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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

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Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives
Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives
by Howard J. Ross
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 36.00
19 used & new from CDN$ 27.10

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why biases limit our perspectives on possibilities and potentialities, Nov. 19 2014
I agree with Howard Ross: "Transforming our fundamental ways of living and being in the world requires learning new information and behaviors. It also requires a shift in our mind-sets and emotions at hand." Why do that? Because how we perceive the world, how we think about it, and how we respond to it with what we say and what we do are strongly influenced -- sometimes controlled -- by unconscious biases (i.e. preferences and inclinations) and prejudices (i.e. pre-judgments).

We need to recognize and be aware of these biases and prejudices so that we can minimize (if not eliminate) distortion. Why? So that we can make better decisions, based on what is real and true rather than on our biases lead us to assume. Ross is convinced that his experience working with hundreds of thousands of people "has been such that I know I can make inroads in our abilities to be more conscious."

The term "barbarian" was coined in ancient Greece and refers to a non-Greek. It seems basic to human nature that we have a bias for whoever and whatever is similar and a bias against whoever and whatever isn't. Profiling offers an excellent case in point. Stereotyping offers another. I recall one of the songs in a Rogers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific, that suggests that biases and prejudices are developed from childhood:

"You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

"You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

"You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!"

This only one of the several sources and resources that help to explain what becomes unconscious bias. The challenge for all of us is to recognize the nature and extent of how we are our unconscious biases and then understand -- become conscious of -- how and why we allow them to manage our lives. These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Ross's coverage:

o Domains of bias (Pages 8-10)
o Types of bias (11-13)
o Us versus them (24-28)
o Empathy (28-30)
o Prefrontal neocortex thinking (32-33)
o Diagnostic bias (45-46)
o Confirmation bias (49-50)
o Internalized bias (50-55)
o Anchoring bias (55-57)
o Legal system bias (86-89)
o Health-care bias (90-94)
o Bias elimination (102-104 & 116-120)
o Gender bias (105-106)
o Bias as normal (107-109)
o Self-observation (113-115)
o PAUSE acronym (116-117)
o Primacy bias (124)
o Halo/horn effect (134-135)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Howard Ross provides. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. His observations in one of the last chapters serve as an especially appropriate conclusion for this review: "We can, thorough discipline, practice, and awareness, find a new way to relate that honors our differences, [begin italics] yet also builds upon our similarities [end italics]." While the potential for mass destruction looms broadly in the world and our global community expands, we are more and more invited to recognize, as R. Buckminster Fuller said, that 'we are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully, nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.' That is the oath before us. It is indeed the 'road less traveled' when we look at our common history. But it is a road that is worth paving clear. What could be a greater journey?"

Later, I am convinced, those who embarked on that journey will say, "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
by Jeff Sutherland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
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5.0 out of 5 stars Here is a "radical change from the prescriptive, top-down project methodologies of the past", Nov. 18 2014
To what does the title of this book refer? Jeff Sutherland thinks that the way the world works, how business is conducted, "is broken." How so? One of the answers is to be found when examining the deficiencies of Gantt Charts, introduced by Henry Grant about a century ago. The "Waterfall Method" involves the creation of intricate charts. Every step in the given project is laid out in detail. "The charts truly are impressive to behold. The only problem with them is that they are always, [begin italics] always [end italics] wrong."

Twenty years ago, Sutherland created a new approach called "Scrum." He thoroughly explains it in this book. Basically, scrum is a process by which, after launching a project, you "check in, see if what you're doing is headed in the right direction, and if it is actually what people want." There are three essential components: Initiate, Inspect, and Adapt. Periodically, stop your work and determine if it's still what you should be doing and how you might do it better. "It'd a simple idea, but executing it requires thought, introspection, honesty, and discipline."

As I began to work my way through Sutherland's lively and eloquent narrative, I was again reminded of what Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn have to say about this approach in their book, Fail Better, when affirming that it offers a much better approach to innovation: designing smart mistakes, learn from them, and thereby achieve greater success and do so sooner.

Peter Sims has much of value to say about this strategy in Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries. As he explains, "At the core of this experimental approach, little bets are concrete actions taken to discover, test, and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable. They begin as creative possibilities that get iterated and refined over time, and they are particularly valuable when trying to navigate amid uncertainty, create something new, or attend to open-ended problems."

