Profile for Robert Morris > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Robert Morris
Top Reviewer Ranking: 6
Helpful Votes: 2097

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

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

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Fighting Over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution
Fighting Over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution
by Andrew M. Schocket
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 37.70
25 used & new from CDN$ 27.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Why "the American Revolution will take place in different ways depending on the medium in which it is depicted." Andrew Schocket, Feb. 26 2015
Officially, the Revolutionary War ended when the Treaty of Paris was signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783. However, as Andrew Schocket explains in this book, there have been disagreements -- sometimes severe disagreements -- about various issues. For example, "One of the debates for which we conscript the founders is whether the United States is a national of individuals or a national community. It comes up when we talk about guns, or health care, or speech, or the Internet and in many other arenas. Of course, we are both individuals and community members."

Schocket then observes, "Despite being a process more than two centuries ago, and memorialized everywhere, the American Revolution continues to be a subject of controversy. It's rarely the subject of open debate. But the way Americans show it, talk about it, and wrote about it reveals that we are deeply divided about the Revolution 's meaning."

These are among the subjects discussed in the book that are of greatest interest to me:

o Differing contemporary (i.e. Revolutionary era) perspectives on the Founding Fathers (so named by President Warren Harding)

o How the Revolutionary era has been portrayed in films (The Patriot and American Treasure), on television (the PBS series, "John Adams" and "Adams Chronicles" as well as "Liberty's Kids"), and in textbooks such as Cleon Skousen's "The Making of America"

o Appropriation of Founding Fathers to serve political purposes in recent years (e.g. what Evan Thomas characterizes as "Founders chic")

o Differences of opinion between and among authors of books about the Founding Fathers and their era, including (in alpha order) W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Ron Chernow, Francis Cogliano, Joseph Ellis, Walter Isaacson, Alex Kulikof, Jesse Lemisch, David McCullough, Gregory Nobles, Cokie Roberts, and aforementioned Evan Thomas

o The evolution of attention to and discussion of Thomas Jefferson's relationship with Sally Heming

o Differing opinions about the career, character, and significance of (in alpha order) Sam Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton

o The defining core values of essentialism

o The defining core values of organicism

o Differing views and definitions of "freedom" since the Declaration of Independence

o Recent appropriation of Founding Fathers, Declaration, and War to serve political purposes by Presidents Reagan, Clinton, G.H. Bush, and Obama as well as by Tea Party and Hillary Clinton (e.g. her call for an "Energy Declaration of Independence")

The "fog of war" makes it difficult (if not impossible) for combatants to see more than the circumstances in which they are involved. Schocket invokes another metaphor: "considering how historians have interpreted the Revolution, and how I encounter it, I realized that I was looking through the haze of my own perceptions and view of the world. So, too, were other historians. So, too, are we all. And the more I thought about it, the haze is not even natural; it's more like the 'smoke' from a dry ice machine -- in other words, a haze largely of our own making. This book attempts to clear the air, if only a little."

In fact, Andrew Schocket shares a great deal of light on areas in which there had either been shadows or the "haze" to which he refers. He possesses the skills of a world-class raconteur while sharing a wealth of historical information and insights about one of the most important eras in human history. Bravo!

The Attacker's Advantage: Turning Uncertainty into Breakthrough Opportunities
The Attacker's Advantage: Turning Uncertainty into Breakthrough Opportunities
by Ram Charan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
31 used & new from CDN$ 15.21

5.0 out of 5 stars This is the most valuable contribution to business thought leadership that Ram Charan has made…thus far., Feb. 25 2015
I have read and reviewed all of the books that Ram Charan has written or co-written and am convinced that The Attacker’s Advantage is the most valuable...thus far. Why? Because the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that he provides can be of substantial assistance to almost anyone, at any level and in any area of the given enterprise, to improve their leadership and management skills. The title of the book refers to "the world of large-scale [i.e. high-impact] entrepreneurs who create [or recognize] a new need, scale it up quickly, and put a bend in the road for traditional players...The attacker's advantage is the ability to detect ahead of others those forces that are radically reshaping your marketplace, then position your business to make the next move first."

