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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

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Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age
Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age
by Bruce Watson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.05
35 used & new from CDN$ 23.46

5.0 out of 5 stars For the rest of my life, I will reflect on what light is.' Albert Einstein, Feb. 22 2016
As Bruce Watson explains, 'The truth is that, despite three millennia of investigation by humanity's most brilliant detectives, light refuses to surrender all its secrets. As familiar as our own faces, light is the first thing we see at birth, the last before dying. Some, having seen a warm glow as they flirted with death, swear that light will welcome us to another life. 'Painting is light,' the Italian master Caravaggio noted, and each day light paints a mural that sweeps around the globe, propelling into the morning. Ever since the Big Bang, light has been stealing the show. And for countless scientists, philosophers, poets, painters, mystics, and anyone who ever stood in awe of a sunrise, light [begin italics] is [end italics] the show.'

Watson provides an eloquent and enlightening account of illumination from a solstice sunrise ('the dawn of humanity') until laser beams in our own time. He helps his reader to understand why Einstein and countless others have struggled ' and failed ' to grasp the full meaning and significance of what Loren Eiseley once characterized as 'the magician of the cosmos.' But what indeed is light? 'What meaning have our brilliant detectives found in it? Is it God? Truth? Mere energy? Since the dawn of curiosity, these questions have been at the core of human existence. The struggle for answers has given light a history of its own.'

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

o Buddha and Buddhism (Pages 10-11, and 32-33)
o Aristotle (14-15 and 18-19)
o Christianity (30-31, 34-37, and 40-41)
o Roger Bacon (57-58)
o Light in painting (64-78)
o Codex Urbinas (67-69)
o Astronomy (79-80 and 111-112)
o Christian Huygens (102-104 and 141-143)
o Wave theory of light (103-104 and 133-144)
o Francois Arago (138-144 and 152-153)
o Electromagnetic energy (164-169)
o Artificial light (169-174)
o Nicolo Tesla and alternating current (173-174)
o Albert Einstein (175-176 and 181-192)
o Aether (178-181)
o Quantum theory (183-192)
o Theory of special relativity (185-186)
o Theory of general relativity (187-192)
o Hans Bethe (193-194 and 202-203)
o College of Optical Sciences (215-217)
o Light in death (223-226)

This is a 'radiant history,' not of light but of man''s struggles throughout three millennia to understand what light is and isn't'what it does and doesn't do. I agree with Alan Lightman (that really is his last name) who observes in his review off the book for the Washington Post, 'If the book has a climax, it is in one of the final chapters, titled 'Einstein and the Quanta, Particle, and Wave,' where Watson celebrates the ultimate enigma of light ' that it acts both like waves, simultaneously spread over an extended region of space, and particles, each located at only one point of space at a time. Such seemingly mutually exclusive descriptions violate our human experience with the world. That enigma reaches far beyond light. It applies to all of reality at the tiny scale of the atom. Above all else, modern physics has shown us that what we humans perceive with our limited bodies, and all of our notions based on those perceptions, are an illusion, an approximation of a strange cosmos we can touch only with our instruments and equations.'

It seems likely that definitions of 'light' as well as interpretations of its significance will continue to differ. Even when scientists get it right with regard to issues concerning, for example, explanations of the photoelectric effect, black body radiation, and James Clark Maxwell's work predicting electromagnetic waves, there will still be lively arguments about other topics such as near-death experience (NDE). As Bruce Watson suggests, 'In its fourth millennium, just as in its first, the Light Euphoric still beckons.' For many of us, its appeal is irresistible.

The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley
The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley
by Eric Weiner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.57
32 used & new from CDN$ 23.97

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why 'certain places, at certain times, produce a bumper crop of brilliant minds and good ideas. The question is why., Feb. 20 2016
e continents and centuries, I vow to keep this important truth in mind.”

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

o Genius and Geniuses (Pages 2-3, 8-9, 17-18, 68-69, 84-85, 126-127, 148-149, and 287-288)
o Florence (7-9, 97-109, 112-139, 295-296, 318-319, and 323-325)
o Creativity (7-11, 103-104, 113-114, 161-168, 274-278, and 323-326)
o Greece (13-18, 40-41, 43-52, and 54-63)
o Athens (15-17, 19-34, 43-63, 86-87, 116-117, 156-157, 318-319, and 323-326)
o Socrates (19-20, 31-34, 36-38, 61-62, 48-49, and 324-325)
o Scotland (42-43, 142-153, 153-159, 165-169, and 171-183)
o Hangzhou (65-75, 87-89, and 318-319)
o China (68-75, 77-80, 82-95, 288-289, and 317-318)
o Great Britain (75-79 82-83, and 253-254)
o Florence and the Arts (97-100, 102-104, 118-121, 123-125, 129-130, and 133-138)
o Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance (111-114 and 125-126)
o Edinburgh (141-144, 146-170, 172-174, 178-182, 193-194, and 318-319)
o Calcutta (185-195, 201-205, and 210-215)
o India (186-195 and 201-207)
o Culture (196-197 and 246-248)
o Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (221-229 and 236-240)
o Vienna (226-239, 251-267, and 276-285)
o Environment (229-230, 236-238, and 280-281)
o Ludwig von Beethoven (234-239 and 241-246)
o Sigmund Freud (239-278)
o Ethnic diversity and creativity (256-257)
o Silicon Valley (288-319)

