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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

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The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues
The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues
by Patrick M. Lencioni
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.00
34 used & new from CDN$ 14.54

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why teamwork remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare, July 1 2016
In my opinion, Pat Lencioni is among the most creative and influential business thinkers now doing all they can to accelerate the personal growth and professional development of as many people as possible. He is grand master of the business fable. Expect no elusive cheese or melting icebergs. He anchors his insights in real-world situations, focusing on fictitious characters with whom most executives can easily identify. That said, the details of the fable are best revealed within the narrative, in context, as events unfold. I now concentrate on what I think Lencioni’s key points in his latest book.

First, whereas in an earlier book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, he examines what the title correctly indicates, his purpose now is to introduce his Ideal Team Player model and stress the importance of having people who possess three underlying, essential virtues that enable them to be ideal team players: they are humble, hungry, and smart. As simple as those words may appear, none of them is exactly what they seem. Understanding the nuances of these virtues is critical for applying them effectively.”

The extensive research that Lencioni and his associates conducted suggests that “these three seemingly obvious qualities are to teamwork what speed, strength, and coordination are to athletes— they make everything else easier.” Obviously, organizational performance will be determined by the performance of the people it can recruit, hire, develop, and then retain. It is no coincidence that the companies annually ranked as most highly regarded and best to work for are also among those annually ranked as most profitable with the greatest cap value in their industry.

In this context, I am reminded of an observation by Warren Buffett: "Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy."

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest – for example -- the scope of Lencioni’s coverage when discussing the model of an ideal team player:

o Defining the Three Virtues (Pages 151-161)
o Application of the model #1: Hiring (174-187)
o Application of the model #2: Assessing current employees (187-195)
o Application of the model #3: Developing employees who lack one or more of the virtues (195-207)
o Application of the model #4: Embedding the model within the workplace culture (207-211)
o Connecting the ideal team player with the five dysfunctions of a team (212-214)

Here are a few of what I call “snippets” of key material:

“Humility is the single greatest and most indispensible attribute of being a team player.” Comment: See Buffett quote provided earlier.

“Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent.” Comment: They respond best opportunities and challenges, not material rewards.

“Smart simply refers to a person’s common sense about people.” Comment: They combine “street smarts” with “people skills.”

It would be a serious mistake to assume that Patrick Lencioni is a naive idealist out of touch with reality. On the contrary, he is a world-class, hardcore, diehard pragmatist. He fully understands that every member of every workforce has room for improvement in all three areas: humility, hunger, and smarts. In fact, he insists – and I agree – that it is critically important to develop all three virtues and behave accordingly, not only at work but in all interactions and relationships elsewhere. Becoming an ideal team player is a never-ending process rather than an ultimate destination.

Those now involved in that process or who aspire to would be well-advised to keep this observation by Margaret Mead in mind: "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

5 Habits to Lead from Your Heart: Getting Out of Your Head to Express Your Heart
5 Habits to Lead from Your Heart: Getting Out of Your Head to Express Your Heart
by Johnny Covey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.95
16 used & new from CDN$ 13.93

5.0 out of 5 stars We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.' Aristotle, July 1 2016
Some decisions are best made with the brain, others with the heart, and still others with some combination of both. The challenge, obviously, is to know which decisions are best made rationally, emotionally, or intuitively. When discussing this book, Stephen M.R. Covey suggests that his cousin, Johnny Covey, “focuses on the proactive behavior of choosing [what to be and do] in a way that favo9rs the heart without excluding the head. Learning to trust our heart is the most important thing each of us can do for ourselves, and Johnny shows us how we can do this intentionally. He shows us how we can exercise courage in being who we really are, how we can use our imagination and intelligence to consciously create our experience and how our choices profoundly affect what we feel and do.”

As I began to work my way through the narrative, I was again reminded of a book I read years ago, Denial of Death, in which Ernest Becker acknowledges the inevitability of physical death but asserts that there is another form of death than CAN be denied: that which occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others’ expectations of us. After years of struggling to fulfill others’ expectations of him, Johnny Covey chose to experience his life, “not just [being and] doing what others say is best for me. Many people have told me to change, but I feel that this life is what is best for me and my family.”

