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Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive
Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive
by Bruce Schneier
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 17.52
41 used & new from CDN$ 6.80

5.0 étoiles sur 5 How social coercion can help to enable compliance and trust within a group, whatever its size may be, Sept. 15 2014
As Bruce Schneier explains, "All complex ecosystems, whether they are biological ecosystems like the human body, natural ecosystems like a rain forest, social ecosystems like an open-air market, or socio-technical ecosystems like the global finance system, or the Internet, are deeply interlinked. Individual units within those ecosystems are interdependent, each doing its part and relying on the other units to do their parts as well. This is neither rare nor difficult, and complex systems abound.

"At the same time, all complex ecosystems contain parasites. Within every interdependent system, there are individuals who try to subvert the system to their own ends. These could be tapeworms in our digestive tracts, thieves in a bazaar, robbers disguised as plumbers, spammers on the Internet, or companies that move their profits offshore to evade taxes.

"Within complex systems, there is a fundamental tension between what I'm going to call cooperating, or acting in the group interest; and what I'm going to call defecting, or acting against the group interest and instead in one's own self-interest."

In these few words, Schneier has established the framework within which to present an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that prepare his reader and almost any organization (or almost any group within an organization) to help establish and then sustain a culture within which mutual trust is most likely to thrive. There are two essential questions to be answered: How to empower the "cooperators" with whatever resources are needed so that they can minimize (if not eliminate) the damage done by "defectors." In this context, "an ounce of prevention" really is worth "a pound of cure."

Schneier uses the term "Cooperators" but, having read and then re-read his brilliant book, I presume to suggest that "Collaborators" would be more appropriate. Why? Establishing and then sustaining the aforementioned culture of mutual trust requires more, much more than buy-in or consent or agreement; it requires wide and deep collaboration between and among those who are not only involved but, more to the point, actively [begin italics] engaged [end italics] in the given enterprise, at all levels and in all areas.

Schneier suggests, "This book is about trust. Specifically, it's about trust within a group. It's important that defectors not take advantage of the group, but it's also important for everyone in the group to trust that the defectors won't take advantage"...until, of course, that trust is betrayed. "Specifically, it explains how society enforces, evokes, elicits, compels, encourages -- I'll use the word [begin italics] induces [end italics] -- trustworthiness, or at least compliance, through systems of what I call [begin italics] societal pressures [end italics], similar to sociology's social controls: coercive mechanisms that induce people to cooperate, act in the group interest, and follow group norms."

This book is also about security. In this context, "an ounce of prevention" really is worth "a pound of cure." A culture within which trust thrives can only be reasonably secure if four societal pressures are effectively applied: moral, reputational, institutional, and systems. These are the subjects of greatest interest to me in Parts I and II:

o The core principles of "the science of trust"
o Key developments throughout the history of organizational security
o Key developments during the evolution of cooperation
o Key developments throughout the social history of trust
o The unique challenges posed by establishing and then maintaining various societal pressures
Note: These challenges are even greater for leaders of organizations with multiple domestic and/or foreign locations.
o The strengths, limitations, and vulnerabilities of security systems

In Part III, Schneier introduces and then explains a model whose design takes into full account how effective societal pressures can help an organization to achieve its strategic objectives. This model is based on ten core principles:

1. Understanding the social dilemma
2. Consideration of all four societal pressures
3. Paying attention to scale
4. Fostering empathy and community; increasing moral and reputational pressures
5. Using security systems to scale moral and reputational pressures
6. Harmonizing institutional pressures across related technologies
7. Ensuring that financial penalties account for the likelihood that a defection will be detected
8. Choosing general and reactive security systems
9. Reducing concentrations of power
10. Requiring transparency -- especially in corporations and government institutions

In any organization, at least some defection is inevitable because no prevention system is infallible. Also, it would be a serious mistake to assume that defection is always bad and that societal pressures always serve admirable purposes. "Defection represents an engine for innovation, an immunological challenge to ensure the health of the majority against the risk of monoculture, a reservoir of diversity, and a catalyst for social change...The societies that societal pressures protect are not necessarily moral or desirable. In fact, they can protect some pretty awful ones."

Obviously, it remains for each reader to determine which of the material provided is most relevant to the given organization's needs, resources, and strategic objectives. Just about everything needed for the design process is provided in this book.
Comment

World Order
World Order
by Henry Kissinger
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 26.33
31 used & new from CDN$ 22.68

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A brilliant response to so many compelling questions about world power then, now, and in years to come, Sept. 15 2014
This review is from: World Order (Hardcover)
I have read most of Henry Kissinger's previously published books and reviewed several of them. In my opinion, his latest -- World Power -- is the most valuable thus far because it addresses a challenge that the human race faces in months and years to come, one that it has never faced before: the possibility of total global chaos.

