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The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change
The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change
Price: CDN$ 17.84

5.0 out of 5 stars How to replace vague ideas about your career with strategies that will help you achieve your objectives at work and elsewhere, July 14 2014
Up front, I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to Atul Gwande for the excellent material he provides in The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. It is impossible to know how many lives this distinguished surgeon has saved because of his eloquent advocacy of checklists in the healthcare field. (He is also a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.)

In the business world, eliminating waste (both hours and dollars) is among the most important strategic objectives and I think the material James Kerr provides in his book will help countless executives to formulate objectives, set direction, and manage initiatives that help organizations to be more productive and more efficient as well as less wasteful.

He calls his book a "guide" and it does indeed provide an abundance of sound, enlightened guidance but it can also be viewed as the articulation of a regimen that can help executives (i.e. those who execute) to lead and manage change initiatives effectively, to be sure, but also to lead and manage other initiatives such as setting priorities, formulating and implementing strategies, allocating resources, recruiting/interviewing/hiring the talent and experience needed, strengthening client relationships, and establishing and then sustaining a workplace culture within which innovation is most likely to thrive. Kerr identifies ten specific objectives on "The Executive Checklist" (Page 3) and then devotes a separate chapter to each within his lively as well as thorough narrative. This Checklist is best viewed as "a framework to be used to institute overarching, enterprise-wide transformation." Thoughtfully, Kerr provides a checklist of items for each objective on that Checklist. He carefully identifies the "what" of each and then devotes most of his attention to explaining the "why" and demonstrating the "how" of doing it effectively.

In the Postscript, James Kerr shares his "Bold Vision for Tomorrow's Organizations" and it is indeed bold. However, in my opinion, what it calls for is do-able by almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. There are no Big Hairy Audacious Goals among his affirmations and invocations. His approach reminds me of the one that Jørgen Vig Knudstorp and his leadership team took, in 2004, when they began to transform LEGO - "brick by brick" - into one of the world's most innovative as well as most profitable and fastest growing toy companies, in ways and to an extent once thought impossible. It seems to me that, leaders of other organizations that need to be transformed would be well-advised to consider a strategy of achieving that "checklist by checklist." Just a thought....

Those who share my high regard for this brilliant book are urged to check out two others: Dean R. Spitzer's Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success, and, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson.

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice
The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice
by Karl M. Kapp
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 52.80
26 used & new from CDN$ 45.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential principles by which to design, develop, and create interactive, high-impact learning experiences, July 14 2014
In Chapters 1-12, the three co-editors - Karl Kapp, Lucas Blair, and Rich Mesch - offer brilliant explanations of (a) why it is so important to focus on gaming, (b) "Basic Elements," and (c) "Design Considerations" that must be addressed. This material also creates a context, a frame of reference, for what is then provided by eleven contributors in the chapters that follow. I was also very impressed by the quality of mini-case studies in Chapters 16-22. Essential principles of gamification are brought to life in real-world situations. With regard to definition of key terms, there are three: games, gamification, and simulation. The co-editors lump all three in a single term, "interactive learning event" or ILE.

Some of the most valuable material is provided by the contributors. Three address generic issues; the other eight focus on the aforementioned mini-case studies.

o Jim Kiggens, "Managing the Process" (Pages 141-176)
o Helmut Doll, "Technology Tools" (273-285)
o Kevin Thorn, Storytelling" (287-301)
o Sharon Boller, The Knowledge Guru" (305-318)
o Robert Bell, "MPE" (Managing People Essentials) 319-331
o Robert Gadd, "Mobile Cricket U" (333-345)
o Bryan Austin, "Serious Game: Learning to Negotiate" (347-357)
o Mohit Garg, "Structural Gamification for On-Boarding Employees" (359-369)
o Kevin R. Glover, "Medical Simulation" (371-389)
o Andrew Hughes, "Financial Based Learning" (391-398)
o Anders Gronstedt, "Sales Training Game: An Avaya Case" (399-404)

It is important to keep in mind that this is a fieldbook. The co-editors provide worksheets, examples, samples, tables, and instructions that can help readers create their own ILEs. "This book can be used as a primer or introductory text to introduce the topic of designing instructional games, gamification, and simulation, but it is primarily designed as a practical fieldbook to help teams in the midst of creating games, gamification, and simulation projects. It is the companion to the bestselling book The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education."