Weiner observes, “For me, cafés are a kind of second home, a prime example of what sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls a ‘great good place.’ The food and rink are nearly irrelevant, or nearly so. What matters is the atmosphere — not the table cloths or the furniture but a more tangible ambience, once that encourages guilt-free lingering and strikes just the right balance of background din and contemplative silence.” Obviously, he could not return in time and roam such long-ago gathering places in six of the locations but he could — and did — gain a clearer sense of what could roughly be characterized as “the soul” of each. In Athens, for example, the “great good place” he found is The Bridge. “An appropriate name, I decide, since I’m attempting the quixotic task of bridging the centuries.” He eventually found the answer to what he characterizes as “the Great Greek Mystery”: What made this place shine? In fact, there are different answers in the other locations but they also share much in common. What? Read the book. Details are best revealed within the narrative, in context.

Ever since Francis Galton coined the term “nature versus nurture,” people have debated the relative merits of each. Weiner’s response? “It’s a silly argument, and unnecessary. Creativity doesn’t happen ‘in here’ or ‘out there’ but in the spaces in between. Creativity is a [begin italics] relationship [end italics], one that unfolds at the intersection of person and place. This intersection, like all such crossroads, is a dangerous, unforgiving place. You have to pay attention, slow down, and stay alert for the idiots out there. It’s worth the risk, though, for the humble intersection, be it in ancient Athens or a strip-mall Sunnyvale, is the true genius loci. The place where genius lives.”

Many years ago, one of the French Romantic poets (probably Baudelaire) was asked how to write a poem. He paused for several thoughtful moments, then replied “Draw a birdcage and leave the door open. Then wait. You may have to wait for quite a while. Be patient. Eventually, if you’re very lucky, a bird will fly in the door. Then you erase the cage.” I was reminded of that anecdote as I read Eric Weiner’s brilliant book, especially his comments about the “intersection” at which a genius and a place are combined. My own opinion is, if those whom we regard as a genius today were to be relocated to ancient Athens or Renaissance Florence, or if Pericles and Leonardo da Vinci were relocated to Silicon Valley, we would still include them among those who possess “the ability to come up with ideas that are new, surprising, and valuable.”

Cultural Transformations: Lessons of Leadership and Corporate Reinvention
Cultural Transformations: Lessons of Leadership and Corporate Reinvention
by John Mattone
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.83
24 used & new from CDN$ 21.33

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why organizations that thrive have launched preemptive transformation to dominate their competition, Feb. 17 2016
Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (usually unrealistic) expectations. Not all of what Jim Collins characterizes as BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) are attainable. Resistance to changing the given status quo is often cultural in nature, the result of what Jim O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” I agree. In fact, my own rather extensive experience with change initiatives suggests that the greatest resistance is by those who replaced the previous status quo and now stoutly defend what they have established in its place.

In this volume, John Mattone and Nick Vaidya suggest two other reason why few change initiatives achieve their given objectives: poor leadership and obsolete business models. As they explain, within a volatile global marketplace, “operating models are coming obsolete and the once dominant players are increasingly being overtaken by more agile, entrepreneurial companies with business models that are built on changed…The most forward-thinking companies are launching [begin italics] preemptive [end italics] transformations, retooling themselves to stay [begin italics] ahead [end italics] of their competitors.”

I agree with Mattone and Vaidya that culture and leadership are the keys to organizational transformation. (I also agree with Thomas Edison that vision without execution is “hallucination.”) They share what they have learned thus far from wide and deep experience working with all manner of organizations and their C-level executives. They also share insights and counsel obtained during attire’s interviews of 14 CEOs who have each, in their own way, exemplified the transformational leadership within their companies.

“There’s the story of Kathy Mazzarella, who started working for Graybar without a degree and rose through the ranks to become the first female CEO in the company’s history. You’ll hear from Kris Canekeratne, a Sri Lankan native who instilled a commitment to perpetual improvement into the core business culture of Virtusa from the beginning, allowing the company to survive several evolutions in the tech sector and remain one of the top companies in the world for two decades. There’s a conversation with Hap Klopp, who started his company with a group of fellow outdoor enthusiasts and, thanks to an uncompromising commitment to creating products that they love, grew The North Face into the world’s most respected outdoor equipment company. And you’ll learn how Eddie Machaalani built Bigcommerce on a foundation of hard-working family values that he learned growing up in the Lebanese immigrant community in Sydney, Australia.”