Consider these observations by Kissinger in the Introduction: "No truly global 'world power' has ever existed. What passes for order in our time was devised in Western Europe nearly four centuries ago, at a peace conference in the German region of Westphalia, conducted without the involvement or even the awareness of most other continents or civilizations." Without a global world power, obviously, there can be world order.

The title of my review refers to a number of compelling questions and the first one posed in the Introduction is a whopper: "Are we facing a period in which forces beyond the constraints of any order determine the future?" Here are some others to which Kissinger also responds:

o What is the relevance of the Westphalian System to world order? So what?
o To what extent has Islamism threatened world order throughout the last 1,000 years?
o To what extent does Islamism (or at least radical Islamism) threaten world order today?
o What can be learned from the relationship between the U.S. and Iran during the last 50 years?
o What is the relevance of Asian multiplicity to world order?
0 What are the various stages of development of the U.S. foreign policies with regard to world order since Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901?
o Insofar as world order is concerned, what valuable lessons can be learned from the Cold War?
o Are nuclear military power and world order incompatible?
o To what extent do disruptive technologies threaten world order?
o To what extent can they help to establish, perhaps then strengthen world order?
o Given the current and imminent realities as well as probabilities, must the human race do to achieve world order?

Kissinger thoughtfully and illuminating responses to these and other questions are best revealed within his lively and eloquent narrative, in context. However, it may be of interest to check out a few brief excerpts that are representative of the thrust and flavor of his style:

o "The history of most civilizations is a tale of the rise and fall of empires. Order was established by their internal governance, not through equilibrium among states: strong when the central authority was cohesive, more haphazard under weaker rulers. In imperial systems, wars generally took place at the frontiers of the empire or as civil wars. Peace was identified with the reach of imperial power." (Page 11)

o "Europe turns inward just as the quest for a world order it significantly designed faces a fraught juncture whose outcome could engulf any region that fails to shape it. Europe thus finds itself suspended between a past it seeks to overcome and a future it has not yet defined." (95)

o "At least three viewpoints are identifiable in Arab attitudes: a small dedicated but not very vocal group accepting genuine coexistence with Israel and prepared to work for it; a much larger group seeking to destroy Israel by permanent confrontation; and those willing to negotiate with Israel but justifying negotiations, at least domestically, in part as a means to over come the Jewish state in stages." (131)

o "Order always requires a subtle balance of restraint, force, and legitimacy. In Asia, it must combine a balance of power with a concept of partnership. A purely military definition of the balance will shade into confrontation. A purely psychological approach to partnership will raise fears of hegemony. Wise statesmanship must try to find that balance. For outside it, disaster beckons." (233)

o "The American domestic debate is frequently described as a contest between idealism and realism. It may turn out -- for America and the rest of the world -- that if America cannot act in both modes, it will not be able to fulfill either." (329)

o "Is it possible to translate divergent cultures into a common system? The Westphalian system was drafted by some two hundred delegates, none of whom has entered the annals of history as a major figure, who met in two provincial German towns forty miles apart (a significant distance in the seventeenth century) in two separate groups. They overcame their obstacles because they shared the devastating experience of the Thirty Years' War, and they were determined to prevent its recurrence. Our time, facing even graver prospects, needs to act on its necessities before it is engulfed by them." (373)

I wholly agree with the remarks with which John Micklethwait concludes his review of World Order for The New York Times: After expressing some dismay concerning Kissinger's self-serving equivocation and courtiership, he suggests "the message is clear and even angry: The world is drifting, unattended, and America, an indispensable part of any new order, has yet to answer even basic questions, like 'What do we seek to prevent?' and 'What do we seek to achieve?' Its politicians and people are unprepared for the century ahead. Reading this book would be a useful first step."

Even if all the world leaders ask the same questions, including those suggested by Henry Kissinger in this book, it seems certain that there will then be serious differences between and among them in terms of what they believe are the right answers. Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss would have each of us tend to our own garden in the best of all possible worlds. Today, that garden is the planet Earth. It is perhaps possible but, my opinion, highly unlikely that world leaders will ever be able to agree on a set of rules that define the limits of permissible action and a balance of power that enforces restraint where rules break down. I am again reminded of Pogo the possum....

The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams
The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams
by Ben Bradlee
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 24.45
35 used & new from CDN$ 16.14

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A brilliant examination of a Hall of Fame career and an "exceptional, tumultuous, and epic American life – an immortal life.”, Sept. 12 2014
I am among the 200 reviewers (thus far) who have rated this book highly but there are others (and there always are) who complain about something: its length, abundance of historical material, too much coverage of this/not enough of that, etc. I have read a number of biographies in recent years, including those of John Cheever (Bailey), Steve Jobs (Isaacson), Barbara Stanwyck (Wilson), Johnny Carson (Bushkin), John Wayne (Eyman), Michael Jordan (Lazenby), Woodrow Wilson (Berg), and John Updike (Begley) as well as Leigh Montville's biography of Ted Williams (2005). In my opinion, none is a greater achievement than what Ben Bradlee, Jr. offers in The Kid, his examination of the "immortal life" of Ted Williams (1918-2002).