Those who read and then re-read) this book with appropriate care will accelerate their development of five essential capabilities:

1. Perceptual acuity
2. A mindset to see opportunity in uncertainty.
3. The ability to see as new path forward and commit to it.
4. Adeptness in managing the transition to the next path.
5. Skill in making the organization steerable and agile.

Each of these is an important WHAT that countless other business thinkers have already identified. Charan explains HOW while in process revealing the WHY.

Consider, for example, the importance of anomalies. Years ago, Isaac Asimov observed, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but 'That's odd....'” Charan has a great deal of value to say about the importance of anomalies (on Pages 50-57) when suggesting “what to watch for.” Any fool can connect dots. Those whom Charan characterizes as “catalysts” know which dots to connect, to be sure, but of much greater importance, they recognize and grasp the significance of potentialities and implications such as causal relationships. Catalysts constantly practice the skill of “sorting, sifting, and selecting what matters from the vast and changing external landscape.”

Once again as he does in so many of his previously published works, he makes brilliant use of reader-friendly devices such as a checklist of Takeaways for each of the four Parts. They serve as study guide questions. Another section, "IN THE NEXT CHAPTER...," concludes each chapter, offering a head's up to key material in the next chapter. And also, real-world exempla that include companies such as Tata Communication, LEGO Group, Kaiser Permanente, and Merck as well as executives that include (in alpha order) Marc Andreessen, Tim Berners-Lee, Larry Fink, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Ruben Mettler, Ralph Nader, Hal Sperlich, and Steve Schwarzman. As Charan carefully indicates, there are valuable lessons to be learned from all of them. It is also true that the reader-friendly devices will help to facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the most important material later.

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

o The Essentials of Leading in Uncertainty (Pages 5-10)
o Redefining an Industrial Icon: GE (23-26)
o Five Examples of Catalysts (41-47)
o Seek Contrary Viewpoints (61-63)
o Be a Voracious Reader (71-73)
o Consumers Hold the Key (89-94)
o Removing the Blockages to a Path of Uncertainty (103-112)
o Benefits of the Joint Practice Session (133-137)
o The Joint Practice Session: Transparency and Coordination (131-133)
o A JPS (Joint Practice Session) in Financial Services (139-145)
o Identifying [Critical] Decision Nodes (157-161)
o Assigning the Leaders of Critical Nodes (161-164)
o Monitoring How the Nodes Are Working (166-172)
o Setting Short-Term Milestones (174-179)
o Keep Others with You (191-194)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the quality and value of the material that Ram Charan provides in this, his latest and as indicated, what I consider to be his most important work...thus far. I agree with him that "taking control of uncertainty is the fundamental leadership challenge of our time." It is worth noting that the original meaning of the Chinese character for "crisis," formulated centuries ago, is both "peril" and "opportunity." Now and in months to come, uncertainty is certain to pose even greater challenges to leaders in all organizations, whatever their size and nature may be. Hence the importance of gaining and sustaining the attacker's advantage. I urge those in organizations that now lack such an advantage to read and then re-read this book. Also, check out the resources at ram-charan.com, especially the key capabilities assessment.

Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most
Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most
by Hendrie Weisinger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.45
31 used & new from CDN$ 17.97

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why pressure can be “the enemy of success: It undermines performance and helps us fail”, Feb. 24 2015
Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry are well-qualified to answer a question that many of us ask at one time or another: “How can I do my best when it matters most?” For more than twenty years, they have been accumulating information about how people experience pressure. Their research has been conducted all over the world via workshops, seminars, business school presentations, clinical therapy, coaching sessions, and consulting relationships and activities with all many of organizations. “Each of the twelve thousand people we studied was assessed by anywhere from six to fourteen people, so in total we had more than one hundred thousand people assess the twelve thousand subjects. We identified the top 10 percent on their manager’s performance ratings from all who assessed them.” Insofar as how people experience pressure is concerned, this book examines what works, what doesn’t and why.

