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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)
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How and why MOOCs offer learning opportunities that, for millions of people, would otherwise be unavailable, April 16 2014
Early in his narrative, Michael Nanfito observes, "The question that schools, colleges, and universities face relates the educational institution's reason for being: How will tools like MOOCs [i.e. Massive Open Online Courses] further the mission of the institution?" For institutions that traditionally have large, lecture-hall-based classes, "a MOOC might simply be an extension in scale of these paradigms." For other institutions that traditionally have small classes, however, "the role of the MOOC and its component technologies is less clear." Whatever the case, the mission of the institution must drive the development of strategy and subsequent planning and decision-making. That said, my own opinion is that a mission that precludes a MOOC or some other form of distant learning is too narrow.
Why did Nanfito write this book? His objective "is to help campus leaders make the best decisions for their institutions. Technology, support, funding, and organizational development are all concerns that must be part of the discussion if campus leadership is to actively manage online learning rather than blindly react to external pressures." Again, one man's opinion, "campus" should refer to a community rather than to a physical location. In several states, there are two multi-campus publicly funded systems. Here in Texas, the Texas A&M University System has 12 and the University of Texas System has 15. With appropriate modification, of course, colleges could also establish and develop a MOOC, with "massive" referring to impact and value rather than to enrollment.
In an article published in 2013, "The Most Thorough Summary (to date) of MOOC Completion Rates," Phil Hall and Katy Jordan suggest that there are five categories of MOOC participants:
1. "No Shows" who register and then become MIAs
2. "Observers" who log in and graze but complete no assessments
3. "Drop-Ins" who enroll and then complete some work but not the complete course
4. "Passive Participants" who consume the material in the course ("like a pizza") but complete no assignments
5. "Active Participants" who complete most of the work and take all quizzes and examinations
It is important to keep in mind that just as many of those who enroll in traditional courses of instruction are unprepared to earn a passing grade, many (if not most) of those enrolled in a MOOC are active participants to whom Hall and Jordan refer. For example, of the 40,000 who enrolled in a course ("Introduction to Sociology") sponsored by Princeton University, only 3.21% completed it.
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Nanfito's coverage.
o Identifying Expectation and Hope (Pages 27-29)
o Analytics, Assessment, and improved educational outcomes (35-36)
o The Demographics of MOOCs: Overview (41-42)
o The Enrollment/Completion Paradox (48-49)
o A brief review of the technologies that implement and sustain a MOOC (60-62)
o MOOC Accessibility (67-69)
o Setting the Stage: massive investment and hedged bets (79-83)
o From Project to Program: Four Fundamental Questions to Answer (84-87)
o Add it up: revenue dreams and abstract business models (87-90)
o Mozilla Open Badges (116-120)
o The American Council on Education (ACE) and Accredited MOOCs (122-125)
o MOOCs and the Measurement of Knowledge and Competency (135-137)
o Models for Review and Consideration (143-144)
o Lessons from Learning-Centered Institutions (156-158)
o The Rise of the Machines: Big Data (163-170)
o The Rise of the Machines: Adaptive Learning (170-176)
This is among the first books of which I am Aware that attempt to provide a briefing on MOOCs and the "opportunities, impacts, and challenges" to which its subtitle refers. It is by no means definitive, nor does Nanfito make any such claim. I agree with him that online learning is here to stay but there will be some significant challenges, both to those who schedule and conduct the courses and those who enroll in them.
As he observes in the final chapter, more than a century ago, leaders wrestled with an American educational system that was fractured, provincial, and occasionally idiosyncratic. "Just as previous generations contributed the values, enthusiasms, and expectations of their time to the business of educating, it is our opportunity at this time to outline the issues and prepare the solutions that carry us forward into the next century."
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"Lords of capital" in "a savage and gaudy age", April 15 2014
First, some brief background information about Stewart Hall Holbrook (1893-1964). Throughout his adult years, he was at first a lumberjack and then a writer, journalist, and (his descriptive) "lowbrow historian." The Age of the Moguls (1953) is probably his best-known work but it should be noted that, for more than thirty years, he wrote for The Oregonian, the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the western United States (founded in 1850) and also authored or co-authored dozens of other books whose titles correctly indicate the scope and variety of his interests. For example, Little Annie Oakley & Other Rugged People (1948), Wild Bill Hickok Tames the West (1952) with Ernest Richardson, Davey Crockett (1955), Wyatt Earp: U.S. Marshall (1956), The Golden Age of Quackery (1959), The Golden Age of Railroads (1960), and Wildmen, Wobblies & Whistle Punks: Stewart Holbrook's Lowbrow Northwest (1992), an anthology. Holbrook's style of writing is as lively as his selection of subjects but it would be a mistake to question the authenticity of his historical material. One source (whose name I do not recall) has correctly described him as a "feisty David McCullough."
