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The Wright Brothers
The Wright Brothers
by David McCullough
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.26
40 used & new from CDN$ 20.15

5.0 out of 5 stars "Now they had only to build a motor.", May 31 2015
This review is from: The Wright Brothers (Hardcover)
David McCullough's research and writing skills (especially storytelling) are again obvious in this, his tenth and latest book. In my opinion, what differentiate McCullough from other historians in his generation are his skills as an anthropologist. He establishes a deep human context for two brothers who co-own a bicycle shop in Ohio and dream of creating a craft that, once aloft, can propel itself for extended periods of time and distance. His scope is narrower than in any of his nine previous books. That is, his primary focus is on Orville and Wilbur Wright and their efforts to design and build, initially, what they envisioned as a "glider-kite."

These items in McCullough's narrative were of special interest to me:

o Wilbur and Orville Wright never married because Wilbur was "woman-shy" and Orville would not marry until his older brother did.

o According to McCullough, they "worked together six days a week, ate their meals together, kept their money in a joint bank account" and even, according to Wilbur, "thought together."

o Also, "The difficulty was not to get into the air but to stay there." The Wrights built their first aircraft from split bamboo and paper. Kitty Hawk (North Carolina) had open space and an ample supply of a precious commodity: wind. The idea was to master gliding, after which Wilbur reckoned it would be easy to add a motor. "Maintaining equilibrium was the key--not much different than riding a bike."

o At the conclusion of Part I, McCullough summarizes the significance of successful experimentation, to date, in Kill Devil Hills: "They knew exactly what they had accomplished. They knew they had solved the problem of flight and more. They had acquired the knowledge and the skill to fly. They could soar, they could float, they could dive and rise, circle and glide and land, all with assurance. Now they had only to build a motor."

o They lived and worked at a time, according to McCullough, that was “alive with invention—recent wonders included the Kodak box camera, the Singer electric sewing machine and the safety razor. McCullough celebrates Dayton as “a city in which inventing and making things were central to the way of life.”

o McCullough again celebrates the basic values normally associated with later pioneers such as those on whom Walter Isaacson focuses in The Innovators. Wilbur and Orville Wright do indeed exemplify what can be accomplished when having a vision, determination, ingenuity, resiliency, and very hard work. John T. Daniels witnessed the first successful flight (lasting 12 seconds on December 17, 1903) and said that the Wrights were "the workingest boys he had ever seen."

As we now know, that flight really did "change the world" eventually, after the general public's initial indifference and then extensive litigation to determine who owned what. McCullough observes in the Epilogue, "of greatest importance to both - more than the money at stake - was to secure just and enduring credit for having invented the airplane. It was their reputation at stake and that mattered most." True to character, Wilbur and Orville Wright duly acknowledged various sources from which they obtained valuable information, notably J. Pell Pettigrew, Octave Chanute, Pierre Mouillard, and Otto Lillenthal.

The book concludes with a classic David McCullough touch: "On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in southwestern Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer."

HBR Guide to Coaching Employees (HBR Guide Series)
HBR Guide to Coaching Employees (HBR Guide Series)
by Harvard Business Rev
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.94
38 used & new from CDN$ 12.82

5.0 out of 5 stars "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." John Quincy Adams, May 29 2015
This is one of the 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 coaching employees. 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 Coaching Employees was selected to help those who read this book to improve in areas that include creating realistic but inspiring plans for growth, asking the right questions to engage your direct reports and other colleagues in the development process, meanwhile creating room for them to grapple with problems to solve and questions to answer, allowing them to make the most of their expertise and experience while compelling them to stretch and grow, giving them feedback they will actually apply, and finally, balancing coaching with everything else in your workload. 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 Noel Tichy's Succession: Mastering the Make-or-Break Process of Leadership Transition, and, Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization.