As the title of my review suggests, pressure can deplete our behavioral skills. In severely stressful situations, most people per form well below their capability. Alas, pressure can be “camouflaged” as it increases inconspicuously and, in my opinion, the stress that many (most?) people feel today is greater than at any prior time that I can remember. Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry wrote this book in order to share what they have learned about how almost anyone can do their best when it matters most.

I presume to add a few brief thoughts of my own. First, stress has dozens of sources and its impact can be either positive or negative, depending on the given circumstances. For example, deadlines can create stress but sometimes they are necessary to ensure that work is completed in a timely manner. Also, it is important to differentiate what is important from what seems to be (but often isn't) urgent. This is one of Stephen Covey's most important points in his classic, The 7 Habits of Effective People. Finally, there are direct - and significant - correlations between and among physical, mental, and emotional health. All three require sufficient nourishment, including restoration of energy. In other words, pressure can have either a beneficial or detrimental impact on one's attitude and efforts, indeed on one's health.

Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry organize and present their information, insights, and counsel within three Parts. First, they provide an understanding of the nature and science of pressure. They examine the most significant differences between pressure and stress, for example, and explain how pressure can frequently be self-imposed. Next, they suggest a number of ways by which to avoid or diminish severe, self-defeating pressure with regulation, redirection, and release of flow. Solutions include "befriending the pressure moment" by thinking of it as a challenge or opportunity rather than as a threat or peril. Finally, they introduce their concept of COTE (i.e. Confidence, Enthusiasm, Optimism, and Tenacity) and explain how to build and then preserve a "COTE of Armor," one that consists of internal pressure management techniques, skills, tools, and other resources.

Also, of new habits of thinking and of behavior. In this context, I am again reminded of Aristotle's observation, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry are convinced -- and I wholly agree -- that pressure moments often occur unexpectedly, catching us off-guard. They require an effective response and those who possess a "COTE of Armor" will be well-prepared to do so.

"Bottom line, the more you do the activities we discuss, and the more support you have to incorporate these attributes into your behavior and life, the more likely it is that you will develop the natural protection against high-pressure situations that these attributes confer." Either manage pressure or be managed by it.

The Resiliency Revolution: Your Stress Solution for Life 60 Seconds at a Time
The Resiliency Revolution: Your Stress Solution for Life 60 Seconds at a Time
by Jenny C. Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.13
20 used & new from CDN$ 14.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Here is a cohesive and comprehensive program to accelerate personal growth and professional development, Feb. 19 2015
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of the question to which Caroline Arnold responds in Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently: "Why is it so difficult to keep commitments, to follow through on resolutions, to make the changes that we know will achieve our personal growth and professional development?" I am among those who have helped to pave the road to hell so I was especially interested in what she has to say. Years ago, after numerous struggles and frustrations, Arnold tried something different: "I assigned myself a small but meaningful behavioral change -- a [begin italics] microresolution [end italics] -- and I succeeded in changing myself immediately. Yet it was only after succeeding at several microresolutions modeled on the first that I realized I had stumbled onto a method for making targeted mini-commitments that succeeded virtually every time." She had established a new pattern of behavior, a habit. This is precisely what Aristotle has in mind when observing, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

Jenny Evans recommends a similar approach to coping with stress: "60 seconds at a time." I cannot recall a prior time when there was more -- and more severe -- stress than there is today in all areas of our lives. What to do? Ac cording to Evans, "If the stress in your life will continue to in crease [and it probably will], your only option is to train to recover from it more quickly and efficiently and to raise your threshold for it. [begin italics] You've got to build your resiliency [end italics]. In order to be the leader you want to be, the significant other you want to be, the parent you want to be, and the best version of yourself -- in the face of your mounting stress -- you've got to be diligent about how your habits and routines affect your performance." To repeat Aristotle's observation, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

Evans has written this book to explain how to replace bad habits that are self-defeating defeating and counterproductive with good habits with good habits that can help to accelerate personal growth and professional development. Moreover, much (if not most) of the information, insights, and counsel she provides can help supervisors to assist with the personal growth and professional development of those for whom they are directly responsible.

