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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)
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The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas into the Market
The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas into the Market
Price: CDN$ 12.87

5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.", May 20 2014
Note: The statement I selected to serve as the title of this review was made by Howard Akin

Those who have read any of Scott Anthony's previously books - notably The Little Black Book of Innovation, The Silver Lining, The Innovator's Guide to Growth, and Seeing What's Next, co-authored with Clayton M. Christensen, Erik A. Roth -- already know that no one else has a better understanding of what innovation is and isn't than he does. I have read and reviewed all of them and thus was especially excited as I began to read his latest and, in my opinion, his most valuable book, The First Mile. In my opinion, it is his most valuable book thus far, for reasons that will soon become obvious.

What he offers is essentially an operations manual for anyone in need of information, insights, and counsel to get their ideas to market, faster and with much greater impact. As Anthony explains, "The first mile is a perilous place. Hidden traps snare entrepreneurs, and seemingly never-ending roadblocks slow innovators inside large companies. It's easy to make a wrong turn on the path to the magical combination of z deep customer need, a compelling solution, and a powerful economic model. Creating new things always takes longer and always costs more than you think, making it all too easy to run out of fuel."

I agree with Anthony that any new idea, especially one that is promising, is in greatest danger during the first mile (stage, phase, etc.) of its existence. I also agree with him that the scientific management of strategic uncertainty is the key to its survival. More specifically, he recommends DEFT -- a process that involves four stages: documentation, evaluation, focus, and testing -- and devotes a separate chapter to each of the four. Before embarking on that perilous journey, he suggests, potential value of the given idea should be determined according to three criteria:

1. It must address a legitimate market or customer need.
2. It must address the need in a reliable and compelling way.
3. It must be capable of creating value according to metrics that are relevant to the opportunity.

To aid in that process, Anthony provides a set of 27 questions that must be answered with clarity and candor. He also recommends and briefly discusses the utility of three "capture tools" and, in fact, fills the reader's toolbox with countless others by the book's conclusion. The first is an "idea resume," originally introduced in a book, The Innovator's Guide to Growth (2008); next, "the business model canvas" that Osterwalder and Pigneur thoroughly explain their book, Business Model Generation (2010); and then a mini-business plan, one that incorporates all of the strengths of one formulated by Wildfire's founders. Table 2-1 (on Pages 37-38) provides an overview of that plan. Anthony also includes four "Watch-Outs" to keep in mind when using any of the tools he offers. I commend him on his brilliant use of reader-friendly devices. In addition to Tables, he also uses "Overviews" and "Key Messages from This Chapter" section to focus on key material. These and other devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of especially important 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 Anthony's coverage.

o The Scientific Method and Strategic Uncertainty (Pages 14-19)
o The Next Step: Twenty-Seven Innovation Questions (29-33)
o Four Watch-Outs (39-44)
o Pattern-Based Analysis (47-50)
o How to Prioritize Uncertainties (69-81)
o Keep Teams Small and Focused (84-89)
o "The First Mile Readiness Check List" (137-138)
o Challenge #1: Make a Wrong Term (144-168)
o Decision-Making Systems That Pierce through the "Fog of Innovation" (172-191)
o Seek Chaos (199-206)
o Parting Thoughts (207-208)

With regard to Scott Anthony's concluding remarks, they include his hope that those who read his latest book will "at the very least approach innovation with more confidence by understanding what they can do to more scientifically manage its risks." A careful reading and then (hopefully) a careful re-reading of this book will help his readers to develop the ability to handle ambiguity and uncertainty, to embrace rather than fear chaos with diversified networks and a variety of skills when challenged in unexpected ways. True, the first mile is uniquely perilous but is also true that those who read this book will be well-prepared to achieve much greater progress, faster, than would probably be possible during subsequent miles.

I have a concluding thought of my own: The two appendices, "Innosight Ventures Assessment Tool" and "Cognitive Biases and the First Mile," all by themselves, are worth far more than the cost of the complete book.
Amazon US now sells it for $16.60. That's not a bargain, that's a steal.

Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask
Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask
by Michael J. Marquardt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.56
27 used & new from CDN$ 19.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Unless you ask the right questions, you'll never get the right answer and that indicates you really don't know what problem is, May 17 2014
This is a revised and updated edition of a book first published by Jossey- Bass in 2005. During the nine years since then, obviously, a great deal has changed in what has become an extensively digitized, and increasingly more volatile global marketplace. Michael Marquardt's objective and focus remain the same, however: To provide whatever information, insights, and counsel his reader will need to become highly skilled in an immensely important but nonetheless under-appreciated dimension of effective leadership, asking the right questions. He interviewed a number of prominent leaders and shares what he learned from them. He also draws upon his wide and deep experience with C-level executives, notably as program director of the Executive Leadership Program at George Washington University. It is worth noting that he also serves as president of the World Institute for Active Learning.

As I began to read this second edition for the first time, I was again reminded of an incident that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein's faculty colleagues at Princeton noted that he always asked the same questions on his final examinations. "Quite right. Each year, the answers are different." As Marquardt explains so convincingly, those who master the skills of strategic inquiry -- to know which questions to ask as well as when and how to ask them -- will be able to obtain or determine the right answers to the most important questions, whatever they may be at any given time.

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

o Key Aspects of Leading with Questions (Pages 6-8)
o What Happens When Leaders Don't Ask Questions (14-18)
Comment: Results are usually even worse when leaders ask the wrong questions.
o Questions as the Ultimate Leadership Tool (22-27)
o Organizational Benefits of a Questioning Culture (34-48)
o Common: I learned decades ago that the only "dumb" question is the one not asked.
o Individual Benefits of a Questioning Culture (48-58)
o Questions That Empower or Disempowered, and, Types of Effective Questions (84-86 and 91-99)
o Roots of Great Questions (86-90)
o Finding Great Questions (101-102)
o Judger versus Learner: The Mindset for Asking Questions (103-108)
o How to Frame Questions (110-114)
o The Leader's Role in Shaping a Questioning Culture (130-143)
o Building Relations That Empower (152-156)
o Managing Key Employee Interactions (165-173)
o Leading Teams as a Coach-Questioner (178-186)
o Questions at Various Stages of Problem Soling (206-210)
Comment: Too often, the focus is on the symptom(s) of a problem rather than on the root cause(s). Toyota has popularized the "Five Why" approach to avoid making that mistake.
o Using Questions to Bring Fresh Perspective (214-218)
o Leading Organizational Change (232-235)

I agree with Marquardt that all managers who aspire to become effective leaders must develop a number of questioning skills, values and attributes that he thoroughly examines in this book. They include the ability to ask the right questions; knowing when and how to do that; possessing courage and authenticity to earn credibility and, of greater importance, respect and trust; confidence and trust in the process and (especially) in those involved; having a bias for bold but prudent action rather than risk aversion; outstanding listening skills; a passion for learning...and for sharing; and self-awareness that nourishes both confidence and humility.

The information, insights, and counsel provided in this revised and updated edition are even most valuable now. I congratulate Michael Marquardt on a brilliant achievement. Bravo!

Agile Change Management: A Practical Framework for Successful Change Planning and Implementation
Agile Change Management: A Practical Framework for Successful Change Planning and Implementation
Price: CDN$ 36.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Change management is impossible without change agents who have an agile mindset, May 14 2014
The last time I checked, Amazon offers 13,473 books on one or more aspects of business change management. Why another? I think there are three primary reasons. First, change has always been the only constant in the business world and each year, it seems to occur faster and with greater impact than before. There will always be a need for field-tested information, insights, and counsel from new sources to help manage it rather than be managed by it. Also, changes in one's competitive environment usually require changes within one's organization. Hence the importance of developing a rapid-response mindset, one that can accommodate both potential threats and possible opportunities in a timely manner. My third reason is illustrated by an incident that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein's faculty colleagues at Princeton point out that he asked the same questions each year on his final examinations. "Quite true. Each year, the answers are different." Business leaders need to be aware of "new answers" are as well as of the right questions that have been asked for centuries.