The authors of the first ten of 15 articles explain HOW TO:

o Shift your thinking so that you can collaborate on learning with others
o Step the stage to stimulate growth in a context within which peak performance is most likely to occur
o Earn trust by building a rapport based on mutual respect
o Conduct effective sessions by asking the right questions, articulating goals, and reframing challenges
o Follow-up after a session to monitor intake, monitor progress, and adjust (if/when necessary)
o Provide feedback that "sticks" to avoid a negative and/or defensive response
o Enlist assistance (if/when needed) by tapping the "deep smarts" of the given challenge or opportunity
o Help people to help themselves through effective self-coaching and/or coaching others
Comment: Throughout recorded human history, one of the best ways to learn more about a subject is to explain it to someone else.
o Avoid common coaching mistakes by knowing what they are, how to recognize them, then avoid or overcome them

* * *

Here is Dallas near the downtown area, there is a Farmer's Market at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I offer these three brief excerpts:

From Edward M. (Ned) Hallowell's article, "Set the Stage to Stimulate Growth" (Pages 13-28):

"Why, then, do so many people struggle to connect with others? We're all too busy. We do not spend enough time together, face-to-face. We overrely on electronic connections and so don't develop the trust required for candid exchanges. But you can help your employees overcome those forces. Try the following techniques:"

1. Noticing and acknowledging your employees.
2. Allowing for idiosyncrasies and peccadilloes
3. Encouraging conversation
4. Encouraging breaks.
5. Offering food and drink.
6. Fostering impromptu get-togethers.

Hallowell explains HOW.

* * *

From Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap's article, "Enlist Knowledge Coaches" (73-76)

"How to capture the deep smarts residing in your organization? Turn your experts into knowledge coaches. Knowledge coaches use learn-by-doing techniques -- guided practice, observation, problem solving, and experimentation -- to help novices absorb long-acquired business wisdom.

"Knowledge coaching not only spurs transfer and retention of vital wisdom, it yields breakthrough product ideas and more efficient business processes."

Leonard and Swap offer real-world examples to illustrate how this occurs.

* * *

From Carol A. Walker's article, "Coaching Your Rookie Managers" (123-134):

"Seemingly capable rookie managers often try to cover up a failing project or relationship -- just until they can get it back under control.

"What's the boss of a rookie manager to do? You can begin by clarifying expectations. Explain the connection between the rookie's success and your success so that she understands that open communication is necessary for you to achieve your goals. Explain that you don't expect her to have all the answers. Introduce her to other managers within the company who might be helpful, and encourage her to contact them as needed. Let her know that mistakes happen but that the cover-up is always worse than the c rime. Let her know that you like to receive occasional lunch invitations as much as you like to extend them."

Walker discusses dos and don'ts when delegating, getting support from above, projecting confidence, focusing on the Big Picture, and giving constructive feedback.

* * *

Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations need effective leadership and management at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. If your organization is that rare exception, congratulations! However, if there is an urgent need for more effective leadership and/or management throughout your organization, it is imperative to establish coaching as a core competency among supervisors. How? Have them read and then meet to discuss the HBR Guide to Coaching Employees. That's a start. If needed, consult the aforementioned books by Tichy and Senge. If at any time there is anything I can do to be of assistance, please let me know immediately.

Learning to Succeed: Rethinking Corporate Education in a World of Unrelenting Change
Learning to Succeed: Rethinking Corporate Education in a World of Unrelenting Change
by Jason Wingard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.16
43 used & new from CDN$ 23.16

5.0 out of 5 stars If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.' Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer), May 28 2015
According to Jason Wingard, his purpose in this book is to help his reader rethink corporate education polices, practices, and programs in a world of unrelenting change. He explores "the specific intersection among, and interdependence of, corporate strategy, operational planning, and human capital development." More specifically, he explains HOW to achieve strategic objectives such as these:

o Develop a Contiguous Integration of Learning and Strategy (CILS) for identifying and analyzing learning needs in order to design, implement, evaluate, and (if necessary) modify learning initiatives

o Integrate thought leadership initiatives as well as employee training and development programs with corporate strategy to achieve both short-term and long-term goals

o Overcome common budgeting barriers to corporate learning and make a solid, bottom-line case for CILS, using an ROI formula

o Foster a culture of learning throughout the given enterprise, preferably led by a Chief Learning Officer who is assigned a widely respected strategic leadership role

o Leverage learning to attract, integrate, and retain top talent that will help to increase productivity, innovation, employee engagement for the organization as well as nourish a culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive

These are indeed worthy objectives. Achieving them will require everyone in an organization, whatever its size and nature may be, to communicate, cooperate, and (most important of all) collaborate effectively. And let's not forget about the importance of thought leadership. These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Wingard’s coverage:

o Continuous integration of learning and strategy roles (Pages 34-35, 41-45, 48-56, 68-75, and 80-83)
o Best practices (54-55 and 80-81)
o Culture of development (61-64 and 155-160)
o Information gathering (65-67 and 80-83)
o Individual responsibility for learning and development (73-74)
o Insights: Distribution channels (76-86 and 97-98)
o Targeted development programs (88-89 and 140-143)
o Resistance to barriers to CILS (99-126)
o Investments (113-117 and 120-124)
o Return on Learning from CILS (127-146)
o Performance evaluation (133-134 and 159-160)
o Culture of Excellence (155-160)
o Effectiveness of business unit leaders and managers (163-165)
o Comcast: Mini-case study (171-178)
o Centralization (175-186)
o Sears Holding Corporation: Mini-case study (178-186)
o Deloitte: Mini-case study (184-194)
o Procter & Gamble Mini-case study (194-207)

These are among Jason Wingard's concluding observations: "Gone are the days when just having a superior product or lower prices or more market penetration formed the basis of a company's edge. An organization needs to get its house in order and become a proactive learning organization committed to the progressive tools afforded by the CILS method. Corporate learning initiatives serve to bolster four of the strongest paths to success: the talent war, a culture of excellence, manager effectiveness, and brand enhancement. [I presume to add another: effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.] Through an ongoing dedication to the CILS values of analysis, strategic planning, and continuous assessment, evaluation, and programmatic learning, all members of the learning organization from the C-suite to middle managers to the rank and file employees work together to give the company an edge on the competition."

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel to be found in this book. However, I hope I have at least indicate why I think so highly of it as well as of the thought leader who wrote it. For those in need of supplementary resources, I now strongly recommend three: Return on Learning: Training for High Performance at Accenture, co-authored by Donald Vanthournout, Tad Waddington, and other members of Accenture’s Capability Development Team; Dean 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.

Men in Green
Men in Green
by Michael Bamberger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.79
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4.0 out of 5 stars Here's a narrative with too many bogies and not enough birdies, May 28 2015
This review is from: Men in Green (Hardcover)
Several of my favorite books about sports involve a return in time to when Stanley Ralph Ross's immortal phrase, "the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of athletic competition," really meant something very special. That is especially true of the material provided in Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer, John Feinstein's One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game, and two by Mark Frost: The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf and The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever.

To that list I had hoped to add Men in Green in which Michael Bamberger shares what he learned during interviews of those in two groups of golf luminaries on his list: nine "Living Legends" (players) and nine "Secret Legends" (mostly non-players unknown to the general public). Bamberger was accompanied by one of the "Secret Legends," Mike Donald, who finished second in the U.S. Open in 1990.

They travel extensively across the United States but seldom go back in time to experiences of their own (except for a few of Donald's unpleasant memories), deferring to the lively memories of Arnold Palmer, Ken Venturi, Billy Harmon, Sandy Tatum, Fred Couples, Dolphus ("Golf Ball") Hull, Tom Watson, Jaime Diaz, Curtis Strange, Hale Irwin, Cliff Danley, Randy Erskine, Neil Oxman, and Jack Nicklaus. For various reasons, they were unable to meet with Mickey Wright and Ben Crenshaw but were able to meet with one of Wright's best friends, Barbara Wommack, and Crenshaw's former wife, Polly Crenshaw Price.

Overall, I think this book often lacks cohesion, pace, and consistency. For whatever reasons, some of the "luminaries" receive far more attention than do others. The coverage of Jack Nicklaus, for example, was underwhelming as was the coverage of Irwin, Couples, and a few others. With regard to the "Secret Legends," only Billy Harmon and Hull were of significant interest. It lacks an index. Also, Bamberger seems to lose interest along the way in a question to be posed: "When and where were you happiest?"

Which of the material did I find most interesting? Certainly what I learned about Ken Venturi character, personality, temperament, and values that apparently determined the nature and extent of most of his relationships, especially with Arnold Palmer. The discussion of Curtis Strange had the same punch as Strange's on-air comments tend to have. I also thought that coverage of Mickey Wright, without her cooperation, did her full justice as one of the best golfers ever, male or female.

