- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Crown Business; Reprint edition (Jan. 5 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 030745178X
- ISBN-13: 978-0307451781
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 222 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #454,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Doing What Matters: How to Get Results That Make a Difference - The Revolutionary Old-School Approach Paperback – Jan 5 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
In a business book that reads like a case study, turnaround artist and brand-builder Kilts walks managers and CEOs through the lessons he learned while resuscitating shaving-company Gillette. Having revived Nabisco, Kilts was planning to retire until famed investor Warren Buffett persuaded him to upgrade Gillette. With an analytical tone, Kilts describes how he moved the company off the ledge and paved the way for a bidding war. The book is likely to resonate with CEOs accustomed to dense discussions of corporate successes, businessy acronyms (like ZOG, or zero overhead growth) and sorting through heaps of advice. On rare occasions, Kilts gets folksy, as when describing the loss of perspective that comes with immersion in an organization's culture: If you put a frog into boiling water, it jumps out, Kilts writes. If you put a frog into cool water and slowly raise the temperature, the frog gets cooked before it knows what's happening. The slow boil is bad for business, he reasons. But overall, it works as an approach for this book. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Jim Kilts transformed Gillette. Before his arrival, the company was a study in self-deception. Great brands were being mishandled, operational and financial discipline was non-existent and fanciful promises to investors were standard practice. In record time, Jim excised these business pathogens. I've learned much from Jim. So, too, will readers of this book."
--Warren E. Buffett
"Doing What Matters is an insightful and practical approach to business by a transformative leader with a great track record of success."
Jack Welch, LLC
Jim Kilts is a proven wizard at making companies run.
--Wall Street Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
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In the city where I live, we have a number of outdoor markets at which slices of fresh fruit are offered as samples of the produce available. In that same spirit, I frequently include brief excerpts from a book to help those who red my review to get a "taste." Here is a representative selection of Kilts's insights from his years as a CEO:
"You not only have to sort out what you should pay attention to and what you should ignore, you must do so with [begin italics] revolutionary [end italics] speed and decisiveness. Yet, even with disaster staring them in the face, people from the lowest to the highest levels in many organizations often prefer to `rearrange the deck chairs.' They'll give lip service to stepping up performance, but in practice they go about business as usual." (Page 3)
"During my tenure at Kraft, we developed something called IMI - Integrated Marketing Intelligence - which gave us state-of-the-art insights into our brands, their categories, and consumer dynamics; how responsive they were to different forms of advertising and promotion; how much spending was optimal; and much more that will be explored later [in this book]. When we spent marketing dollars at Kraft, we were truly [begin italics] investing [end italics] in brand building." (Page 94)
"A company must function like a finely tuned engine of a racecar. It must not only have all the right components - injectors, valves, pistons, and the like - but each element must also be connected with all the others, and the timing and movement of all components must be absolutely in synch. Even the slightest miss in timing will result in poor performance." (Page 149)
"Many managers fail because they have a punch list of all the individual elements and when they see check marks against them, they assume the heavy lifting is over. Actually, the opposite is true. The heaviest lifting comes when all of the individual pieces are in place and you must make them work together to drive the company toward its objectives. At this point you need the right road map." (Pages 213-214)
Note: Kilts explains how to formulate such a "road map" in Chapter 11.
"Making the tough decision to fire someone, and doing it promptly, is something that I took to heart early on. Terminating someone is tough, but it doesn't get any easier if you put it off. Once you make the decision to fire someone, you start sending out signals, consciously or unconsciously, that are difficult to ignore. The intended employee's time on the job may be prolonged, but it will not be quality time, so say the least. If you level with someone, a termination or separation can be positive. Unless you are dealing with a bad actor, people lose their jobs because their position has become redundant or unnecessary, or because the person's individual skills are a mis-match for the position." (Page 288)
In the next to last chapter, "Politicians and Media Matter," the book's narrative sags somewhat as Kilts expresses his irritation with the Boston news media's coverage of the purchase of Gillette by Procter & Gamble, notably the Boston Globe's coverage that he characterizes as "piling on" big business and its leaders. In particular, he cites an op-ed article by Jack Falvey in which he shares a number of opinions about Gillette that were "unfounded and untrue." Kilts acknowledges the importance of the news media and concludes the chapter with some sound advice as to how to conduct effective press relations.
I agree with Kilts that "continuous dissatisfaction with the status quo is the best way to keep growing as an individual and an organization, or company." (Andrew Grove expresses essentially the same idea when explaining why "only the paranoid survive.") To me, the greatest strength of this book is its focus on real-world situations, especially those that involve a serious challenge, when it is imperative to determine what really matters (i.e. what is most important) and then concentrate on doing it well, thoroughly and consistently, to achieve the desired results, whatever those results may be. If some view this approach as being "old school" and obsolete, so be it.
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis' Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls, Gary Hamel's The Future of Management, Ram Charan's Know-How: The 8 Skills That Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don't, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action and Hard Facts Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, Pfeffer's What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom About Management, and The Leader of the Future2 co-edited by Frances Hesselbein and Marshall Goldsmith.
Unlike most success cases, this one has enough detail and examples to give you a flavor for what such a turnaround is like. The focus is on Gillette from the time Kilts took over until the company was sold to Procter & Gamble. But there are also extensive examples from the successful turnaround of Nabisco that Kilts led while CEO, plus some earlier examples from Kraft and General Foods days.
The essence of his approach is to focus on the key things that lead to significant improvement and be sure those things get done. In this method, there's no magic potion . . . just clear thinking and concentrated leadership based on metrics that make sense. The essence of the approach is to set realistic profit growth goals. Then start achieving those goals by freeing up some money to expand advertising and superior new products by cutting out huge sources of waste such as excess overhead, paying too much for supplies, inefficiencies in operations, low-performing products, and large trade discounts to retail customers. From there, you develop excellence in operations, focus on the best opportunities, and improve your understanding of the innovation choices that remain. By tracking performance compared to competitors, you move from rewarding effort to rewarding performance.
This is the same formula that's been working in consumer packaged goods for decades. So don't expect anything new. But I think the thought process is better described here than in other books I've read.
The book's main drawbacks are two:
1. There's no description of how to move from improved to superb . . . such as by innovating with new kinds of highly profitable products and services that the company has never developed and marketed before.
2. The material is not structured very well. A lot of material is endlessly repeated. A better editor was needed, or different examples should have been included rather than referring to the same people and examples so many times.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
He flatout says that persistent growth in the teens for consumer products industry is unsustainable. He thinks growth projections of around 5% is much more realisitic.
Here are some other excerpts:
1)Focus on increasing revenue, but just as importantly, on continually cutting costs. Use the extra cash flow for R&D and Marketing (developing consumer Brand).
2)First 100 days as a Executive/manager is crucial. Set few basic rules early such as intellectual integrity, cost cutting, and ablity to make good decisions will be rewarded.
3)People deal with unpleasant reality in phases (supported by Psychology). They are denial, resistence, acceptance, and action.
3)"Action must always be a top priority because one of the biggest issues at large corporations...is their proclivity for inaction". Status quo is rarely the answer.
4)Performance is what matters. Effort without performance is useless.
5)Leadership matters. Never hire jerks, especially for managers. Leaders must have intelligence and energy. Additionally, thy must have intellectual integrity, results, ability to make decisions, leadership (communication, team players, good listeners, ability to sell a cause), and ability to think conceptually.
I was part of the Team in Europe and I remember great time spent in driving the Company to glory days!