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Mattone and Vaidya’s coverage:

o What’s the Problem? (Pages 6-8)
o Understanding the Culture of Leadership (8-10)
o Match the Culture to there Need, and Taking Time to Reflect Is Critical (10-15)
o The Secrets to Changing Mindsets and Behavior, and, The Nuts and Bolts of Getting Your Team on Board (30-34)

Mattone’s Interviews

o Kathy Mazzarella (39-46)
o Kris Canekeratne (49-60)
o Eddie Machaalani (63-70)
o Harib Al Kitani (73-83)
o Kenneth (“Happy”) Klopp (87-97)
o Russ Klein (99-114)
o Rohit Mehrotra (119-127)
o Irv Rothman (131-145)
o Juan Carlos Archila Cabal (149-154)
o Nabil Al Alawi (158-165)
o Cathy Benko (170-179)
o Deva Bharathi (183-193)
o NV (“Tiger”) Tyagarajuan (197-205)
o Anthony Wedo (209-217)

o Appendix A: John Mattone’s 20 Laws of Intelligent Leadership (223-224)
o Appendix B: John Mattone’s Cultural Transformation Readiness Assessment-40 (227-233)

I presume to add that human beings achieve organizational transformations. Each of them must be both willing and able to transform (i.e. give new shape, substance, and priority) with regard to what they do and how they do it. New business models must guide and inform their preemptive efforts. When talking about transforming culture, Mattone and Vaidya mean “shifting the key values and principles that define corporate cultures into ones that embrace rather than resist change…By leadership we mean finding and developing the right leaders at all levels of the organization who are able to embody and instill these cultural values so they cab successfully guider their employees, teams, and organizations through the transformation process.”

Obviously, John Mattone and Nick Vaidya do not know what the nature and extent will be of the cultural transformation that each reader’s organization must initiate. However, and this is a key point, they have provided in this book just about all the information, insights, and counsel that business leaders in all organizations now need, whatever their size and circumstances may be.

Remix Strategy: The Three Laws of Business Combinations
Remix Strategy: The Three Laws of Business Combinations
by Benjamin Gomes-Casseres
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.04
36 used & new from CDN$ 25.86

5.0 out of 5 stars How to create organizational value with a strategy that maximizes the impact of both internal and external resource, Feb. 12 2016
As Benjamin Gomes-Casseres observes in the first chapter, “Although the remixing of businesses is not a new phenomenon, we have not previously recognized full how to use it to advance strategy. The real issue is not whether you should be looking outside your walls for resources. The question is how are these ventures going to enhance your competitive position? How will they create value? And how are you going g to capture that value? Whether you are at the top of the company driving the remix, in the middle managing an acquisition or a partnership, or among the operating ranks keeping the pieces humming, you need to know the answers such questions.”

Gomes-Casseres offers a three-law framework within which to create, strengthen, and then sustain a successful business combination: “First, it must have the potential to create an amount of joint value in that market that exceeds the total value that would degenerated by the same resources without the combination…Sec kind, the way the combination is designed and managed must enable you to actually create the joint value…Third, each party involved in the combination must earn a share of the joint value produced — a profit — that provides the incentive for the party to commit its resources to the joint effort…Furthermore, you need to remindful of the relationships between all of these laws.”

Although Gomes-Casseres calls them ”laws,” they are in fact realities, indeed necessities, that must be taken into full account. With regard to the process — identify potential joint value, govern the collaboration, and share the value created — he quickly identifies the “What,” then devotes the bulk of his attention to explaining the “How.” He also points out that it remains for each reader to determine what is most relevant in the material provided and then modify in ways and to the extent that are appropriate to the given enterprise.

Many (most?) organizations now face or will soon face a major challenge, in two parts: whether or not to combine internal and external resources; in that event, how to formulate a remix strategy to drive that combination and, meanwhile, make that strategy part of everyday business thinking and operations. It is important to keep in mind that a remix strategy will have a significant impact on decisions that must be made in five key areas: strategy, competitive advantage, governance, change and innovation, and ROI. Years ago, someone whose name is unknown to be suggested that managing computer programmers resembles “herding cats.” Based on what Gomes-Casseres shares in this book, managing those who pursue a remix strategy would probably resemble herding kangaroos on steroids.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of his coverage in Chapters 1-6:

o Why Business Combinations Are Now Vital (Pages 9-14)
o The Three Laws (14-21)
o How to Use the Three Law Model (22-23)
o The Relationship Spectrum (32-39)
o Visualizing Your Relational Footprint (48-50)
o Value Creation in Combination (56-59)
o The Five Main Sources of Joint Value (65-70)
o Divestments: The Mirror Image of Combinations (78-79
o Three Relationship Models (87-93)
o Tools for Alliance Design (107-116)
o Rivalry Remains, Despite Collaboration (118-121)
o How to Manage Co-opetition (130-136)
o An Approach to Managing Your Share of Value (144-147)
o Competition Between Bundles of Assets (154-156)
o Joint Value Potential in Constellations (158-172)
o Governance of Constellations (172-186)

Also, be sure to check out “Complete Collection of Remix Strategy Tools” (Pages 219-241). This material all by itself is worth far most than the purchase price of the book in which it appears. Of course, obviously, the value of the 20 management “Tools” will be determined almost entirely by how effectively they are used when mastered and adapted to the given situation. “In reality, every business combination involves complexities theater not covered by these tools — regulations, legal frameworks, cultural considerations, personal, cities, and the like. As you navigate these complexities, these tools will help you stay focused on the strategic goal of creating value for your business.”

I cannot think off a better way to create value for a business than to create value for the clients and customers it is privileged to serve. Many years ago, when asked to explain the extraordinary success of Southwest Airlines, its then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher, replied, “We take great care of our people, they take great care of our customers, and our customers take great care of our shareholders.”