In The Age of Moguls, Holbrook examines a number of "lords of capital" who, in his words, "made `deals,' purchased immunity, and did other things which in 1860, or 1880, or even 1900, were considered no more than `smart' by their fellow Americans, but which today would give pause to the most conscientiously dishonest promoter....They were a motley crew, yet taken together they fashioned a savage and gaudy age as distinctively purple as that of imperial Rome, and infinitely more entertaining." The group Holbrook considers is divided into three categories: promoters, bankers, and industrialists, with merchants in the latter group. They include Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, Charlie Gates, Thomas William Lawson, Henry H. Rogers, Henry Morrison Flagler, and Samuel Insull; Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Cyrus McCormick, Philip D. Armour, Henry Clay Frick, Henry Ford, and the Du Ponts; also the Guggenheims, Andrew W. Mellon, James J. Hill, Edward Henry Harriman, Henry Villard, the first two Vanderbilts, and the Astors. Some of these names remain familiar in our own time; others do not. All were "tough-minded fellows, who fought their way encased in rhinoceros hides and filled the air with their mad bellowings and the cries of the wounded." A colorful lot indeed.
There are several reasons why I hold this book in such high regard. First, until reading it, I knew very little about the social and economic significance of what Holbrook characterizes as a "savage and gaudy age." As he explains so well, it was certainly both but the moguls he examines, together, established a bedrock of capitalism which remains intact to this day even as new laws and regulatory enforcement of them seem to ensure that, although Holbrook is not overly concerned with comparative business ethics then and now, were they alive today, "almost every man in this book would face a good hundred years in prison." I admire this book, also, because Holbrook succeeds so well in bringing the moguls to life in ways and to any extent I did not anticipate. Some are much more colorful than others, of course, but Holbrook anchors each in a human context, warts and all. Finally, I admire this book because it enables me and other readers to draw comparisons and (especially) contrasts between the current business world and the one which evolved throughout much of the 19th century. Those who receive most of Holbrook's attention have been variously described (then and now) as "giants and titans, and more often as rogues, robbers, and rascals" but Holbrook has convinced me that these and other adjectives (both positive and negative) accurately characterize most of them. For better or worse, all were "larger than life."
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Why and how to diminish non-essentials to achieve organizational excellence by focusing only on what is absolutely essential, April 15 2014
As I began to read this book for the first time, I was again reminded of an Einstein observation - "Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler" -- as well as of Greg Mckeown's previous book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, in which he and co-author Liz Wiseman juxtapose two quite different personas whom they characterize as the "Multiplier" and the "Diminisher." Although they refer to them as leaders, assigning to them supervisory responsibilities, they could also be direct reports at the management level or workers at the "shop floor" level.
Multipliers "extract full capability," their own as well as others', and demonstrate five disciplines: Talent Magnet, Liberator, Challenger, Debate Maker, and Investor. Diminishers underutilize talent and resources, their own as well as others, and also demonstrate five disciplines: Empire Builder, Tyrant, Know-It-All, Decision Maker, and Micro Manager. They devote a separate chapter to each of the five Multiplier leadership roles.
In Essentialism, Mckeown focuses on what must be done to increase what is essential to an organization's success - as well as to an individual's success - by reducing (if not totally eliminating) whatever is not essential to such success. I agree with him: Almost anyone in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) can choose how to expend time and energy; reduce/eliminate "noise" and clutter, preserving only what is exceptionally valuable; and decide which few trade-offs and compromises to accept while rejecting all others. Essentialists have what Ernest Hemingway once characterized as a "built-in, shock-proof crap detector," one that is especially reliable when detecting their own.
"There are three deeply entrenched assumptions we must conquer to lived the way of the Essentialist: `I have to,' `It's all important,' and `I can do both.' Like mythological sirens, these assumptions are as dangerous as they are seductive. They draw us in and drown us in shallow waters."