As Charles McGrath points out in his review of the book for The New York Times, "What distinguishes Bradlee's The Kid from the rest of Williams lit is, its size and the depth of its reporting. Bradlee seemingly talked to everyone, not just baseball people but William's fishing buddies, old girlfriends, his two surviving wives and both of his daughters, and he had unparalleled access to Williams family archives. His account does not materially alter our picture of Williams the player, but fills it in with much greater detail and nuance...Bradlee's expansiveness enables his book to transcend the familiar limits of the sports bio and to become instead a hard-to-put-down account of a fascinating American life. It's a story about athletic greatness but also about the perils of fame and celebrity, the corrosiveness of money, and the way the cycle of familial resentment and disappointment plays itself out generation after generation."

Bradlee devotes seven pages of Acknowledgments of hundreds of sources (including Montville) to which he is "deeply indebted." He also includes 155 pages of Notes and in Appendix II (Pages 787-800) he lists everyone he interviewed. This is a research-driven book, to be sure, and probably the definitive account of the life of one of the most colorful - and controversial - public figures during the second half of the last century. Bradlee allows the sources to speak for themselves and provides a more balanced view than does Richard Ben Cramer, for example, in his biography of Joe DiMaggio and two of Williams.

There is much in Williams and his life to admire, notably his skills as a hitter of baseballs and his two periods of service as a Marine pilot (during WW 2 and then Korea) as well as his active support of the Jimmy Fund. He was very uncomfortable when praised for that support. Here is a brief portion of the information provided by the Fund's website: "Ted Williams was a hero in the ballpark, on the battlefield, and in the hearts of millions of children suffering from cancer. Famous for his extraordinary batting record during his decades-long career with the Red Sox, Ted also displayed heroism as a fighter pilot in two wars, and his tireless efforts on behalf of the Jimmy Fund. Ted went everywhere to support the cause: American Legion banquets, temples and churches, Little League games, drive-in theaters, department stores for autograph sessions. Most memorably, he made countless visits to the bedsides of sick children at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. As a kid, Ted dreamed of being a sports hero, but as an adult, he dreamed of beating cancer. His efforts over the years contributed to remarkable progress in the treatment of childhood cancers."

These are among the dozens of other dimensions of his life and career that are of greatest interest to me:

o His childhood in San Diego and early promise as a baseball player
o His minor league years (1936-1938) and the friendships he developed (e.g. with Dom DiMaggio and Bobby Doerr)
o Being identified as "The Kid" by Red Sox equipment manager, Johnny Orlando
o The first season in MLB, after which Babe Ruth designated him "Rookie of the Year"
o The 1941 season: Williams batted .406, hit 37 home runs, and had 120 RBIs, finishing second to Joe DiMaggio for MVP
o First active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps as a fighter pilot, World War 2 (1943-1945)

Note: According to Johnny Pesky, a Red Sox teammate who was also involved with Williams in the aviation training program, "He mastered intricate problems in fifteen minutes which took the average cadet an hour, and half of the other cadets there were college grads." Pesky again described Williams' acumen in the advance training, for which Pesky personally did not qualify: "I heard Ted literally tore the sleeve target to shreds with his angle dives. He'd shoot from wingovers, zooms, and barrel rolls, and after a few passes the sleeve was ribbons. At any rate, I know he broke the all-time record for hits."

o Second active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, Korea (1952-1953)

Note: During the second tour of duty, Williams served in the same Marine Corps unit with John Glenn who described him as one of the best pilots he knew.

o Why he disliked the sports media so intensely, especially in Boston
o When and why he retired
o The significance of his relationship with Sears Roebuck
o His brief career as a manager of the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers franchise from 1969 to 1972
o His inadequacies as a husband and as a father
o The ambiguities of John Henry Williams
o Questions that remain unanswered concerning what happened after Ted Williams' death on July 5, 2002 (aged 83)
o Key lifetime statistics: BA .344; HRs 521; 2,654 hits; and 1,839 RBIs

Bradlee thoroughly explores these and countless other subjects and related issues, perhaps with more details and to a greater extent than many readers prefer. He celebrates Williams' several significant strengths and virtues but refuses to ignore or even neglect his prominent inadequacies in most of his personal relationships. I appreciate the fact that Bradlee does not presume to explain what drove him other than a need to become the greatest baseball hitter who ever lived (I agree with Bradlee and countless others that he was) and by his determination to have total control of his personal life, especially the news media.