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

o A New Way of Thinking (Pages 7-10)
o Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls (31-34)
o Inspect and Adapt (34-36)
o Scrum in the Time of [Employee] Revolt (48-51)
o Scrum at War (54-58)
o The Scrum Master (61-62)
o The Sprint (72-76)
0 Time and Time Again (81-83)
o Do One Thing at a Time (88-94)
o Do It Right the First Time 97-100)
o Size Does Matter But Only Relatively (121-124)
o The Oracle of Delphi (125-129)
o There Are No Tasks, there Are Only Stories, and, Write Short Stories (132-136)
o Know Your Velocity (139-143)
o Quantifying Happiness (148-152)
o Delivering Happiness (157-=160)
o The Product Owner (176-180)
o Risk [Management] (197-199)
o How We'll All Work One Day (222-229)

On occasion, during a project guided and informed by Scrum principles, courage will also be required, especially when it becomes obvious that the given project must be abandoned, placed on hold, or totally reconstituted. It is important to keep the ultimate design goal clearly in mind: to enable individuals and especially teams to increase their efficiency and productivity by eliminating waste of resources.

Whether or not any team or individual can do twice the given work in half the time depends on factors beyond Sutherland's control. Self-motivation, for example, and the environment within which the effort is made. That said, he offers a mindset and a process worthy of careful consideration. Among the many benefits of what he recommends is that almost anyone can easily understand the three stages of Scrum: initiate, inspect/evaluate, and then adapt before proceeding.

In this context, I am again reminded of an observation made by Peter Drucker in an HBR article in 1993: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." It makes no sense whatsoever to master the art of doing twice the work in half the time if the given work is not worth doing or significantly less important than other initiatives.

I agree with Jeff Sutherland that almost any organizational objective is achievable. I also agree with Thomas Edison: "Vision without execution is hallucination." Scrum can be the bridge between a compelling vision and its fulfillment. I urge you to check it out.

How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything
How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything
by Dov Seidman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.28
72 used & new from CDN$ 1.44

5.0 out of 5 stars HOW to manage the relationship between success and significance, not only to survive but also to thrive, Nov. 11 2014
I read this book when it was first published (in 2007) and recently re-read this Expanded Edition, curious to know how well Dov Seidman's core concepts and key insights have held up. If anything, they are even more relevant -- and more valuable -- now than they were then. In fact, I believe they will become even more relevant in months and years to come.

In a global marketplace within which disruptive changes occur faster and in greater number than at any prior time that I recall, many (most?) people often feel like commodities, that they are being manipulated by forces over which they have little (if any) control. Seidman suggests -- and I agree -- that there is one area, however, where tremendous variation and variability still exist. "There is one area that we have not yet analyzed, quantified, systematized, or commoditized, one that, in many important respects, cannot be commoditized or copied: the realm of human behavior -- HOW we do what we do. When it comes to how you do what you do, there is tremendous variation, and where a broad spectrum of variation exists, opportunity exists. The tapestry of human behavior is so diverse, so rich, and so global that it presents a rare opportunity, the opportunity to [begin italics] outbehave the competition [end italics] and create enduring value."

In this Expanded Edition, Seidman eloquently reaffirms his abiding faith in what people of good will as well as talent can accomplish together, especially now that we are well into what he characterizes as the Era of Balance but also one in which behaviors can only be inspired:

"We are therefore also in the Era of Inspiration. Inspiration is the ultimate renewable energy resource. And today, inspirational leadership is the most powerful, abundant, efficient, affordable, and shareable source of human connection and guide of human behavior. This kind of leadership can inspire - and reinspire - over and over, without any cost and with dividends that never cease. Clearly, we need more leaders capable of inspiring the game-changing behaviors that map to the world we now inhabit."