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Mckeown's coverage.
o The Cluttered Closet Test (Pages 17-19)
o The Essentialist Mind-Set: A Three-Step Process (20-25)
o Discern the Vital Few from the Trivial Many (60-61)
o How to Create Spaces to Design, Concentrate, and Read (65-71)
o Clarify the Question (80-81)
o A Mind Invited to Play (86-89)
o Protecting the Asset: Ourselves (94-96)
o The 90 Percent or NOTHING Rule (104-107)
o How to Cut Out the Trivial Many (116-117)
o From "Pretty Clear" to "Really Clear": Two Common Patterns (121-124)
o The Power of a Graceful "No" (131-0135)
o The "No" Repertoire (140-143)
o How to Avoid Commitment Traps (148-154)
o EDIT: The Invisible Art (155-162)
o LIMIT: The Freedom of Setting Boundaries (163-167)
o How to Produce More by Eliminating More (188-192)
o FLOW: The Genius of Routine (203-205)
o The Essential Life: Living a Life that Really Matters (236-237)
Mckeon also provides an appendix, Leadership Essentials, during which he suggests and discusses five:
1. Be Ridiculously Selective in Hiring People
2. Go for Extreme Empowerment
3. Communicate the Right Things [values, standards, objectives] to the Right People at the Right Time
4. Check in Often to Ensure Meaningful Progress
Greg Mckeon makes frequent use of terms such as "less," "more," and "better." For example, the essentialist mind-set affirms "Less but better." We know what he means: Less (if any) of what is non-essential but better results. In this context, as he explains, essentialists are trimmers and pruners, eliminating organizational fat while strengthening its bones. That is especially important these days when, on average, less than 30% of those who comprise a U.S. workforce are actively and positively engaged; the other 70+% are either passively engaged ("mailing it in") or actively undermining efforts to achieve the given business goals.
Obviously, no brief commentary can do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel provided in this volume but I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. I encourage those who share my opinion to check out David Shaked's Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma: Building Positive and Engaging Business Improvement, published by Kogan-Page (2013).
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How to take full advantage of the abundance of unprecedented business opportunities during the new industrial revolution, April 14 2014
As Stefan Heck and Matt Rogers observe in the Introduction to this book, written with Paul Carroll, "Many people, companies, and even nations will try to resist the new industrial revolution. People always resist revolutions. The Luddites tried to kill the first industrial revolution by destroying the steam engines, even though the new machines took Europe out of grinding poverty by delivering productivity that drove unprecedented economic growth. Political gridlock and two world wars tried to kill the second industrial revolution, which eventually defined the dramatic improvements in economic outcomes in the twentieth century."
After years of rigorous and extensive research, Heck and Rogers concluded that the third industrial revolution, now underway, "will dwarf the previous industrial revolutions in terms of both size and speed." They characterize it as a "resource revolution" and wrote this book so they could (a) suggest the nature and extent of unprecedented opportunities this third generation is generating, and (b) explain how and why capturing these opportunities requires a new management style." That, in essence, is what this book is about.
They examine a multi-decade economic transition from one set of primary resources to another as the new revolution unleashes substantial economic growth and productivity improvements, "enabling millions to enter the middle class, and giving birth to new industries and business models." I agree with them that no one can predict how business will look in twenty or thirty years, "any more than Watt could have foreseen how his steam engine would transform the world." However, as countless global corporations have already demonstrated (e.g. Dow, DuPont, GS Caltex, SK Refining, and Walmart), "resources are the right area of focus and that the opportunities are extraordinary."