I am glad I read the book because of some of the material but, for reasons indicated, cannot give it a higher rating.

Thinkers 50: Future Thinkers: New Thinking on Leadership, Strategy and Innovation for the 21st Century
Thinkers 50: Future Thinkers: New Thinking on Leadership, Strategy and Innovation for the 21st Century
by Stuart Crainer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.70
39 used & new from CDN$ 2.18

5.0 out of 5 stars What will probably be the greatest challenges for business leaders in years to come?, May 27 2015
This is one of the volumes in a series published by McGraw-Hill Education and co-authored by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove. They wrote it in response to that question.

I really like the basic concept: Crainer and Dearlove selected a major business subject such as most promising, high-potential business thinkers and then asked, "Which of them should we feature to share their thoughts with those who read the books in the series?" They had already read several of their books and articles and even interviewed a few of them. A generous selection of the most valuable material they obtained is provided in this volume. The first chapter is called, appropriately, "What the Future Looks Like." That is, how perspectives on "futurism" have evolved over time.

* * *

Here is one of the Q&As from an interview of Lee Newman:

C&D: You talk about a new source of competitive advantage. Please explain.

LN: As I see it, the traditional types of competitive advantage are not really very sustainable anymore...There's a new source of sustainable advantage for companies, a [begin italics] behavioral advantage [end italics]. The idea is that if you imagine a company where employees literally are able to outthink and outbehave [i.e. outperform] their competition, time and again, that's an incredible advantage. It's hard to achieve, but it's even harder to copy...Leadership plays out 'in the moment' -- in daily conversations, meetings, presentations, negotiations, interpersonal conflicts, and thinking and problem-solving sessions we engage in every day in the workplace.

So that's the backdrop to positive leadership. Positive leadership is about how we can achieve this behavioral advantage, by improving performance in the moment.

* * *

Here is another Q&A, from their interview of Dorie Clark:

C&D: When involved in personal branding, isn't there a danger that you'll become overly worried about what other people think?

DC: There's always that danger. You want to be mindful of it, but I don't think that it inherently puts you in that position. Actually, on the contrary, it's really about elucidating who you are; understanding that and communicating it effectively.

Personal branding is not an outside-in phenomenon in which you say: What does the world want? How can I be more like that? How can I look like that or pretend to be like that? Instead, it's an inside-out phenomenon in which you really dig down and figure out who you are, what you care about, what you want to do, what you can contribute to the world. And then you get the rest of the world to see that.

* * *

Granted, these are snippets but they do give you at least a sample of the thoughtful and thought-provoking material that is presented throughout the book. Other thought leaders who contributed to this volume include James Allworth, Laurence Capron, Adam Grant, Monika Hamori, Ionnis Ioannou, Ellen MacArthur, Nilofer Merchant, Ethan Mollick, Gianpiero Petrigliera, Navi Radjou, and Christian Stadler. If any of these names are not familiar to you now, they will be soon. You need to become familiar with their work ASAP.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the Thinkers50 volumes on management, leadership, innovation, and strategy. Also, Crainer's The Ultimate Business Library: The Greatest Books That Made Management, published by Capstone/A Wiley Imprint, and The Management Century: One Hundred Years of Thinking and Practice, part of the J-B BAH Strategy & Business Series. I also greatly admire Dearlove's The Ultimate Book of Business Thinking: Harnessing the Power of the World's Greatest Business Ideas and Business the Richard Branson Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Brand Builder (Big Shots Series).

Thinkers 50 Management: Cutting Edge Thinking to Engage and Motivate Your Employees for Success
Thinkers 50 Management: Cutting Edge Thinking to Engage and Motivate Your Employees for Success
by Stuart Crainer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.71
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Which concepts are the central focus of today's cutting age thinking about management?, May 26 2015
This is one of the volumes in a series published by McGraw-Hill Education and co-authored by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove. They wrote it in response to that question.