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

o Five guiding principles of agile change management (Pages 11-17)
o What are the benefits of a roadmap? (26-30)
o Part 2: Applying the roadmap to what you change (50-54)
o Active Listening (67-73)
o What is business need? (79-84)
o Bringing the elements of business need together (85-93)
o Generating information about the change (114-122)
o Defining the impact of the change (132-144)
o Personal awareness (147-162)
o Personal leadership (163-173)
o Steps in building relation ships (184-194)
o Setting the scene for change initiatives to thrive(196-201)
o Building a sustaining environment (217-220)

Melanie Franklin has no head-snapping revelations to share, nor does she make any such claim. What she offers is what the subtitle of her book suggests: "A practical framework for successful change planning and implementation." I think this book will be of most immediate value to those now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked on one. Also, for middle managers with supervisory responsibilities who need to fill knowledge gaps and sharpen basis skills.

However, I became convinced years ago that agile change management requires those involved to have an agile mindset. More specifically, change agents who embrace challenges, are not risk-averse, nor hostage to what Jim O'Toole characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom," and who welcome opportunities for others as well as for themselves to achieve personal growth and professional development.

The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric
The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric
by Larry Weber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.81
28 used & new from CDN$ 16.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why effective marketing depends on finding new and better answers to the same questions, May 14 2014
Since the ancient bazaars in Athens and Rome, marketing has created or increased demand for whatever the given offering may be. In recent years, many of the transactions have been conducted electronically, online. Almost 40% of the world is connected and that percentage is certain to increase. My point is, almost all of us are involved in some form of marketing each day, wherever we may be, attempting to attract interest in what we offer or evaluating what is offered to us.

That said, the Internet and especially the WWW have created entirely new opportunities and (yes) perils for marketing initiatives. According to Larry Weber and Lisa Leslie Henderson, "Digital has dealt all of us new cards. Today's customer journey still starts with a need or a desire, but our prospects often undertake an at times lengthy period of silent due diligence during which time [begin italics] they [end italics] discover and evaluate their options via the web. During this period of discovery our prospects' consideration set often grows rather narrow."

On average, people pull information from 10.4 sources before making a purchase. There has obviously been of shift from provision of information (e.g. functions, features, benefits) to "creating useful resources that address our prospects' and customers' underlying needs and desires. If these experiences resonate, we may be invited into the purchase decision process [as consultants, not purveyors]. Serving as trusted advisors, rather than biased advocates for our company's products and services, we create the conditions for our prospects and customers to evaluate [begin italics] for themselves [end italics] whether we make the grade."

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

o Three reasons why managing customer experience is worth the effort (Pages 19-20)
o Will We Ignore Change, Grow with It, or Drive It? (31-42)
o The CDO (Chief Data Officer): Expanding Our Organization's Way of Thinking (50-58)
o Brand or Be Branded (71-80)
o Be Resourceful as Do-It-Yourself Learners (80-86)
o Frameworks for Thinking about Customer Experience (98-113)
o Getting Our Arms around Our Customers' Experiences (113-122)
o What Are Marketers Doing with Data and Analytics? (135-143)
o We Are All Innovators (158-171)
o Content Marketing Works Through the Journey, and, Where Is the Content Machine Heading? (185-194)
o Tips for Creating Relevant Content (194-206)
o Social Media Has Taken the World by Storm (216-222)
o Fish Where the Fish Are (230-234)
Note: It is also a good idea to know when and what they are biting there.
o Pursue a Converged-Media Strategy (243-246)
o Create a Centralized Marketing Database (271-273)
o Strategies for Designing Loyalty Programs (289-294)
o A Shared Vision of Customer Centricity (300-303)
o Where Do We Begin? (308-313)

My own opinion is that different marketing skills, new or not, are needed to create or increase demand for the given offering in today's global, connected, intensely competitive marketplace. However, as Theodore Levitt suggests in his classic HBR article, "Marketing Myopia" (July 2004), the same basic questions must be asked:

"Who is my customer"
"What is our core business?"
"How are and what we offer different from the competition?"