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Heck and Rogers' coverage.
o Accelerated expansion of the middle class (Pages 12-14)
o Wealth creation in industrial revolutions (20-38)
o Elon Musk: The Real Iron Man (69-76)
o Increase Circularity (86-90)
o Increase Virtualization (93-98)
o DIRTT: "seeds of revolution in construction" (101-109)
o System Integration for All, and, Business Models for the Future (137-142)
o Finding the Breakthrough, and, Choosing the Threshold (146-151)
o It Only matters at Massive Scale (165-167)
o Making It Easier for the Customer (172-176)
o The Committed Champion (180-188)
o Becoming a Network Organization (193-195)
o Looking for Talent Far Afield (199-201)
o Developing Talent, and, Freelance Innovation (204-210)
o Revolutionary Possibilities: 12 Candidates (216-222)
o Broader Implications of "the biggest opportunity in a century" (223-228)
I agree with Stefan Heck and Matt Rogers: "Producing a third industrial revolution that focuses on how we use resources will require a rethinking of the way that companies operate, and managers will have to adapt quickly to profit from once-in-a- century opportunities that are in front of us." It is worth noting that zero-waste manufacturing is becoming the norm among major U.S. automakers. "I also agree: "`The challenges we face may be unprecedented, but simply put, any bet that we will succumb to a global economic crisis is a bet against human ingenuity. No such bet has ever paid off."
This is an especially important book because it can be of incalculable value to almost any executive in almost any organization (what its size or nature may be) that will be directly or even indirectly affected by the tumultuous changes that are certain to occur within the global marketplace in months and years to come. Many of these changes will occur faster, in greater number, and with greater impact (for better or worse) than any of us have ever encountered before.
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Here’s a “comprehensive, practical how-to guide to address the most pressing innovation challenges in your organization”, April 11 2014
Why did Peter Skarzynski and David Crosswaite write this field guide? Briefly, to help leaders in just about any organization "who seek step-change improvement in their organization's, team's, or individual innovation initiatives. With regard to those initiatives, they reveal themselves to be sorld-class empiricists, determined to understand what, works, what doesn't, and why, then share what they have learned with as many business leaders as possible. My reference to "business leaders" includes [begin italics] anyone [end italics] who can provide effective leadership at any level and in any area of the given organization.
Here are the nine Principles of Innovation (i.e. "why you are doing what you're doing") that Skarzynski and Crosswaite introduce and discuss in detail:
1. Articulate a clear definition of innovation
2. Aim your efforts at the business concept, and focus not just on the "what" but also "who" and "why"
3. Understand that innovation means new learning
4. Earn the right to ideate through insight-driven innovation
5. Focus on strategic innovation to avoid one-off efforts
6. Make the work of innovation not merely the generating of new ideas but an end-to-end process through to successful commercialization
7. Build innovation capability through a learn-by-doing approach
8. Be systematic and systemic in your approach
9. Embrace and employ open innovation.
#Re #9, I highly recommend Henry Chesbrough's classic work, Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology.
Readers will appreciate Skarzynski and Crosswaite's provision, at the beginning of Chapters 2-10, a set of key Qs they will address in the material to follow and then a set of "Key Take-Aways" at the chapter's conclusion. Throughout their lively and eloquent narrative, they explain HOW TO:
o Increase your innovation IQ through insight-driven experimentation
o Enable breakthrough innovation
0 Develop a nascent idea to a business concept
o Expedite fast innovation
o Derive maximum advantage from experimentation and risk-taking
Note: Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz also have much of value to say about this process in Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win.
o Innovate while actively engaged in marketing (i.e. creating or increasing demand)
o Organize for innovation
o Lead innovation
o Get started
I agree with Skarzynski and Crosswaite that innovation is difficult "because organizations are structured and managed to execute their current model, and innovation -- focuses on creating the new one. You seek to create new concepts for the core business, for adjacencies, and for outside the core. There are healthy tensions between a focus on the new and the critically important need to manage and execute today's business. Each is important, and each requires continuous learning."
They alert their reader to six "common pitfalls" and explain why each is erroneous, indeed self-defeating." Here they are, each discussed in depth (Pages 251-252):
Misconception #1: Innovation is about tools and process only.
Reality: It's about new learning. "Tools and process are simply codified and organized scaffolding to help you to get that learning."
#2: Innovation is about technology only.
Reality: It's about the job (e.g. answer a question, solve a problem) the customer hires the technology to do. "
#3: Innovation is about ideas or creativity only.
Reality: "If innovation equals a new idea successfully commercialized, then there is a lot more to innovation than just ideation or creativity." Taking a limited view of what is possible severely limits chances for high-impact innovation.
#4: Commercialization is about execution, not innovation."
Reality: The "we got it" view tends to ignore many other elements of the business model such as pricing, channel, and market support. "You must think through and challenge all elements of the business concept...and thereby widen the innovation aperture."
#5: Innovation can be delegated down.