I really like the basic concept: Crainer and Dearlove selected a major business subject such as leadership and then asked, "Which cutting edge thinkers should we consult to share their thoughts about this?" They had already read many of their books and articles and even interviewed several of them. A generous selection of the most valuable material they obtained is provided in this volume. The first chapter is called, appropriately, "How We Got Here." That is, how perspectives on management have evolved over time.

* * *

Here is one of the Q&As from an interview of Gary Hamel:

C&D: How to increase positive and productive employee engagement?

GH: We're going to have to get much better if we really want to engage people. Number one is dramatically reducing the level of fear in organizations. Number two is depoliticizing decision making so that people don't feel that decisions are basically a function of political power and access but really a function of good ideas; creating a democracy of information where you have complete transparency and people don't hold information, don't use it as a political weapon, reducing the power of the traditional hierarchy; doing all kinds of things to unleash real human potential in an organization.

* * *

Here is another Q&A from their interview of David P. Norton:

C&D: Who came up with the phrase the "balanced scorecard"?

DN: In the 1990s, U.S. companies in particular and Western companies in general were getting badly beaten by the Japanese and there was a lot being written about short-term America and how we were doing it to ourselves with this quarterly focus on financials. That was the front-end of the problem. Bob Kaplan and I were looking for a better way. Our first conclusion was that you can't throw away the financials - that is the lifeblood - but you've got to somehow make it long term as well as short term. [begin italics] Balancing [end italics] just came naturally to describe that. We're balancing long term and short term, we're balancing lead indicators with lag indicators, and so it was a natural outcome. I can't remember seeing a flash of light, and it didn't happen in the shower in the morning.

* * *

Other thought leaders who contributed to this volume include Jim Champy, Howard Gardner, Daniel Goleman, HCL Technologies Ltd, Sylvia Ann Hewitt, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, John Kotter, McKinsey & Company, Daniel Pink, Edgar Schein, and Dave Ulrich.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the Thinkders50 volumes on innovation, leadership, future thinkers, and strategy. Also, Crainer's The Ultimate Business Library: The Greatest Books That Made Management, published by Captone/A Wiley Imprint, and The Management Century: One Hundred Years of Thinking and Practice, part of the J-B BAH Strategy & Business Series. I also greatly admire Dearlove's The Ultimate Book of Business Thinking: Harnessing the Power of the World's Greatest Business Ideas and Business the Richard Branson Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Brand Builder (Big Shots Series).

Thinkers 50 Strategy: The Art and Science of Strategy Creation and Execution
Thinkers 50 Strategy: The Art and Science of Strategy Creation and Execution
by Stuart Crainer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.71
42 used & new from CDN$ 0.45

5.0 out of 5 stars What are the most valuable insights with regard to the art and science of strategy formulation and execution?, May 25 2015
This is one of the volumes in a series published by McGraw-Hill Education and co-authored by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove. They wrote it in response to that question.

I really like the basic concept: Crainer and Dearlove selected a major business subject such as leadership and then asked, "Which cutting edge thinkers should we consult to share their thoughts about this?" They had already read many of their books and articles and even interviewed several of them. A generous selection of the most valuable material they obtained is provided in this volume. The first chapter is called, appropriately, "How We Got Here." That is, how perspectives on leadership have evolved over time.

* * *

Here is one of the Q&As from an interview of Roger Martin:

C&D: What is the big idea behind Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, written in collaboration with A.G. Lafley?

RM: The big idea is that you can make strategy very simple; it can be enjoyable to do and very effective, and so we wrote a book about what we did together to do that at Procter & Gamble [of which Lafley was then CEO].

Not many executives have a definition of strategy that's helpful to them. And so they do lots of analysis, put together very thick documents that sit on shelves, quite famously, and it's because they haven't made a few key choices. What we distilled it down to in our practice is five key choices. If you make those choices, you'll have a strategy. If you haven't made those choices, your strategy is probably not worth having.

[Note: The first of the five questions Martin then discusses is, "What is your winning aspiration?"]

* * *

Here is another Q&A, from their interview of David Bach:

C&DD: What is nonmarket strategy? Why is it important? And why is it important now?

DB: Nonmarket strategy is simply the idea that the business environment consists of more than just markets. There are other stakeholders who bear directly on a company's ability to create and defend competitive advantage: governments, regulators, nongovernmental organizations, the media, and so forth. We can call these nonmarket actors, and they become increasingly important in terms of the influence that they have on a company.

