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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

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The Star Factor: Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently - and Inspire a New Level of Greatness in All
The Star Factor: Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently - and Inspire a New Level of Greatness in All
by William Seidman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.50
26 used & new from CDN$ 14.24

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why to adopt and adapt an Affirmative Leadership Program, Dec 3 2013
As William Seidman and Richard Grbavac explain in the Introduction, they organized the material in this book as follows: Chapters 1-8 explain how to develop an Affirmative Leadership program in any organization, whatever its size and nature may be; Chapters 9-11 provide mini-case studies of programs (i.e. Comptech, DigiAd, LocalPower, and FlexChip) for C-level executives, first-line managers, and individual contributors; the final chapter "is about the bottom line in two sense: the impact of Affirmative Leadership programs on attitudes and behaviors as well as on the financial results they produce.

Affirmative Leadership is best understood as a matrix of multidimensional synergies between and among four separate but related sciences: Positive Deviance, Fair Process, Neuroscience, and Mass Customization. "It gives organizations both a model for leadership that is particularly effective in the real world of uncertainty and speed as well as a methodology for developing more and better leaders." All organizations need effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. If for whatever reasons those who read this book decide that Affirmative Leadership is not for them, fine. However, the fact remains that every organization needs a model and methodology that are cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective.

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

o The Affirmative Leadership Methodology (Pages 6-9)
o Your Stars (18-21)
o Unconscious Competence, and, Engaging Stars (24-28)
o Path to Mastery -- The Big Steps (35-40)
o Learning Experiences (43-46)
o Converting Raw Experiences Into Effective Learning Tasks 50-57)
o Measuring Success (57-59)
o The Neuroscience of Learning (70-73)
o Building Motivation Through Collective Purpose (77-84)
o Principles: Defining Greatness in the First Big Step (89-92)
o Working On Each Big Step (119-122)
o Basic Scaling Infrastructure (133-136)
o Affirmative Leadership and Self-Directed Learning (100-105)
o Step-by-Step Building Scalable Infrastructure, and, Extraordinary Scaling (142-148)
o Wisdom Discovery (174-185)
o An Exemplary Culture (214-219)

Let's conclude by examining the claims in its final paragraph:

"We say the Affirmative Leadership approach efficiently and with surprisingly little effort from participants creates a culture in which every person aspires to and achieves greatness."

Those organizations in greatest need of what William Seidman and Richard Grbavac offer in this uniquely valuable book will need far more involvement and engagement by their people than "surprisingly little effort" will produce. It is naive to believe otherwise.

"Everyone becomes as good as their very best."

Most CEOs would settle for "almost everyone" and presumably they would expect continuous improvement as the Affirmative Leadership program (or another of comparable quality) is itself strengthened over time.

" When everyone in an organization in an organization becomes an Affirmative Leader, the synergy and energy create an extraordinarily exciting and productive culture of greatness."

No doubt but sustaining greatness, for individuals as well as for organizations, is a far greater challenge than is achieving it. Those who read this book would be well-advised to keep two observations in mind. First, from Marshall Goldsmith: "What got you here won't get you there." And then from Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Happiness: A New Perspective
Happiness: A New Perspective
by James Hadley
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.91
9 used & new from CDN$ 9.90

5.0 out of 5 stars A sound and sensible discussion of happiness on the other side of complexity, Dec 3 2013
This review is from: Happiness: A New Perspective (Paperback)
Totaling 73 pages plus notes, this is a booklet rather than a book, one in which James Hadley shares his thoughts and feelings about a subject that has intrigued and confounded human beings for several thousand years. Early on, he explains that the material is based on four premises that differentiate his perspective from other sources of information, insights, and advice. Essentially, he offers suggestions that are practical (i.e. doable) and based on scientific evidence.

These are among the subjects and issues that he addresses:

o The obstacles to greater happiness
o How to avoid or overcome them
o How to replace a self-defeating perspective with one that is self-fulfilling
o Workplace challenges and opportunities
o How to replace negative relationships with positive relationships
Note: I agree with Hadley that one's attitude toward relationships is a key factor.
o Gender-specific tendencies that help to explain certain behaviors
o How to find meaning and significance
o How they can nourish others as well as one's self

Hadley duly acknowledges that the scientific study of happiness is relatively recent and by no means definitive. That said, now offers more than 37,000 books on the general subject as the scope and depth of reflection and research rapidly increase. Throughout his lively and substantive narrative, Hadley stresses the importance of taking ownership of one's quest for greater happiness, and, for defining one's "life meaning." These are essential to the ultimate success of the quest, best viewed as a challenging process, by which to become comfortable living in your own body.

