Profile for Robert Morris > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Robert Morris
Top Reviewer Ranking: 6
Helpful Votes: 2042

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

Reviews Written by
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Seven Disciplines of A Leader
Seven Disciplines of A Leader
by Jeff Wolf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 34.00
33 used & new from CDN$ 18.17

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why some leaders have high-impact and so many others don't, Feb. 12 2015
Another book on leadership? The last time I checked, Amazon offers 133,833 titles in the general category of "leadership" and 55,596 titles in "business leadership." So, why another book? I suggest two reasons: First, as in residential real estate where for every home there's a buyer, in publishing, for every book on leadership there's a reader. Also, each generation develops its own perspectives on business subjects such as leadership, management, strategy, innovation, marketing, and decision-making. The best of the business books (e.g. Warren Bennis's On Becoming a Leader published in 1989) remain relevant to each generation but they are few in number. Each generation faces its own unique challenges and leaders require material that will help them become much more effective. That is why Jeff Wolf wrote this book, with Ken Shelton's assistance. His focus is on how leaders can help their colleagues, team, and organization achieve maximum effectiveness, at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.

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

o Leading in Uncertain Times (Pages 10-12)
o Five Fundamental Goals of Highly Effective Leaders (14-16)
o Highly Effective Leaders Build on a Foundation of Honesty and Integrity (28-31)
o Seven Deadly Leadership Sins (31-32)
o Three Disciplines of Highly Effective Leaders
o Seize the Reins and Set an Example for Others (47-48)
o Five Useful Skills (62-64)
o Positively Negative (70-72)
o Priorities, Planning, and Execution (78-82)
o The 10 Ways to Sabotage Yourself and Your Company (89-90)
o Do What You Love, Love What You Do (113-115)
o Lessons from Industry Leaders (119-12w1)
o Take Three Key Steps (137-138)
o Eight Hiring Guidelines (143-145)
o Effective Leadership Development (156-161)
o Six Essential Leadership Responsibilities That Build Effective Teams (202-207)
o Six Learning Disabilities (210-211)
o Four Disciplines to Get Healthy (213-214)
o Customer Intimacy (221-222)
o Retaining High Potential Employees (241-243)
o Four Phases of Change (250-251)
o Resisting Change (251-254)
o Basic Leadership Techniques (267-269)

The seven disciplines that Wolf proposes could just as well have been five, nine, or a dozen. Whatever the number, such disciplines are the "what" of leadership. The great value of this book is found in his explanation of the "how" and "why." In my opinion, the information, insights, and counsel he provides can be of incalculable value to middle managers who aspire to become leaders. Also, to those now preparing for a career in business or who have only recently embarked on one. There is another constituency to which I also highly recommend this book: Owner/CEOs of small to midsize, privately-owned companies who are eager to strengthen their skills in one or more of the areas that Wolf explores. There are no head-snapping revelations in this book, nor does Wolfe make any such claim.

To those who share my high regard for this book and are in need of additional resources, I suggest two books: Guy Kawasaki's Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition and Beyond Performance Management: Why, When, and How to Use 40 Tools and Best Practices for Superior Business Performance, co-authored by Jeremy Hope and Steve Player.

Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-Up Plan for Starting Now
Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-Up Plan for Starting Now
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the LeanModel Framework can be “a rocket ship for entrepreneurs”, Feb. 11 2015
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Jack Welch's response when he was chairman and CEO of GE and asked at an annual meeting why he held small companies in such high regard. His reasons:

"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."

The title of Bernhard Schroder's book refers to the process completed within what he characterizes as the LeanModel Framework. As he explains, ""instead of spending months writing a business plan and then looking for investors, who may not give you any money anyway, adopt the Lean Model Framework. The Lean Model Framework is made up of four integrated components: Lean Resources, Business Model, Rapid Prototyping, and Customer Truth."