I commend Kapp, Blair, and Mesch on their skillful use of reader-friendly devices that include "Chapter Questions" that serve as a head's up, "Questions to Ponder," "Ensuring Success," and "Key Takeaways" as well as 27 "Tables" and two "Exhibits." These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later. I always recommend highlighting of key passages (there are hundreds) and, especially with this book, keeping a notebook near at hand to record comments, questions, page references, and doodles.

Those who are thinking about or now preparing for a career in game design as well as those who have only recently embarked on one will find this book and its companion volume (i.e. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education) of incalculable value but I think there is a much more larger constituency to which I also recommend it highly: designers of self-directed learning curricula. Another constituency consists of those who are now developing programs based on MOOCs (i.e. massive open online courses). The success of all formal and informal education depends almost entirely on the nature and extent of a student's engagement. If there is a better approach than an ILE to achieve it, I would very much like to know about it.

Given the current state of public school education in the United States, there is so much that staff and faculty members can learn from this book. That said, I am deeply grateful to Karl Kapp, Lucas Blair, Rich Mesch, and their colleagues for what I have learned from them.

Build for Change: Revolutionizing Customer Engagement through Continuous Digital Innovation
Build for Change: Revolutionizing Customer Engagement through Continuous Digital Innovation
Price: CDN$ 12.79

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why a focus on high tech and high touch will actively engage customers and fully respond to their expectations, July 13 2014
The title of my review correctly indicates Alan Tefler's purposes in this book: to provide the information, insights, and counsel that leaders of organizations need to "revolutionize customer engagement through continuous digital innovation." It should be added that most of the material (if not all of it) is relevant to the needs, interests, resources, and strategic objectives of almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

For decades, parents and other adults have told children to "mind their Ps and Qs." In this book, Trefler tells his readers to "mind their Cs and Ds." That is, cultivate consumers who comprise the C and D generations. The "C" refers to CONTENT. "Despite its relative youth, this group influences every aspect of our lives and wreaks havoc on many businesses. Gen C accounts for about 75 million people in the United States alone. Still growing in size by leaps and bounds, largely now from the emergence of new economies in much of the less-developed world and changing economies in places such as Russia, China, and India, Gen C is fast becoming the largest group of consumers in the world."

With regard to "D," it refers to DISCOVER, DEVOUR, and DEMONIZE. "Gen D does not want to be sold to. Being sold to is like being controlled. No, the seamless experience they desire with your business, to which they would probably never admit, is based on wanting to discover you and your product or service...They want [begin italics] radical authenticity [end italics], and when they discover something they like, they devour it...Gen D customers want nothing short of trust, transparency, and total openness. If they want loyalty, and expressed it as such, they would say it is [begin italics] your [end italics] loyalty to [begin italics] them [end italics]...Another characteristic of this generation is that their reactions vacillate between extremes. Their discovery and experience of you may cause them rapture, which means they want to devour you (in a good sense), but it can just as easily cause them to demonize you."