In the Appendix, James Hadley provides an excellent briefing on "The Science of Happiness." I agree with the words of caution with which he concludes: "...while it is reasonable to try the recommendations of existing studies, the limitations of the evidence should make us both wary of placing too much reliance on their advice e and also give us more confidence in challenging findings with which our personal experience conflicts."

Those who seek more comprehensive sources are urged to check out these three: Tal Ben-Shahar's The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life as well as Jessica Pryce-Jones' Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success, and Shawn Achor's The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
by Jocelyn K. Glei
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.04
31 used & new from CDN$ 6.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important." Stephen Covey, Nov. 26 2013
Jocelyn Glei edited this volume to which she and 20 others contributed their "insights on making things happen," as did Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance, who also wrote the Foreword, "Retooling for a New Era of Work." In fact, this is one of the first volumes in the 99U Box Series published by Amazon. Visit the 99U by Behance website and you will encounter this brief explanation: "For too long, the creative world has focused on idea generation at the expense of idea execution. As the legendary inventor Thomas Edison famously said, 'Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.' To truly make great ideas a reality, we must act, experiment, fail, adapt, and learn on a daily basis. 99U is Behance's effort to provide this "missing curriculum" for making ideas happen. Through our Webby Award-winning website, popular events, and bestselling books, we share pragmatic, action-oriented insights from leading researchers and visionary creatives. At 99U, we don't want to give you more ideas--we want to empower you to make good on the ones you've got."

The brief but insightful essays are divided within four sections: Building a Rock-Solid Routine, Finding [and Sustaining] Focus in a Distracted World, Taming Your Tools, and Sharpening Your Creative Mind, followed by a Coda in which Steven Pressfield responds to this question: "How Pro Can You Go?" Each of the four sections includes a Q&A:

o Seth Godin on Honing Your Creative Practice
o Dan Ariely on Understanding Our Compulsions
o Tiffany Shlain on Reconsidering Constant Connectivity
o Stefan Sagmeister on Tricking Your Brain into Creativity

These are among the dozens of explanations special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of the book's coverage. The prefix for each is "How to..."

Lay the Groundwork for an Effective Routine, Mark McGuinness (25-29)
Make Room for Solitude, Leo Babauta (59-62)
Banish Multitasking from Our Repertoire, Christian Jarrett (81-85)
Learn to Create Amidst Chaos, Erin Rooney Doland (99-104)
Use Social Media Mindfully, Lori Deschene (133-138
Reclaim Our Self-Respect, James Victore (161-164)
Training Your Mind to Be Ready for Insight, Scott McDowell (183-189)
Let Go of Perfectionism, Elizabeth Grace Saunders (203-209)

With regard to the reference to "a new era of work," Belsky explains: "The biggest problem we face today is 'reactionary workflow.' We have started to live a life pecking away at the many inboxes around us, trying to stay afloat by responding and reacting to the latest thing: e-mails, text messages, tweets, and so on...I urge you to build a better routine by stepping outside of it, find [or recover] your focus by rising above the constant cacophony, and sharpen your creative prowess by analyzing what really matters most when it comes to making your ideas happen."

In other words, "a new era of work" is there for the taking but it will not be given. It must be seized.

Innovating Analytics: How the Next Generation of Net Promoter Can Increase Sales and Drive Business Results
Innovating Analytics: How the Next Generation of Net Promoter Can Increase Sales and Drive Business Results
by Larry Freed
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
30 used & new from CDN$ 16.36

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the best innovations in customer experience analytics can create a decisive competitive advantage, Nov. 26 2013
As Larry Freed explains, "I introduce a powerful new metric we developed at ForeSee called Word-of-Mouth Index (WoMI), which incorporates and builds on a widespread metric of customer loyalty and customer satisfaction called Net Promoter Score (NPS). [Introduced by Fred Reichheld,] NPS has many strengths but just as many weaknesses and has outlived its usefulness as a metric. This book is also about the need for a comprehensive customer experience measurement ecosystem in addition to WoMI to accurately assess and improve the other elements of customer experience."