Schroeder devised this Framework primarily for start-up companies. Moreover, with only minor modification, the Framework can also be of substantial assistance to those within a well-established organization who seek funding for start-up projects based on a promising new product or service. Here are the Framework's components:

o Lean Resources: "Empower a mentality that believes less is more; look to get your company [or project] started in the leanest way possible by leveraging everything that you can."

o Business Model: "Take the time to really understand your marketplace, current trends, and your target market segment, then craft a business model that not only makes sense but it makes money."

o Rapid Prototyping: "If you believe in using lean resources to move fast, then with the same mentality, create a minimum viable product or service that you can test with the marketplace as rapidly as possible."

o Customer Truth: "Although selecting the right target customer segment is critical, listening to and gathering feedback from your potential customers is crucial. Feedback from customers is what will give you the insight needed to iterate, pivot, or abandon your idea."

He thoroughly explains how to develop each of these separate but interdependent components when preparing to launch a new company or project. The success of those preparations will depend almost entirely on two factors: viability of what is proposed, and, quality and speed of introduction. To repeat, it is imperative to determine ASAP whether or not to iterate, pivot, or abandon the given idea.

I commend Bernhard Schroeder on his skillful use of several reader-friendly devices within his narrative that include what I call business nuggets, "Entrepreneur Insights," as well as "Key Takeaways" from each chapter. These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later. In the final chapter, he explains the "what" and "how" of becoming an entrepreneur, correctly noting that "founders create start-ups, teams build companies." Obviously, effective leadership and teamwork are essential to the success of either a start-up company or a start-up project. Here in a single volume is almost everything anyone needs to know about how to achieve that success.

Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility (and How You Can Too)
Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility (and How You Can Too)
by David Butler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.32
26 used & new from CDN$ 18.23

5.0 out of 5 stars How the design by purpose process can create value while driving both scale and agility, Feb. 10 2015
What is "design on purpose"? According to David Butler and Linda Tischler in one of several summaries of key points (Pages 209-211), design on purpose involves five separate but interdependent initiatives:

1. Connect everything you design to your brands. Firms such as Apple ("think different"), Nike ("personal empowerment"J, and BMW ("the ultimate driving machine"), clarify the brand idea/proposition for each brand, in plain speak, and use it to drive their design process in their briefs, concepts, and executions. So must you, also.

2. Clearly define visual identity systems for your brands and use them to connect all of your communication tools. "To get the most impact and scale, we should clearly define the visual identity system (brand or promotion look and feel) at the strategy stage and then use it to connect all of our communication tools together to create a total brand experience."

3. Create design management tools and guiding principles to ensure a high level of quality across your system. "We need to create clarity for our brands by creating tools that make good decisions easy and bad decisions difficult."

4. Use design to build more consistency between activation programs, licensing, and promotions (both locally and globally). "We can get much more efficiency and create more impact by thinking more holistically about design. The good news is that sometimes we are very strategic with our design. The bad news is that often it is almost by chance and never connected to anything else."

5. Link your existing, regional design teams with corporate to achieve better follow-through. "If we linked our design teams together to create a design network, we could leverage our agencies, assets and knowledge much more efficiently and consistently....We could and should be [begin italics] the [end italics] company that other companies use as [begin italics] their [end italics] standard for great design. We need to design on purpose."

Many (most?) business leaders seldom think about linking purpose (the real meaning behind everything that an organization does) with design. Almost 20 years ago in The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge observed, "Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots." Most organizations need to redesign how they are designed. Stated another way, their leaders must think differently about how they think.

The design with purpose process really can create substantial value when scale and agility are combined. This is precisely the "secret sauce" of almost any high-growth, high-profit organization. Consider these observations by Butler and Tischman:

"If you're a big, established company [such as Coca-Cola], you've got scale, which enables you to expand almost effortlessly from Boston to Bangalore. Over time, you've built up powerful assets -- expertise, brands, customers, distribution, channels, relationships -- that most startups could only dream about. Scale is not your problem. Your problem is agility -- you must be smarter, faster, leaner than the startup that's got your industry in its crosshairs -- targeted for disruption...If you're a startup, you've got a different problem. You've got agility, nothing but agility. Trying new business models, repositioning your company, developing new features, or even whole new products within days -- things big companies can only dream about -- are not your problem.