These comments suggest the WHAT on which Trefler focuses. The great value in the book is derived from his thorough explanation of the HOW and WHY. Here is a selection of business subjects and issues from among the several dozen of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Trefler's coverage.

o It's So Easy to Lose Customers (Pages 5-8)
o Differences Between C and D Generations (17)
o Anthropomorphism (19-22)
o Data Suicide (35-38)
o Data in Context (44-45)
o The Power of Hypothesis (52-54)
o Adaptive Learning, and, Organizing Your Insights (57-62)
o Intent Goes Both Ways (62-69)
o The Best Execution for Every Customer Interaction (75-76)
o Seamless Customer Processes (79-81)
o Crossing Lines (83-87)
o Traditional Development (100-104)
o Hybrid Vigor for Business and IT (118-121)
o Realign Executive Leadership (122-124)
o Think in Layers (136-141)
o Use Analytics to Optimize Continually (141-143)
o Growing Pressure to Make Changes (146-151)
o Beyond the Twilight of the Brands (154-159)

I agree with Alan Trefler: "Regardless of what kind of business you have, unless you learn how best to represent what is unique about your business, its authenticity, its promise, the collective strength of its culture, an immediately accessible software layer, you will continue to fall behind. Revenue and relevancy will steadily plummet in parallel." In this context, it is worth noting that many (if not most) of the companies annually ranked by Fortune magazine as most admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their industry. That is not a coincidence. Moreover, however different they may be in most respects, all of these companies are renowned for the same reasons: commitment to quality and value, customer-centrism, "good citizenship," and are easy to do business with.

Great organizations not only build for change; they build for continuous change. That is their secret sauce, why they achieve and then sustain "customer engagement through continuous digital innovation."

The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
by John Micklethwait
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.76
31 used & new from CDN$ 17.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "the West has to change because it is going broke [and] the emerging world needs to reform to keep forging ahead", July 12 2014
John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge focus on a process that led to a revolution that is now "in the air, driven partly by the necessity of diminishing resources, partly by the logic of renewed competition among nation-states, and partly by the opportunity to do things better."

This Fourth Revolution in government will "change the world" and is preceded by three others: "The first took place in the seventeenth century, when Europe's princes began to pull ahead of the rest of the world...The second revolution took place in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It began with the American and French revolutions and eventually spread across Europe, as liberal reformers replaced regal patronage systems `Old Corruption, as it was known in England -- with more meritocratic and accountable government...an improved life for every citizen became part of the contract with Leviathan. That paved the way for the aberration of communism but also for the third revolution: the invention of the modern welfare state. That too has changed a great deal from what its founders, like Beatrice and Sidney Webb, imagined: but it is what we in the West live with today."

In essence:

Revolution 1: Thomas Hobbes and the Nation-State
Revolution 2: John Stuart Mill and the Liberal State
Revolution 3: Beatrice Webb and the Welfare State
Revolution 4: Milton Friedman's Paradise Lost

I value this book more in terms of the number and quality of the questions it raises than in terms of the answers it provides as the latest of four revolutions develops. For example, what will determine the reconciliation of the on-going competition for primacy between authoritarianism and self-determination? Which leads to another: Are these the correct terms for the two ends of the spectrum? How and when will this competition be resolved? Will the resolution be a victory, an alliance, or a stalemate? What will be the nature and extent if impact of the resolution (if there is one) on the United States? On China? On Singapore and Scandinavia? Will there be a Fifth Revolution? What will be its drivers? Who will be its chief advocate (i.e. its Hobbes, Mill, Webb, and Friedman)?

Note: I re-read this book before composing the first of several drafts of this review and am still uncertain if I am even asking the most important questions. The struggle to determine the correct answers to them seems even more daunting.

That said, I agree with Micklethwait and Wooldridge: "The Fourth Revolution is about many things. It is about harnessing the power of technology to provide better services. It is about finding clever ideas from every corner of the world. It is about getting rid of out dated practices. But at its heart it is about reviving the power of two great liberal ideas...It is about reviving the spirit of liberty by putting more emphasis on individual rights and less on social rights. And it is about reviving the spirit if democracy by lightening the burden of the state."

That's the potential "good news" but they also fully realize that there is potential "bad news" that reformers must keep in mind. "Democracy is the best safeguard for basic rights and liberties...but fighting against its worst instincts is tough...Unreformed, the modern welfare state will stagnate under its own weight." Indeed, the cost of inaction is prohibitive, the opportunities are undeniable, and potential rewards (the "good news") are abundant.

