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Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change
Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change
Price: CDN$ 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff... but loses its stride (so best to skip the strategic learning regurgitation), April 7 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Was completely engaged for the first half of the book and then the authors went down a very long dissection of learning companies... But it didn't tie into the other principles if the book. Guess they had a page count to hit. Ignore this section and you will enjoy the read and will find something worth highlighting every other page.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting
Read This Before Our Next Meeting
by Al Pittampalli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 9.29
34 used & new from CDN$ 6.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manifesto for creating the "Modern Meeting", Sept. 3 2011
Al's book highlights all that is wrong with the `traditional meeting' and suggests a better, more productive way to do business through the `Modern Meeting`. It's almost the opposite of the continual, daily meetings promoted within "Mastering The Rockefeller Habits" by Verne Hamish.

Describing Microsoft Office email appointments as `weapons of mass interruption', Al SCREAMS that it is too easy for people to call a meeting... without thinking or caring about the impact it will have on others. "Its simply what work is about."

Pittampalli believes meetings should be held AFTER a decision has been made, but only if you are willing to change your mind.

I especially like the summary made by other Amazon book reviewer, "Furthermore, [Pittampalli] points out how meetings have become stalling tactics and havens for complacency and collective indecision in too many organisations around the world. Too many meetings with too many people (or the wrong ones) leads to inaction, compromise and mediocrity. `Less talk, more action' should be the new mantra.

Key lessons and methods of enacting a "modern meeting":

- If you make a decision and will not change your mind... write the memo, don't call a meeting. If you think you may change your mind, call a meeting to discuss your decision. Invite only those who are affected directly by your decision.

- brainstorming sessions are NOT meetings; but be clear on what you are "storming" and invite ONLY those who can help\

- Circulate "homework/pre-meeting work" reading materials before the meeting; insist that everyone read them beforehand. If they haven't done the reading, they have "elected" to not have a say at the meeting or ask "could you remind me again...". Information meetings are a waste... read your email and the memo.

- Just showing up is not good enough. Be engaged and contribute... if not, you may not be asked to attend next time.

- Use a timer; finish on time (I just bot a "T.I.M. Timer"; TIM = "Time Is Money")

- My favourite, which I implemented almost 2 years ago... the person calling the meeting should also take their own notes and follow things up personally.Circulate the minutes ASAP with listed action items. Flag for follow up.

Al's manifesto rules summarized below:

(1) Meet only to support a decision that has already been made.
(2) Move fast. End on schedule.
(3) Limit the number of attendees.
(4) Reject the unprepared.
(5) Produce committed action plans.
(6) Refuse to be informational. Read the memo, it's mandatory.
(7) Work with brainstorms, not against them.

The above may no be well received, but hold yourself accountable to these rules for running your OWN meetings... protect your time and set an example for others.

Good luck!

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
by John Perkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
83 used & new from CDN$ 1.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial page turner through history that makes you think and wonder, Sept. 3 2011
Controversial non-fiction or fiction, depending on your point of view, account of the author's own involvement in promoting and securing American interests through economic means.

Well writtern, except for the self-gloating and self-righteousness sections which can be quickly skipped. Reads like a good "cloak-and-dagger" novel, but cast with real events and history.

I can't speak to the facts, but a compelling story, especially as it spins through Vietnam, Panama, Iran, Iraq, Columbia, Venezuela and those events surrounding 9/11. Those that can "connect the dots" will be able to extrapolate onto events occurring in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Tunisia.

Makes you think... and wonder.

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal
The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal
by Jim Loehr
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
64 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corporate Athlete -- What's Your Training Plan To Achieve Optimal Performance?, July 10 2011
If you end each day exhausted, I urge you to read this book. If you already (or wish to) maximize your tasks by agressive time management or productivity tools, you may be forgetting a critical component.

My full review and personal extracts combining a variety of ideas is located at --> [...]

Grounded in the research and consulting they've done with the world's greatest athletes, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz provide a set of ideas and tools to help "Corporate Athletes" function at optimal levels of performance. At the heart of their research is the fact that: "Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance." Time is finite, but the way in which we as humans exert "work" and recover, is about ENERGY.

Many of us approach work like a marathon runner. However, the authors have proven that we as humans, corporate worker or professional atheletes, have natural rhythms and is best to follow interval work and training. Best to think like a sprinter, or high jumper between jumps, or tennis player between points. High output periods at optimal performance levels, followed by smaller periods of recovery.