"For you, building the right team, deciding which metrics matter, acquiring customers, and securing funding are what keep you up at night. Scale is your problem -- doing what it takes to expand your startup into new geographies, including the land of profitability, is your challenge. That's why most startups fail -- only a dispiriting one out of ten succeeds."

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

o Scale and Agility, Coca Cola and Design, and The Invisible Drives the Visible (Pages 2-8)
o Redesigning Design (12-13)
o What Is Design? (16-24)
o Systems and Design (24-27)
o Simplify, Standardize, and Integrate (43-51)
o Context Is Everything (63-65)
o Sometimes, More Is More (67-72)
o Everyone Needs Agility (72-86)
o The Upstarts Called Startups (95-98)
o Fourth Era of Innovation (99-100)
o Disrupt or Be Disrupted (104-107)
o Shark-Bite Problems (124-125)
o Built for Speed (135-138)
o Learning by Doing (143-144)
o Leaner (159-164)
o Catching the Net Wave (188-194)

Whatever an organization's size and nature may be, its leaders need to use the principles, techniques, and resources of design thinking to combine both scale and agility, at all levels and in all areas, throughout the given enterprise. How? Just about everything they need to know is provided by David Butler and Linda Tischler in this book.

HBR Guide to Project Management
HBR Guide to Project Management
by Harvard Business Review
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.61
32 used & new from CDN$ 10.13

5.0 out of 5 stars I agree with Margaret Mead,, Feb. 5 2015
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

This is one of the first volumes in another series of anthologies of articles, previously published in Harvard Business Review, in which contributors share their insights concerning a major business subject, in this instance project management. As is also true of volumes in other such series, notably HBR Essentials, HBR Must Reads, and HBR Management Tips, HBR Guides offer great value in several ways. Here are two: Cutting-edge thinking from 25-30 sources in a single volume at a price (about $15.00 from Amazon in the paperbound version) for a fraction of what article reprints would cost.

Given the original HBR publication dates, some of the material in some of the volumes is -- inevitably -- dated such as references to specific situations in specific companies. However, the most valuable insights and lessons to be learned are timeless.

The material in the HBR Guide to Project Management was selected to help those who read this book to improve in areas that include building a strong, focused team; avoiding or overcoming major objectives into manageable tasks; creating a schedule that sustains team efforts; monitoring progress toward goals while revealing unexpected issues; managing stakeholders' expectations; and completing the project and evaluating the nature and extent of success. If you need assistance in any of these areas, this book be of invaluable assistance now as well as in months and years to come, as will Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.

The authors of the 23 articles HOW TO:

o Complete pre-launch preparations (e.g. selecting team)
o Launch a project on the right foot
o Navigate the four phases of project management
o Cope with a project's "frigging front end"
o Create value rather than wasting resources with "project creep"
o Set priorities and ranking them correctly
o Embed team and individuals with accountability
o Measure nature and extent of impact (i.e. progress)
o Manage disagreements, dissent, and other social dysfunctions
o Wrap-up a project
o Conduct a post-mortem
o Identify/share lessons learned from project

Although there are several "celebrity" contributors to this volume, notably Clayton Christensen and Jon Katzenbach, most are unfamiliar to most readers. Do not be deterred. Those who lack a "halo" provide some of the most valuable material, as Christensen and Katzenbach would be the first to agree.