Reality: Senior-level management must be "actively engaged in creating the points of view on both content (innovations0 and process (capability). When they do that, the process gains traction" and sustains it.
#6: The work of innovation stops at launch.
Reality: The mist innovative companies "make proactive efforts and deploy mechanisms to perpetuate postlaunch learning and iteration to capture 'upside' on opportunities already in market."
As indicated, Peter Skarzynski and David Crosswaite discuss all this in greater detail. I commend them on the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that are provided in this field guide. This material can help leaders in almost any organization -- whatever its size and nature may be -- to meet its innovation challenges. Bravo!
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How to overcome blocks to creativity by managing the symbiotic relationship between art and commerce, April 9 2014
In this book written with Amy Wallace, Ed Catmull reviews his brilliant career to date, meanwhile sharing his thoughts and feelings about a wealth of experiences from which he learned valuable lessons that he generously shares with his reader. He is most closely identified with Pixar. Why is it a unique human community?
"What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all of our energies to solve it. This, more than any other costume or turreted workstation, is why I love coming to work in the morning. It is what motivates me and gives me a definite sense of mission."
Early on in his relationship with Pixar, Catmull set about to make one of his dreams come true: "It has always been my goal to create a culture at Pixar that will outlast its founding leaders -- Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, and me. But it is also my goal to share our underlying philosophies with other leaders and, frankly, with anyone who wrestles with the competing -- but necessarily complementary -- forces of art and commerce."
Why specifically did Catmull write this book? "The thesis of this book is that there are many blocks to creativity, but there are active steps we can take to protect the creative process. In the coming pages, I will discuss many of the steps we follow at Pixar, but the most compelling mechanisms to me are those that deal with uncertainty, instability, lack of candor, and the things we cannot see. I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know -- not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur. I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them...This book, then, is about the ongoing work of paying attention -- of leading by being self-aware, as managers and as companies. It is an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible."
These are among the hundreds of subjects and issues Catmull examines in this book that were and remain of greatest interest and value to me:
o Why creativity and innovation are most likely to thrive within the Pixar workplace culture
o Why Catmull and most (if not all) of the other Pixar employees "love to come to work each day"
o How to protect and nourish the creative process
o Defining characteristics shared by Pixar supervisors
o The most serious mistake Pixar has made, how they were corrected, and what was learned from them
o Those who have had the greatest impact on Catmull's personal growth and personal development
o Catmull's perspective on Steve Jobs's evolving relationship with Pixar over the years
o Catmull's evaluation of Jobs's best and worst personal as well as professional attributes
o The importance of candor and especially of principled dissent at Pixar
o Perspectives on various Pixar films such as the Toy Story Trilogy (1995, 1999, and 2010) as well as A Bug's Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007), Wall-E (2008), Up (2009), Cars 2 (2011), and Brave (2012)
o Why Catmull is convinced that hindsight is NOT 20-20
o The "mechanisms" and tactics at Pixar that help to put "collective heads into a different frame of mind" to solve problems, answer questions, and in countless other ways think more creatively...together
o Catmull's thoughts about self-imposed limits to be avoided or overcome
o The mental model that Catmull developed over time to help guide and direct his leadership and management judgment
o Pixar's relationship with Disney Animation, for better or worse
o What Notes Day is and why it is so important to the Pixar culture
In the Afterword, Catmull provides recollections of "The Steve We Knew," shared following his death by those who worked closely with him, notably John Lasseter who sat with Jobs for about an hour just before his death. I lack the talent to express in words the impact of these observations and reminiscences. I defer to Lasseter: "I looked at him and I realized this man had given me - given us - everything that we could ever want. I gave him a big hug. I kissed him on the cheek and for all of you" - Lasseter was crying now - "I said `Thank you. I love you Steve.'"
In the book's final section, Starting Points, Ed Catmull shares principles that he holds most dear. Here is the last, one that serves as an appropriate conclusion to my modest commentary: "Don't confuse the process with the goal. Working on our processes to make them better, easier, and more efficient is an indispensable activity and something we should continually work on - but it is not the goal. Making the product great is the goal."