Long ago, I realized that the greatest leaders do not motivate others but they can and do [begin italics] inspire [end italics] them. I agree with this book's subtitle: "HOW we do anything means everything" but obviously the ability of those such as Adolph Hitler to inspire is an obscene abuse of the power that Seidman has in mind.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Seidman's coverage through Chapter 11:

o The Era of Behavior (Pages xv-xix)
o How Values Scale (xxi-xxiv)
o Getting Flattened (20-24)
o Distance Unites Us (27-31)
o The Age of Transparency (34-37)
o Outbehaving the Competition (48-54)
o Looking Out for Number Two 68-71)
o The Evolution of What Is Valuable (72-76)
o Dancing with Rules (86-91)
o Unlocking Should (97-101)
o Dissonance (113-118)
o Interpersonal Transparency (148-152)
o The Soft (i.e. trust, empathy) Made Hard (159-164)
o Trust, But Verify (176-180)

I presume to add a few comments about the importance of understanding the nature and extent of "behavior": it involves what we say and how we say it as well as what we do and how we do it. The healthiest companies are annually ranked among those most highly respected and best to work; they are also ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their industry. That is not a coincidence.

In the next and final chapter, Seidman provides and thoroughly explains "The Leadership Framework" which embraces the fundamental influences that "fill the spaces between us, HOW we think, HOW we behave, HOW we govern ourselves as groups, and HOW the world has changed to put new emphasis on these ideas." Seidman's focus is on the need for effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. He suggests that there are five essential attributes of behavior on which the entire structure rests: vision, communicate and enlist, seize authority and take responsibility, plan and implement, and build succession and continuity.

His comments about the five attributes remind me once again of my favorite passage in Lao-tse's Tao Te Ching:

"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves."

If you know of a better statement about HOW to lead effectively, I would very much like to know about it.

The Digital Economy ANNIVERSARY EDITION: Rethinking Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence
The Digital Economy ANNIVERSARY EDITION: Rethinking Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence
by Don Tapscott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.42
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant exploration and analysis of what has become an “age of connected intelligence” worldwide, Nov. 11 2014
This is the 20th Anniversary Edition of a book first published in 1995. Don Tapscott's other books include Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet (2012), Grown Up Digital (2008), and Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (2006). I commend him on how skillfully he correlates material in the earlier edition with material that updates it. More specifically, he provides a "20th Anniversary Edition" Preface and then a Commentary that serves as an introduction to each of the 12 chapters. He carefully organizes and presents all of the material within four Parts: Thriving in a New Economy (Chapters 2-4), Internetworking (5-8), Leadership for Transformation (9 & 10), and Leadership for the Digital Frontier (11 & 12).

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope and depth of Tapscott’s coverage in the first three chapters:

o The Digital Economy -- The Big Ideas (Pages xii-xv)
o Major issues, then and now (xvi-xxi)
o The Challenge of Leadership (8-10)
o A Time of Transformation (11-14)
o The New Economy (15-18)
o The Internet: Hype, Reality, and Promise (22-35)
o The Four Problems with Reengineering as Practiced (36-38)
o The Dark Side of Networked Intelligence (40-46)
o Twelve Themes of the New Economy (54-77)
o Twelve Corresponding Themes: Economy, Organization, and Technology (78-80)(
o Social Media and New Business Models (83-90)
o The High Performance Team (97-102)
o The Extended Enterprise (102-107)
o The Internetworked Business (107-111)

I agree with Tapscott that past technological paradigms, such as the broadcast media and the old model of the computer and other transitions covered so well in Walter Isaacson's most recent book, The Innovators, were hierarchical, immutable, and centralized. How could they be otherwise? They were disruptive precisely because "they carried the power of their powerful owners. The new media are interactive, malleable, and distributed in control. As such, they cherish an awesome neutrality. Ultimately they will be [or become] what we want they to be. They will do what we command of them." In other words, we can shape the future for the common good. That is, "create a new social consciousness and conscience. If we act, rather than passively observe, we can seize the time. And the Age of Networked intelligence will be an age of promise fulfilled."

Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love
Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love
by Jon Kolko
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
30 used & new from CDN$ 19.43

5.0 out of 5 stars How to focus on people, celebrate emotional value, and drive optimism through lateral and divergent thinking, Nov. 11 2014
I share Jon Kolko’s high regard for companies such as Apple and Nest whose customers describe their experiences with them using adjectives such as “beautiful, “Awesome,” “drop-dead gorgeous, “amazing,” and even “revolutionary.” They are obviously what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as “customer evangelists.” In our family, we own just about every Apple product and three of our homes have a Nest “learning thermostat.”

Kolko observes, "What makes these companies unique is that their products are the result of a [begin italics] design process {end italics], and it is this process that has led to unprecedented media fascination and consumer adoption...This engagement [by consumers] is achieved by designing products that seem as though they have a personality or even a soul. These products feel less like manufactured artifacts and more like good friends."