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World
Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World
by Peter H. Diamandis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.32
28 used & new from CDN$ 21.25

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here are exponential tools and techniques as well as key modes of thinking to solve large-scale (insoluble?) global problems, Feb. 4 2015
There is no doubt that Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler see the so-called "Big Picture" and recognize the problems that pose the greatest challenges. They are obviously convinced that it is possible to "go big, create wealth, and impact the world" and explain how to do that in this remarkably entertaining as well as informative book. Some of the most valuable material is provided during the interviews they conducted of "four who changed the world": Larry Page (Google, where there is "a healthy distrust of the impossible"), Elon Musk (Tesla and Space X), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon). Why these four?

"We define an exponential entrepreneur as someone who is using exponential tools and technologies to reach large populations of people and take on billion-person challenges that were previously only addressable by governments. We studied the work of Page, Musk, Bezos, and Branson because of the incredible reach and impact they have had. Each of these men started with no inheritance and built companies that have spanned the globe. If you want to take on grand global challenges, you need to be able to think at scale. These four individuals have clearly demonstrated that they have the wisdom and skills needed to think on a global level."

It is important to keep in mind that the exponential entrepreneur's mindset they share is one that business leaders in any organization can develop, whatever its size and nature may be, and that includes owner/CEOs of small to midsize companies ass well as those who head business units or divisions within Fortune 100 companies. This is what Diamandis and Kotler have in mind when observing, "In today's digitally enabled exponential world, many of our products and services have become digitized -- things like biology, manufacturing, and finance. Since you can basically replicate digital data for free, a billion times over, and then distribute it globally, again, virtually for free, this allows businesses to scale up quickly and globally, often, at a very low marginal expense. Ultimately this is causing many products and services to become demonetized, dematerialized, and democratized. This is what we mean by the differences between linear [tradition] and exponential businesses."

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

o The Six Ds, and, The Last Three Ds (Pages 7-15)
o A Question of Scale (17-22)
o The Impact of Disruption (33-35)
o Networks and Sensors (41-48)
o Artificia; Intelligence (AI): Expertise on Demand (52-59)
o Robotics: Our New Workforce (59-62)
o Genomics and Synthetic Biology (63-65)
o The Secret of "Skonk": Parts One and Two (71-77)
o Google's Eight Innovation Principles (84-85)
o Flow: Its Environmental, Psychological, Social, and Creative Triggers (85-94)
o Peter's Laws(tm): The Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind (113-114)
o Musk, Branson, Bezos, and Page: Four Who Changed the World (115-116)
o How to Crowdsource (156-167)
o The Types of Crowdfunding (172-175)
o The Money Solution: A How-To Guide to Crowdfunding (181-210)
o Stages of Community Building (230-242)
o The Power of Incentive Competitions (245-247)
o Then Benefits of Using an Incentive Competition (258-261)
o Key Parameters for Designing Your Incentive Challenge (263-269)
o The Step-by-Step How-To of Your Incentive Competition (269-273)

Diamandis and Kotler suggest that the information, insights, and counsel they provide are best viewed as a "playbook" that can guide and inform bold visions and aggressive initiatives. I agree. However, keep in mind that one of the greatest benefits of the exponential mindset, in my mind its most unique benefit, is that it enables those who master it to "fail fast" or to learn what must next be done to succeed. Hence the importance of the mini-case studies provided (Pages 175-180, 219-228, and 250-258). The most innovative organizations conduct constant experimentation, rigorous evaluation, prototyping, and then even more rigorous evaluation. Here's an example of linear thinking: 1-2-3-4-5. Now here's an example of exponential thinking: 1-2-4-8-16. With all due respect to bold visions and grand plans, the fact remains that unless a promising idea can become not only a reality but scale profits exponentially, resources should be allocated elsewhere.