As Bradlee explains in his Author's Note, "Researching and writing this book took more than a decade. After six-hundred-odd reviews, uncounted hours of research in archives and among the private papers given to me and by the Williams family, after looking closely at that signed baseball more than a few times [one Bradlee received in his youth] and thinking hard about the man I'd briefly met as a boy and the man I was meeting now, I felt ready to let go of this Ted Williams tale, the story of an exceptional, tumultuous, and epic American life - an immortal life."

This is by far the best biography of Williams that I have read thus far, indeed it is among the best biographies of athletes I have ever read. I am deeply grateful for learning what I did not previously know about "The Kid," of course, but also for the meticulous care with which Ben Bradlee, Jr. presents all of the material, helping his readers to gain a better understanding and a greater appreciation of one of the most complicated human beings any of us will ever know. Bravo!

Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World
Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World
Prix : CDN$ 62.36

5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Effective leadership is defined by results, not attributes." Peter Drucker, Sept. 11 2014
What we have in this volume is an abundance of information, insights, and wisdom that Peter DiGiammarino has acquired thus far with specific relevance to how to develop and drive "teams of high-potential, growth-driven professionals to build highly successful and fast-growing ventures based on offerings that solve specific, important, pervasive and persistent problems for tight markets." There you have, in essence, what this book is all about and an indication of how it can be of substantial value those who are determined and able to apply effectively – from among the abundance of information, insights, and counsel -- whatever is relevant to the given enterprise.

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

o Note to OD Students and Practitioners (Pages 15-18)
o The Seven Truths (18-19)
o Who: Market (24-25)
o Why: Problem (25-28)
o What: Solution (28
o How: Do-Sell-Grow (28-30)
o Work Problem: Get Clear (42-47)
o Core Leadership Group (54-56)
o Work Problems 2-3: Get Aligned (60-62)
o The Change Framework (67-68)
o Meetings: Ground Rules (85-87)
o FOCUS: Penetrate Peaks (99-101)
o GROW: Organization Evolution (104-110)
o Effectiveness vs. Systems and Process Maturity (124-126)

Readers will appreciate DiGiammarino's skillful use of 127 Figures that are inserted strategically throughout the narrative to illustrate or highlight key points and provide relevant information. Some of the Figures are in clusters to suggest sequence or process. I like the various exercises that achieve two separate but related purposes: They help the reader to interact with the material, and, they also help the reader to apply whatever is relevant to the given enterprise. He also adds "Work Problem" checklists and a summary at the conclusion of Chapters 2-6. I also commend him on the generous provision of additional material and resources in an Appendix (Pages 130-160) that discuss key business subjects that range from "Executive Sessions" to "How to increase the odds of being happy and of leading a fulfilled life."

I agree with DiGiammarino that organizational design or re-design worthy of the name requires both a macro perspective (the so-called "Big Picture") and a macro focus on significant details within which (according to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) a divinity can perhaps be induced to reside.

A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive
A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive
Prix : CDN$ 9.99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 How and why Rebel Heretics will thrive in the Social Age, Sept. 9 2014
I agree with Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt: "No one know what the future of social, or its impact on business, will really be. No one -- yet -- understands its full potential." That was no doubt said about the printing press as well as steam power and telephonics, later about the Internet and then the Web, and now about social media. In one of his several books, Frank Feather quoted a teacher who suggested that "a liquid always assumes the shape of its container." I think that's generally true but if we view the social media as a container, we still do not know its nature extent as new capabilities and applications seem to be revealed each day.

These are among the subject areas that Coiné and Babbitt explore that are of greatest interest to me:

o The major differences between the Industrial Age and the Social Age: Implications and probable consequences
o What an "amplifier" is and why it "only gets louder"
o "Rogue Tweeters" and why they are "way past ugly"
o The Evolution of Social Recruiting (Chapter 4)
o Determining the ROI of social recruiting
o How and why engagement always has been and continues to be a "top-down leadership issue"
o Determining the ROI of a "community"
o The "perfect" killer app
o Why workers perform better in "flat" organizations
o The causes and effects of "the death of large"
o How and why to flatten hierarchies
o The nature, extent, and potentialities of the "OPEN Challenge"
o Creating or increasing demand with social media
o Social media and analytics
o The unique and compelling significance of "Rebel Heretics"

As indicated earlier, I really do agree with Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt: "No one know what the future of social, or its impact on business, will really be. No one -- yet -- understands its full potential." That said, I remain convinced that leaders in almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be, can derive substantial value from the information, insights, and counsel they provide if (HUGE "if") they proceed in a timely manner to formulate a game plan based on whatever is most relevant among the material in this book. That done, they must implement the game plan with sufficient resources and a shared sense of urgency.

My own opinion is that social media comprise the first "wave" of what will soon become a "tsunami" of information, of course, but also of new applications, disruptive innovations, in addition to threats and perils as well as unprecedented opportunities as organizations struggle to leverage that information to maximum advantage. In essence, the organizational challenge is survive during this latest process of natural selection...or perish.

Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis
Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis
Prix : CDN$ 8.79

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Pope for All Seasons, Sept. 8 2014
As Jeffrey Krames acknowledges, opinions are divided - sometimes sharply divided - with regard to Pope Francis' leadership style. "During his first year as pope - as during his tenure in Argentina - Francis showed himself again and again to be a man of humility. However, we mustn't confuse his humble ways with those of a one-dimensional leader. Like all effective leaders, he has multiple agendas. In fact, according to the journalists who have covered Bergoglio for many years, he is nothing short of a `political animal.' He is also a man of enormous intellect, which often gets obscured by his acts of humility."

According to one Argentine journalist, Elisabetta Piqué, "He was not an ingénue coming out into the world. He had almost a war with [one] section of the Roman Curia." Another journalist used the word "ruthless" to describe the way Francis operates. And Rolling Stone cover-story journalist Mark Binelli wrote, "Bergoglio has shown himself to be a stealth enforcer, capable of summoning that old authoritarian steel if it serves a higher purpose."

Now consider this observation by Pope Francis, "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" Krames suggests, "That's him - in a single sentence."

He then adds, "Pope Francis shows us where the world has gone wrong and how our values have gone off the rails. Even the choice of his name - inspired by St. Francis of Assisi - was meant to signal to the world that he would focus on society's poor, as well as on the sickest and weakest among us."

What we have in this volume are appropriate diverse perspectives on Pope Francis. It should be noted that neither Krames nor I is a Roman Catholic. His opinions as well as mine are mostly of Pope Francis' leadership rather than of articles of faith, for example, or of the organizational structure and policies of one of the largest organizations in the world.

Krames suggests and discusses 12 lessons to be learned from its current leader who was elected during a papal enclave by the College of Cardinals in March 2013. He devotes a separate chapter to each lesson, concluding with a brief list of supplementary suggestions. Here's how he frames them:

1. "Here are a few ideas to help you get your feet firmly on the ground on that path to greater humility" (Page 13-14)

2. "What additional steps can you take to more effectively smell like your flock?" (21-22)

3. "What can you do to make better assessments and ensure that you are not judging your people? Here are a few ideas" (29-30)

4. "Here are some other ideas you can implement to transform your organization" (39-40)

5. "Here are some other ideas that can make you and your organization more inclusive (47-49)

6. "What additional steps can you take to guard against insularity? Consider these potential actions" (55-57)

7. "What can you do to be more pragmatic and rely less on ideology? Consider these ideas" (63-64)

8. "How can you improve your decision-making prowess? Consider the following ideas" (72-73)

9. "How can you learn to run your organization more like a field hospital? Consider the following idea" (79-83)

10. "What other thing can you do to work on the frontier of your industry? Consider the following" (86-87)

11. "What other lessons can we apply from the Pope Francis example? Take a look at these ideas" (93-94)

12. "What steps can you take to get you closer to both customers and nonconsumers? Consider the following items" (99-101)

I have read and reviewed most of Krames's previously published books in which his focus is also on effective leadership: what works, what doesn't, and why. They include books about Jack Welch: Jack Welch and the 4 E's of Leadership: How to Put GE's Leadership Formula to Work in Your Organization; The Jack Welch Lexicon of Leadership: Over 250 Terms, Concepts, Strategies & Initiatives of the Legendary Leader; and The Welch Way: 24 Lessons from the World's Greatest CEO. Krames also wrote What the Best CEOs Know: 7 Exceptional Leaders and Their Lessons for Transforming any Business, Inside Drucker's Brain, and The Rumsfeld Way: The Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick.

With all due respect to these and other great leaders in business, government, the military, and religion, however, all organizations need effective leadership (i.e. productive initiative) at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Great leaders seem to have a "green thumb" for "growing" the talent needed to achieve success in all seasons, fair or foul.

After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope less than two years ago and chose the name Francis, it soon became obvious that he would lead with humility but also with a steadfast commitment to basic values and fundamental principles that are frequently lost or compromised within a global organization as large and as complicated as the Roman Catholic Church.

This is probably what Jeffrey Krames had in mind when observing, "Francis does not see the world as a static place but as an ever-changing landscape that we all need to be attuned to. Here, Francis evokes shades of Drucker when he discusses a pastoral ministry. 'Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says We have always done it this way. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style, and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the mean of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory."