I discussed this subject with two of my sons and our daughter, recalling my own "good friends" in childhood: Radio Flyer wagon, Lionel train set, Schwinn American bicycle, Wilson Ball Hawk baseball glove, and a Red Rider BB gun. Our sons then cited Etch A Sketch, Rock a Stack, G.I. Joe, Tonka Trucks, Hot Wheels, SuperBall, and Star Wars action figures. As for our daughter, her "good friends" include Barbie and Ken dolls, Cabbage Patch Kids, a fully-decorated doll house, and a toy iron. They and I can recall specific situations and how much we enjoyed our engagement with what proved to be classic toys. You can thus imagine how much they and I later enjoyed the three Toy Story films.

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

o What Is Design Thinking? (16-21)
o Bringing Design Thinking to Product Management (23-26)
o What Is "The Market"? (38-42)
o Shifts in attitude among customers (46-48)
o Attributes of community (53-55)
o Behavioral insights (71-111)
o Analytics for patterns of product usage (80-82)
o Product strategy (113-138)
o Product stance and design strategy (119-126)
o Design strategy (126-129)
o RUWT?!: Are You Watching This?! (130-137)
o Defining the Product (140-160)
o Organizational alignment (146-151)
o Decision product (169-176)
o Shipping (177-215)
o Operational Capabilities (178-187)
o Design process (217-218)

Kolko also inserts seven interviews of Joe Gebbia, chief product designer at Airbnb (26-34); Josh Elman, principal at Greylock Partners, a VC firm (59-70); Gary Chou, teacher of entrepreneurial design (95-111): Mark Phillip, CEO of Are You Watching This?!, a sports analytics firm 129-138), Frank Lyman, MyEdu’s chief product officer (164-176); and Alex Reinart, head of product at Foursquare (205-215). Their varied backgrounds and real-world experiences enable them to enrich the abundance of information, insights, and counsel with regard to how to use empathy to create products people love.

I commend Jon Kolko on the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that he provides within his lively and eloquent narrative. He succeeds brilliantly when introducing and then explaining a design-led product development process (based on deep, empathetic research) from idea to execution. Also, how a product-market fit establishes a community of engaged, indeed devoted consumers, and then how to gain valuable behavioral insights from interactions with people through ethnographic research. The framework for all this is rock-solid but sufficiently flexible to accommodate adjustments over time as competitive marketplace realities change.

I wholly agree with his concluding remarks: "The broad applicability of the design process makes it powerful. We are becoming product managers, and our best process for success is a process of design -- a creative process built on a platform of empathy.”

Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works, co-authored by Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, and Kevin Bennett, as well as Roger Martin's The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage and Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine, co-edited by Martin and Karen Christensen.

Twitter is Not a Strategy: Rediscovering the Art of Brand Marketing
Twitter is Not a Strategy: Rediscovering the Art of Brand Marketing
by Tom Doctoroff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.75
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5.0 out of 5 stars How and why it's time for companies to "stand up and reclaim the conceptual high ground for marketing communications", Nov. 11 2014
Tom Doctoroff offers what he characterizes as "a four-part framework that unifies conceptual and executional essentials, demonstrating that the brands that address [forging order from chaos for both marketers and consumers] most effectively will always reign supreme, boasting the highest margins and the most loyal consumers."

His is a "simple-but-nuanced approach to grab the holy grail of marketing: harmony between the clarity of top-down positioning and the dynamism of bottom-up consumer engagement; between long-term brand equity and short-term tactical messaging; and between emotional relevance and results elicited by data-driven technology."

I have always viewed strategies as "hammers" that drive tactics ("nails)) and there is no doubt that social media such as Twitter offer all manner of possible tactics to help strengthen customer relationships. However, as Doctoroff explains, their proper benefits -- and limitations -- must be recognized and accommodated: both analog and digital channels have value if (huge IF) effectively coordinated. Moreover, marketers must not become preoccupied with the digital connectivity at the expense of nourishing what have been l"ong-term relationships between human beings [not machines] and the brands they love."