In this context, I am reminded of an incident that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein's faculty colleagues at Princeton pointed out that he asked the same questions every year on his final examinations. "Quite right. Each year the answers are different." The same can be said about how to create or increase demand. Disruptive technologies will continue to require different answers to the same questions.
Comment

Six Simple Rules: How to Manage Complexity without Getting Complicated
Six Simple Rules: How to Manage Complexity without Getting Complicated
by Yves Morieux
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.63
34 used & new from CDN$ 19.53

5.0 out of 5 stars How organizations can create more value with better management of complexity by abandoning both hard and soft approaches, May 13 2014
I agree with Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman: "Underlying the management of today's organizations is a set of beliefs and practices - the hard and soft approaches - that, given the new complexity of business, have become obsolete." Worse yet, these approaches have become self-defeating. Briefly, the hard approach "rests on two fundamental assumptions. The first is the belief that structures, processes, and systems have a direct and predictable effect on performance, and as long as managers pick the right one, they will get the performance they want...The second assumption is that the human factor is the weakest and least reliable link of the organization and that it is essential to control people's behavior through the proliferation of rules to specify their actions and through financial incentives linked to carefully designed metric s and key performance indicators (KPIs) to motivate them to perform in the way the organization wants them to.

As for the soft approach, it views an organization as "a set of interpersonal relationships and the sentiments that govern them. Good performance is the by-product of good interpersonal relationships. What people do is predetermined by personal traits, so-called psychological needs and mind-sets. In other words, to change behavior at work, change the mind-set (or change the people)."

What do Morieux and Tollman suggest? They wrote this book to explain how and why organizations can create more value with better management of complexity by abandoning both hard and soft approaches. What then? They propose what they characterize as "smart simplicity," both a mind-set and a methodology based on six simple rules that can create situations in which "each person's autonomy -- in using judgment energy -- is made more effective by the rest of the group, and by which people put their autonomy in the service of the group. Morieux and Tollman duly acknowledge that these rules are easy to identify but can be immensely difficult to follow with precision, cohesion, and efficiency.

As I read the Introduction and thought about the rules, I was again reminded of several great teams that include the Disney animators who created classics such as Pinocchio and Bambi, the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, and the engineers who collaborated on aircraft design at Lockheed's "Skunk Works." Morieux and Tollman could well have had teams such as these in mind when observing that the first three rules "use the group effect to give people's autonomy an advantage in best using their energy and judgment, while the last three rules impel people to put their autonomy in the best service of the group." Following these rules can indeed help those in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) to manage complexity effectively with a combination of autonomy and cooperation at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. It should be noted that the six rules have a scientific basis, as Morieux and Tollman also explain in the Introduction.

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

o Smart Simplicity (Pages 16-20)
o Look for Anomalies (36-38)
o How the Hard Approach Gets in the Way of Understanding Performance (42-46)
o How the Soft Approach Gets in the Way of Understanding Performance (46-49)
o How Integrators Are Different, and, Creating Integrators in Existing Work Roles (57-62)
o Transforming Managers into Integrators (72-83)
o What Power Is -- and What It Isn't (86-89)
o The Manager's Role in Increasing Power: Creating New Stakes (91-92)
o Harnessing Power to Face Complexity (100-106)
o Three Misconceptions about Roles and Objectives (112-114)
o Setting Rich Objectives: Framing Roles for Overall Results (117-122)
o Three Reinforcing Mechanisms (122-133)
o Greater Accountability, Less Complicatedness (133-134)
o Strategic Alignment: A Trap of Complicatedness (137-142)
o Four Ways to Extend the Shadow of the Future (142-148)
o Make Those Who Don't Cooperate Bear the Cost (168-170)
o Institutionalize the Six Rules: A Three-Step Process (182-189)

In the Conclusion, Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman provide and explain a three-step process by which to "move away from the reliance on the hard and soft approaches and toward the use of the six simple rules. Use it when you consider engaging in organization redesign, restructuring, operating model redefinition, cultural transformation, productivity improvement, or cost reduction programs." The details of the process are best revealed within the narrative, in context, but I am comfortable sharing one observation, that all of the recommendations and words of caution as well as the rules themselves are simple to understand. Simplicity is imperative to the ultimate success of any organizational initiative such as those just mentioned, especially given the velocity and extent of complexity that increase each day.

I urge those who share my high regard for this book to check out another: Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson and published by Harvard Business Review Press.