New Rules of the Game: 10 Strategies for Women in the Workplace
New Rules of the Game: 10 Strategies for Women in the Workplace
by Susan Packard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.14
31 used & new from CDN$ 17.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Results-driven strategies and tactics that can help women to accelerate their personal growth and professional development, Feb. 3 2015
Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations have rules that provide order and structure to relationships between and among those involved. Competitive games offer excellent examples. Teams as well as individuals must play by specified rules and penalized if they don't. (Golf is the only game of which I am aware that is almost entirely self-relegated by participants.) In this volume, Susan Packard offers ten strategies for women in the workplace and devotes a separate chapter to each. Her objective is to help her readers to accelerate their personal growth and professional development, using gamesmanship, her sword "for a broad, strategic, and overreaching approach to success in the workplace. It is something we practice every day in sports -- and in business."

She employs a basic format for each "rule": its game context and its business setting, followed by a rigorous explanation of what to do and how to do it. For example, with regard to Conditioning (Rule #1`), the game context is that conditioning enables an athlete to go from good to great. Success on the playing field requires "more than raw talent and enthusiasm. You need physical condition and skills." With regard to the business setting, "Smarts, enthusiasm, and ambition will get you only so far. To advance, you must acquire and demonstrate certain technical skills. And skills are not born: they are learned." She takes the same approach in the subsequent chapters, applying the same format with each of the other rules. Packard then concludes each chapter with a "Your Turn" exercise that enables a reader to interact much more effectively with the material presented. In Chapter 1's "Your Turn" section, she focuses on "Line Experience" (see page 219), "Finance Knowledge," and "A Global Perspective" (see page 220). You get the idea.

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

o What Is Gamesmanship? (Pages xxvi-xxvii)
o Three Rules of Conditioning (1-23)
o Composure: Why and How? (27-31)
o Self-Care (39-44)
o Playing Verbal Offense (48-51)
o Verbal Offense in Compensation and in Promotions (55-57)
o My Introduction to Business Brinkmanship (62-64)
o Personal Brinkmanship (65-76)
o Movies and TV: Great Moments in Brinkmanship (76-78)
o Likability = Business Success (84-85)
o Trust, Soft Power, and How to Build Both (90-96)
o Working with Men (96-104)
o Putting in Your 10,000 Hours (108-110)
o Active Practice, Mental Practice, and Cross-Training Practice (110-121)
o Uniforms Matter (127-132)
o Developing the Good Sportsman Advantage (141-147)
o Grit as Resilience (153-158)
o Grit as Defense (159-165)
o Grit as Everyday Courage (165-170)
o Team Chemistry (174-186)

I commend Susan Packard on the high quality of the information, insights, and counsel that she provides in this volume. Although the material is primarily intended for women, especially in mid- and upper-management, I think it will also be of substantial value to the men who supervise them. That said, I cannot recall a prior time when it was more important to establish and then constantly nourish a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive.

With all respect to the importance of gamesmanship, however, it is important to keep in mind that teams built around teamwork improve whereas teams built around talent wear out. There are important lessons to be learned from about gender equality in a meritocracy from companies such as Ernst & Young, General Mills, IBM, Marriott, Procter & Gamble, and State Farm. Teams of men and women must achieve together the long-delayed improvement of workplace terms and conditions that have been long-denied to women. I think this book will help them to win that "game" and do so sooner than perhaps they now believe possible.

Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader
Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader
by Herminia Ibarra
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.51
35 used & new from CDN$ 23.50

5.0 out of 5 stars What outsight is, how to develop it, and why leaders who possess it have much greater impact, Jan. 30 2015
Herminia Ibarra notes that research on how adults learn "shows that the logical sequence -- think, then act -- is actually reversed in personal change processes such as those involved in becoming a better leader. Paradoxically, we only increase our awareness in the process of making changes. We try something new and then observe the results -- how it feels to us, how others around us react -- and only later reflect on and perhaps internalize what our experience taught us. In other words, we act like a leader and then think like a leader (thus the title of the book)...This cycle of acting like a leader and then thinking like a leader -- of change from the outside in -- creates what I call outsight."