Just as a firm strategically manages its market environment and comes up with a plan for creating competitive advantage, it should do the same for the nonmarket environment.

* * *

Granted, these are snippets but they do give you at least a sample of the thoughtful and thought-provoking material that is presented throughout the book. Other contributors include Richard D'Aveni (Q&A), Gary Hamel, W. Chan Kim (Q&A with René Mauborgne), Rita McGrath, Michael Porter, C.K. Prahalad, Richard Rumelt, and Chris Zook.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the Thinkders50 volumes on innovation, management, future thinkers, and strategy. Also, Crainer's The Ultimate Business Library: The Greatest Books That Made Management, published by Captone/A Wiley Imprint, and The Management Century: One Hundred Years of Thinking and Practice, part of the J-B BAH Strategy & Business Series. I also greatly admire Dearlove's The Ultimate Book of Business Thinking: Harnessing the Power of the World's Greatest Business Ideas and Business the Richard Branson Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Brand Builder (Big Shots Series).

Thinkers 50 Leadership: Organizational Success through Leadership
Thinkers 50 Leadership: Organizational Success through Leadership
by Stuart Crainer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.95
43 used & new from CDN$ 1.31

5.0 out of 5 stars What is the cutting-edge thinking about how leadership can achieve and then sustain organizational success?, May 25 2015
This is one of the volumes in a series published by McGraw-Hill Education and co-authored by Stuant Crainer and Des Dearlove. They wrote it in response to that question.

I really like the basic concept: Crainer and Dearlove selected a major business subject such as leadership and then asked, "Which cutting edge thinkers should we consult to share their thoughts about this?" They had already read many of their books and articles and even interviewed several of them. A generous selection of the most valuable material they obtained is provided in this volume. The first chapter is called, appropriately, "How We Got Here." That is, how perspectives on leadership have evolved over time.

* * *

Here is one of the Q&As from an interview of Jim Collins:

C&D: What do you think will be the characteristics of the new generation of leaders?

JC: I think humility is a good start. I think we got to a point where people thought that if you wanted to be a leader, you had to be arrogant. No. First, leadership is about hope, leadership is about change, and leadership is about the future. And if you start with those three premises, I want leaders who are willing to listen because the future is not clear. People can tell you about the past because there's ertainty about the past. With the future, there's not much certainty, so you have to listen, and bring in multiple perspectives.

Let me use a metaphor. I look at good leaders like sheepdogs. Good sheepdogs have to follow three rules. Number one, you can bark a lot, but you don't bite. Number two, you hAve to be behind; you cannot be ahead of the sheep. Number three, you must know where to go, and you mustn't lose the sheep.

* * *

Here is another Q&A, from their interview of Gary Hamel:

C&D: What should organizations do to obtain the extraordinary leaders they need?

GH: One of the questions we have to ask is, is the problem finding or growing these extraordinary leaders? Or is it building organizations that can thrive even when they have fairly mediocre leaders?

I think it is much more the latter. If you look at any measure, democracies have outperformed totalitarian systems over the past 100 years.

When you look at the data, the thing that strikes you is that democracies are resilient and adaptable. In a democracy, power flows up and accountability flows down. In companies, it tends to be exactly the opposite. So it's not that we shouldn't strive to improve our leadership skills and capabilities, it's just that at the end of the day, I think that the notion that we're going to invest a lot of authority over strategy and direction in a small group of people at the top who are somehow superhuman is an entirely bankrupt notion.

* * *

Granted, these are snippets but they do give you at least a sample of the thoughtful and thought-provoking material that is presented throughout the book. Other thought leaders who contributed to this volume include John Adair, Warren Bennis (Q&A), Bennis and Robert Thomas (conversation), Peter Drucker, Syd Finkelstein, Stew Friedman, Rob Goffee (Q&A), Marshall Goldsmith, Herminia Ibarra, Gareth Jones, Barbara Kellerman, W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne, C.K. Prahalad, Kate Sweetman, and Chris Zook.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the Thinkers50 volumes on innovation, management, future thinkers, and strategy. Also, Crainer's The Ultimate Business Library: The Greatest Books That Made Management, published by Captone/A Wiley Imprint and The Management Century: One Hundred Years of Thinking and Practice, part of the J-B BAH Strategy & Business Series.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact
Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact
by Annette Simmons
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.06
35 used & new from CDN$ 19.87

5.0 out of 5 stars How to “lay the groundwork for using stories as credible tools” to “adjust the perceptions your stories build and sustain”, May 25 2015
Note: The review that follows is of the Second Edition of a book first published in 2000.