My own opinion is that many (most?) smaller businesses do not use any metric - much less a system - to measure customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. I also think that, for many of those companies, NTS will be sufficient to their needs. That said, WoMI does seem to offer more, as Freed explains within his narrative, but as noted, he also recommends "a comprehensive customer experience measurement ecosystem in addition to WoMI" and devotes an entire chapter, Chapter 7, to explaining what one would be and do.

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

o Accelerated Darwinism (Pages 10-13)
o Net Promoter Score (NPS): Flaws (21-31)
o Word of Mouth Index (WOMI) Overview (33-51)
o Four Drivers of Business Success (53-56)
o Mini-Interview: Stephanie Bottner(71-72)
o Measuring the Customer Experience at the Brand Level (81-87)
o Mini-Interview: Josh Chapman, (93-95)
o Eric Feinberg: Mobile Context, Location, and Intent (105-106)
o Voice of Customer Measurement (118-120)
o Mini-Interview: Mario Castrano, Nikon Inc. (121)
o Best Customer Experience Practices: Amazon, Zappos, Panera, and Eddie Bauer (123-139)
o The World of Big Data, (162-164)
o The Trap of Big Data (168-170)
o Afterword: Measuring Customer Experience (172-172)

Freed also provides valuable supplementary resources in five indices, Pages 173-174. For example, he identifies and then discusses "Eleven Common Measurement Mistakes" in Appendix C, developing in somewhat greater depth previously cited comparisons and contrasts of WOMI and NPS.

Of special interest to me are the reader-friendly devices that Freed uses with uncommon skill. They include various illustrations (e.g. Figure 4.3 "Benchmarking with NPS and WoMI"), checklists of key points or stages of a sequence, and best of all, mini-interviews of real people who discuss real issues in their own business situations. For example, Jason Faria (ideeli), Stephanie Bottner (Pear Tree Greetings), and Mario Castano (Nikon, Inc.) who discuss their experiences with both NTS and WoMI.

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the nature and extent of information, insights, and counsel that Larry Freed provides in abundance. However, I hope I have given at least some indication of why I hold his book in high regard.

High-Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout
High-Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Why burnout is not an individual problem, it's an organizational and cultural problem...and what to do about it, Nov. 20 2013
I agree with Sherrie Bourg Carter that there are specific approaches that an individual can take to cope with stress in one or more areas of one's life. I also agree that there is much to be learned from superachievers about how to avoid burnout. So there are two separate but related challenges: How to avoid burnout? and How to recover from it? In both instances, the workplace plays an especially important role, for better or worse.

Those who have seen a performance of David Mamet's play, Glengarry Glen Ross, or have seen the film based on it, no doubt recall an early scene when Blake (played by brilliantly Alec Baldwin) delivers a bone-chilling, threat-filled challenge to salesmen in a real estate firm's branch office. "The bad news is - you've got, all of you've got just one week to regain your jobs starting with tonight. Starting with tonight's sit. Oh? Have I got your attention now? Good. 'Cause we're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired. Get the picture? You laughing now? You got leads. Mitch and Murray paid good money, get their names to sell them. you can't close the leads you're given you can't close s**t. You ARE s**t. Hit the bricks pal, and beat it 'cause you are going OUT." Miranda Priestly (played so well by Meryl Streep) in The Devil Wears Prada would never be called vulgar but she is no less menacing and probably more lethal than Blake.

High octane executives -- male as well as female -- struggle with severe stress each day and many experience burnout or at least a milder form of combat fatigue and much of the stress is self-imposed. Although Bourg Carter focuses on women, much of the information, insights, and counsel she shares is also relevant to men and can be of substantial value to them, also. What to do?

"The first step in understanding burnout in high-achieving women lies in understanding its insidious nature. Unlike a blowout, which is instant and obvious, burnout is a slow leak, a cumulative process that in most instances takes years, sometimes decades to full materialize." The results are predictable and probably inevitable: physical and/or emotional exhaustion; feelings of isolation, estrangement, cynicism and despair; and a sense of ineffectiveness, helplessness, and failure. Stress can develop from external and internal sources. To repeat, some (not all) stress is self-imposed.