Outsight is the core concept of this book. As Ibarra explains, the process of leadership development should be empirical and pragmatic. In essence, learn what works, what doesn't, and why by involvement in action and experimentation. No doubt Yogi Berra had this in mind when he observed, "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."
Ibarra makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices, notably a Summary at the conclusion of each of Chapters 1-5 and self-assessments (on Pages 20-21 146-147, and 180-181) that enrich a reader's interaction with the material provided. The "Getting Started" sections (on Pages 68, 113, and 155) engage the reader in activities that also enrich experiential learning. I view these devices as being analogous to calisthenics that help to prepare the reader for plunging into new projects and activities at work and elsewhere, interacting with very different kinds of people, and experimenting with unfamiliar ways of getting things done. "Those freshly challenging experiences and their outcomes will transform the habitual actions and thoughts that currently define your limits. In times of transition and uncertainty, thinking and introspection should follow action and introspection -- not vice versa."

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

o How Outsight Works (Pages 11-19)
o Avoid the Competency Trap (29-36)
o Understand What Leaders Really Do (36-58)
o Elements of a Good Story (63)
o We're All Narcissistic and Lazy (73-78)
o Mindsets That Set Network Traps (78-84)
o The BCDs (Breadth, Connectivity, and Dynamism)
o Networking Advantage (87-103)
o How to Network Out and Across (103-112)
o Chameleons and True-to-Selfers (121-129)
o The Trouble with Authenticity (129-132)
o Stretch Beyond Your Current Self-Concept (145-154)
o Process, Not Outcome (162-164)
o A Predictable Process 166-174)
o The Big Questions (177)
o Connecting the Dots (190)

As I worked my way through Ibarra's lively and eloquent narrative, I was again reminded of an observation by Søren Kierkegaard: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Not everyone wants to become a leader. Not every aspirant can. Throughout history, the greatest leaders have been results-driven. They saw what must be done and set about to do it. If assistance was needed, they secured it. They demonstrate a trial by error process, learning so much more from their setbacks than from their triumphs. They are -- and are perceived to be -- leaders because they "do leadership."

I share Herminia Ibarra's hope that those who read her book will develop -- over time -- a more central and enduring identity as a leader. "Sometimes the journey leads to a major career shift; other times, the transition is internal: you've changed the way you see your work and yourself. It's worth it. Start now. Act now." To which I presume to add, "Bon voyage!"

The Scorecard Solution: Measure What Matters and Drive Sustainable Growth
The Scorecard Solution: Measure What Matters and Drive Sustainable Growth
by Dan E. King
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from CDN$ 23.56

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the Organizational Prowess Scorecard produces data that will reveal what to act on and how to prioritize actions, Jan. 29 2015
Just about everything I know about the balanced scorecard was learned from two "classics" co-authored by Robert Kaplan and David Norton: The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action (1996) and The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment (2000. However, there have been several other excellent books published in recent years, including Dan E. King's The Scorecard Solution: Measure What Matters and Drives Growth. The subtitle of King's book correctly refers to two separate but interdependent initiatives. Otherwise, business leaders of the given enterprise would fail to measure whatever is of greatest importance and/or have the information needed to achieve sustainable growth.

I agree with King: "Organizations are complex communities. A CEO can't know everything. Without a robust measurement tool, a culture of candor, a business dashboard, and frequent strategy reviews, performances can slip and corrective action comes too late. Also, in order to sustain grow and recover quickly from down turns, there must be perpetual appetite for top talent as well as an execution framework that delivers important milestones within acceptable time frames."

Without these critical capabilities, decision-makers in any organization, whatever its size may be, decision-makers will resemble those who are trying to fly a Boeing 787 or an Airbus A 380 without having any visibility, any instrumentation (compass as well as fuel, speed, height, and air pressure gauges), or communication system. Imagine that you have been seated behind the steering wheel of a vehicle and then blindfolded. You have everything pilots lack except sight. What you need to know, what you need to complete your journey, is readily available but you cannot see it on the dashboard or through the windows. What you and the pilots need includes (a) correct and sufficient knowledge of what to, (b) the ability to use that knowledge effectively, and (c) sufficient resources (people, time, funds, etc.) need to reach the given destination.