I share John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge concerns about the current state of "State" within and beyond the United States (that often seem divided rather than united) but I also share their conviction that "the West has been the world's most creative region" and I also share their confidence that, "because it has repeatedly reinvented the state...that it can do so again, even in these difficult times." Meanwhile, the clock is ticking....

LEAN Supply Chain Planning: The New Supply Chain Management Paradigm for Process Industries to Master Today's VUCA World
LEAN Supply Chain Planning: The New Supply Chain Management Paradigm for Process Industries to Master Today's VUCA World
by Josef Packowski
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 78.54
21 used & new from CDN$ 77.94

5.0 out of 5 stars How to thrive in a VUCA world, July 11 2014
Of all the areas of operation that organizations have, especially those in process industries, none can derive greater benefit from LEAN thinking and methodologies than can supply chain planning. Of course, even if the planning is supervised by the author of this book, Josef Packowski, the supply chain will not achieve the given objectives unless managed with meticulous care. The reverse is also true: brilliant management cannot solve all of the problems that result from a poor plan.

What we have in this volume is the introduction and examination of a "New Supply Chain Planning Paradigm," one that offers "a new approach to managing variability, uncertainty, and complexity in today's planning processes and systems." As Packowski explains, "Within the new LEAN SCM Planning paradigm, we are mastering variables with a two-sided approach. We manage the demand variability in supply chain planning now on both sides, on manufacturing capacities and in inventories...To make this happen, we have developed a disciplined approach to the dynamic adaptation of inventory target levels to changing conditions along the supply chain." In other words, the new planning paradigm offers end-to-end supply chain management in coordination with a transformation program with a holistic approach and a step change in performance. Organizations in process industries will thus be able to master today's VUCA world, one in which volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are more pervasive and disruption than at any prior time that I can recall.

More specifically, Packowski provides a brilliant explanation of business issues, initiatives, and challenges such as these:

o The compelling need for LEAN SCM today (Chapters 1-3)
o How to design and build LEAN SCM (4-7)
o What to implement and transform for LEAN SCM (8-11)
o How your industry peers gained benefits by LEAN SCM (12)

Part IV consists of one chapter, Chapter 12: "Read How Top-Industry Players Share Their Experiences with LEAN SCM." This material is especially important because Packowski anchors key concepts in real-world experiences with LEAN SCM at AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, PharmaCo, and PCI (a BASF company). Obviously not all of this material is directly relevant to the needs and interests of every reader but each portion of it will be of substantial interest -- and benefit -- to some readers.

I especially appreciate Packowski's skillful use of various reader-friendly devices such as an introduction that really does explain what this book is about (many others don't), a "Reader's Guide," dozens of "Tables" and "Figures" inserted throughout the narrative, key point clusters in each of the chapters, and "Chapter Summaries." These and other devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later. I do very much regret the absence of an index. It is imperative that one be added if and when there is another edition.

When concluding the last chapter, Josef Packowski observes, "As shown by the industry cases in this chapter, leading companies from pharmaceutical and chemical companies are increasingly adopting LEAN principles and concepts in their supply chains. All these companies found that a more efficient management of variability results in substantial performance improvement. By reducing variability in the supply chains, both customer satisfaction and cost efficiency increased to a large extent."

I presume to add that, although the information, insights, and counsel provided in this book will probably be of greatest value to large organizations with extensive and complicated supply chains, much of that same material can also be of great value to leaders of small organizations that are a part (albeit a small part) of those supply chains. Just as all organizations -- regardless of size or nature -- need effective leadership at all levels and in all areas, they also need LEAN thinking to make the right decisions that will increase productivity and efficiency by reducing waste.

