taking deliberate steps to understand other companies' innovations and how they relate to your own firm's ways of thinking and functioning, you better discern which experimental concepts are worth your while. With thoughtfulness and care, you can increase your chances of success when you borrow ideas and, in the process, acquire new knowledge that will improve your business in the long run." Julian Birkinshaw, "Beware of the Next Big Thing" (Pages 1-13)

Lessons to be learned from Birkinshaw: Channeling Marcus Aurelius, the best approach is to extract the essential principle from a management innovation -- its underlying logic -- by asking a series of questions about it such as "How is your organization significantly different from the source of the innovation?" Best practices seldom travel Well

"Understanding the limits of our knowledge, which is at the heart of contextual intelligence, is a very basic component of human comprehension. Yet it's also a profoundly difficult, complicated process that has vexed philosophers from Plato to Isaiah Berlin, who distinguished between [begin italics] knowing the facts [end italics] and [begin italics] making a judgment [end italics] in a widely read 1996 essay...We need to understand so many things better than we currently do [before entering a new market]: How do [consumers in that market] prioritize spending, given their extremely limited resources? What forms of communication will they respond to? How can they accumulate capital in the absence of collateral? The answers to these questions will differ from Mumbai to Nairobi and from Nairobi to Santiago." Tarun Khanna, "Contextual Intelligence" (59-75)

Lessons to be learned from Khanna: The first steps in adapting to unknown realities is to jettison assumptions about what will work and then experiment to find out what actually does work. Make certain everyone buys into the idea that whatever goes wrong is not a "failure" unless nothing of value is learned from it.

"Over the years we learned that if we asked people to rely on logic and common sense instead of on formal policies, most of the time we would get better results, and at lower cost. If you're careful to hire people who will put the company's interest first, who understand and support the desire for a high-performance workplace, 97% of your employees will do the right thing. Most companies spend endless time and money writing and enforcing HR policies to deal with problems that the other 3% might cause. Instead, we tried really hard to not hire those people, and we let them go if it turned out we'd make a hiring mistake." Patty McCord, "How Netflix Reinvented HR (77-88)

Lessons to be learned from McCord: Hire, reward, and tolerate only fully formed adults. Always tell the truth about performance. Make it crystal clear to managers that their top priority is building great teams. Spare no expense to accelerate personal growth and professional development. Don't expect excellence. Demand it.

It would be a fool's errand to attempt to apply most or even much of the insights and counsel provided in the eleven articles. All are thoughtful and thought-provoking, to be sure, but the potential value of each will depend almost entirely on two factors: its relevance to the given organization, and, how effectively the relevant material is applied. That said, here's my recommendation: Carefully read the "Editors' Note" and review the Contents. Then read (and re-read) the article that seems to grab you by the nose. Somewhere in this book is an insight -- if not in that nose-grabbing article, then in another -- that can help you and/or your organization to solve an especially serious problem or answer an especially important question. It's in there. Go find it!

Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach
Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach
by Martin Reeves
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.83
41 used & new from CDN$ 25.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do." — Michael Porter, June 9 2015
Porter's comment offers a valuable reminder, as does this one from Peter Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." The same is true of all other major business initiatives: to paraphrase an ancient proverb, "old wine in new bottles is still old wine." During an interview of Jon Katzenbach years ago, he confided that the most difficult challenge to change agents is to think differently about change. In another interview, Tom Kelley stressed the importance of thinking innovatively about innovation.

This is probably what Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, and Janmejava Sinha had in mind when observing that a leader "has a number of critical roles when matching strategic approaches to environments, keeping the resulting strategy collage dynamic, and catalyzing the execution of those approaches. From the CEOs we interviewed for this book, we heard that the toughest and most valuable challenge of all is managing the dynamic complexity inherent in large companies that requires multiple simultaneous or successive approaches to strategy."

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

o Five Strategy Environments (Pages 6-7)
o Five Strategy Archetypes (7-14)
o Mars, Inc.: Winning Classically (25-27)
o The Classical Approach to Strategy: Core Idea (27-30)
o When to Apply a Classical Approach (32-33)

o Positioning Play at Huawei (38-39)
o Planning and Challenge at Mahindra (41-44)
o Planning with Discipline at Mylan (44-45)

o The Classical Approach in Practice: Implementation (47-54)

o The Adaptive Approach to Strategy: The Core Idea (60-63)
o Managing a Portfolio of Experiments (72-76)

o The Adaptive Approach to Strategy: Implementation (76-85)

o The Visionary Approach to Strategy: The Core Idea (89-93)
o The Visionary Approach to Strategy: Strategizing (97-101)
o The Visionary Approach in Practice: Implementation (104-110)

o The Shaping Approach to Strategy: Core Idea, and, When to Apply a Shaping Approach (115-123)

o The Renewal Approach to Strategy: Core Idea (143-148)
o The Renewal Approach in Practice: Strategizing (150-158)
o The Renewal Approach in Practice: Implementation (159-164)

o Ambidexterity: Core Idea (175-178)
o Four Approaches to Ambidexterity: Which Fits Your Canvas? (178-184)

o Key Leadership Roles in a Complex and Dynamic World (197-199)
o Animating the Collage: The Eight Roles of Leaders (199-209)

Obviously, no brief commentary can do full justice to the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, and Janmejava Sinha provide in this volume. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of the material, most of which (with appropriate modification) can be of incalculable value to leaders in almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

Strategies can be viewed as "hammers" that drive tactics or "nails." In today's global marketplace within which change occurs faster and in greater number than at any prior time that I recall, business leaders need more than a toolkit. They need a giant hardware store and the skills that tools require. Strategies must help organizations to achieve their objectives. First, however, business leaders must identify those objectives with care. When doing so, I presume to suggest that that they keep in mind the aforementioned observation by Peter Drucker : "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20