Presumably Bourg Carter agrees with me that some stress can be desirable, indeed beneficial, as when we care deeply about achieving or helping to achieve an admirable goal, especially against the odds and with time constraints. Sometimes a best effort succeeds, often it doesn't. However, stress helps to create a sense of urgency that keeps us focused. Stress becomes problematic if and when it weakens us, distracts us, reduces our self-confidence, and perhaps even intimidates us almost to the point of paralysis.

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

o Double-Edged Sword (Pages 28-30)
o Stress in the Workplace Realities (33-39)
o Gender-Based Stressors (41-52)
o Three Common Themes of High-Achieving Women (65-71)
o Blurred Boundaries Between Work and Home (75-76)
o Maybe Not Hopeless (82-87)
o What Makes High-Achieving Women High Achievers?, and, The Psychology of High-Achieving Women (90-101)
o Checking Your Gauges (101-111)
o Warning Lights (123-130)
o Six Signs of Burnout (135-139)
o Basic Maintenance (146-152)
o Regular Unleaded: Traditional Strategies (152-164)
o Overcoming Resistance Alleviating Your Stress (175-177)
o Innovative Workplace Approaches to Burnout (182-191)

Who will derive the greatest benefit from this book? In my opinion, there are two groups: whatever their level of octane, women who are most likely candidates for burnout or are now experiencing it, and, supervisors (both male and female) who need to understand how to prevent burnout and how to respond effectively when it does occur among those for whom they are directly responsible.

When concluding her book, Sherrie Bourg Carter shares especially relevant observations by Amelia Earhart: "Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off. But if you don't have one, realize it's your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who follow you." I certainly agree with Bourg Carter 's response: "It is only through your efforts that your efforts that your runway will expand and ultimately pave the way to make the ride smoother for the amazingly talented and passionate women who will follow in your footsteps."

The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business
The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business
by Duff McDonald
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.94
28 used & new from CDN$ 19.91

5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkably circumspect examination of "the best finishing school in business", Nov. 19 2013
After briefly but sufficiently reviewing the historical background to the creation and subsequent development of McKinsey & Company," Duff McDonald correlates this frame-of-reference with the process by which "The Firm" has had an increasingly greater impact, not only on American business but indeed on almost every part of the world where business is conducted. However, there are several acknowledgments throughout McDonald's narrative that it is difficult (if not impossible) to quantify the nature and extent of that impact, directly through its client relations and indirectly through its former partners who have relocated to corporate C-suites and through books and articles published by partners and former partners.

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, there is a Farmer's Market at which some of the merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now provide a few brief excerpts.

"[Alfred] Sloan and his ilk were perfect customers for McKinsey: Lacking the legitimization of actual ownership, professional managers felt great pressures to show they were using cutting-edge practices. And who better to bring those practices to their attention than consultants who were talking to everyone else?" (Pages 19-20)

"From the very beginning, James McKinsey went to great lengths to distinguish his firm from its less savory predecessors -- he and his partners had multiple university degrees and strong connections to the establishment. And just as McKinsey flipped accounting on its head, he and his contemporaries likewise turned Taylorism on its head. Instead of focusing on line workers at the bottom of the organizational chart, they zeroed in on the growing white-collar bureaucracy and top managers." (27)

"It's an impossible number to quantify [the firm's economic impact], given that McKinsey doesn't actually make final decisions for its clients, but it may not be too far off the mark to suggest that McKinsey has been the impetus for more layoffs than any other entity in corporate history." (96)

"Marvin Bower told his protégés that the secret to success was to act successful. He wasn't just talking about McKinsey. He was talking about a specific kind of American confidence that allowed the country to conquer the economic globe to a degree that is only now being called into question, some fifty years later. The country has that confidence -- or it used to -- and McKinsey expressed that as totally and fully as any company the world has ever seen. So it made mistakes. It could fix them. And it did." (191)

"McKinsey's main asset continues to be the trust its clients have in the firm, an unquantifiable, intangible thing that is constantly being tested. The consultants' secondary assets -- their trust in each other and the internal culture of the place -- have likewise come under stress. The more the organization grows, the harder it is to enforce a coherent set of values." (325)