Hunting in a Farmer's World: Celebrating the Mind of an Entrepreneur
Hunting in a Farmer's World: Celebrating the Mind of an Entrepreneur
by John F. Dini
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.60
9 used & new from CDN$ 14.58

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why all "farms" need both hunters and farmers, July 10 2014
During his remarks at an annual meeting of GE shareholders, then chairman and CEO, Jack Welch, said this when responding to why he wanted GE to behave like a small company: "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."

This way of doing business is the result of a mindset, what John Dini would characterize as the "hunter's mindset." In fact, it's a business way of life. As he explains, "Building a business isn't just an `itch.' Entrepreneurs are driven to hunt and win. Some are born, some choose to be entrepreneurs and some stumble into it by circumstance. Not all entrepreneurs own a business, and not all business owners are entrepreneurs. But entrepreneurs are the hunters of the 21st century and they all have specific traits in common." More about these traits in a moment.

This is a theme that Larry Schweikart and Lynne Peterson Doti examine in their brilliant book, American Entrepreneur: The Fascinating Stories of the People Who Defined Business in the United States. Surveying entrepreneurship from Christopher Columbus and Benjamin Franklin through Kemmons Wilson and Ray Kroc to Steve Jobs and Martha Stewart, they explain how and why they and dozens of others were the "hunters" in their own time. This is what Dini has in mind when suggesting, "bringing in new sources of revenue is hunting. Finding and training great employees is hunting. Closing deals is hunting. Motivating people to excel is hunting."

The business world needs hunters but at also needs farmers. In fact, Dini suggests -- and I agree -- that, during the last four centuries and especially during the last two, the business world has been a farmer's world. That is to say, executives tend to be managers rather than entrepreneurs, focused primarily on increasing the efficiency and profitability of the status quo. Dini cites tasks such as these on which managers tend to focus:

o Manage what can be measured
o Develop job descriptions
o Know the numbers and balance the books
o Pursue Six Sigma quality
o Formulate and enforce policies and procedures

Dini fully understands and appreciates how important tasks such as these were. However, with regard to aforementioned "traits," he suggests that these words are music to hunters' ears:

o Do something you love
o Make a lot of money
o Don't sweat the small stuff
o Work hard and work smart
o Have fun

Many managers become vulnerable to what James O'Toole aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." They tend to be staunch defenders of the current status quo, after having led the charge to replace the previous one. As indicated, Dini realizes that efficient and profitable organizations need both hunters and farmers. In his book, he explains how they can work effectively together, and, how best to lead both. Hunters and farmers pose different challenges while being able to add value in different ways.

Several books published in recent years share much of value about the complicated relationships between leaders and follows. The U.S. Marine Corps offers an excellent case in point. There is, heaven knows, a crystal clear chain of authority but a general will defer to the expertise of a private when an important decision must be made if the private has better information, sharper skills, etc. to answer a question or solve a problem. Dini points out that hard-charging entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs may chew up people like a rolling ball of butcher knives but will defer to better-informed and better-qualified managers in a comparable situation.

I think this book is a must read for anyone now preparing for a business career or has only recently embarked on one. Also for entrepreneurs whose companies are now struggling and need a turbocharger of street smarts and reassurance. Although it has less than 200 pages, John Dini has provided in it a wealth of invaluable information, profiles, mini-case studies, insights, and counsel. Bravo!

The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War
The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War
Price: CDN$ 10.30

5.0 out of 5 stars A true tale "that rivals the weirdest fiction and wildest imaginings of the comic books.", July 7 2014
In his previously published book, Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans, A.J. Baime carefully guides his reader through a narrative of increasing tension and apprehension until Chapters 21-23 during which the 24-hour "Grand Prix of Endurance" is run at La Mans on a racetrack described in the Detroit News as "a cornfield airstrip in the jet age. It was built 50 years ago for cars that went 65 mph. Tomorrow [June 18] 55 race cars - some of them capable of 225 mph on the straightaway and all of them over the 130 mph class - will get off at 10 A.M. (Detroit time) and it will be a miracle if no one gets killed. Nobody is fearless. Some of these drivers are scared stiff." The climactic race in 1966 had an especially controversial conclusion, what was widely viewed as an "infamous photo finish" and won "by a technicality." The details are best revealed within the narrative, in context.