When concluding his book, Benjamin Gomes-Casseres reminds his reader, “What matters most, though, is what you ultimately make of the ideas in this book. Recombine these ideas with your own and with those of others [such as Kelleher]. The theme of this book applies not just to business strategy. Mixing and matching is a way of life in the arts, in invention and innovation, and in personal life. The real value of this book for you will emerge from your own remix.” There’s your challenge…and, yes, your opportunity.

Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World
Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World
by Pagan Kennedy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.16
26 used & new from CDN$ 20.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Mother Nature: The ultimate mentor for both invention and innovation, Feb. 10 2016
The last time I checked, Amazon US was offering 31,976 books for sale in the “creativity” category. I have read and reviewed more than one hundred of them and learned a great deal about a subject that has fascinated me since childhood. Why another? As with the residential real estate mantra that for every house there is a buyer, for every book there is a reader and I think many readers will share my high regard and deep appreciation for the wealth of valuable information, insights, and counsel that Pagan Kennedy provides.

In the Introduction, she offers working definitions of invention and innovation by Art Fry — the originator of the Post-it Note — who developed his own way of distinguishing invention from innovation, “and his definitions are so illuminating that I will borrow them and use them throughout this book. Invention, according to Fry, is what happens when you translate a thought into a thing. More specifically, Fry points out that an invention usually involves creating a prototype that lets you test your concept and demonstrate that it works. Once you’ve created that model, ’the creation becomes an invention,’ according to Fry. The process may require dreaming, drawing, observation, idea generation, discovery, tinkering, and engineering. But it should end with the proof.

“Innovation is what happens afterwards. It ‘is the act of working through all of the obstacles and problems in the path of turning a creative idea into a business,’ according to Fry. Indeed, the term [begin] innovation is often used as a catchall word to describe the challenges companies must overcome in order to mass-produce a product. — like streamlining, shaving costs, managing supply chains, and assembling teams of collaborators.”

Few people will create something entirely new but all people can — and many will — improve something. Those who do are inclined to ask questions that begin “What if…” and “Why not…” That’s what Art Fry did when he needed to keep track of selections in his hymnal when singing in his church choir. He cut and inserted slips of paper but they kept falling out. Fortunately, he knew about a glue developed by his company (3M) that “wasn’t sticky enough” but it stuck well enough to remain attached to the hymnal’s pages. Problem solved.

Kennedy shares dozens of such stories in her lively as well as eloquent and informative book. She explains how some people rely on reverse invention: they come up with an end product and then back up from it to determine how to produce it. She explains how other people converted “nothing” into something very special (e.g. penicillin). She also offers several examples of other situations in which someone asked (perhaps only to herself), “Why hasn’t anyone figured out a way to….” A tennis instructor asked that because his knees ached from constantly bending over to pick up a thousand practice balls. He devised a solution (a “ball hopper”) that someone else later modified (in the shape of a plastic tube) to pick up golf balls during practice sessions.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Kennedy's coverage in Parts I and II:

o Five Paths to Great Ideas (Pages xiv-xvi)
o Lead User Theory (5-8)
o The Bucket Brigade (10-11)
o The Dark Matter of Invention (14-22)
o Inventor as Ethnographer (29-30)
o The Pre-Mortem (34-36)
o Crowd-Whispering (37-40)
o Low-Cost Failure, Lots of Feedback (40-42)
o Super-Encounterers (47-51)
o The Art of Luck (56-58)
o Tinkering (58-62)
o Engineered Serendipity (70-73)
o Dr. Yogen Saunthazrarajah/Cleveland Clinic (76-78)
o A Fortune Built on One Piece of Paper (80-85)
o Everyday MacGyvers (85-86)
o Building 20: Tim Anderson and 'Techno Garbage' (87-92
o The Power of Nothing (92-94)

Kennedy explores 'the first steps, the embryos, origins, and private visions that give birth to new [and/or better] things.' And I repeat, almost anyone can improve something they do, often by improving how they do it. She also acknowledges the importance of environment such as a culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to flourish. 'This book is a testament to just how powerful our situations can be in shaping our ideas. To achieve the most valuable kind of breakthrough, you often need to be in the right place at the right time, performing the odd or unusual activity that allows you to open a door that is closed to everyone else'And this is why opening up the doors to a diversity of people will transform nit just the power of airy ideas, but the very way that we invent.'

Pagan Kennedy concludes with an intriguing idea that I hope she develops in much greater depth in a book yet to be written: evolving another system of invention 'that mimics the natural world, so that we become a more robust species, better able to survive and adapt. We need an R&D system like the system that protects our own bodies ' open, obstreperous, and resilient. It should gain strength from every attack on it.'

Presumably she agrees with me that before we can dream up whatever can 'change the world,' however, we must first change the way we think about change. Those who read this book will be well-prepared to embrace that challenge.

Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent
Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent
by Sydney Finkelstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.79
28 used & new from CDN$ 20.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Here in a single volume is a “master class in how each of us can make a much greater impact in what we do”, Feb. 9 2016
In a previous book, Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes (2003), Sydney Finkelstein shares what his research reveals about how and why presumably capable business leaders fall so far and fall so fast. "My goal was not only to understand why businesses break down and fail, but to focus on the people behind these failures; not only to understand how to avoid these disasters, but to anticipate the early warning signs of failure. Ultimately, I wanted to move beyond ad hoc explanations of failure on a case-by-case basis and expose the roots of these breakdowns in a definitive way.” He explored how overconfidence, complacency, inaction, “and a lack of curiosity prevented otherwise intelligent leaders from adapting to changing business conditions.” Whereas in that book, Finkelstein and his research associates were in search of failure’s causes, the focus in his latest book is on the causes of what could be described as “super success,” revealed during research begun in 2005.

He explores “the characteristic behaviors of the world’s most effective bosses, upending conventional best practices and presenting a new, comprehensive paradigm for developing talent. This book is the first to offer a systematic, empirically based study of what [begin italics] really [end italics] motivates, inspires, and enables others to achieve their full, potential. It teaches professionals how to be better bosses so that they can unleash unprecedented creativity, engagement, and accomplishment in their teams, generating and regenerating the world’s best talent. And it shows employees in any field how to identify superposes in their industry so that they can get hired and advance their careers.”

Taking into full account more than a decade of research that preceded this book and several decades of close association with hundreds of C-level executives, Finkelstein suggests that there are three basic types of superboss: “Iconoclasts" (e.g. George Lucas, Lorne Michaels, Ralph Lauren, and Robert Noyce), “Glorious Bastards" (e.g. Larry Ellison, Michael Milken, Roger Corman, and Jay Chiat), and “Nurturers" (e.g. Bill Walsh, Norman Brinker, Mary Kay Ash, and Gregg Popovich). What motivates each type?

Briefly, Iconoclasts “care about their work…so wholly fixated on their vision that they are able to teach in an intuitive, organic way, as a natural outgrowth of their passion and in service to it, rather than consciously or methodically.” Glorious Bastards “have something about them that makes them ‘glorious’: they understand that in order to win, they need the best people and the best teams. They may be egoists, they may want fame and glory for themselves, but they perceive the success of those around them as the pathway to that glory.” As for the third type, “Nurturers are what I’d call ‘activist bosses.’ They are consistently present to guide and teach their protégés and they actively engage with employees to help them reach great heights.”

What do all three types share in common? Finkelstein suggests five attributes: All possess [begin italics] extreme confidence, even fearlessness [end italics], when it comes to furthering their agendas and ideas; all are highly competitive; they are by nature inquisitive and imaginative; all superbosses manifest impeccable integrity insofar as their “rather strict adherence to a core vision or sense of self” are concerned; and finally, all are authentic: in their daily interaction with others, “they let their personalities hang out.”

My brief comments thus far merely suggest a few of Finkelstein’s key points. When explaining how exceptional leaders master the flow of talent, he develops those and other key points in much greater depth. His approach is to compare and contrast those he characterizes as a superboss with what are generally viewed as the defining characteristics of a “good but not great” boss. He examines their impact on colleagues (especially protégés), on their company, and — in several instances — on their industry.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Finkelstein’s coverage in Chapters One-Eight:

o The Makings of a Superboss (Pages 15-21)
o Iconoclasts, Glorious Bastards, and Nurturers (25-29)
o Memorable Bosses: Five Common Attributes (29-33)
o That Special Something (41-44)
o The Power of Feeling Unthreatened (48-50)
o Perfect Is Good Enough (65-69)
o The Ladder of Confidence (69-71)
o It’s Hard to Go Back to Bering Ordinary, and, Inspiring People Like a Superboss (75-79)
o Protect the “Why” (and Only the “Why”) (84-88)
o Nothing s Sacred (88-92)
o The Show Must Change (94-98)
o Fostering Creativity Like a Superboss (98-101)
o Managing in the Moment (108-112)
o Teaching Like a Superboss (123-126)
o Traders in Opportunity (131-135)
o Hire [the Right] People and Get Out of the Way (135-139)
o The Big Personality Paradox (139-142)
o Crafting the Cult (152-158)
o The Cohort Effect (162-166)
o Team Building Like a Superboss (166-170)

Finkelstein observes, “Ultimately, a superboss doesn’t construct his organization around a specific framework or formula…Instead, superbosses embrace a mind-set of change, within a framework of their unyielding vision. That mind-set leads in turn to the welcoming of creative people into the company, to shared experiences that reinforce openness, to an ingrained culture of openness, and ultimately to a track record of sustained invocation and growth.”

These are among Sydney Finkelstein’s concluding remarks: “In the end, studying these superbosses gives us a master class in how each of us can make an impact [indeed, make a much greater impact] in what we do. Superbosses show us a markedly different and innovative path, one that unites the success of an organization with the people charged with accomplishing that success.” Few executives are both willing and able to become a superboss but all of them can accelerate their personal growth and professional development by reading this book, by completing this “master class,” and then applying effectively what they have learned.

Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap
Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap
by Paul Leinwand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.09
33 used & new from CDN$ 23.67

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why getting strategy and execution in cohesive alignment is a worthwhile legacy for any leader in any enterprise, Feb. 4 2016
Those who have read Cut Costs + Grow Stronger (2009) and/or The Essential Advantage (2011) already know that Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi are among the most insightful business thinkers now publishing books and articles that provide information, insights, and counsel of incalculable value to senior-level executives as well as to those who aspire to reach that level. That said, I think Strategy That Works (written with Art Kleiner) is their most important work thus far. Why? Because I think it will have a wider and deeper impact on any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

Just as Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton focus on the 'knowing-doing gap,' Leinwand and Mainardi focus on another, equally important gap. As they explain, 'There is a significant and unnecessary gap between strategy and execution: a lack of connection between where the enterprise aims to go and what it can accomplish. We have met many leaders who understand this problem, but very few who know how to overcome it'Some business leaders try to close the gap on the strategy side, looking for a better market position. Others double down on execution, improving their methods and practices. Despite their efforts, both groups struggle to achieve consistent success.' Alas, few companies have solved this problem. I agree with Leinwand and Mainardi that the problem cannot be solved with conventional wisdom and I agree with Albert Einstein: 'We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.' Five acts of unconventional leadership are needed:

1. Instead of focusing on growth, commit to an identity: Differentiate and grow by being clear-minded about what you can do best
2. Instead of pursuing functional excellence, translate the strategic into everyday life: Build and connect the cross-functional capabilities that deliver your strategic intent
3. Instead of reorganizing to drive change, put your culture to work: Celebrate and leverage your cultural strengths
4. Instead of going lean, cut costs to grow stronger: Prune what doesn't matter to invest more in what does
5. Instead of becoming agile and resilient, shape your future: Reimagine your capabilities, create demand, and realign your industry on your own terms

'The five acts of unconventional leadership take different forms in different companies, but there is a family resemblance across all of them. They are all critical to engendering management habits that keep strategy and execution closely integrated, so there is no gap between them. Together, they comprise a playbook for creating sustainable value.' All five are discussed in some detail (Pages 12-19).

Leinwand and Mainardi correctly stress the critical importance of organizational and operational coherence in terms of alignment among three strategic elements: 'A value proposition that distinguishes a company from other companies (we sometimes call this a 'way to play' in the market); also, a system of distinctive capabilities that reinforce each other and enable the company to deliver on this value proposition; and, a chosen portfolio of products and services that all make use of those capabilities.'

Devoting a separate chapter to each, they explain HOW TO

o Avoid or overcome the 'strategy-to-execution gap'
o Commit to an identity
o Translate the strategic to the everyday
o Put a culture to work
o Cut costs to grow stronger
o Shape the future
o Remain bold and fearless

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Leiwand and Mainardi's coverage:

o The Unanswered Question (Pages 6-10)
o Five Acts of Unconventional Leadership (10-19)
o How the Five Acts Fit Together (19-22)
o Defining Who You Are (42-51)
o The Triggers of Identity (60-65)
o Blueprinting the Capabilities System (77-85)
o Building Distinctive Capabilities (86-107)
o Scaling Up Your Capabilities System (107-117)
o Fostering a Distinctive Culture (121-125)
o Mutual Accountability (130-133)
o Deploying Your Critical Few (138-144)
o Rethinking Next Year's Budget (169-172)
o Recharge Your Capabilities System (175-178)
o Create Demand (179-184)

Readers will appreciate the provision of several mini-case studies (e.g. Amazon, CEMEX, Danaher Corporation, Frito-Lay, Haier, IKEA, Lego, Qualcomm), nine 'Tools' (e.g. 'Parking-Lot Exercise,' 'Super Competitor Workshop,' and 'Questions and Behaviors for Leaders') that are inserted throughout the narrative as well as five appendices: A History of Strategy, The Capable Company Research Project, Puritone Ways to Play, Examples of Table-Stakes Capabilities, and a Selected Bibliography. These supplementary resources all by themselves are worth far more than the cost of this book.

Joined by Art Kleiner, Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi ask their reader to think of this book as a call to action ' 'an invitation to become a better leader through the alignment of strategy and execution. Coherence makes every aspect of leadership easier in the long run. It continually focuses your attention on the most important things your company does. It enables you to define a world that your company can help to create. It is a worthwhile legacy for any leader in any enterprise.' As Michelangelo is reputed to have observed centuries ago, 'The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.'

Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works
Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works
by Roger L. Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.04
47 used & new from CDN$ 23.03

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, the world can get beyond better ' and social entrepreneurs prove it's possible., Feb. 3 2016
As you probably know already, the word entrepreneur, as it was coined by economist Richard Cantillon, literally means “bearer of risk.” That is especially true for those engaged in social entrepreneurship. According to Roger Martin and Sally Osberg, social entrepreneurs “can be contrasted with both social service providers [e.g. Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity] and social advocates [e.g., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference] in that social entrepreneurs both take direction [begin italics] and [end italics] seek to transform the existing system. They seek to go beyond better, to bring about a transformed, stable new system that is fundamentally different than the world that preceded it.” In this volume, Martin and Osberg respond to two questions whose answers are different but interdependent:

“Just what is social entrepreneurship, and who can legitimately be considered a social entrepreneur?”
"How do successful social entrepreneurs do what they do, and what can be learned from them?”