When concluding her book, Jenny Evans reiterates the importance of resiliency training (see Pages 70-76 and 309-310) because "it is something you do for the rest of your life, and I mean this in two ways: It's something you do on a regular basis, and it's for the benefit of the rest of your days." I presume to add a few brief thoughts of my own. First, stress has dozens of sources and its impact can be either positive or negative, depending on the given circumstances. For example, deadlines can create stress but sometimes they are necessary to ensure that work is completed in a timely manner. Also, it is important to differentiate what is important from what seems to be (but often isn't) urgent. This is one of Stephen Covey's most important points in his classic, The 7 Habits of Effective People. Finally, there are direct - and significant - correlations between and among physical, mental, and emotional health. All three require sufficient nourishment, including restoration of energy.

Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court
Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court
by Damon Root
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.46
31 used & new from CDN$ 19.55

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant analysis of "two compelling visions" of "what the role of the government and the courts should play in our society", Feb. 18 2015
For non-attorneys such as I who have a keen interest in the interdependence of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government throughout U.S. history, Damon Root’s focus is on one very important dimension of the Court: the philosophy of judicial restraint or deference to Congressional policy, in contrast with judicial activism. Two key mindsets are those of Libertarians ("minimum government, maximum freedom") and Conservatives (strict compliance with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Articles of faith are based on principles within the process of jurisprudence and opinions are divided -- sometimes sharply divided – about which are more worthy, and, in some instances, the most significant disagreements are ultimately resolved by the Supreme Court.

Officially, the Revolutionary War ended when the Treaty of Paris was signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on 3 September 1783. However, as Andrew Schocket explains in his recently published book, Fighting over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution, there have been disagreements -- sometimes severe disagreements -- about various issues. For example, "One of the debates for which we conscript the founders is whether the United States is a national of individuals or a national community. It comes up when we talk about guns, or health care, or speech, or the Internet and in many other arenas. Of course, we are both individuals and community members." If a new nation remains a work in progress, can the same be said of its constitution with amendments? Must a civil war be fought to preserve the union? In that event, why were so many men and all women denied the right to vote until well into the twentieth century?

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

o The Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment (Pages 26-30)
o Expanding Liberty's Reach (35-38)
o Liberty of Contract (45-48)
o Progressive Democracy (50-54)
o In Restraint of Liberty (54-57)
o "Bold, Persistent Experimentation" (62-65)
o The New Deal Revolution (73-76)
o Footnote Four (80-86)
o "An Extreme Individualistic Philosophy" (99-101)
o The Big Tent (106-110)
o "Judicial Responsibility" (123-125)
o "The Necessity of Judicial Action" (141-144)
o "Sympathetic Clients, Outrageous Facts, Evil Villains" (144-150)
o Two Libertarians Walk Into a Bar" (171-174)
o "There Is a Role for Judicial Review" (185-187)
o "Conservatives Versus Libertarians"(q195-196
o History Matters (196-199)
o "We Start with First Principles" (212-214)
o "It Is Not Our Job" (235-236)

Obviously, there are ascending levels at which the process of jurisprudence can be conducted, with provision for appeal prior to the highest level at which some decisions – but not a majority -- have been over-ruled. The long war to which the subtitle of Damon Root’s brilliant book refers correctly suggests that, since 1789 when the Supreme Court of the United States was established pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, there has been waged an unending “war” for control of the Court.