All of Baima's unique and abundant skills are again evident in The Arsenal of Democracy as he examines combat on several different fronts beyond those in the East and West during World War Two. First, we have the dysfunctional relationship between Henry Ford and his son, Edsel. There are also the bitter, sometimes violent conflicts between Ford and just about everyone else who did not share his views concerning the federal government, labor unions, and Jews. Meanwhile, Edsel Ford and other industry leaders scrambled to overcome all manner of barriers to producing the "guns, planes, ships, and many other things" that President Roosevelt called to win the war.

According to Baime, "In 1941, Ford and his only child, Edsel, launched the most ambitious wartime industrial adventure ever up to that point in history. [Note: The advent of the Manhattan Project was still months in the future.] They attempted to turn their motorcar business into an aviation powerhouse, to build four-engine bombers, the weapon the Allied leaders thirsted for above all others. The older Ford (Henry was seventy-six when the war began) was one of the nation's richest and most controversial men, an ardent anti-war activist and accused Nazi sympathizer. His only child, Edsel, was a tragic Gatsby-esque character who was dying of a disease all his riches couldn't cure."

These are among the dozens of subjects Baime discusses that were (and are) of greatest interest to me:

o The significance of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Arsenal of Democracy" speech on December 29, 1940
o Henry Ford's greatest strengths and weaknesses as a business executive and as a human being
o Harry Bennett's relationship with Ford and the company
o The ups and (mostly) downs of Ford's relationship with Edsel
o Charlie ("Cast Iron") Sorensen's relevance to various cries, conflicts, and events that occurred
o Ditto Charles Lindbergh's
o President Roosevelt's evolving relationship with the development of his nation's "arsenal of Democracy"
o Baime's evaluation of Edsel Ford's contributions to the war effort
o Baime's thoughts and feelings about him as a human being
o Henry Ford II's significance during the 1940s, and especially after being named president of Ford Motor Company

I am grateful to A.J. Baime for all that I learned about several of the "back stories" to the United States' creation of an Arsenal of Victory in collaboration with Great Britain and Canada. I did not full appreciate, until reading his book, the "meaning and special genius" of that concept as well as the sacrifice in terms of human lives made by those who flew the big bombers that eventually destroyed the arsenal that Germany so vigorously defended. Sorensen once characterized the bomber-an-hour challenge as a true tale "that rivals the weirdest fiction and wildest imaginings of the comic books." Baime captures the life of that story in his book. Bravo!

Challenge the Ordinary
Challenge the Ordinary
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "Yesterday's dangerous idea is today's orthodoxy and tomorrow's cliché." -- Richard Dawkins, July 7 2014
I agree with Linda Henman that, in order to thrive, indeed just to survive -- at least for a while -- organizations must not become hostage to what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." As I worked my way through Henman's narrative, I was again reminded of Marshall Goldsmith's admonition, "What got you here won't get you there." I presume to add that what got you here won't even allow you to remain here, wherever and whatever "here" may be. That's why leaders must constantly challenge their organization's status quo. That's what Richard Dawkins had in mind when making the observation that I selected to serve as the title of this review.

And that's why Henman wrote this book. More specifically, to help leaders to "abandon conventional mindsets, question long-held assumptions, and kill their sacred cows." She obviously agrees with Bob Kriegel: "sacred cows make the best burgers." It is no coincidence that many (if not most) of the companies Fortune magazine annually ranks among the most highly regarded and best to work for companies are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in the industry. They are extraordinary companies and, as often as not, created and sustained by what seem to be ordinary people. In Chapter 9, Henman advises, "Don't recruit a star; create a constellation."

In one of Tom Davenport's recent books, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer "an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance": [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics]. That is, "the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control."