They propose a four-stage process within a framework of transformation. First, understanding the world; next. envision a new future; then, build a model for change; and finally, scale the solution. They wrote this book with four primary audiences in mind: “First are current and aspiring social entrepreneurs, including students of social entrepreneurship…Second are funders or potential funders of social entrepreneurship, whether individuals or institutions akin in spirit to the Skoll Foundation…Third are the context regulators o9f social entrepreneurship…Fourth are teachers of social entrepreneurship.”

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Martin and Osberg’s coverage:

o Building a theory of SE (Pages 5-11)
o Equilibrium Change (11-16 and 199-200)
o Understanding the status quo (18-19 and 81-94)
o Building a changed model in SE (19-20)
o Social transformation from equilibrium change (32-39)
o Identification for citizens and citizenship (66-72)
o Experimentation in SE (81-82 and 94-98, and 121-123)
o Molly Melching (82-83, 85-93, 95-102, and 115-116)
o Envisioning social transformation (107-124)
o Andrea and Barry Coleman (108-109, 111-114, 116-117, and 121-124)
o Deforestation in Brazil (125-130 and 133-135)
o Change mechanisms (135-137)
o Capital costs (148-153)
o Designing for scaling and costs (167-170)
o Adaptability (177-181)
o Sustainability of fisheries (183-195)
o Equilibrium Change (199-200)

What is the nature of the social transformation to be achieved? Roger Martin and Sally Osberg: “Social transformation – by which we mean positive, fundamental, and lasting change to the prevailing conditions under which most members of a society li9ve and work – is almost always the result of a successful challenge to an existing equilibrium. Individuals and groups take aim at the status quo, attempting to shift it to a new and superior state in which prevailing conditions are substantially improved for the majority.”

Given the nature and extent of stress and complexity throughout the world today, you may ask, “What can I do? What can only a few of us do?” Those are fair questions. I presume to suggest that an observation by Margaret Mead be kept in mind: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
by Adam Grant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.84
26 used & new from CDN$ 20.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why originality starts with creative thinking, is driven by a vision, and can eventually have global impact, Feb. 2 2016
Adam Grant wants to 'debunk the myth that originality requires extreme risk taking and persuade you that originals are actually far more ordinary than we realize'the people who move the world forward with original ideas are rarely paragons of conviction and commitment' They, too, grapple with fear, ambivalence, and self-doubt. We view them as self-starters, but their efforts are often fueled and sometimes forced by others. And as much as they crave risk, they really prefer to avoid it.' He goes on to suggest that originality itself starts with creativity: 'generating a concept that is both novel and useful. But it doesn't stop there. Originals are people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality'.This book is about how we can all become more original.'

So, there are valuable lessons to be learned from an original thinker. For example, Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates, a firm that has 'the strongest culture they had ever encountered in an organization, the landslide winner' by those most familiar with it. It handles almost $200 billion in client investments. Dalio is also one of those featured by Al Pittampalli in Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World. 'Dalio doesn't hold a mysterious almanac from the future that tells him which bets to make, like Biff Tannen from Back from the Future II. In fact, the secret to Dalio's accuracy doesn't lie in [begin italics] what [end italics] he knows. The secret is in [begin italics] how he thinks [end italics].' Dalio is wholly committed to what Roger Martin characterizes as 'integrative thinking': be receptive to and welcome the best available information (including opinion) from the most reliable sources and then subject it to a crucible of analysis. Daly is what Grant characterizes as a 'shaper,' an independent thinker: 'curious, non-conforming, and rebellious. They practice brutal, nonhierarchical honesty. And they act in face of risk, because their fear of not succeeding exceeds their fear of failing'The greatest shapers don't stop at introducing originality into the world. They create cultures that unleash originality in others.'

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

o Warby Parker (Pages 1-3, 7-8, 14-17, 20-22, and 57-60)
o Dave Gilboa (7-8, 20-22, and 58-59)
o Martin Luther King, Jr. (11-14 and 241-242)
o Steve Jobs (12-14 and 87-90)
o Entrepreneurs (17-18, 22-23, 33-34, and 68-69)
o Idea generation (35-38, 136-137, and 245-246)
o Intelligence community (62-64 and 78-79)
o Carmen Medina (62-68, 70-71, 78-82, 84-87, and 89-91)
o Babble (68-74)
o Lifecycles of creativity (108-113)
o Conceptual innovators (109-112)
o Lucy Stone (114-116, 118-119, 127-131, and 133-134)
o Elizabeth Cady Stanton (115-116, 118-119, and 126-131)
o The Lion King (134-135, 137-138, and 189-195)
o Jackie Robinson (146-148, 153-154, 159-160, and 171-172)
o Birth order (148-159)
o Parenting (159-171 and 252-254)
o Edwin Land (175-1176 and 183-187)
o Groupthink (176-179 and 185-186)
o Dissenting opinions (185-187, `189-1q90, 193-195, and 201-202)
o Ray Dalio and Bridgewater Associates (187-191, 194-1986, and 199-209)
o Devil's advocate (191-195)
o Culture of advocacy (197-198)
o Resistance movements (219-220 and 225-227)
o Anger (235-242)
o Actions for impact (245-254)

Here in Dallas, there is a farmer's market near the downtown area where several merchants offer fresh slices of fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now include three brief excerpts from Grant's insightful an eloquent narrative.