In my opinion, no one has a wider and deeper understanding of the art and science of storytelling – notably the business narrative -- than Annette Simmons does. She is convinced – and I agree – that almost anyone has a number of personal stories that they are unwilling and/or (more likely) they are unable to share with others. Her purpose in this book and her mission in life is to help as many people as possible to overcome their self-imposed barriers so that they can share what she characterizes as “meaningful stories" that touch the heart rather impersonal messages "dressed in bells and whistles" of lifeless rationality. As Simmons explains, "This book gives you new skills in story thinking that will complement your skills in fact thinking. Facts matter, but feelings interpret what your facts mean to your audience."

As I came upon those words when reading this book for the first time, I was again reminded of an observation by Maya Angelou: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The power of a personal story well-told is such that the audience could be one or two people or one or two thousand people.

Simmons focuses on six different types of personal stories. What they are and how to use them are best revealed within her narrative, on context. However, I now provide some information about one of them, "Teaching Stories." As she explains, "Certain lessons are best learned from experience and some lessons over and over again -- patience, for instance. You can tell someone to be patient, but it's rarely helpful. It is better to tell a story that creates a shared experience of patience alo0nt wi9th the rewards of patience. A three-minute story about patience may be short and punchy, but it will change behavior much better than advice. It is as close to modeling patience as you can get in three minutes." She explains the skills and process needed to think about, prepare, refine, and then share stories in all six categories.

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

o Significant Emotional Event Stories (Pages 12-14)
o Stories as Experience Reconstituted: Stories We Tell Every Day (21-29)
o Choose the Stories You Tell (Pages 26-29)
o Where Do I Find Stories? (37-40)
o Feedback (40-43)
o Brain Training (46-56)
o Don't Expect a Recipe to Make You a Chef (48-49)
o "Who I Am” Stories (59-66)
o "Why I am Here" Stories (67-79)
o Teaching Stories (81-92)
o Vision Stories (93-94)
o Book, Movie, or Current Event Stories (102-140)
o "Values-in-Action" Stories (105-121)
o "I Know What You Are Thinking" Stories (123-135)
o Sensory Experience (139-149)
o Brevity (151-159)
o BIG Stories (161-170)
o Points of View (171-176)
o Secrets of the Design-Thinking Process: Solution and Story Testing (191-195)

I agree with Simmons that every culture "is based on stories and metaphors that aggregate around that culture's preferential answers to universal but ambiguous human dilemmas like how to manage time, authority, safety money, ethics, and whatever else is important. If it is important to the culture, you will find a story that tells you what is important and why." With rare exception, the greatest leaders throughout history were great storytellers. They shared a vision and embodied values with which others could identity. Jesus and Mohammed expressed articles of faith almost entirely with parables and Abraham Lincoln was widely renowned (even by those who hated him) as a master "teller of tales."

Simmons observes, "The key to story thinking is to learn which stories stimulate your own feelings first. Then find the stories that also stimulate the feelings of others. The skills you develop by starting from the inside will help you learn the way stories create feelings that motivate us to action."

I was especially interested in reading the chapter Annette Simmons added, Chapter 16, "Borrowing Genius" (Pages 187-207). She begins this final chapter as follows: "Some of the brightest minds in their fields have aggressively applied storytelling principles, applications, and practices to their own goals with great effect. They now offer more practical insights, creative applications, and experiments than do many so-called storytelling experts. This chapter outlines some of their most innovative applications, along with ideas on how ton transplant them into your own practice of personal story telling."

The "secrets" were contributed from "fields” that include the design-thinking process, the nonprofit world, the legal field, and narrative medicine as swell as from digital storytelling, content marketing, and storytelling podcasts such as This American Life, The Moth, and Serial.