I am not sure if I would have included in the book's title the word "engagement"... its a bit overused like "empowerment"--a nice way of managers/leaders/organizations to say "when you are at work, we want you to like to be at work". However, if you take "engagement" from a personal perspective it's not about work, but rather about having an engaged life--being fully engaged with your family, community and those you work with. Engagement is when:

What we do
is in complete alignment with
what we believe
and
has a purpose
in meeting our needs
which are defined by our deepest values.

Not building intervals into your work or person life leads to less optimal performance and normally burn out, both at work and home. A key "negget" the authors make early in the book: "To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest. Full engagement begins with feeling eager to get to work in the morning and equally happy to return home in the evening and capable of setting clear boundaries between the two."

Some interesting statistics, as extracted from "The Energy Project" white paper, which is Tony Schwartz's consulting firm:

- Physical: 62% of people that do not take regular breaks tend to become less productive, less engaged, less efficient and less focused.
- Emotional: 80% of survery respondents agree with the statement "I frequently find myself feeling irritable, impatient or anxious at work, especially when demand is high."
- Mental: 80% of survery respondents agree with the statement "I spend much of my time reacting to immediate demands rather than focusing on activities with longer-term leverage."; 72% of employees have difficulty focusing on ONE thing at a time and I am easily distracted during the day, especially by email {yup... sounds like me!!!}
- Spiritual (not a big fan of the word; but it links to "our reason for being; our purpose"): 66% of survery respondents agree with the statement "My decisions at work are often more influenced by external demands rather than by a strong, clear sense of my own purpose."

The premise of the argument that, employees, like the companies they work for {after all, some of us employees are charged with leading these same employees}, are largely unaware of the price they pay by neglecting their core energy needs. Distracted and overwhelmed, they become increasingly burned out, de-motivated, and disengaged.

At the same time, companies continue to implement policies and procedures, and foster social norms and expectations, which prohibit or undermine the very behaviours that would most help to build and support sustainably high performance cultures. The casualties are efficiency, productivity, creativity, employee satisfaction, and ultimately, the company's bottom line.

Rather than trying to get more out of their people, organizations seeking competitive advantage are best served by systematically seeking to meet the four core energy needs (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) of their employees in order to free, fuel and inspire them to bring the best of themselves to work every day -- a group of Corporate Athletes.

HEREIN lies the dilemma --> "WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUT IT?"

SOLUTION --> "TRAIN and BECOME A CORPORATE ATHLETE"... more at the end of the book including worksheets.

Anything You Want
Anything You Want
by Derek Sivers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 12.99
47 used & new from CDN$ 6.08

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roy Orbison would be proud: "Anything you want, you got it. Baby!", July 3 2011
This review is from: Anything You Want (Hardcover)
An easy 1-2 hour read that will inspire those who may be "stuck". His website/blog/animated videos are also great ([...]).

The book is an excerpt of how Sivers was rejected by the big record labels and then decided to post his own music on the web for sale. This was several years before PayPal was even invented and iTunes was still many years away. In building this hobby into a business, it was always about the "artists" and sharing their music. After "maximizing" his company and the "joy" of running it had lost its luster, he sold it for a cool $22MM... and largely gave it all charity and reinvested into supporting independent music distribution.

Some of the key quotes that caught my attention:

- If it's not a hit, switch
- I Miss the Mob
- Obvious to You. Amazing to Others
- If you think life's purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you'll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you; if you think revolution meeds to feel like war, you'll overlook the importance of simply serving people better.
- Ideas are just a multiplier of execution
- Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what's not working.
- Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers.

Sivers reminded me to "pay close attention to when you're being the real you and when you're trying to impress the invisible jury" (similar to Marcus Buckingham Go Put Your Strengths to Work). His words struck at my own motivations and pressure/stress that I self-inflict.

He also encourages through his book to innovate, and ignore how many others may have already executed the same idea... build upon the idea/service/product. Don't wait for the perfect idea. Experiment and start building with incremental improvements along the way.

Thanks to Sivers for an inspirational, quick but meaningful read.

The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content.
The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content.
by Timothy Ferriss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.89
49 used & new from CDN$ 11.46

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tools to improve productivity at a regular company, July 1 2011
What a great read... in a nutshell: "Do what you love to do; outsource the rest."