Employee Engagement in Theory and Practice
Employee Engagement in Theory and Practice
by Catherine Truss
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 59.23
24 used & new from CDN$ 49.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Diverse perspectives on employee engagement and the practical implications of emerging engagement theories, May 12 2014
What we have in this single volume is an abundance of information, insights, and counsel from several dozen authorities on one of the greatest challenges that business leaders now face: How to increase the percentage of those in the given workforce who are actively and productively engaged. All of the recent research studies that I have examined indicate that, on average, more than 70% of employees in a U.S. company are either passively engaged ("mailing it in") or actively engaged in undermining the success of their company. Presumably the percentages in UK and Canadian companies are comparable.

According to the five editors of this anthology of essays -- Catherine Truss, Rick Delbridge, Kerstin Alfes, Amanda Shantz, and Emma Sloane -- the idea that individuals can be "personally engaged" in their work , "investing positive and emotional and cognitive energy in to their role performance, was first proposed by William Kahn in 1990 in his seminal paper in the Academy of Management Journal. Since then, there has been a steadily growing stream of research, notably within the psychology field, that has sought to further explore the meaning and significance if engagement." Indeed, the most relevant of this research seems to have been cited, if not examined, in the material provided in this book.

The editors are also among the contributors. I commend them on the high quality of their selection, organization, and presentation of the material within four Parts: The psychology of engagement, Employee engagement: the HRM implications, Employee engagement: critical perspectives, and Employee engagement in practice. I also commend the editors on their clever use of seven "Figures" and 13 "Tables" strategically inserted throughout the narrative. For those in need of additional information, there is also an abundance of references to primary and secondary sources.

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

o "The conceptual distinctiveness of engagement vis-a-vis other relevant concepts remains an issue. As would be expected, engagement is related significantly and in meaningful ways to job related attitudes, behaviour, and intentions on the job, employee health and well-being, and personality traits. But the question is: are these relationships that strong, and does engagement overlap to such an extent with other concepts that they are virtually identical? Based on the empirical evidence presented above the answer too this question is 'no', at least for the time being. In addition, it seems that compared to similar, alternative concepts engagement is related in a rather unique way to job demands, job resources and performance. So, taken together, it appears that engagement reflects a genuine and unique psychological state that employees might experience at work." What is engagement? Wilmar B. Schaufeli (Page 25)

o "The third key driver of engagement, psychological availability or the sense that one is ready to personally engage at a particular moment, looks inward from the organizational or job to peoples' experiences of themselves within these systems. Among the studies we have reviewed, we find that individuals' reservoirs of personal resources in the form of general self- efficacy, organization-based self-esteem, and optimism, and personal dispositions in the form of conscientiousness, positive affectivity, and negative affectivity have strong influence over their personal readiness to engage," The antecedents and drivers of employee engagement, Eean R. Crawford, Bruce Puis Rich, Brooke Buckman, and Jenny Bergeron (71)

o "A lot of research has shown that there is much that employers can do to raise the levels of employee engagement...It all boils down to increasing employees' job resources, providing them with challenging job demands, and building their personal resources. In addition, employees may also craft their own job demands and resources, which results in increased engagement. Employee engagement thus seems highest when organizations provide the necessary preconditions for engagement in which employees are also allowed to craft those specific job characteristics they value or prefer. With this combined top-down and bottom-up approach, all employees have the potential to become engaged in their work." Job design and employee engagement, Maria Tims and Arnold Bakker (142)

I realize that the perspectives in this volume tend to be UK-centric but I think that many (if not most) of the employee engagement issues addressed are not. Exit interviews of highly-valued employees reveal that feeling that they and their efforts are not appreciated is the reason most often cited as the reason for leaving to work elsewhere. It is difficult (if not impossible) for almost anyone to become actively and productively engaged within a work environment that seems indifferent, if not hostile, to their personal growth and professional development.

No brief commentary such as this could possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of material in this volume but I hope I have at least succeeded in indicating why I think so highly of the content. As for the style of writing, as the three quoted passages indicate, it bears stunning resemblance to one also cherished by academics in the United States. For example, I was struck by the fact that in most of the essays, subjects and predicates are kept far apart from each other. Apparently Winston Churchill's memo about the importance of the declarative sentence never reached their authors. Also, in many of the essays, verbosity is the rule rather than the exception.