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Henman's coverage.

o The Paradoxical Organization: Transient and Timeless (Pages 14-16)
o Head in Exceptional Directions (38-42)
o The Feud Between Strategy and Decision-Making (50-55)
Note: Peter Drucker once observed, "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." In the same vein, Michael Porter has observed, "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do."
o Values: The Foundation of Your Legacy (63-69)
o Indecision: The Culture Killer (71-73)
o Quality: The Advantage for Outgunning the Competition (82-88)
o Customer Focus: Impressing [and Convincing] the Ultimate Judge (90-95)
o Agility: The Guns, Germs, and Steel of the Organization (95-98)
o Ethics: Doing Well by Doing Right (103-106)
o Expertise: The Raw Data of Talent (106-109)
o Excellence: Consistency of Performance (110-114)
o Traits of Virtuosos (120-126)
o Raw Talent: Accept No Substitutes (126-128)
o Beware Snakes in Suits (131-135)
o Falling Stars and Snakes in Suits (141-145)
o Snake or Bad Match? (159-164)
o A New Model of Leadership (173-182)
o The Eight Virtues of Virtuoso Teams (194-209)
o Formulate a Solid Business Strategy (214-221)

With appropriate modification, most of the information, insights, and counsel that Henman provides can be of substantial value to leaders in almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. For example, she suggests four traits of the exceptional organization:

1. Strategy: "Separating the Notes from the Noise"
2. Culture: "Separating the Duck from the Quack"
3. Excellence: "Separating the Ace from the Pack"
4. Talent: "Separating the Rose from the Poison Ivy [or Thorns]"

Exceptional organizations differentiate themselves from competition, of course, but also differentiate themselves from what they have done and how they have done it until mow. All of the observations quoted earlier all speak to that mindset far more eloquently than I can, urging leaders to formulate strategies that guide and inform, indeed drive initiatives in a culture within which innovation is most likely thrive.

I agree with Linda Henman that non-negotiable values determine how people treat each other but there is always room for improvement in the work they do and how they do it. If your organization is not as yet extraordinary or once was but has lost its way, here is -- in my opinion -- the best single source to learn not only how to challenge the ordinary but, more to the point, to replace it with a mindset, strategies, and tactics that will achieve increasingly better performance at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.

Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing
Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing
Price: CDN$ 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars How to combine difference thinking with empathy to reveal truth, recognize the opportunity in that truth, and then act on it,, July 7 2014
According to Bernadette Jiwa, Steve Jobs was a "difference thinker," one who had a highly developed talent for connecting dots. In fact, it involves much more than that. "It's about seeing the truth, recognising the opportunity in that truth and [begin italics] then [end italics] acting on it. You need to learn how to see the dots and understanding the significance of connecting them before you can begin. And you can do that only identifying with and understanding somebody else's feelings and frustrations. That's what Steve Jobs did intuitively; he had the ability to stand in a potential user's shoes and understand the impact that an innovation and its design might have on that person's life (and thus in the market). This is something you can train yourself to do."

The Japanese term "kaizen" means continuous improvement and is a never-ending process, a philosophy, a business way-of-life, rather than a destination or specific project. The title of one of Marshall Goldsmith's recent books suggests that "what got you here won't get you there." In fact, I presume to add, what got you here won't even keep you here, wherever and what "here" may be. One of the most difficult challenges for business leaders is to make certain that their organization is significantly different (i.e. significantly better) from its competition but also from what it may be now. In fact, what has been a strength (size, scope, diversification of products, etc.) can become a weakness or vulnerability.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Jiwa's coverage.

o Thinking Difference (Pages 1-3)
o The Lost Art of Marketing (11-14)
o The Secret if Disruptive Innovations (18-19)
o The Elephant in the Marketing Room: The Power of Emotions (20-22)
o What You Measure Matters, But What's Hard to Measure Might Matter More (31-32)
o Rethink Groupthink (35-36)
o The Currency of the Future: Deeper Connections (39-41)
o Difference Core Principles (44-46)
o Using the Difference Map: Eleven mini-Case Studies (53-72)
o Using the Difference Map: The Template (74-75)
o How You Create Difference (77-79)

In essence, Jiwa suggests this approach: Creating difference "is about seeing things in a whole new light. It's about re-imagining what the problem or the need might be, and then deciding that you [and your associates] will do whatever it takes to be the one to solve the problem for people. This approach leads to the creation of innovations and solutions that redefine the rules of the game, that reinvent a category or experience."