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How almost any organization (whatever its size and nature) can substantially increase and improve its positive social impact, April 7 2014
Many of the best business books were written to share the results of research conducted to answer an especially important question. That is certainly true of this one. Marc Epstein and Kristi Yuthas interviewed more than one hundred leaders, soliciting their responses to not one but several separate but interrelated questions. In essence, they asked: "How to measure and then improve social impacts?"
They invoke the "journey" metaphor because some of those who read this book have already embarked on efforts to make a positive difference by supporting the causes they care most about; others are still in the planning process; and still others are struggling to decide whether
or not to become significantly involved in social initiatives.
A set of five interview questions provides the framework of the book Epstein and Yuthas wrote in order to share what they learned:
1. What will you invest?
2. What problem will you address?
3. What steps will you take?
4. How will you measure success?
5. How can you increase impact?
These five questions are structural Parts within which the material is organized and presented. They also comprise what Epstein and Yuthas identify as "The Social Impact Creation Cycle." The aforementioned questions are answered in sequence. Keep in mind that the Cycle is an on-going process, literally a work in progress, and will probably require continuous modification. Monitoring the cycle will indicate when and why to commit less of some resources, for example, and more of others. It is important to keep in mind that external as well as internal developments may require some of those modifications.
Think of Epstein and Yuthas in terms of various roles they play: First, they are the co-authors of this book, best viewed as an operations manual. Also, they will be consultants as answers to the first three questions are determined or (if the journey is underway) for evaluating -- and perhaps revising -- the answers that have guided and informed efforts until now. Moreover, because no two organizational "journeys" are ever the same nor is an organization the same as when it first embarked, Epstein and Yuthas will be guides and advisors during five key processes: formulation of plan, implementation of it, measurement of progress to date, evaluation, and amplification. Measurement reveals (at best) partial success, progress, evaluation reveals what works, what doesn't, and why so that the given organization can intensify effort and increase investment in one area (or areas) and reduce or eliminate elsewhere.
I congratulate Marc Epstein and Kristi Yuthas on producing a book that may well prove to be for some readers, especially for leaders in nonprofits, the most valuable they will read this year and perhaps in years to come.
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50 unique and compelling perspectives on a city that is large, one that contains multitudes, April 3 2014
In her superb Introduction to New York Stories (2005), Constance Rosenblum explains that, since 1993, The New York Times has been publishing stories about visitors to as well as residents of one the world's most interesting metropolitan areas, the five boroughs that comprise New York City. What we have in that volume are 40 of those stories, published from January 23, 2000 (Ivor Hanson's "The Allure of the Ledge") and May 16, 2004 (Steven Kurutz's "The Ballad of Sonny Payne"). As Rosenblum explains, "What distinguishes all these pieces is the presence of a powerful voice. New York itself is a city of voices - sophisticated and street-smart, wiseguy and nostalgic, loud and soft, subtle and over the top. The [New York Times] City section is distinctive in that it has been able to cultivate these distinctive voices. Inspired by New York's cultural and geographic diversity, these essayist and stylists present a passionate and well-written portrait of the city and all its facets." Rosenblum has organized the material within four Parts and has this to say about the first:
"The essays in `A Sense of Place' bring to vivid life some of the city's quintessential locales, among them the Greenwich basketball court where pathos and humor bounce about with as much abandon as the ball; an Upper East Side Starbucks where dramas large and minute play out around the clock; and the exquisite townhouse on West 11th Street - `the little house on heaven street' - that was destroyed in 1970 when young radicals accidentally set off a bomb inside."
What we have in this volume are 50 additional stories in which their authors "captured the mood of the city during a particularly poignant era -- the years framing the events of September 11. It's a cliché to say that nothing was the same in the years that followed the attacks on that luminous sky-blue morning, yet it's impossible to look back on that period and not classify events as either Before or After."
Once again, Rosenblum has organized the material within four parts: Characters (10 stories), Places in the City's Heart (15), Rituals, Rhythms, and Ruminations (17), and Excavating the Past (8). Here is what she says about the second:
"In part 2, 'Places in the City's Heart,' we visit memorable corners of New York -- not just the big ticket locations like the Empire State Building but also less familiar sites like Potter's Field on Hart Island, where the unknown dead are laid to rest; the outer-=borough strip called Gasoline Alley, where shady but friendly characters will hand you a line while pumping your gas; the old Shea Stadium, oddly mourned despite its flaws; and the nondescript deli in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, that stole a resident's heart when he wasn't even looking. Bars especially seem to keep the creative juices flowing, as they have throughout the city's history. So does Brooklyn: Is it the face of the city's future? Better than Manhattan? Hoe to too many writers? All of the above?"