On the power of vuja de: 'The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists'The starting point is curiosity: pondering why the default exists in the first place. We're driven to question defaults when we experience [begin italics] vuja de [end italics], the opposite of déjà vu. Déjà vu occurs when we encounter something new, but it feels as if we've seen it before. Vuja de is the reverse ' we face something familiar, but we see it with a fresh perspective that enables us to gain new insights into old problems.' (Page 7)

On building coalitions across conflict lines: 'Harvard psychologist Herbert Kelman observed that conflicts [begin italics] between [end italics] two groups are often caused by conflicts [begin italics] within [end italics] the groups'Kelman finds that it is rarely effective to send hawks to negotiate. You need the doves in each group to sit down, listen to each other's perspectives, identify their common goals and methods and engage in joint problem solving'and thereby avoid the narcissism of small differences' that could preclude resolving the given issues. (142-143)

On what research reveals about how founders' hiring decisions shape the destinies of their companies: 'Across industries, there were three dominant templates: professional, star, and commitment. The professional blueprint emphasized hiring candidates with specific skills'In the star blueprint, the focus shifted from current skills to future potential, placing a premium on choosing or poaching the brightest hires'Founders with a commitment blueprint went after hiring differently. Skills and potential were fine but cultural fit was a must. The top priority was to employ people who matched the company's values and norms'When founders had a commitment blueprint, the failure rate of their firms was zero ' not a single one of them went out of business'Founders cast a long shadow. Skills and stars are fleeting; commitment lasts.' (179-180)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that Adam Grant provides when explaining how and why non-conformists move the world with original thinking. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think it is a brilliant achievement. Those who share my high regard for Originals are urged to check out an earlier work, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success (1913), also published by Viking and now available in a paperbound edition.

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts
Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts
Price: CDN$ 33.59

5.0 out of 5 stars How all manner of companies gain competitive advantage with new and better ways of managing talent, Jan. 30 2016
All organizations need effective leadership and management at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Moreover, no organization of which I am aware has ever had too much talent despite efforts to accelerate the development of leadership and management skills while recruiting those with the talent needed or with high potential. Jon Younger and Norm Smallwood focus on the challenges when organizations attempt to “source and then manage outside experts.” In this context, I am reminded of the fact that Greeks coined the term “barbarian” more than two millennia ago. Its original meaning is “non-Greek.”

In the first chapter, Younger and Smallwood note that in today's highly-competitive global marketplace, 'the need for 'expertise on tap' continues it expand. Organizations are thus increasingly reliant on a widening range of functional external experts to acquire and master the capabilities to perform and grow.' This is especially true of technical expertise. I agree with Younger and Smallwood that many (if not a majority) o0f organizations that hire 'outside experts' treat then as 'separate, and not equal. Most managers who never dream of treating externals like internals. External agile talent is hired for expediency, for the short term, to fill a specific need. But the companies depend more on the agile talent for fulfilling strategic capabilities, that mind-set won't cut it anymore. 'Separate, and not equal' is precisely what is causing the problems just outlined.

Younger and Smallwood write this book to explain how to avoid or solve those and other problems. They offer an abundance of information, insights, and counsel with regard to achieving several important strategic objectives. More specifically HOW to

o Achieve competitive advantage through agile talent
o Define the most promising business opportunity
o Formulate and refine an appropriate strateg
o Attract and welcome agile talent
o Get talent in proper alignment with the organization
o Ensure professional excellence
o Grow talent "that you don't even own"
o Engage and collaborate with your talent
o Lead agile talent
o Lead the changes by driving innovation
o Turning what you know into what you do (i.e. no 'Knowing-Doing Gap")

Younger and Smallwood are to be commended on their brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include dozens of Tables (e.g. 'assessing a capability resourcing plan' on Page 34, 'The three approaches to agile talent' on 154, and ' critical conditions for developing leadership at the highest levels' on 191) and Figures (e.g. "Five important criteria in work design' on 119 and 'Making agile talent work:' on 189) as well as eleven assessment tools:

1. 'How agile-talent-aligned is you organization?' (23)
2. 'Identifying the capabilities required for success' (32)
3. "Identifying potential problems of the four aligning categories' (37)
4. 'Getting feedback on your employer brand' (77)
5. 'Assessing the career stage of an individual or job' (101)
6. 'Determining the right mix of stages among externals and internals on your team' (108)
7. "How well does your organization's commence nations support agile talent?' (124)
8. 'How well do you sponsor agile talent?' (138)
9. 'Determining a prospective talent manager's emphasis in working with agile talent (144)
10. 'The pilot's checklist: identifying what leads to the success or failure of a change venture' (162)
11. 'Using the organization virus detector: identifying the three most important cultural risk factors in managing change in your organization' (164)

These devices and other supplementary resources will facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of especially valuable material later.

I agree with Jon Younger and Norm Smallwood that, ultimately, 'the effectiveness of agile talent in any organization will turn on the quality of leadership. The leadership code [Page 133] provides a systematic and helpful way to think about what competent leaders do.' The best leaders serve as role models. In this context, they must demonstrate agile leadership in all of their relationships. If an organization's leaders think in terms of internals and non-internals -- or allow anyone else to -- it cannot succeed or even survive.

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