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

o Bastards Require No Diplomacy (Pages 25-38)
o Death of a Pioneer: James McKinsey (35-36)
o The Repeater: Marvin Bower (41-44)
o A Strategy Around Strategy (53-56)
o The McKinsey Process (57-59)
o Organization Man (64-67)
o London Ho! (73-80)
o The Emergence of Arrogance (90-95)
o Lost Moorings (99-103)
o Having Their Lunch Eaten (109-116)
o The Last of the Great Generalists (120-125)
o Hiring McKinsey Just to Make a Point (187-190)
o Enter the Dragon: China (227-230)
o Doing a 180 (273-275)
o Mercenaries, Not Missionaries (278-282)
o Victims of The Own Success (294-297)
o The Double-Edge Diaspora (303-307)

No single book can do full justice to the scope and complexity of a professional services firm as large and as complex as McKinsey & Company has become since founded by James McKinsey and then by Marvin Bower during a period of spectacular growth. Nor can a brief commentary such as mine do full justice to the scope and depth of coverage provided. What lies ahead for The Firm? Here's Duff McDonald's response to that: "McKinsey's greatest challenge going forward -- the true test of its genius -- is no longer finding solutions to its clients' problems. The test is managing the complications that have resulted from its own stupendous success. One of the firm's recently stated goals is helping to '[solve] the world's great problems.' But if it wants to achieve this, it's going to have to continue solving its own."

Those who share my high regard for this boom are urged to check out Marvin Bower's The Will to Lead: Running a Business With a Network of Leaders, Elizabeth Haas Edersheim's McKinsey's Marvin Bower: Vision, Leadership, and the Creation of Management Consulting, and Walter Kiechel's The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World.

The Leader's Guide to Speaking with Presence: How to Project Confidence, Conviction, and Authority
The Leader's Guide to Speaking with Presence: How to Project Confidence, Conviction, and Authority
Price: CDN$ 4.16

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A primer that offers basic, invaluable advice, Nov. 19 2013
Many of John Baldoni's key points provided in this booklet were discussed in his previously published books, notably, Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders (2003), 12 Steps to Power Presence: How to Assert Your Authority to Lead (2010), and Lead with Purpose: Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself (2012). The unique appeal of this booklet is that his most valuable insights focus entirely on how those who aspire to become a leader can communicate effectively by projecting confidence, conviction, and authority.

Frankly, I view charisma the same way I view an expensive fragrance: It smells great but don't drink it. Charisma is often confused with presence. What Baldoni is talking about is a process by which to develop an appeal based on authentic character rather disingenuous charm.

The information, insight s, and counsels he provides achieve two separate but related objectives: They explain how to prepare a presentation, and, they explain how to deliver it effectively. He includes an "Action Steps" section at the conclusion of each of the twelve brief chapters [i.e. mental checklists], then a "Handbook On Communicating Leadership Presence."

Is this a definitive source? No, nor does Balboni make any such claim. Will this book help hucksters and charlatans sharpen their skills of persuasion? Probably, but this booklet was not written for them. Rather, for principled people who are willing to commit the time and effort to learning how to project confidence, conviction, and authority when seeking support to achieve worthy objectives. The cost of John Balboni's expert advice is only US $6.26 when purchased from Amazon. That's not a bargain, that's a steal.

Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can't Teach You at Business or Design School
Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can't Teach You at Business or Design School
by Idris Mootee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.33
28 used & new from CDN$ 25.39

5.0 out of 5 stars How cutting-edge design thinking can help business leaders respond to challenges that transcend specialized disciplines, Nov. 17 2013
First of all, this is among the most brilliantly designed books I have read in recent years in terms of its organizational structure and production values as well as the quality of its illustrations. The content is rock-solid and the aesthetics of its presentation are world-class. I offer my heartiest congratulations to Idris Mootee and his colleagues, with special credit to Sarah Chung as well as to STUDIO O+A for the use of several photographs and to the creative and editorial talents at John S. Wiley & Sons.

* * *

According to Mootee, "For most practitioners, the idea of design as a way of thinking can be traced back to Herbert Simon and his 1969 book, The Sciences of the Artificial [and] his distinction between critical thinking as an analytic process of 'breaking down' ideas and a design-centric mode of thinking as a process of 'building up' ideas as foundational to the practice. So, too, is his definition of [begin italics] design [end italics] as 'the transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones.'...Design thinking is the search for a magical balance between business and art, structure and chaos, intuition and logic, concept and execution, playfulness and formality, and control and empowerment."