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

o A Brief History of Branding (Pages 12-16)
o Digital Daze (31-35)
o The Value of Strong Brands to Consumers (39-43)
o [How] Strong Brands Provide Tangible Benefits to Parent Companies (44-52)
o Unearthing Insights into Consumer Behavior: Human Truths That Unite Us (55-61)
o Cultural Truths That Set Us Apart (61-73)
o Techniques to Uncover Human and Cultural Truths (75-77)
o Insights About Emerging Markets and Business Strategy (77-86)
o Great Brand Ideas: From Conceptual Unity, Strength (94-98)
o The Unique Brand Offer: Resolving the Insight (99-107)
o Organizational Barriers to Powerful Brand Ideas (131-133)
o When to Abandon a Brand Idea (137-146)
o Engagement Ideas That Inspire Opting In" (156-158)
o From Engagement to Advocacy (162-177)
o Defining Engagement Ideas (180-182)
o Intimacy (191-193)
o The Nine Rules of Online Content (221-238)

When concluding his book, Tom Doctoroff briefly reviews what he characterizes as two "broad points." They are centrally important to the establishment of an appropriate framework required for strong brand equity and deep loyalty. I agree with him: "First, the barriers between traditional and new media are artificial. They must be deconstructed...Second, engagement is more than a digital connection between manufacturers and consumers." Why? Because loyalty "is rooted in a long-term relationship between people and brands they love. It is born as a 'brand idea' -- a two-way commitment, long-term, and dynamic -- that provides conceptual unity across an ever-changing marketplace, expressed as engagement ideas people want to spend time with. Engaging creative ideas, today or forever, are the source of high price premiums and margins."

If your organization's objective is to establish and then sustain long-term relationships of engagement, not only with its customers but with its own people, just about all the information, insights, and counsel you need are provided in this book.

Shifts And The Shocks, The
Shifts And The Shocks, The
by Martin Wolf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.33
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5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the financial and economic crises that hit the high-income countries after August 2007 have altered the world, Nov. 6 2014
With rare exception, the best works of non-fiction are research-driven and that is certainly true of this book as indicated by 46 pages of detailed Notes, followed by 24 pages of References. These are Martin Wolf's primary sources. I agree with him that there are valuable lessons (some of them invaluable lessons) to be learned from the economic crisis that began in 2007-2008. Wolf identifies the nature and extent of the origin of that crisis within a complex interaction between and among globalization initiatives, hugely destabilizing global imbalances, and our dangerously fragile financial system.

Why did Wolf write this book? One of the main reasons is to explain why and how "the ideal of a liberal democracy derives from the marriage of these two ideas -- freedom and citizenship. It is based on the believe that we are not only individuals with rights to choose for ourselves, subject to the law; we are also, as Aristotle puts it, 'political animals.' As such, we have both a need and a right to participate in public life. Citizenship translates the idea of individual self-worth to the political level. As citizens, we can and should do things together. Many of these things are, in turn, the foundation stones of [Isaiah] Berlin's 'positive liberty,' or individual agency, " in his classic essay, Two Concepts of Liberty (1969).

Wolf is convinced -- and I agree -- that "a market economy is both a reflection of personal liberty and a precondition for its survival." Consider this excerpt from Lord Turner's classic, After the Crisis: Ends and Means (2012): "Economic freedom on both the consumption side and the production side -- not only the right to choose what to consume but also the right to set up a new company, to work for oneself, and to compete with new ideas -- should be recognized as a desirable objective in and of itself, not because of any prosperity dividend it delivers." That is, only if people are free in their means can they be free in their ends.

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 Why the Shocks Matter (Pages 7-12)
o The Scale of the Crisis (18-26)
o Recovery in the Big High-Income Countries (32-36)
o The Rolling Crises (45-59)
o Understanding the Crisis, and, Misunderstanding the Crisis (59-85)
o Crisis and Recovery in Emerging Economies (90-95)
o The Monetary Normalization of High-Income Economies
o Why Financial Crises Are Endemic (118-123)
o The Shift into the Global Imbalances (158-170)
o Underling Drivers of the Global Shifts (182-188)
o The Failure of Official Economics (196-199)
o Alternatives to the New Orthodoxy (203-222)
o A Labour of Sisyphus, and, The Case for Radical Reform (232-237)
o A Capital Solution (237-252)
o How to Simulate Economies (263-272)
o Global Reform (282-285)
o Living in a Bad Marriage (294-304)
o What Happened? (320-324)
o The Challenge of Radical Reform (348-353)

I am deeply grateful to Martin Wolf for the abundance of information, insights, and counsel he provides in this thoughtful and thought-provoking examination of both the lessons learned and the lessons yet to be learned from the economic crisis that began in 2007-2008. Somehow he manages to balance his no-nonsense pragmatism with an abiding faith that eventually, somehow, it will be possible to restore economies to growth, on both the growth and supply sides.