According to King, "The Organizational Process Scorecard serves two very significant purposes. First, it provides a numerical score that serves as a baseline. Learning this score is a call to action for the leadership team." In this context, I highly recommend Guy Kawasaki's Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, and, Gary Hamel's What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation. Kawasaki and Hamel provide in these volumes a wealth of information, insights, and counsel that set the platinum standard for the art and science of "gut check."

King continues, "The second significant output of the scorecard delivers is clarity regarding areas of the business that you need to address and strengthen. This is the rifle-shot approach [rather than the carpet bombing approach] -- precise and efficient. While few leaders are reluctant to invest in their business, the challenge is deciding where to place the bets." In this context, I am reminded of two other volumes: Jeremy Hope and Steve Player's Beyond Performance Management: Why, When, and How to Use 40 Tools and Best Practices for Superior Business Performance, and, Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson. These two volumes provide just about everything a management team needs to know about create a workplace culture within which to deriver maximum benefit from The Organizational Process Scorecard.

o Leveraging Data (Pages 11-14)
o Plan the Future (21-28)
o Understanding Leading Indicators (29-31)
o The Elements of the Scorecard (39-48)
o Scorecard Component Details (51-58)
o The Data Behind the Numerical Scoring of Strategy Execution (61-66)
o Strategy Planning + Execution Framework = Success (68-81)
o The Offsite Work Session (90-103)
o Guiding Principles of Execution (107-122)
o What Is an "A" Player Anyway? (128-137)
o Make Talent Management a Business Priority (137-145)
o Attracting the Best (151-155)
o Seek Out Internal Threats (164-167)
o Leveraging the Scorecard to Sustain Growth (175-190)
o Fortifying the Senior Team (195-199)
o Execution Framework (207-212)
o Culture Affects Performance (214-216)
o Defining a High-Performance Culture (218-222)
o Sustaining a High-Performance Cultural Prowess Scorecard (235-238)
o Apply the Scorecard to Business (238-240)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the scope and depth of invaluable material that Dan E. King provides in The Scorecard Solution. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. Leaders in all organizations need both a scorecard and a playbook to achieve and then sustain superior performance. In my opinion, none are better than those he offers, accompanied by a complete operations manual.

I conclude with two hopes: That this book proves to be as valuable to you and your colleagues as I think it will be. Also, that you and your colleagues read it and then take appropriate action before your competition does.

Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently
Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently
by Caroline L. Arnold
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
42 used & new from CDN$ 7.76

5.0 out of 5 stars "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." Aristotle, Jan. 22 2015
I selected the observation by Aristotle to serve as the title of my review because I learned long ago, after spending still another January helping to pave the road to hell, that my habits had again defeated my New Year's resolutions. Caroline Arnold wrote this book in response to a question many people continue to ask: "Why is it so difficult keep commitments, to follow through on resolutions, to make the changes that we know will achieve our personal growth and professional development?"

Years ago, after numerous struggles and frustrations, Arnold tried something different: "I assigned myself a small but meaningful behavioral change - a [begin italics] microresolution [end italics] - and I succeeded in changing myself immediately. Yet it was only after succeeding at several microresolutions modeled on the first that I realized I had stumbled onto a method for making targeted mini-commitments that succeeded virtually every time." She had established a new pattern of behavior, a habit.

As I began to work my way through Arnold's brilliant book, I was reminded of another, The small BIG, in which Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein, and Robert Cialdini explain how and why small changes can spark big influence" in relationships with others. As they explain, their goal "has been to provide a collection of small BIGs that you could add to your persuasion toolkit. Small changes, informed by recent persuasion science that anyone...can employ to make a big difference when persuading and communicating with others." One key point is that small BIGs must be used strategically. My way of describing is that a sniper's mindset is needed rather than a carpet bomber's approach.