I agree with Hon. Andrew P. Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst, Fox News Channel, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Constitutional Jurisprudence, Brooklyn Law School: “Damon Root, whom I have had the pleasure of interrogating on television, understands the concept of personal liberty in a free society better than many members of the legal profession; and he knows, too, that the Constitution was written by men who properly feared the numerous insidious ways that government assaults our natural rights. In Overruled, he shares his knowledge and uncanny ability to explain liberty lost with his readers. This book is nothing short of a lucid and brilliantly crafted history of the Framers’ fears coming to pass at the hands of a judiciary faithless to first principles. Read it today so you can anticipate and understand the judicial contortions coming tomorrow.” With the historical background and thematic context that this book provides, I do indeed feel much better prepared to absorb, digest, and evaluate what occurs in the Supreme Court of the United State as this nation proceeds into a future more uncertain than any before that I can recall.

The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity
The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity
by Kory Kogon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
30 used & new from CDN$ 20.04

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." -- Peter Drucker, Feb. 17 2015
I cannot recall a prior time when it was more difficult than it is today for executives to respond effectively to challenges (i.e. the "5 Choices") such as those that Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne examine in this book:

1. Act on what is important rather than react to what seems (but may not be) urgent
2. Go for the extraordinary results rather than settle for mediocrity
3. Allocate resources (especially time) to major rather than minor initiatives
4. Control technology rather than be controlled by it
5. Nourish your "fire" rather than become burned out

These admonitions are similar to those that Stephen Covey advocates in The 7 Habits of Effective People (1989):

1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win-Win
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the Saw

Obviously, no list of key points -- however worthy each may be -- has any value unless and until there is sufficient commitment to achieving the given goals, and, sufficient resources (including talent, skills, and experience as well as funds) to do so.

Here is an especially interesting passage in Caroline Arnold's recently published book, Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently, she recalls a turning point during her struggles to keep commitments. Years ago, after numerous struggles and frustrations, she tried something different: "I assigned myself a small but meaningful behavioral change - a [begin italics] microresolution [end italics] - and I succeeded in changing myself immediately. Yet it was only after succeeding at several microresolutions modeled on the first that I realized I had stumbled onto a method for making targeted mini-commitments that succeeded virtually every time." She had established a new pattern of behavior, a habit. This is precisely what Aristotle has in mind when observing, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

I agree with Kogon, Merrill, and Rinne that "everyone has the capability to do extraordinary work. Everyone has the potential to go to bed at the end of each day feeling satisfied and accomplished." Alas, many (most?) don't, not because they can't but because certain habitual habits inevitably result in failure. Invert the key issue in each of the 5 Choices and these habits are revealed: a focus on what seems to be urgent rather than on what is really important, being satisfied with mediocrity, wasting resources (e.g. time and energy) that are needed elsewhere, being controlled by technology (e.g. mails and text messages), and (in Jackson Browne's words) "running on empty."

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

o How Well Are You Using Your Brain? (Pages 26-29)
o How to Create Your Own Q2 Culture (51-53)
o Why Go for Extraordinary? (65-66)
o Creating Balance Among Your Roles (83-84)
o The Power of Purpose (87)
o The Big Rocks and the Gravel (94-95)
o Technology: Your Drug of Choice? (114-117)
o A Digital System (122-126)
o The 3 Master Moves (131-132)
o Master Move #1: Win Without Fighting, and, Optimizing This Move (132-138)
o Master Move #2: Turn It into What It Is, and, Optimizing This Move (139-146)
o Master Move #3: Link to Locate, and, Optimizing This Move (146-150)
o Five Drivers of Mental and Physical Energy (165-168)
o Keeping Calm When the Heat Is On (188-192)
o How to Install the 5 Choices in Your Culture (221-222)
o FranklinCovey's Time Matrix(tm) (231-233)

I commend Kogon, Merrill, and Rinne on their skillful use of several reader-friendly devices (in Chapters 1-5) that include "Simple Ways to Get Started" exercises to apply material covered in the given chapter and "To Sum Up" reviews of key points. These and other devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the material that is of greatest interest and value to each reader.