I commend Constance Rosenblum for her brilliant editing of the material, especially how she frames each of the selections. For example, consider these three from part 1:
o Frances Kiernan's Mr. Maxwell and Me: "It was the Mid-60s, and She Was the Dutiful Secretary of An Esteemed Editor at The New Yorker. In a Few Short Years the World Changed, and She Was the One in the Editor's Chair."
o Roy Hoffman's Tom's World: "Sometimes, We Know a Place through One Person. When He Dies, the Whole Neighborhood Goes Pale with the Loss."
o Adam B. Ellick's The Chicken and Rice Man: "Every Day of the Year, Jorge Muñoz Feeds the Mostly Homeless Men Who Congregate under the Roosevelt Avenue El in Jackson Heights, Queens. 'He Got No Life,' His Sister Said of Him, 'But He Got a Big Heart.'"
In Song of Myself, Walt Whitman observes, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." The same can be said of New York City. The nature and extent of its diverse humanity are brought to life in the volumes of New York stories as well as in Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York.
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How to move quickly enough to stay ahead of the competition "in an age of tumultuous change and growing uncertainties", April 3 2014
I have read all of John Kotter's books and reviewed most of them. In my opinion, mo other business thinker in recent years has made a greater contribution to our understanding of what continues to be a highly competitive, tumultuous global marketplace. In his latest book, Accelerate, he explains how almost any organization can move quickly enough to stay ahead in "an age of tumultuous change and growing uncertainties." His focus is on how to handle strategic challenges fast enough, "with agility and creativity, to take advantage of windows of opportunity which open and shut more quickly."
What Kotter proposes is an appropriate, integrated, and coordinated balance of two quite different approaches to both perils and opportunities: the traditional management-driven hierarchy and the entrepreneurial innovation-driven network. As he explains,
"What we need today is a powerful new element to address the challenges posed by mounting complexity and rapid change. The solution, which I have seen work astonishingly well, is a second system that is organized as a network - more like a start-up's solar system than a mature organization's Giza pyramid - that can create agility and speed. It powerfully complements rather than overburdens a more mature organization's hierarchy, thus freeing the latter to do what it's optimized to do."
Of special interest to me is his assertion that the best results of business initiatives are achieved with a "dual system." That is, one whose structure effectively coordinates traditional, stable hierarchy with an entrepreneurial, dynamic network. He believes - and I agree - that, with effective leadership, they are interdependent. Order, structure, and stability do not preclude experimentation, creativity, and innovation. Only with a dual system such as the one that Kotter proposes can an organization reinvent itself, even transform itself, without disrupting the continuity of its essential relationships and sources of revenue.
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Kotter's coverage.
o From Networks to Hierarchies (Pages 5-8)
o The Limits of Management -- Driven Hierarchies (8-12)
o A Dual Operating System's Principles (23-27)
o The Eight Accelerators (27-34)
Note: Kotter discusses them in detail on Pages 82-103)
o Reality Versus Beliefs (52-56)
o Management Is Not Leadership (59-64)
o The Life Cycle of Corporations (65-72)
Note: For different perspectives, I suggest you check out Ichak Adzes' Corporate Lifecycles: How and Why Corporations Grow and Die and What to Do About It.
o The Five Principles: (78-81)
o The Secret Sauce for Kick-Starting Acceleration (111)
o Looking Outward, Open Minded (117-121)
o The Place to Start: Possibilities and Opportunity (132-138)
o Creating the "Big Opportunity" Statement (139-142)
o Answers to some of the most common questions about the dual structure (154-172)
Readers will appreciate Kotter's provision of two appendices: The first is a self-assessment in response to the question, "Can Your 'Best Practices' Save You?" and the second, also a self-assessment, is in response to the question, "Do You Need to Take Action Now?" Kotter creates a context, a frame of reference, for each Q&A. I urge those who complete these assessments to respond candidly. I also presume to suggest having a lined notebook near at hand when reading this book. I always do, recording notes with page references to supplement highlighting passages. Responses to the two assessments can be recorded in the notebook, also. Just a thought....