"Every effort must be made, too, to ensure that a similar crisis will not recur without eliminating those aspects of an open world economy and integrated finance that are of benefit. This will require more radicalism than most recognize. We must not only learn lessons about how the world economy went awry. We must also act upon them. If we do not, next time a big crisis arrives even our open world eco0nimy could end in the fire."

Many (if not most) of those who read this book will agree that he asks the right questions, even if they do not agree with his answers. That's a start, a good start. Let the dialog continue.

Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing In The New Game Of Work
Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing In The New Game Of Work
by Liz Wiseman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.56
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quaerere Eruditionem: Always "Seek Learning", Nov. 5 2014
In her previously published books, Liz Wiseman shares her thoughts about the power of multiplication, a force that can have either positive or negative impact. For example, companies will do all they can to multiply profitable sales while also doing all they can to reduce (if not eliminate) waste. The meaning of the terms such as multiply and diminish remains the same but their significance is determined almost entirely by the given context. That is true of individuals as well as of organizations. For example, one of the keys to a successful career is diminishing ignorance by increasing knowledge. I realized long ago that one of the most serious mistakes to make at work and elsewhere is to make decisions based on what you think you know but, in fact, don't.

Why did Wiseman write Rookie Smarts? She explains: "This book is about living and working perpetually on a learning curve. It is about why we do our best work when we are new to something, striving up that steep ascent." This is especially important now when new information is vast, fast, and fleeting. Her book is also for leaders of organizations who must ensure their workforce remains vital and competitive. It is for corporate talent management, learning, and coaching professionals who must ensure the talent inside their organization is engaged and vibrant." Rookies are those who have little (if anything) to unlearn and little (if any) prior experience when assigned to a task, duty, or responsibility that is totally unfamiliar to them. Many managers need the information, insights, and counsel that Wiseman provides in this book if they know little (if anything) and have little (if any) prior experience insofar as supervising rookies is concerned.

Wiseman shares the results of a survey conducted by members of her research team. They studied almost 400 workplace scenaria, comparing and contrasting the performance "rookies" and "veterans" while completing various work assignments. As she explains, "We defined a rookie as someone who had never done that type of work and a veteran as someone who had previous experience with that type of work -- both regardless of their age." Their work yielded four surprising observations:

"First, rookies are strong performers...performing at a slightly higher level than veterans. Second, rookies have a unique success profile: They were fast to act, marshaled resources, found simple solutions, persisted along a path, and focused on solving the right problem. Third, rookies aren't always what they seem. They listen more, are more likely to ask for help, believe they have a lot more to learn, and learn faster." Finally, experience creates dangerous blind spots. Our analysis identified a number of areas where experience created blinders that narrowed the veteran's focus and kept him stuck in a rut. With experience some habits, and once we form a habit, our brain stops working."

Wiseman discusses all this in Chapter 1, Pages 25-26.

Here's my take:

1. It is much easier to learn than to unlearn. Hence the importance of hiring intelligence and character, then providing whatever training may be necessary.

2. There is great value in cross-functional training (at least in basics) so that those trained increase their understanding -- and [begin] appreciation [end] -- of what their associates are expected to do. Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has done this for years to increase "bench strength." For example, he has defensive backs become familiar with offensive plays so that they can fill in at running back or wide receiver, if needed. Also, on the offensive line, he expects everyone to be able to play guard, tackle, or center, if needed.