Obviously, a brief commentary such as mine cannot possibly do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne provide. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of this book. The nature and extent of improvement of productivity achieved will ultimately depend, however, on how effectively the material in this book is applied.

The Mighty Dead
The Mighty Dead
by Adam Nicolson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 20.66

5.0 out of 5 stars "We don't read great books. They read us." George Steiner, Feb. 13 2015
This review is from: The Mighty Dead (Hardcover)
Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, Shakespeare, Dante, and other great authors matter because their great works serve as magic carpets that transport us back in time to the plains of ancient Troy or the royal palace in Thebes, of course, but also enable us to embark on our own journey of self-discovery. This is what Adam Nicolson has in mind when citing a passage from one of George Seferis' poems and what he had said about man's relationship to the past. "'The poem is everywhere," he wrote. Our own imaginative life

sometimes travels beside it
Like a dolphin keeping company for a while
With a golden sloop in the sunlight, then vanishing again.'

'This glowing, if passing, connection is also what this book is about, the moment when the dolphin is alongside you, unsummoned and as transient, as Seferis also said,

'as the wings of the wind moved by the wind.'"

Great works can indeed nourish our imaginative life. They have certainly nourished mine. Aided by several years of studying the Greek language in college, with the invaluable assistance 0f a Greek/English dictionary provided by Oxford University, I managed to work my way through Homer's Iliad and about half of his Odyssey. That was years ago. During a recent holiday break, I re-read Robert Fagles' translations of the Iliad and Odyssey, each accompanied by an introduction by one of my graduate school professors, Bernard Knox. Homer really does matter to me, perhaps for reasons that differ (at least somewhat) from those that Nicolson has.

His book is a joy to read. He invites his reader to climb aboard a magic carpet so that he can accompany Nicolson on a shared journey through a dozen lively and eloquent encounters various dimensions of Homer's own imaginative life. Consider these brief excerpts that are (albeit taken out of context) representative of the thrust and flavor of Nicolson's perspectives:

o On Odysseus: "He is no victim. He suffers, but he does not buckle. His virtue is his elasticity, his rubber vigor. If he is pushed, he bends, but he bends back, and that half-giving strength was to me a beautiful model fo0r a man." (Page 9)

o On Glaucus for whom "all life goes back into the earth and returns again. Earth's abundance and indifference are the same thing. But this resolved simplicity in the face of death, a philosophical calm and a knowledge that the armies of men gathered on the Trojan plain are 'as many as the leaves and flowers that appear in the spring' -- that is not the usual Homeric attitude...impermanence is life's central sorrow and the source of its most lasting pain." (101)

o With Hector's death "the city's fabric is irreparably torn. Hector's mother casts aside her 'shining veil.' [His wife Andromache] is weaving a cloth in the inner room of her high house...[and later] sees Hector's body dragged around the city walls, his head in the dirt, Achilles triumphant. She collapses, 'grasping the life breath out of her,' while the woven things fall from her...The woven and the severed; the heart of Homer's meaning." (202-203)

o On Odyssey again, "an unblinking fraud who in the passing of a smile will slip from deceit to the defense of honor and back again. At his most soothingly and persuasively elegant, his words fall 'like winter snowflakes.' But he is no weakling...dapple skilled, with so much woven into him that he shimmers and flickers like an embroidered cloth." (224)

This is one of few books I have read in recent years that, as I approached the last chapter, I felt a sense of imminent sadness that this "magic carpet journey of mine" would soon end. As for Adam Nicolson's concluding remarks, he suggests that Homer provides no answers. "Do we surrender to authority? Do we abase ourselves? Do we nurture civility? Do we nourish violence? Do we love? Homer says nothing in reply to those questions; he merely dramatizes their reality. The air he breathes is the complexity of life, the bubbling vitality of a boat at sea, the resurgent energy, as he repeatedly says, of the bright wake starting to gleam behind you."