What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data—Lifeblood of Big Business—and the End of Privacy as We Know It
What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data—Lifeblood of Big Business—and the End of Privacy as We Know It
Prix : CDN$ 16.63

5.0 étoiles sur 5 What stays in Las Vegas and wherever else needed is an abundance of personal data used to achieve business objectives, Sept. 5 2014
Whenever I see a commercial promoting Las Vegas, I am again reminded that money won by gambling in the casinos usually stays there. I doubt if that fact can support a book but another fact can...and has: The gambling casinos there and elsewhere use advanced technologies and advanced analytics to obtain, process, evaluate, and then act upon consumer data. This process creates for them a competitive advantage. The subtitle of Adam Tanner's book reveals his primary focus: "The World of Personal Data -- Lifeblood of Big Business -- and the End of Privacy as We Know It." Indeed, in the new, rapidly expanding global marketplace, data are the new currency and some of the most valuable data are provided by consumers, whether or not they realize it.

All of the major research studies with which I am familiar indicate that, when identifying what is most important to them, employees and customers rank "feeling appreciated" among the top three and frequently #1. The more a company knows about a customer, the better prepared it is to do -- and not do -- whatever it must to gain and then sustain that customer's trust and respect. This reality drives the process by which to create what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as "customer evangelists."

Companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google have refined a process introduced by César Ritz in 1898 when Hôtel Ritz in the Place Vendôme opened its doors. He was a passionate advocate of perfection in hospitality, insisting that it always be invisible. With regard to what became the institutional motto, "Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen." Rules? He stated them clearly: "See all without looking; hear all without listening; be attentive without being servile; anticipate without being presumptuous. If a diner complains about a dish or the wine, immediately remove it and replace it, no questions asked." According to Joseph Michelli, Ritz Carlton set "the new gold standard" for service. The foundation of its superior service consists of personal data about its guests and policies to accommodate their preferences.

Back to Las Vegas. Some of the most interesting and most valuable information in Tanner's book focuses on Caesars Entertainment (later purchased by Harrah's) and, more specifically, on Joshua Kanter and his the contributions to the emerging science of consumer data processing. Over time, Caesar's implemented and then constantly fine-tuned a <em>Total Rewards</em> loyalty program for those who, annually, represent about 80% of a growth category: Those "far from lucrative on any one day, but in a year they might spend $1,500 to $5,000." Kanter was a McKinsey alumnus. A consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, Rich Mirman, was hired to focus on marketing to "new customers with bigger long-term (collective) potential." David Norton was another strategic hire who also "thought a lot about the people traditionally ignored by casino management. He saw great value in the retired grandmother quietly feeding a steady stream of coins (and later paper) into the slot machines in the corner of the room."

These and other examples illustrate a very important point: Until obtaining and then evaluating the data they needed, casino owners and their top executives were not cultivating the loyalty of those who could produce the greatest <em>long-term</em> ROI. Tanner devotes an entire chapter, Chapter 4, to explaining (a) what the casinos know about their customers, (b) how they obtained that information, and (c) how the casinos catch "whales" (i.e. BIG spenders).

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the scope and depth of coverage of material provided in this volume. However, I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. Adam Tanner remains hopeful that companies will become more transparent about what they know about their customers and how they obtained that in formation but that seems highly unlikely. So long as consumers are willing to provide so much personal information to companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google, the value of that "currency" to these companies will continue to increase. What to do? There are some suggestions in the Appendix, "Take Control of Your Data." Perhaps some readers will do that but few who bet against the house break even, much less win more than they lose.

The Nature of Value: How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy
The Nature of Value: How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy
by Nick Gogerty
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 18.77

5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Price is what you charge. Value is what others think it's worth." Warren Buffett, Sept. 3 2014
I was reminded of Buffett's comment while considering Nick Gogerty's assertion that examining value creation through behavioral and systems models "will explain the ebb and flow of capital, energy, resources, knowledge, and value over time." I agree with Gogerty that the term "allocator"" is more appropriate than "investor," given the thrust of his rigorous examination of how and why value creation works...and doesn't. The agents really are those who allocate the given resources.

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, we have a Farmer's Market at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now share a few representative examples of the thrust and flavor of Gogerty's style:

"Benjamin Graham correctly stated that, in the short term, the stock market acts like a voting machine, and over the long term, it acts like a value-weighing machine." (Page 7)

"Adaptive, selective processes work the same in economy and ecology. In both cases the process is more nuanced and interesting than naturalist Herbert Spencer's 1864 catch phrase 'survival of the fittest,' which he used to refer to both biological and economic processes, and which for our purposes is quite telling." (25)

"Competitive forces and capabilities do battle in clusters of competition. Clusters are the niches in economic networks. They are the next level of system above organizations in the economic panarchy." (98)

"Ethics are integral to managing moats and attaining success. These ethics include truthfulness about the required return on capital and truthfulness with workers, investors, and customers. Long-term thinking and constantly seeking economic truths are critical advantages for firm survival. Firms with managers who are comfortable operating in opaque or gray areas are not worth the allocator's time or capital." (216)

"To be right. To find and express valued true knowledge. This is the question of scientists, artists, economists, and capital allocators. Every capital allocation is based on the premise that value in the form of capital spent today will return a greater value tomorrow. The complexity associated with the nature of value promises one thing -- that there is no fixed truth or absolute guarantee of wealth, value, or riches, although there are patterns and behaviors in the adaptive network that may recur." (318)