Perhaps channeling Aristotle, Covey recommends five habits to develop: be and remain courageous, you, present, restored, and a conscious creator. Briefly, here’s my take:

o It really does take courage to challenge what Jim O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Dante reserved the last and worst ring in hell for those who, in a moral crisis, preserve their neutrality.

o Covey obviously agrees with Polonius’ advice to son Laertes: “This above all: to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man." Also with “Oscar Wilde’s admonition, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

o To be present is to be engaged in the given situation rather than merely involved, fully aware of the circumstances, “experiencing things as they really are.” This is what Ellen Langer calls mindfulness. Dan Goleman calls emotional intelligence. You get the idea.

o The word “kaizen” is a Japanese term for continuous improvement and is usually associated with Toyota’s production line. For those who work there, it could also refer to their personal growth and professional development. Restoration enables us to recapture past experience that helps to nourish our heart and head as we embrace new opportunities.

o The last habit, conscious creation, is possible only if and when we have embarked on establishing the other four habits. Keep in mind that Covey is talking about an on-going process, not an ultimate destination. Over time, as the five habits – what we “repeatedly do” -- become more durable, we gain a sense of greater freedom that would otherwise not be possible. We make better choices that produce more beneficial results.

There are no head-snapping revelations in Johnny Covey’s material – nor does he make any such claim -- but I think many readers will find that much of it will have what I call a “time capsule effect.” That is, delayed relevance and then impact. That is why I highly recommend that those who read who read this book highlight key passages (information, insights, and counsel) that resonate with them now, then review those passages on a regular basis later.

It is in everyone’s best interests to have a sharp mind, a loving heart, and an enlightened intuition when making decisions, especially those that have serious implications and could have significant consequences. In essence, that is what this book is all about. What are you about?

The Art of Startup Fundraising: Pitching Investors, Negotiating the Deal, and Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need to Know
The Art of Startup Fundraising: Pitching Investors, Negotiating the Deal, and Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need to Know
by Alejandro Cremades
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.94
21 used & new from CDN$ 15.17

5.0 out of 5 stars “You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” Warren Buffett, June 30 2016
As I read this book the first time, I was inclined to view it as a “Here’s how to do it” book but that didn’t seem quite right so I re-read it and am now convinced that it is, rather, a “Here’s what to think about VERY CAREFULLY before you” book. Many people who read it will be well-prepared to make important “”whether or not” decisions in terms of pitching investors (especially family members and friends), negotiating the given deal with one or more capital sources, and everything else entrepreneurs need to know before deciding whether or not to “go for it.”

Credit Barbara Corcoran with writing an uncommonly thoughtful and thought-provoking Foreword. Hers is an independent perspective on independent fundraising, in general and on Alejandro Cremades understanding of that evolving process, in particular.

He presents his material within 17 chapters that focus on a journey that began when he relocated from Spain in 2008 to the United States, earned a law degree at Fordham University, and founded his firm, Onevest; in the last chapter, he explains why recognizing key red flags “is as important as knowing what to do when it comes to raising capital quickly and effectively.” He briefly discusses 18. Ultimately, none of the red flags is a showstopper. “As a founder, what you need to do is put a correction wherever it needs to be placed to address potential concerns and have a good explanation behind it.”

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Cremades’ coverage:

o Raising capital (Pages 5-23)
o Success plan (25-36)
o Pitches (37-45)
o Due diligence package (47-61)
o Sources of capital (65-80)
o Angel investors (74-76)
o Venture capital firms (78-80)
o Private capital vs. venture capital (86-87)
o Investment rounds (89-102)
o Investment accounts (103-106)
o Public relations (113-121)
o Investors (123-130)
o Closing deals (147-152)
o Value of relationships (153-154)
o Mistakes in fundraising (153-160)
o JOBS Act (161-165)
o Accredited investors (165-167)
o Tools for fundraising (177-185)
o Red flags for investors (187-192)

Here are Alejandro Cremades concluding observations: “Fundraising is without a doubt an art. As you have read throughout this book there are many things that need to be aligned in order to close the financing and have it available in the bank. However, if you are able to nail it on the suggestions and tips provided here, you are well on your way to making it happen. Keep your head up, be patient, and never accept no for an answer. You are the architect of your startup’s future, and with hard work and dedication anything is possible.”