So, we ask, why do resolutions fail? Arnold suggests five reasons, none of which is a head-snapper:

1. We make the wrong resolutions whereas microresolutions focus on doing, not being. Being different follows, rather than precedes, deliberate action.

2. We depend solely on willpower to succeed whereas a microresolution is designed to reform a precise autopilot activity and requires little willpower to succeed.

3. We're too impatient whereas, when completing microresolutions, the key to lasting transformation is not speed or force but nurture.

4. We underestimate our mental and emotional resistance to change whereas microresolutions foster self-awareness and expose the hidden attitudes that thwart success.

5. We expect to fail whereas microresolutions are easy to keep.

Just as it is so easy to make a list of resolutions, it is just as easy to make a list of reasons and key points. It is important to note that, in her Introduction and first few chapters, Arnold identifies the WHAT and then devotes most of the material that follows to explaining HOW to use microresolutions to transform a life permanently.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as this can do full justice to the scope and depth of information, insights, and counsel that Caroline Arnold provides. However, I hope I have indicated why I think so highly of her book. Ultimately, its value to those who read it will depend almost entirely on the nature and extent of each reader's commitment to making and then keeping a sequence of microresolutions that achieve and then sustain habitual success.

Mindfulness at Work: How to Avoid Stress, Achieve More and Enjoy Life!
Mindfulness at Work: How to Avoid Stress, Achieve More and Enjoy Life!
by Stephen McKenzie
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 3.17

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why awareness and acceptance are essential to personal growth and professional development, Jan. 22 2015
What is mindfulness? Opinions vary. Here is one that is generally accepted: It is "the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment", which can be trained by meditational practices derived from Buddhist anapanasati. Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them--without believing, for instance, that there's a "right" or "wrong" way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we're sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

I share all this by way of an introduction to Stephen McKenzie's latest book in which he provides a wealth of information, insights, and counsel with regard to how to avoid stress, achieve more, and meanwhile enjoy life. As he explains, "Practicing mindfulness actually often involves, especially at first, simply being more frequently mindful of our mindlessness, more aware of our lack of awareness, and more accepting of our non-acceptance, and less frequently judging our judging. If we can even occasionally be conscious of our unconsciousness, then we are making huge progress on our journey to greater happiness and usefulness."

Oscar Wilde once advised, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." To a significant extent, the goal of mindfulness is to accept who you are -- warts and all -- so that you can be more accepting of others. Greater appreciation of who and others are is a direct benefit of an acceptance of who we and they aren't. With all due respect to Wilde's insight, McKenzie would hasten to add, Acceptance of who we are now does not preclude becoming a happier, healthier, more fully developed person. Awareness and acceptance of one's imperfections by no means condones them but there can be no improvement without them. That is why mindfulness is essential to that immensely difficult process.

He offers and discusses in-depth seven general mindfulness working principles, each accompanied by an appropriate quotation:

1. Self-knowledge: "This above all: to thine own self be true/And it must follow, as the night the day/Thou canst not then be false to any man," Polonius in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.

2. Utility: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." John Donne

3. Truth: "In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same." Albert Einstein

4. Awareness: "Do not dwell on the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment" Gautama the Buddha

5. Service: "Would you like anything else?" The (hypothetical) General Sales Manual

Note: I found McKenzie's selection of the quotation and subsequent comments about service on Pages 29-30 (at best) mediocre.

6. Reason: "Reason is the ability to discern the transient from the eternal, the changing from the unchanging." Shankara

7. Wonder: "From wonder into wonder, existence opens." Lao Tzu

"These general mindfulness working principles can help us do everything in our lives more peacefully, happily, and productively -- even our work. If we put these principles into practical practice, then we can better understand whether our working situation is the best expression of who really are and, if it isn't, how to improve it." Or replace it.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out these: Clayton Christensen's How Will You Measure Your Life?, Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture, Ken Robinson's The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, and Alan Watts's The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.

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