I agree while suggesting that, when abandoning traditional mindsets, questioning long-held assumptions, and killing sacred cows, business leaders would be well-advised to keep in mind this observation by Richard Dawkins: "Yesterday's dangerous idea is today's orthodoxy and tomorrow's cliché."

Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "What got you here won't get you there." Marshall Goldsmith, July 7 2014
Think of an organization's history as a journey that begins at Point A and ends at Point Z. Now think of that process in terms of its trajectory - the course it follows - and the extent to which individuals as well as organizations control it. David Van Rooy recommends seven strategies to guide and inform as well as support a trajectory, all of which are based on a solid foundation. He devotes a separate chapter to each of the strategies and they are best revealed in context, within the narrative. However, I don't think I will compromise anyone's reading of this book but pointing out that no one can control what happens during a trajectory's tenure but it is possible to control responses to detours, setbacks, barriers, and threats. Van Rooy offers a wealth of information, examples, insights, and counsel with regard to how to managed trajectories while duly noting that no two trajectories are the same. The importance of preparation and resilience cannot be exaggerated.

Readers will appreciate the inclusion of exercises that will facilitate interaction with the material in each chapter. A page is then provided for "Notes," although I strongly recommend also having a lined notebook near at hand to supplement highlighted of key passages. Shrewd business leaders will re-read the book at least once and revisit the exercises 6-9 months after first completing the exercises and complete them again, this time taking full advantage of what has been learned since first reading the book and applying at least some of the material it provides.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Van Rooy's coverage.

o Your Trajectory's Foundation (Pages 9-10)
o A Matter if Mindset (14-17)
o Overcoming Your Own Resistance (33-36)
o Capitalizing on Feedback (42-45)
o Environmental-based and Unconscious Feedback (46-51)
o The Psychology of Persistence (57-61)
o "Range Restriction" When Hiring (67-69)
o Learning from Navy SEALs (72-74)
o Reach for Your Summits, and Goal Management (82-89)
o Distracted Decision Making Stabilization and Flow, and, Look Past Success to New Innovation (92-97)
o Stabilization and Flow, and, Look Past Success to New Innovation (116-124)
o Stagnation in Concept, and, (Two) Types of Stagnation (131-143)
o Halting Stagnation (148-151)
o Uncover the Positive (164-168)
o Visualize Your Success, and, Believe Your Success (185-189)
o Enjoy Your Success (198-202)

I agree with David Van Rooy: "There is a reason that the windshield is bigger than the mirror: It is more important to focus on what is ahead of you than on what you left behind. You learn from the latter, occasionally look back to ensure that you don't repeat mistakes, and then look ahead. I will leave you with this: Be true to yourself. Be true to others. This will be the authentic you. If you do, you will own your trajectory. Now go get it. Live your trajectory."

To these observations I presume to add another, a lesson learned from failure rather than from success: You can control everything that happens to you but you CAN control how you respond to what happens to you. Whatever goals you set, the pursuit of each will have its own pace and pattern, its own definition. Achieving one goal may facilitate (perhaps expedite) achieving another. Expect barriers, setbacks, and distractions.

Individuals have careers; organizations have histories. With only minor revisions, Van Rooy's recommendations can help to elevate and extend the trajectory of either. Meanwhile, Shakespeare's Polonius was right when advising son Laertes in Hamlet (Act I, scene 3):

"This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."

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