I commend Mootee on his skillful use of various reader-friendly devices such as "Thinking Points" sections that are inserted strategically throughout the narrative, as are dozens of CAPPED boldface observations, including relevant quotations from various sources such as Alain de Botton, Peter F. Drucker, Buckminster Fuller, Mahatma Gandhi, Roger Martin, Lily Tomlin, Alvin Toffler, F.M. Young, and Gang Yu. He also makes effective use of checklists when recommending a sequence of action steps of highlighting cluster points. These and other devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

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

o The Butterfly Effect and Long-Range Planning
o Changing Management Paradigms: 20th Century > 21st Century
o The 10 Design Thinking Principles That Redefine Business Management
o Linking Design Thinking Solutions to Business Challenges
o Storytelling Essentials
o Strategic Foresight
o Igor Ansoff's concept of "weak signals" that can have great significance
o Components of Organizational Change
o Value Redefinition
o The Four Key Dimensions of Experience Design (i.e. scope, intensity, triggers, and customer engagement)
o Rapid Prototyping: Benefits in Business Design
o Two Value Chains: Industrial Age > Hyperconnected Age
o Business Model Design Framework
o Applied Design Thinking for Business Model Design: 21 Exercises

I agree with Idris Mootee that rethinking traditional academic boundaries and traditional functional boundaries in large companies is an important, albeit challenging and sometimes daunting mission. "We know where we need to go. The challenges are monumental. But the transformations are critical. Now is the time to begin bridging the gaps between education and employment, between design and business, and between any of the remaining [begin italics] us [end italics] and [begin italics] them [end italics] that keeps us all from working together to unleash our imagination for a better future." Those who are now planning such a "mission" or have only recently embarked upon will find the information, insights, and counsel in this book to be of incalculable value.

Those who share my high regard for it would be well-advised to check out three others: Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine, co-edited by Roger Martin and Karen Christensen; David Burkus' The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas; and Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration, co-authored by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft.

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do
Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do
by Nicholas A. Christakis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
31 used & new from CDN$ 8.58

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why our connections to other people matter more, much more than any other connections do, Nov. 15 2013
I read this book when it was first published in 2009 but am only now getting around to re-reading and then reviewing it. Since then, the nature and extent of social media have expanded and extended far beyond anything that Tim Berners-Lee could have imagined twenty years ago when he developed his concept of the worldwide "web" of electronic connection and interaction while working as an independent contractor the for European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Currently he is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Perhaps Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, co-authors f Connected, are amazed by the growth since they published their book.

As they observe in the Preface, "Scientists, philosophers, and others who study society have generally divided into two camps: those who think they are in control of their destinies, and those who believe that social forces (ranging from a lack of good public education to the presence of a corrupt government) are responsible for what happens to us." They think a third factor is missing from this debate: "our connections to others matter most, and by linking the study of individuals to the study of groups, the science of social networks can explain a lot about human experience." I agree.

This book is the result of what Christakis and Fowler have learned thus far from their research and I thin they make a substantial contribution to a discussion of a question that has continued for several thousand years: "What makes us uniquely human?" They remain convinced that to know who we are, we must first understand how we are connected.

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

o Rules of Life in the Network (Pages 16-26)
o Emotional Contagion (37-40)
o The Spread of Happiness (49-54)
o Big Fish, Little Pond (71-75)
o Dying of a Broken Heart? (81-86)
o Changing What We Do, or Changing What We Think? (112-115)
o Moody Markets (148-153)
o Three Degrees of Information Flow (153-156)
o Networking Creativity (162-164)
o Real Politics in a Social World (184-187)
o The Network Architecture of Political Influence (202-204)
o The Ancient Ties That Bind (213-217)
o Networks Are in Our Genes Too (232-235)
o A Brain for Social Networks (240-243)
o The Human Superorganism (289-292)

As some of these subjects suggest, there are striking similarities between the nature and extent of connections within the human brain and those that occur within social organizations such as Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I eagerly await breakthrough insights in months and years to come that increase our understanding of metacognition even more.