3. A healthy organization is a "total learning" organization. There is always something new to learn about what to do and how to do it. Therefore, knowledge may have a limited shelf life but learning skills do not. In fact, frequent use strengthens them.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Wiseman's coverage in the first four of eight chapters:

o The New Workscape (Pages 6-10)
o A Question of Experience (20-22)
o The Learned and the Learners (22-24)
o The Rookie Smart Mindset: Backpacker, Hunter-Gatherer, Firewalker, and Pioneer (27-34)
o The Right Terrain (34-38)
o The Fountain of Wishful Thinking (41-42)
o Caretakers Versus Backpackers (47-53)
o The Backpacker's Way (53-65)
o Building Rookie Smarts (65-68)
o Local Guides Versus Hunter-Gatherers (75-84)
o The Hunter-Gatherer's Way (84-92)
o Building Rookie Smarts (92-95)
o Seekers and Finders (95-96)
o Marathoners Versus Firewalkers (101-107)
o The Firewalker's Way (107-118)
o Building Rookie Smarts (118-119)

In Chapters 5-8, Wiseman discusses Pioneers, The Perpetual Rookie, Rookie Revival, and The Rookie Organization, followed by six appendices in which she provides a wealth of invaluable supplementary material about the research process, FAQs, learning experiments, learning itineraries, Rookies and perpetual Rookies, and a discussion guide that can serve as a "fire starter," including kindling and sparks to keep the conversation "blazing."

When concluding her brilliant book, Liz Wiseman observes, "Rookie smarts isn't an age or experience level; it is state of mind -- one that is available to those willing to unlearn and relearn. It is also a choice. As the world of work speeds up, we can either slow down and get left behind, or we can quicken our step and keep up. It is a choice between the dull ache of stagnation and the short-lived discomfort of unlearning what has worked for us in the past, and then relearning what we need to know now."

In this context, I am again reminded of a situation years ago, after a substantial tuition increase, Harvard's then president, Derek Bok, was besieged by irate parents who demanded an explanation. His response? "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

Location is (Still) Everything: The Surprising Influence of the Real World on How We Search, Shop, and Sell in the Virtual One
Location is (Still) Everything: The Surprising Influence of the Real World on How We Search, Shop, and Sell in the Virtual One
Price: CDN$ 7.11

5.0 out of 5 stars The power and perils of becoming actively engaged with the GRAVITY framework, Nov. 4 2014
Many years ago while completing several assignments for American Airlines, I had the opportunity to spend some time at its training center and was intrigued by the flight simulator. Of course, the design and capabilities must be based on the real-world experiences it replicates. I recalled that visit as I began to read this book.

According to David Bell, the relationships that exist between our physical-world locations and our virtual-world behaviors can be - and usually are -- robust. "They'll be pretty stable and quite predictable. Indeed, the very idea that your experiences in the physical world shape your behavior in the virtual world may seem rather obvious after you've seen the reasons why. (Good and lasting ideas always seem intuitive once you have the means to appreciate them.)" Quite true.

Bell suggests that gravitational pull is the reason he'd be better off taking the elevator in his apartment building rather than a "shortcut" to the street by jumping from the window. Yes, that is a simple example but its implications are anything but simple. The characters played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in the film Gravity can flow in space but not when approaching the space shuttle before the next flight. They and we live in two worlds: where we are located physically when purchasing a copy of Bell's book, and, where information as well as our thoughts and feelings about it exist. We have a physical location when using the Internet to complete the purchase but it makes no difference where and when we do so.

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

o The Real World and the Virtual World (Pages 3-5)
o Adventures in the Real and Virtual World (9-13)
o GRAVITY: How the Real World Influences the Virtual One (16-17)
o The Force of Location On Offline Behavior (29-36)
o Real-World Frictions, and, More Frictions: The Tyranny of Geography (51-55)
o Gravity and "Cross-Border" Trade in Goods and Information (65-72)
o Communication Among Adjacent Individuals (75-83)
o Observation Among Adjacent Individuals (84-86)
o The Mechanics of Adjacency (86-91)
o Ties That Bind: Physical Distance, Social Distance, and the Spatial Long Tail (105-117)
o Drivers and Elements of Preference Isolation (132-143)
o People Populating the Real-World/Virtual World Landscape (154-161)
o Information the Real-World/Virtual World Landscape (167-176)
o Product in the Real-World/Virtual World Landscape (176-183)
o A Story of Friendship and Vision -- in the Real and virtual Worlds (187-195)
o Ahead to the Future (196-197)

Readers will greatly appreciate the skillful way that Bell reconnects the most important "dots" when explaining how and why location is (still) everything. He reviews the separate but interdependent components of the GRAVITY Framework: geography, resistance, adjacency, vicinity, isolation, and topography. He reiterates three key ideas:

1. "Always keep in mind that the benefits of shopping, selling, and searching online cannot be separated from the4 locations where customers in the real world."