A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It's Everyone's Business
A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It's Everyone's Business
by Adam Morgan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.55
25 used & new from CDN$ 20.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Here is the central paradox of a constraint: it can be both a limitation and an inspiration." Pablo Picasso, Feb. 13 2015
As I began to read this immensely entertaining as well as informative book, I was also reminded of an observation by another icon of disruptive creativity, Igor Stravinsky: "The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution."

I agree with Adam Morgan and Mark Barden that a constraint is a limitation, "imposed by outside circumstances or by ourselves, that materially affects our ability to do something. Constraints fall into four different groups: constraints of foundation (where we are limited in something that is usually seen as a foundational element for success); constraints of resource (where we are limited in an important resource, such as money or people); constraints of time (where we are limited in the amount of time we have to do something); and constraints of method (where we are limited by having to do something in a certain way." As with beauty, viewing a constraint as a limitation or as an inspiration is usually in the eye of the beholder.
Morgan and Barden view it as both. In fact, they think a constraint can be "beautiful" when "it is an opportunity, not a punitive restriction, and using it as a stimulus to see a new or better way of achieving the given ambition, objective, goal, destination, etc.

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

o The learning journey: Five groups for whom constraint means more (Pages 8-11)
o Progressing through the stages of the journey (20-24)
o Transformers and their culture (26-28)
o Table 1: The strategies and in response to constraints (32)
o Today's path is really yesterday's path (37-38)
o How does one overcome path dependence? (47-52)
o The value of paradoxical frames (64)
o Starting to use propelling questions: the different families of constraint and ambition (65-68)
o The Four Sources of Unreasonableness (72)
o Failing Forward (84-86)
o The different types of can-if (87-97)
o Seeing potential sources of resource around us (106-109)
o The value of emotional engagement (126-127)
o When a strong emotion meets a propelling question (132-135)
o The power of positive and negative together (136-139)
o The zero constraint (149-156)
o Commercial innovation, and, The benefits of zero (163-166)
o From victim to transformer: Nike's journey (177-182)
o Constraints and healthy cultures (191-192)
o Scarcity vs. Abundance: Examining the arguments (196-203)
o Why inventiveness is as important as innovation (209-213)
o Leadership and constraints (227-230)

I commend Morgan and Barden on their brilliant use of various reader-friendly devices that include a "This Chapter Focuses on..." section at the beginning and an end-of-chapter "Summary" (Chapters 1-11), strategic use of bold face to highlight key points, dozens of Figures and Tables, relevant quotations from a variety of sources, and bullet-point checklists. These and other devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later. I also commend those, especially Helen Redstone, who gave this volume its superior production values. Bravo!

Long ago, Henry Ford suggested, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right." It is indeed true that one's attitude can be a major factor when determining the success or failure of an initiative. However, Adam Morgan and Mark Barden offer a wealth of information, insights, and counsel that explain how and why almost anyone can transform limitations into advantages. In fact, more often than not, working within constraints -- be they constraints of foundation, resource, time and/or method -- increases the chances of a breakthrough achievement, whatever its nature and extent may be.

One final point worth sharing: Presumably Adam Morgan and Mark Barden agree with Tom and David Kelley, Chip and Dan Heath, Keith Sawyer, and Michael Ray as well as Picasso, Stravinsky, and countless others: if our objective is to think more creatively, more innovatively, then [begin italics] we must think differently about how we think [end italics]. Most human limitations are self-imposed. (How many people have you known who are convinced that "the dog" ate their lives? They probably have more "crutches" than does the International Red Cross.) Think of this book as a passport to personal growth and professional development. Find a new path, chart a new course, and let your journey of discovery begin!

Seven Disciplines of A Leader
Seven Disciplines of A Leader
by Jeff Wolf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 34.00
29 used & new from CDN$ 18.02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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