This book seems to have been written primarily for the contributors' peers rather than for the general public. Given the fact that most business leaders today have an attention span that resembles a strobe light blink, I question how many of them will read this book.

Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things
Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why focusing on gamification can help organizations to motivate their people to achieve shared goals, May 9 2014
I was introduced to game theory when I enrolled in a course one summer at the University of Chicago taught by a protégé of John von Neumann. He encouraged us to check out Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, co-authored by von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. I did, finding it a challenging read but thought-provoking.

In essence, game theory is a study of strategic decision-making. More specifically, what David Nelson has characterized as "the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers." I recalled this background as I began to read Gamify in which Brian Burke explains how and why gamification (a term attributed to Nick Pelling) "engages and motivates people across all kinds of activities using game mechanics such as badges, points, levels, and leaderboards." According to Burke, the working definition of the term at his firm, Gartner, is "use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and mo0tivate people to achieve their goals."

He poses three questions that he then proceeds to answer: "What's new about gamification? Who is getting it right? How can your organization be successful with gamification? When should you think about using gamification in your organization?" These are excellent questions. For Burke, if the objective is motivation, then gamification is the process by which to achieve it.

I commend Burke on his skillful use of reader-friendly devices that include dozens of "Figures" that illustrate key points or relationships as well as an end-of-chapter "Wrap Up" section (Chapters 1-11). He is also very specific when explaining a core process such as one involving seven separate but interdependent steps to design experiences that will motivate people to achieve their goals:

1. Define the business outcome and success metrics
2. Define the target audience
3. Define player goals
4. Determine the player engagement model
5. Define the play space
6. Define the game economy
7. Play test and iterate

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

o Gamification Defined (Pages 5-6)
o Gamification Is All About Innovation (18-21)
o Don't Mistake Business Goals for Player Goals (21-23)
o What Is Different About Gamification? (26-29)
o Gamification Is Not About Fun, and, Gamification Is Not a Payback (29-31)
o Leveraging Gamification to Engage the Crowd (35-37)
o Rewriting the Customer Engagement Model (41-44)
o Guiding Employees to Success (44-48)
o Driving Social Collaboration (48-50)
o Gamified Steps to Change Behavior (53-57)
o Inspiring Learning at Khan Academy (59-61)
o Energizing Employee Training (63-65)
o Captivating the Customer (65-68)
o Gamifying Skills Development (68-72)
o How Gamification Spurs Innovation (82-85)
o Player Experience Design Process (89-94)
o Apply Design Thinking (94-96)
o Promoting Player Engagement and Launching the Game (146-149)

Thoughtfully, in addition of dozens of gamification 'do's" And how to do them, Burke includes (in Chapter 8, Pages 127-136) an explanation of three reasons why gamification initiatives fail: The business outcomes haven't been clearly defined; the gamification solution has been designed to achieve the organizational goals rather than the player goals; and finally, the solution engages people on a transaction al level rather than an emotional level. He includes an explanation of how to avoid these "don'ts," also. For me, some of the most valuable material in the book is provided in this chapter, reminding me again of two quotations. First, from Peter Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all"; next, from Michael Porter: "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do."

With regard to the future, Brian Burke reminds us, "Nobody wins the human race. The only way to win in life is to set your own course, to work hard to achieve your goals, and to contribute to something that is bigger than yourself." One of those goals should be doing everything possible and appropriate to support effective collaboration with others because we "don't win this race individually, we all win together...Gamification is not new. Game mechanics and design have been used to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals throughout human history. Gamification is about rethinking motivation in a world where we are more often connected digitally than physically. And it is about building motivation into a digitally engaged world. And we are just getting started in this journey. Gamification will continue to develop for many years to come."

I presume to add that the design of human experiences will engage and then inspire people, to activate and nourish their self-motivation, only to the extent that storytelling is among the core competencies developed. At least since Homer, man's most powerful ideas have been anchored in human experience in the form of narratives with which subsequent generations identify. For me, that is the single greatest challenge to gamification...and the standard by which its success will be measured.

Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact
Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact
by Nick Morgan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.56
31 used & new from CDN$ 14.67

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rigorous and comprehensive exploration of where and what determine the value of interactions, for better or worse, May 7 2014
In this exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Morgan notes that our conscious minds can handle (i.e. process) about 540 bits of information per second whereas our unconscious mind can handle about eleven million (11,000,000) bits of information per second. Percentages vary from one research study to the next but the results of all of the research studies that I have examined indicate that, on average, less that 20% of one’s impact when interacting with another person is determined by what is said; more than 80% of our impact is non-verbal...tone of voice and body language. Time out: Please re-read that last sentence.

Morgan explains how, to a significant extent, we can increase our impact others' subconscious minds if we strengthen our interpersonal, non-verbal communications. That, in essence, is "the power that rules human interaction." Here is a covey of seven "power cues, " accompanied by a question. How you answer each question will help to determine the nature and extent of an area in which to improve.

1. Self-Awareness: How do you show up when you enter a room?
2. Non-Verbal Impact: What emotions do your tone of voice and body language convey?
3. Feedback: What unconscious “messages" are you receiving from others?
4. Presence: Do you have a leadership voice, one that resonates with authority?
5. Clear Signals: What authentic signals do you send out in key situations?
6. Unconscious Mind: Is your unconscious mind limiting you or freeing you?
7. Storytelling: Are you telling powerful stories?

Morgan devotes a separate chapter to each of the seven, explaining with precision as well as eloquence what to do in response to your candid answers as well as HOW to do it effectively.

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

o We're Not Aware of Our Most Important Activities (Pages 6-14)
o What Humans Really Want (18-21)
o Knowing Your Own Power Cues: Let's Rethink Our Communications (23-25)
o Why Gesture Matters, and, How Our Minds Really Work: Not So Much (32-33)
o Field Notes: The How-You-Show-Up Questionnaire (49-50)
o The Difficulty of Paying Attention to Everything (53-55)
o Mirror Neurons Make It All Possible (63-64)
o Take Charge of Your Emotions and You'll Be Able to Take Charge (65-68)
o Play the Top Dog to Be the Top Dog, and, Remember Who's in Charge (72-75)
o Use Your Unconscious Expertise the Way It Should Be Used (87-89)
o How to Spot the Person in Power (95-98)
o Learn [How] to Listen to Your Unconscious Mind (109-110)
o The Secret Sounds That Run Your Life (121-124)
o Pitching Your Voice to Project Leadership (131-134)
o The Leadership Conversation (138-140)
o Influence Has Four Sources (152-154)
o How to Send Honest Signals Through Cyberspace (161-166)
o How to Tell a Great Story (205-221)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mind can possibly do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Nick Morgan provides in this volume but I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. Here's just about everything anyone needs to know about how and why mastery of non-verbal as well as verbal skills can increase substantially the quality and impact one has in all interpersonal communication.

I presume to add one final point. All of these skills have a higher purpose: To ensure that your message and how you communicate it – both consciously and unconsciously -- help you to achieve the given objectives, and meanwhile, to help ensure that you “get” the messages that others are communicating to you, whether they realize it or not.

Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together
Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together
by Pamela Slim
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
37 used & new from CDN$ 6.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why we must strive to "direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world", May 7 2014
The title of this review was suggested by Dan Pink’s observation, in DRiVE, about the secret to high performance and satisfaction in all dimensions of our lives. Clayton Christensen also has much of value to say about this in How Will You Measure Your Life? as does Ken Robinson in two books, The Element and Finding Your Element.

With regard to the title of this book, Pamela Slim recalls, “After decades of watching my dad work, I realized that he was not just building a career (although he was a very successful professional photographer), he was not just being a volunteer (although he spend hundreds of hours of unpaid time on community projects), but he was creating a deep and rich body of work that not only had great meaning and significance to him but also created considerable change and value in his community.”

She makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices in Chapters 1-7. They include various exercises to complete, examples anchored in real-world experience, and boxed vignettes and FYIs to illustrate key points. These devices achieve two separate but related and critically important objectives: They enable her reader to interact with the material provided in her narrative, and, they facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

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

o How do you build a body of work? (Pages 12-13)
o The ingredients to make effort effective, and, Identifying one's ingredients (37-42)
o Work modes in the new world of work (55-59)
o How to expand your comfort zone (61-64)
o There Are Four Parts to Your Creative Process (81-89)
o The 20X Rule (97-99)
o Four skills needed to cope with fear and uncertainty (106-125)
o Avatars, ecosystems, and watering holes (134-139)
o Five ways to ask for help with marketing your business (151-152)
o Success in the new world of work, and, Body of Work Success Framework (162-169)
o Your definition of success (173-175)
o The two critical stories for career success, and The Persuasive Story Pattern (187-194)
o How to communicate clearly (199-206)
o The skills Pamela Slim's father used to create his body of work (218-220)

I agree with the concluding remarks that Pamela Slim shares with her reader: “Viewing your career as a body if work will give you more choice, financial security, and creative freedom. The world is not going to serve up neat career tracks anymore. You cannot guarantee that your business or nonprofit will survive in a constantly changing economic landscape. But you can choose the kinds of projects that are worth completing and the type of life that is worth living.”

Presumably she agrees with me that choosing the kinds of relationships that are worth having is at least as important as choosing the kinds of projects that are worth completing. All of “creative and brave people” she discusses in this book, and especially her father, built a body of work that was primarily the result of service to others, of on-going efforts “to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

Humans of New York
Humans of New York
by Brandon Stanton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.63
58 used & new from CDN$ 20.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Images of a city unlike any other in combination with the essence of those who live there, May 6 2014
This review is from: Humans of New York (Hardcover)
Brandon Stanton dedicated this book to the City of New York, observing “I had this crazy, juvenile idea that you were going to make all my dreams come true, and you did."

This book cannot be reviewed, it must be experienced. However, I shall make every effort to convince you to obtain this book and have that experience, not only once but whenever you are tempted to doubt that there is any hope for the human race.

What we have in this one-of-a-kind volume is Stanton's selection of urban portraits in full color he took during tree years of roaming the five boroughs of New York City. Certain people or situations caught his eye. He recorded them with his camera and later added comments, his or others' or both.

After considering all manner of approaches to what Stanton shares, I have decided to proceed with a representative selection of comments. Here we go:

PHOTO: Older man with shoulder-length silver hair, wearing several silver crosses, half a robe, and sandals
CAPTION: "I'm a Catholic monk. I live a life of prayer."
"What about the cigarette you're smoking?"
"Somebody's got to make the clouds."

PHOTO: Frisky-looking young lady sitting on entry steps next to a jam box, wearing tam and red-frame sunglasses
CAPTION: When I walked by, she was really moving to the music -- hands up, head nodding, shoulders swinging. I really wanted to take her photo, so I walked up to the nearest adult and asked: "Does she belong to you?"
Suddenly the music stopped, and I heard: "I belong to myself."

PHOTO: A white-haired man, nattily dressed (Ivy League senior), holding a copy of Barron's, carrying a cane
CAPTION: "I'm ninety-nine years old. Everything from my neck down is shit. But everything from my neck up is just as good as everyone else's. How lucky is that?"

PHOTO: Old man with long white beard, wearing a parka and knit hat
CAPTION: "I'm homeless, and I'm an alcoholic. But I have a dream"
What's that?
"I wanna go fishing."

PHOTO: Young girl with green hair and green eyebrows, wearing a fox tail around her neck
CAPTION: "I've been criticized for a lot more than my furs."

PHOTO: Side view of a young woman wearing sunglasses; atop her head are swirls and strands of black and white hair
CAPTION: "I'm going to let you take my photo because you seem like a genuine person. But just so you know -- I don't normally let people steal my swag."

The quality of the photography is superb but it is Stanton's obvious - and sincere - interest in those who agreed to be photographed that invests this volume with wit and especially a warmth of appreciation that are truly remarkable.

Each time I accompany him on a tour of the five boroughs, I am again reminded that those who live there are EVERYONE in terms of their humanity and yet - paradoxically - they share an extended community unlike any other. I urge everyone who reads this review to purchase a copy of Humans of New York. Also, to visit the website.

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