2. "Your virtual-world business, whether selling goods, services, or information, must quickly create a [begin italics] sufficient density [end italics] -- often by connecting and aggregating individuals from disparate locations."

3. Finally, "Remember that the [begin italics] tactics and strategies [end italics] required for gaining followers, disseminating content, or selling products online need to be customized for different locations."

Those who read this book will be well-prepared to challenge all of their previous assumptions about what the success of their business initiatives require of them, especially now when the global marketplace changes faster and with greater frequency that at any prior time that I can recall. Better yet, David Bell will help them to formulate strategies and tactics as well as a game plan to achieve and then sustain an appropriate (that's a key word) balance of doing business in two worlds. The challenge is to use the GRAVITY framework to pull some customers to a physical location, pull others to a website, and pull still others to both. How? Read and then re-read this book.

Service Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way
Service Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way
by James Merlino
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.02
22 used & new from CDN$ 17.13

5.0 out of 5 stars "One of the most important things done is to define why we're here -- for patients." Toby Cosgrove, Nov. 3 2014
Note: Delos M. ("Toby") Cosgrove, M.D., is the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic.

If possible, this book should be read in combination with Cosgrove's book, The Cleveland Clinic Way: Lessons in Excellence from One of the World's Leading Health Care Organizations, also published by McGraw-Hill. Both books examine with consummate skill the day-to-day operations of one of the world's most renowned medical communities. James Merlino, M.D., is Chief Experience Officer and the term "experience" refers to everyone involved throughout the given enterprise. At all levels and in all areas, the healthcare providers and those who are responsible for support services are patients-driven. They do everything humanly possible to ensure that patients and their loved ones receive superior experience. As Dr. Merlino explains, his book focuses on how to think about patient experience, "how to define it, and the factors we feel are critical to enhance it. Improving patient-centeredness also impacts how we deliver safety and quality. These are important not just for patients, but for caregivers as well."

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

o Cleveland Clinic: Challenges of organizational culture (Pages 1-7, 33-34, 66-67, 98-103, 112-113, and 220-221)
o Cleveland Clinic: Challenges of patient experience (Pages 1-7, 103-108, 177-178)
o Patient First approach (13-28)
o Chief Experience Officer (29-37)
o Transparency: 35-36, 106-108, and 181-186)
o Patient experience (45-63)
o Cleveland Clinic: Defining patient experience (54-63)
o Cleveland Clinic: Organizational culture (65-80)
o Delos M. ("Toby) Cosgrove (66-67 and 712-80)
o Cleveland Clinic: Experience Project (81-96)
o Cultural alignment (92-94) and 222-227)
o Physicians (97-118)
o Patient surveys (122-125 and 178-181)
o Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (150-154)
o Service Excellence (157-175)
o Doctors and communication skills (181-186)
o Practical communication skills: Development (186-192)
o Patient involvement (197-210)
o "Getting It Done Has Defined Our Success (211-227)

In his own book about the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Cosgrove has much of value to say about eight trends that will define the future of medicine. In fact, they will probably define the future, period. He explains WHY or HOW

1. Group practices will provide better -- and cheaper -- healthcare
2. Collaborative medicine is more effective
3. Big Data will be harnessed to improve the quality of healthcare as well as lower costs
4. Cooperative practices can be the wellspring of innovation
5. Empathy is crucial to better patient outcomes
6. Wellness of both mind and body depends on healthcare, not sickcare
7. How healthcare is best provided in different settings for greater comfort and value
8. How tailor-made healthcare treats a person rather than a disease

Of course, Dr. Merlino is well aware of these and other trends, and of the challenges they are certain to pose to sustaining, indeed enriching and improving superior health care experience. Consider these remarks when he concludes the last chapter: "Our collective goal is simple: deliver the best possible experience to our patients -- or as [Pat Ryan, CEO of Press Ganey] points out, reduce patient suffering. It's the right thing to do, it's how we want to be taken care of, and it's how we want5 our families to be treated. Success will not come quickly or easily, but will be achieved with leadership, strategy, focus, and determination. We must strive to do right -- all the time. We would accept nothing less for ourselves or our families; therefore, we should offer nothing less to the people we serve."

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