Obviously no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the wealth of information, insights, and counsel provided in this volume. However, I hope I have at least suggested why I think so highly of it and of its author. It remains for each reader to determine which of the material responds most directly to the needs, interests, goals, objectives, and resources of the given enterprise. The dual system that John Kotter proposes requires an appropriate, integrated balance of two systems: traditional, stable hierarchy with an innovative, dynamic network. However, they share the same strategic objective: being able to respond effectively challenges fast enough, "with agility and creativity, to take advantage of windows of opportunity which open and shut more quickly."
5.0 étoiles sur 5
How to unleash the power if brevity so that what you say and what you do have much greater impact, April 3 2014
I am among the staunch advocates of the Lean Six Sigma philosophy and its potentialities in terms of doing more work and doing it much better in less time and at a lower cost. What we have in this volume is what Joseph McCormack has learned about how to unleash the power of brevity so that what you say and what you do have much greater impact. In essence, he is convinced that - in countless situations, but certainly not all -- less is more. Years ago, he and his firm were retained to develop an original curriculum for U.S. Special Operations Command to improve the quality of communications. The result was a step-by-step approach to get to the point quickly.
How effective was it? After a few days, McCormack observed significant improvement: Participants "were able to leverage storytelling skills and BRIEF techniques to be clear and compelling when explaining complex missions. They delivered complicated information efficiently and effectively, with clearer context and more compelling explanations. They used fewer PowerPoint presentations. As a result, the leaders fostered better and more engaging conversations."
McCormack makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include "BRIEF Bits" (memorable insights on how to be more BRIEF, each accompanied by a military figure to emphasize the importance of discipline), "BRIEF Basics" (various critical techniques that are essential to mastering Lean brevity), "Executive Attention" (vignettes about two executives and their interaction with others' inability to be BRIEF), and "Long Story Short" (essential points at the beginning and conclusion of all chapters, 1-20). These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of McCormack's coverage.
o Four Forces of Overcapacity (Pages 15-22)
o The New Reality: There's No Time for a Slow Buildup (22-24)
o The Seven Capital Sins of Verbosity (27-33)
o The Exercise of Brevity (43-44)
o BRIEF Maps: A Practical Tool for Delivering Brevity (51-52)
o Where's the Communication Disconnect? When a Story Is Missing (62-63)
o The Birth of Narrative Mapping: A Way to Organize and Deliver Your Story (64-65)
o Think About Your Audience: Journalism 2.0 and the Elements of a Narrative
o TALC [Talk, Active Listening, Converse] Tracks -- A Structure for Balance and Brevity (84-86)
o The Age of YouTube and Business (99-100)
o Mini-Case Study: W.W. Granger (105-110)
o The Discipline of Brevity (134-138)
o Cut to the Customer's Chase (149-151)
o Walk the Walk; Talk the Talk (168-171)
o Let the Brilliance Shine Through (184-186)
o The "Say-Do" Ratio (197-199)
o Being Brief: Summary and Action Plan (207-217)
Over the years, I have encountered dozens of examples of the power of brevity, an attribute that is more valuable (and more rare) today than ever before. George Bernard Shaw once apologized in a letter for its length because he had not had enough time to write a shorter one. On another occasion, someone informed him, "I walked by your house the other day." Shaw replied, "Thank you." A woman once approached Ben Hogan and offered him a ten-dollar bill, explaining that she had bet someone $20 that she could get him to say three words and felt obliged to share half with him. He said, "You lose." There is also a story about a venture capitalist who was approached (cornered) at a party by an eager young entrepreneur who insisted that all he needed was "only" $5-million to finance a great idea that would earn at least twenty times that. "Do you have a business card?" The young man offered one. "Please explain your great idea on the back of it." The young man insisted that that would be impossible. "Then I'm sorry but there really isn't anything for us to discuss."
This is indeed a time when "being brief is desperately needed and rarely delivered. When we fail to be clear and concise, the consequences can be brutal: wasted time, money, and resources; decisions made in confusion; worthy ideas rejected; people sent off in wrong directions; [so-called] done deals that always seem to stall." I congratulate Joseph McCormack on the wealth of information, insights, and counsel he provides in this lively and eloquent volume. Of course, I cannot resist the temptation to suggest that he really didn't need 217 pages but who's counting?