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

o The Misunderstanding of Price (Pages 5-9)
o The Behavioral Economic Model of Price (11-13)
o Ecology as a Model for Economy (19-23)
o Evolution: Flowing Change (39-44)
o New Capabilities Lead to New Offerings (65-69)
o Experience Curves (78-84)
o Defining Cluster Boundaries (103-108)
o Competitive Balance and Instability (112-122)
o Dominant Design and Enabling Architectures (128-132)
o Red Queen Clusters (147-157)
o Moat Depth, Moat Duration, and Moat Depth x Duration = Moat Value (173-176)
o Financial Clues for Spotting and Tracking Moated Firms (180-187)
o Consumer Belief and Perception Moats (196-204)
o Managing Moated Firms (210-213)
o Levels of Economic Panarchy: Inos, Organizations, Clusters, and the Economy (219-222)
o Inclusive and Exclusive Economies (235-243)
o Inflation's Effects on the Allocator (282-289)

I commend Gogerty on his masterful use of various reader-friendly devices, notably the Summary section at the conclusion of each chapter. He also inserts with strategic purpose dozens of Figures throughout his lively and eloquent narrative and is a master of the bullet checkpoint lists as well as charts and graphs that focus on key points. These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of the most important material later.

Nick Gogerty's finial remarks also provide an appropriate conclusion to my review: "Economic value is ultimately measured in human terms. Prioritizing the value of friends, family, and freedoms ensures that the wealth of a lifetime will be correctly measured in the creation of memories, loving relationships, and a reputation for integrity. Never compromise these forms of value for mere money."

Bravo!

Nonstop Sales Boom: Powerful Strategies to Drive Consistent Growth Year After Year
Nonstop Sales Boom: Powerful Strategies to Drive Consistent Growth Year After Year
by Colleen Francis
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 15.52
20 used & new from CDN$ 11.44

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Strategies to drive and sustain growth for almost any organization, whatever its size or nature may be, Aug. 29 2014
As I read this book, I was again reminded of an ancient adage in residential real estate: "For every house, there's a buyer." The last time I looked, Amazon sells 386, 979 books in the sales category. Now we have another, from Colleen Francis, and no doubt there are several readers who will purchase this book, absorb and digest its contents, and then achieve success in sales because of what they have learned from her.

There are no head-snapping revelations in Nonstop Sales Boom, nor does Francis make any such claim. However, the information, insights, and counsel she provides are based on more than 20 years of real-world experience, hers and others. She offers a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective system whose success will depend almost entirely on how well it is established and then sustained, with appropriate modifications along the way.

Up front, she asserts, "In this book, I will challenge you to reject the typical boom and bust sales cycle [see Pages 7-23] where results lurch between highs and lows and the end of each quarter is a mad scramble. Instead, you'll learn the strategies and tactic s for creating your own perpetual sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year." Of course, as indicated, what happens after that is entirely up to "you."

Of special interest to me is a new framework she introduces, the Sales Radar(tm), based on a mindset that is "not just focused on attracting prospects and closing sales, but also explores the myriad opportunities with and through current customers -- from the leads and the sales that arise during the implementation or participation phase, to bigger sales to current customers looking to grow their engagement with your company, to the leads to new, qualified prospects from satisfied customers whose enthusiastic advocacy can be leveraged into sales to new clients." She discusses all this thoroughly in Chapter 2.

For more than 30 years, I have been retained by all manner of companies to help them create or increase demand for what they sell (i.e. marketing) or to help them to increase the number of what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as "customer evangelists." In this context, I am again reminded of an incident that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein's colleagues at Princeton playfully chided him about the fact that he always asked the same questions year after year on his final examinations. "Quite true. Each year, the answers are different." The same can be said of marketing and sales, if not every year but certainly more frequently now more than ever before because change continues to be the only constant. Francis addresses the right questions.

In my opinion, Sales Radar(tm) would be able to accommodate changes in the given competitive marketplace while retaining the focus on the core principles of what I would characterize as "lean salesmanship": zero waste of hours and dollars when identifying, contacting, cultivating, soliciting, gaining, and then retaining the right customers for the given enterprise. This process is best thought of as a never-ending process whose system possesses machine-like efficiency. I agree with Francis: it is imperative that everyone involved has developed a Sales Radar(tm) mindset. (Not everyone is both willing and able to do so.) It is important to keep in mind that "booms" vary in nature and size, as do "busts."