I urge everyone who reads this brief commentary of mine to obtain and then re-read (at least once) this second edition with appropriate care. Better yet, read and re-read it with a sense of delight. Absorb and digest the valuable information, insights, and counsel that are provided. Meanwhile, I presume to suggest that you highlight key passages and keep a notebook near at hand to record whatever touches your heart and stimulates your mind. Perhaps you will begin to feel that the book is reading you. (That's what I felt as I began to re-read it for the first time.) Let this book be a magic carpet, not to travel to distant lands and ancient times but, rather, to regions of your heart and mind where precious material resides, the material you will need to create and share your own personal stories.

As you begin your journey of personal discovery, I join with Annette Simmons to wish you a heartfelt "Bon voyage!"

Thinkers 50 Innovation: Breakthrough Thinking to Take Your Business to the Next Level
Thinkers 50 Innovation: Breakthrough Thinking to Take Your Business to the Next Level
by Stuart Crainer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.95
43 used & new from CDN$ 2.73

5.0 out of 5 stars How does an organization establish and/or strengthen a capability for discontinuous innovation?, May 19 2015
This is one of the volumes in a series published by McGraw-Hill Education and co-authored by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove. They wrote it in response to that question.

I really like the basic concept: Crainer and Dearlove selected a major business subject such as leadership and then asked, "Which cutting edge thinkers should we consult to share their thoughts about this?" They had already read their books and articles and even interviewed several of them. A generous selection of the most valuable material they obtained is provided in this volume. The first chapter is called, appropriately, "How We Got Here." That is, how perspectives on innovation have evolved over time.

Here is one of the Q&As from an interview of Clay Christensen:

C&D: What exactly is disruptive innovation?

CC: Disruptive innovation has a very specific meaning. It is not a breakthrough innovation that makes good products a lot better. It has a very specific definition, and that is that it transforms a product that historically was so expensive and complicated that only a few people with a lot of money and a lot of skill had access to it. A disruptive innovation makes the product so much more affordable and acceptable that a much larger population has access to it.

And so it creates new markets. But the technology leaders who made the complicated, expensive stuff find it very hard to move in the direction of the affordable and simple because that is so incompatible with their business model. And so it's almost a paradox within itself. But what it says is, if you are a little boy and want to kill a giant, the way you do it is by going after this kind of product, where the leader is actually motivated to walk away from you rather than engage you.

Here is another Q&A, from their interview of C.K. Prahalad:

C&D: What would be an example of co-creation?

CKP: Let's take Google. But if I look at Google, it does not tell me how to use the system. I can personalize my own page; I can create iGoogle. I decide what I want. Google is an experience platform. Google understands that it may have a hundred million consumers, but each one can do what he or she wants with its platform. That is an extreme case of personalized, co-created value. Our shorthand for it is "N=1."

On the other hand, Google does not produce the content at all. The content comes from a large number of people around the world -- institutions and individuals. Google aggregates it and makes it available to me. That is the spirit of co-creation, which says that even if you have a hundred million consumers, each consumer experience is different because it is co-created by that customer and the organization, in this case Google. So resources are not contained within the firm, but accessed from a wide variety of institutions; therefore, resources are global. Our shorthand for that is "R=G," because resources are now coming from more than one institution.

So, N+1 and R=G are going to be the pattern for the future.

***

Other thought leaders who contributed to this volume include Teresa Amabile, Henry Chesbrough, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Vijay Govindarajan (Q&A), Gary Hamel (Q&A), Ionnis Ioannou, Constantinos Markides (Q&A), Procter & Gamble, Berndt Schmitt (Q&A), and Don Tapscott (Q&A).

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the Thinkders50 volumes on management, leadership, future thinkers, and strategy. Also, Crainer's The Ultimate Business Library: The Greatest Books That Made Management, published by Captone/A Wiley Imprint, and The Management Century: One Hundred Years of Thinking and Practice, part of the J-B BAH Strategy & Business Series.

I also greatly admire Dearlove's The Ultimate Book of Business Thinking: Harnessing the Power of the World's Greatest Business Ideas and Business the Richard Branson Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Brand Builder (Big Shots Series).

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