Ferriss is an inspiring persona and provides us real-life tools of how he was able to attain utopia--a four-hour work week (4HWW). However, my passion does not resemble a product that I developed or redesigned, that could be converted into a mailorder business... unless I start re-packaging my favorite whole bean coffee from the Okanagan Valley, brand it organic, fair-trade and bird-friendly.

Alas, for those of us in middle to upper management in a traditional organizations, a 4HWW is not readily attainable. For many of us in these roles, we have at least 6 persons reporting to us and you, in turn, report to another person (or maybe more in a matrix responsibility organization)... and they have at least 4 or 5 peers. The normal command and control organization, where work is done in teams, meetings and in person does not lend itself to a 4HWW.

We are then left with three options:

1) Muster all of your formal, informal, political influence and combine with a bunch of emotional fortitude (all guts; no fear)... and start a mini-revolution to redesign the way you work with your team and your boss(es).
2) Quit your job and engineer that new iPad app that doubles up on "Angry Birds"
3) Take pieces of Ferriss' techniques and apply them to your current job (take the "act first, prove it, ask forgiveness later" approach)

EXECUTING SOME OF THE TECHNIQUES
IN A NORMAL WORK WEEK
I elected to pusue #3 (with some forwarning) and have undertaken to implement or have already implemented several of the below. So far, my productivity has risen dramatically, OT hours dropped and more time devoted to family and personal hobbies.

- Virtual Executive Assistant (DONE! Best $13/hr I've spent with BrickworkIndia)
- Speed reading/learning (DONE! I thought I was fast before... 20% better now)
- EverNote (DONE! Way better than MS-OneNote... cloud computing taken to the next level, with interfaces to everyone of my devices: PC work; PC home; Blackberry; iPad)
- Batching email reading and writing (DONE... well almost; I have a poor habit that needs breaking)
- "Puppy Dog Salesmanship" = "Take them home for a day or week. Bring them back if you're not comfortable or satisfied." --> ditto for trying new things at work. Test, experiment, pilot... if it doesn't work for you or your manager, it can always revert back to the old paradigm
- Voicemail to Email via PhoneTag (TESTING right now)
- Google Calendar/AutoSync/TimeDriver - send an email with "Schedule Now" button to allow users to book into your open time slots (STARTED, but IT network won't allow me to install AutoSync on PC work; but I figured out a workaround using my iPad. TESTING right now)
- Xobni (inbox spelled backwards) - batching and hotspot email periods (haven't tried yet, but would force me to break the bad email habit of processing all the time)
- Virtual conceirge (haven't tried yet, but as the errands pile up, it may be worth a try at $10/hr)
- Virtual freelance services - define the scope of work; post it; answer Q&A to redefine scope; the service "bids" out the work; get quotes back; select the freelancer; get the work done (Haven't tried yet, but the first SQL or Oracle programming issue I uncover, I am all over it)

MEMORABLE QUOTES:
"Here are two trusims to keep in mind: (1) doing something unimportant well does not make it important; (2) requiring a lot of time does not make a task important"

"How to read 200% faster in 10 minutes" (really, a must read section)

"The vision is really about empowering workers, giving them all the information about what's going on so they can do a lot more than they've done in the past." - Bill Gates

"Income Autopilot" - for those who don't want to run a business, but rather for those who want to OWN a business

"Fewer than 5% of the 200,000 books published each year sell more than 5,000 copies" {So much for getting rich being an author}

AND AT THE END
Ferriss does get a bit scrambled at the end of his book... you can tell he wanted to add so much more of what he has learned. Check out [...].

Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business
Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business
by Josh Bernoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.52
67 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some practical execution approaches; Still a bit flakey like other "Empowerment" genre books, May 24 2011
I typically shun the "empowerment" genre. Historically they have been full of fluff and self-promotion. However, a work colleague from the IT group gave it to me and commented that it was worth the read--perhaps even practical. On this note, I couldn't resist and wasn't disappointed... other than the length and regurgitation of their research.

What is the underlying principle of empowerment? Quote from Bill Gates "The vision is really about empowering workers, giving the ALL THE INFORMATION about what's going on so they can do a lot more than they've done in the past." Yes; the principle of empowerment in a single sentence!

Those worthy of being empowered? HEROes or "Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives". HEROes are made, which carries risk as an owner/manager that is ultimately accountable for the actions of their staff. However, the resulting rewards are deemed worthy of the risk.