My suggestion to those who read this book is to check out the Table of Contents first, then write down what are the 3-5 questions they are most eager to answer and/or the 3-5 problems they are most eager to solve. Next, read the "Introduction" to allow Colleen Francis to introduce Sales Radar(tm). Now you have a context, a frame-of-reference, within which to read her book. The material is organized and presented within Five Parts: Engagement, Attraction, Participation, Growth, and Leverage. Highlight key passages as you work your way through the narrative. It would be a good idea to have a lined notebook near at hand to record questions, comments, correlations, etc.

One final point in the form of a personal opinion: Having highly energetic sales initiatives without the order and structure of a system such as Sales Radar(tm) -- or another that is comparable -- is like driving a vehicle in a downtown area at 60 mph while wearing a blindfold. Business leaders must get the right system in place and then entrust it the to right people who maintain it with meticulous care.

Updike
Updike
by Adam Begley
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 23.19
43 used & new from CDN$ 21.11

5.0 étoiles sur 5 "A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror." Sigmund Freud, Aug. 28 2014
This review is from: Updike (Hardcover)
John Hoyer Updike (1932-2009) is widely considered among the most accomplished U.S. writers during a period that extends from the mid-1950s until his death five years ago. He is probably best known for his Rabbit Angstrom series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and the novella, "Rabbit Remembered") but he also wrote more than a dozen additional novels and more than a dozen short story collections, as well as poetry, art criticism, literary criticism and children's books. Hundreds of his stories, reviews, and poems appeared in The New Yorker, beginng in 1954.

What did his contemporary writers think of him? In a NEH Jefferson lecture in 2008, Philip Roth observed, "John Updike is our time's greatest man of letters, as brilliant a literary critic and essayist as he was a novelist and short story writer. He is and always will be no less a national treasure than his 19th-century precursor, Nathaniel Hawthorne."

In The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik evaluated Updike as "the first American writer since Henry James to get himself fully expressed, the man who broke the curse of incompleteness that had haunted American writing ... He sang like Henry James, but he saw like Sinclair Lewis. The two sides of American fiction--the precise, realist, encyclopedic appetite to get it all in, and the exquisite urge to make writing out of sensation rendered exactly--were both alive in him."

After Updike's death in 2009, in an article for The New York Review of Books, Ian McEwan wrote that Updike's "literary schemes and pretty conceits touched at points on the Shakespearean,"and that Updike's death marked "the end of the golden age of the American novel in the 20th century's second half." McEwan concluded that the Rabbit series is Updike's "masterpiece and will surely be his monument", and describing it, concluded:

"Updike is a master of effortless motion--between third and first person, from the metaphorical density of literary prose to the demotic, from specific detail to wide generalisation, from the actual to the numinous, from the scary to the comic...This carefully crafted artifice permits here assumptions about evolutionary theory, which are more Updike than Harry, and comically sweeping notions of Jewry, which are more Harry than Updike. This is at the heart of the [Rabbit] tetralogy's achievement. Updike once said of the Rabbit books that they were an exercise in point of view. This was typically self-deprecating, but contains an important grain of truth. Harry's education extends no further than high school, and his view is further limited by a range of prejudices and a stubborn, combative spirit, yet he is the vehicle for a half-million-word meditation on postwar American anxiety, failure and prosperity. A mode had to be devised to make this possible, and that involved pushing beyond the bounds of realism. In a novel like this, Updike insisted, you have to be generous and allow your characters eloquence, "and not chop them down to what you think is the right size."

What we have in Adam Begley's massive biography is an abundance of information and insights that help readers such as I - with only limited knowledge of Updike life and work-- to understand subjects such as these:

o The nature and extent of influence that Updike's childhood and youth had on his adult life and career as a writer
o Those who seem to have had the greatest impact on his personal growth
o Those who seem to have had the greatest impact on his professional development
0 Other writers Updike admired most...and why
o Defining moments throughout his life that required a change of course
o What others found most attractive in him as a person
o What others found least attractive
o What his two marriages reveal about his values, for better or worse
o Similarities and differences between Updike and Rabbit Angstrom
o His "lifelong inability to to make what he called a `leap of unfaith'"
o The defining characteristics of his writing style: fiction
o The defining characteristics of his writing style: non-fiction
o During his last few years, what Updike expected the nature and extent of his legacy to be

No brief commentary such as this can possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of the material that are provided in this volume. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of what I have learned about John Updike, both as an imperfect person and as an iconic writer. He died eight weeks after the cancer was diagnosed, on Tuesday morning, January 27, 2009, less than two months after his seventy-seventh birthday. He retained until the very last the feeling of a conqueror.

As Adam Begley observes, "In truth, he never tired of writing, never tired of `creation's giddy bliss.' Up until the last, when he was too sick to write, he was always that little boy on the floor of the Shillington dining room, bending his attention to the paper, riding that thin pencil line into a glorious future, fulfilling the towering ambition of his grandest dreams. 'I've remained,' he once said, 'all too true to his youthful self.'" Only after I had read and then re-read this book could I understand and appreciate how revealing that statement is.

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