During a conversation near the conclusion of the book in the Reading group Guide, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler are asked this question: "What particular aspects of social networks are you currently researching? Is there anything exciting coming to light?" Their response:

"We are especially intrigued by the idea the idea that evolution may have shaped the networks humans form with one another, and we think this might give us a clue about some important questions: Why do we help each other so much compared to other species? What is the reason for the spark in love at first sight?"

Stay tuned....

The New Corporate Facts of Life: Rethink Your Business and Transform Today's Challenges into Tomorrow's Profits
The New Corporate Facts of Life: Rethink Your Business and Transform Today's Challenges into Tomorrow's Profits
Price: CDN$ 16.81

5.0 out of 5 stars "What got you here won't get you there." Marshall Goldsmith, Nov. 15 2013
The Goldsmith assertion that serves as the title of this review refers to organizations as well as to individuals and, in my opinion, should be extended to suggest that got you here won't even keep you here, wherever and whatever "here" may be. I agree with Diana Rivenburgh that it is imperative to "rethink" one's business in order to "transform today's challenges into tomorrow's profits"...and she wrote this book to explain HOW.

Obviously, the corporate facts of life have changed over the years even as the core issues remain about the same. I am reminded of an incident years ago when a Princeton colleague of Albert Einstein playfully chided him for asking the same questions every year on his final examinations. "Quite true. Every year the answers are different." I cannot recall a prior time when change occurred faster, more often, and with greater impact than it does now. I agree with Richard Dawkins and presumably so does Rivenburgh: "Yesterday's dangerous idea is today's orthodoxy and tomorrow's cliché."

As I worked my way through Rivenburgh's narrative, I was again reminded of the socioeconomic disruptions caused by a series of breakthrough inventions and innovations that include the printing press, harnessing the power of steam, mass production, the telegraph and then the telephone, radio and television, pressurized cabins in airplanes, harnessing the power of nuclear energy, and most recently, the Internet and subsequent worldwide "Web."

Each of these breakthroughs (to varying degree) resulted in radically new corporate facts of life. Rivenburgh cites several timeless challenges (e.g. disruptive innovation, economic instability, societal upheaval, population shifts) and then devotes a separate chapter to each of seven initiatives that can help business leaders respond effectively to various challenges, all of which are based on the new corporate facts of life. They are:

1. Reset the corporate mindset (My comment: Open the doors and windows of your mind to possibilities)

"Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier." Charles F. Kettering

2. Create a compelling vision (My comment: If it doesn't excite and inspire people, get another)
3. Map the strategic journey (where have you been, where are you, how to get there, and where is there?)
4. Build a unique and vibrant culture (gardens in which growth thrives require constant nutrition...and protection)
5. Lead on the edge of change (but beware of change for change's sake; assume nothing)
6. Engage to excel (insist on a shared commitment; otherwise, why bother?
7. Design a resilient organization (values, convictions, and affirmations are reliable shock absorbers)

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

o Seven Interconnected Forces (Pages 8-11)
o Understanding Mindsets (41-46)
o Understanding Vision (67-70)
o Viewing the Future Using the New Corporate Facts of Life (75-82)
o Mapping Your Strategy Using the New Corporate Facts of Life (91-109)
o Creating Your Unique and Vibrant Culture (117-136)
o Seeing the BOLDEST Leaders in Action (145-157)
o Harnessing the Power of Participation (177-182)
o Developing a Stakeholder Engagement Process (182-188)
o Designing a Resilient Organization (193-195)
o Aligning the Organization's Design with Your Strategy (195-197)
o Ten Strategies for Designing a Resilient Organization (199-214)
o Conclusion: Four Interconnected Forces (217-223)

When concluding her thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Rivenburgh encourages her reader to embark on a journey of personal discovery as well as a process by which to transform today's challenges into tomorrow's profits. Of course, "profits" can be measured by all manner of monetary as well as non-monetary standards. Of greatest value, in my opinion, are the achievements of those such as Norman Borlaug who is widely renowned as "the father of the Green Revolution," "agriculture's greatest spokesperson," and "the man who saved a billion lives."

As Diana Rivenburgh makes crystal clear in her book, business leaders and their companies can thrive while accommodating the new corporate facts while supporting the efforts of Borlaug and others to improve health and education, reduce hunger, and in countless other ways improve the quality of life for those who now suffer throughout the world. Humanity and profitability are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are interdependent and that is among the new facts of life for individuals as well as for corporations.

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