EMPOWERED hits on the failure of other empowerment initiatives. In a nutshell, these programs regularly fail since we are enslaved to being unable to accomplish a task without first obtaining permission or information. Why? Normal command and control structures within organization limit the ability of staff to "commit" the organization ($ or resources or time). However, each time someone needs to ask permission for something they already know the anwswer, but are unauthorized, the supervisor's time is consumed. It doesn't need to be this way; knowledge workers especially should be granted more latitude.

From another book, "4-Hour Work Week" by Timothy Ferris, I like his summary in this regard: "For the employee, the goal is to HAVE full access to necessary information and as much independent decision-making ability as possible. For the entrepreneur, the goal is to GRANT as much information and independent deicision-making ability to employees and contractors as possible."The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content.

EMPOWERED does a great job is showing HOW to execute EMPOWERMENT, albeit using some very lengthy examples (the book could have been atleast 100 pages shorter... I see that Ted Schadler is with Forrester, an IT research company; I guess they felt compelled to prove their "thesis" or perhaps indirectly thank their customers by quoting them in their book).

The EVE (Effort-Value Evaluation) tool, also located on their website [...], is a practical tool for evaluating projects that are raised by HEROes. I am fortunate to have one of our company's HEROes building this into XLS to allow multiple projects raised to be graphed. Great tool given competing projects for $$$ and resources.

Skip forward to the POST method for building strategies/execution plans for applications/tools. The book uses "Mobile Strategy" to demostrate the template: P for people. Examine your customers or employees mobile behaviors. Check website traffic; O for objectives. Determine how you and them will benefit. Increase sales, decrease costs,increase loyalty; S for strategies. Whats the long term plan for your mobile app? T for technology. What types of mobile apps are you building? Text messaging, mobile sites, apps?

I know I give the authors grief on the overload on examples, but there are snippets (and I stress snips) of good ideas... ones that can be augmented with your own situation. Some of the survey data, such as those statistics provided on "Do-It-Yourself" technology used by employees within a company. Hilarious! But true. I really like "reclaimed server" that was hooked up under an employee's desk.

More practical action items for improving "culture" for HEROes and their readiness: (1) To help employees feel like owners/empowered MUST improve leadership and management. Heroes want to create solutions. Therefore, align management and culture with heroes. [This is self-evident; but as a senior executive, need to really ask the tough question: "Do we have the right managers on the bus?"] (2) To help workers act/feel resourceful, support them with technology. Heroes need help. They need access to technology, not locked down systems. They need tools to collaborate, support from IT, guardrails to keep their solutions safe and systems that spread their success across the organization. [In a highly centralized IT company, this can be painful. The authors recommend building "joint councils" but this sounds like more bureaucracy.]

They stated that leading HEROes is hard. While you have to give up central control of technology, you must also lead your heroes soon they contribute to the business. Hence the contradiction! This is where John Hunt's book "Art of the Idea" comes into play: "IDEAS DO NOT TRAVEL WELL THROUGH BUREAUCRACY. It is correct and essential to question everything, but when that questioning leads to ever widening circles of endless debate, the game is over. Layers of decision-making institutionalize procrastination and often elevate it to an art form. It might be meticulously and precisely recorded, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a waste of time." Classic quote Art of the Idea: And How It Can Change Your Life. Depending on the project and the inherent risk, it may be best "Act first. Apologize second."

In supporting your HEROes, you need to build a HERO-powered business that embraces innovation... HEROes will naturally generate ideas, but can the organization prioritize quickly and move to implementation just as fast? The authors stress three elements: (1) SPEED--act quickly on ideas or your HEROes will just give up and go back to their old jobs; (2) Gather FEEDBACK from across the organization--the best ideas cross thru the organization--generate discussion and traffic; (3) SOFTWARE to support innovation--SharePoint, Imaginatik, Yammer, InnovationSpigit

This last point gave rise to an excellent graph: "INFORMATION WORKPLACE" which diagrams the components of an integrated toolkit for employees. However, the authors stressed that collaboration/innovation programs need two things: (1) Unique leader behind the program (ie. change agent, won't listen to "no", driven to challenge the existing order); (2) Other HEROes to knit together varied systems--must be scaleable and boundaryless.

The authors also identified the current anchor technologies that have and will continue to power most HERO projects: (1) Deployment of business analytics to make sense of all the new operations/customer/financial information; (2) Master mobile technologies to build mobile apps; (3) Choose social technology platforms to support customer and employee communities; (4) Build cloud apps to link internal security and data systems to cloud services; (5) Manage security as a business service.

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