Many years ago during dinner in San Francisco with one of the founders of a major venture capital firm, I asked him how he and his colleagues decided with which applicants to meet among the hundreds proposals for funds each week. His response remains true today. “We have three questions in mind as we work our way through a proposal. The first two are obvious enough. ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What do you do?’ The third question is less obvious, however, and the answer to it is decisive: ‘Why should I care?’ In most instances, we don’t.”

Navigating an Organizational Crisis: When Leadership Matters Most
Navigating an Organizational Crisis: When Leadership Matters Most
by Harry Hutson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 48.80
9 used & new from CDN$ 38.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/ To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.' Tennyson's Ulysses, June 28 2016
Curious, I checked the etymology of the word “crisis.” What I learned is that it is the Latinized form of Greek krisis “turning point in a disease” (used as such by Hippocrates and Galen), literally “judgment, result of a trial, selection,” from krinein “to separate, decide, judge,” from PIE root krei- “to sieve, discriminate, distinguish” (source also of krinesthai “to explain”). No head-snapping revelation there insofar as western derivations are concerned.

However, I also learned that the Chinese character for the word ”crisis” has two meanings: peril and opportunity. I think this is what Henry Hutson and Martha Johnson may have had in mind when examining hundreds of situations in which “leadership matters most.” In the Introduction, most of which is written in the third-person voice, they explain why they wrote the book. There seem to be three primary reasons: To share what they have learned from their own experiences, to share what they learned from several dozen interviews of leaders and other sources, and finally, to help those who read the book to be better prepared to coped with a world that now seems more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any time that I (at least) can remember.

Hutson and Johnson make brilliant use of a metaphor, “the rogue wave,” throughout their lively narrative. It may be helpful to know that in his eponymous book, Nassim Nicholas Taleb uses his concept of the black swan to explain:

o The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology.

o The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).

o The psychological biases that blind people, both individually and collectively, to uncertainty and to a rare event’s massive role in historical affairs.

Opinions may differ about specific events as to whether or not they are “rogue waves,” “black swans,” etc. Also, many claims to have “seen it coming” are made after the fact. (George Kennan once observed that Russian historians predict the past with “uncommon accuracy.”) The key point remains the same and Hutson and Johnson nail it: Effective leadership is most important when a major crisis occurs.

I am reminded of William Faulkner’s characterization of courage as “grace under duress.” Many people feel terrorized by an organizational crisis and may be paralyzed by fear or feel compelled to take ill-advised action. Leaders such as Chesley (“Sully”) Sullenberger no doubt felt serious fear when realizing that he had to land U.S. Air flight 1549 on the Hudson River (January 21, 2009) because he had no alternatives. He remained calm and everyone survived. Sullenberg’s personal life and professional career demonstrate a process by which he developed an ability to do what must be done if and when a crisis occurs.

I commend Henry Hutson and Martha Johnson on their provision of information, insights, and counsel that can help almost anyone become better prepared to “navigate” their way through a crisis, whatever its nature and extent may be. Most readers can easily identify with the real-world examples on which they focus. This is one of those thought-provoking books that can function both as a window to gain wider and different perspectives on our world, and, a mirror to gain a better understanding of who we are and who we aren’t, but also [begin italics] who we can become [end italics].

Meanwhile, we are well-advised to keep in mind this suggestion by Margaret Mead: "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

Monetizing Innovation: How Smart Companies Design the Product Around the Price
Monetizing Innovation: How Smart Companies Design the Product Around the Price
by Madhavan Ramanujam
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.69
26 used & new from CDN$ 21.14

5.0 out of 5 stars How monetizing the design of new or improved products and/or services will help create or increase demand for them, June 28 2016
Here is Madhavan Ramanujam and Georg Tacke's basic premise: 'The most successful product innovators we know start by determining what the customer values [verb] and what they are willing to pay, and then they design the products around those inputs and have a clear monetization strategy that they follow through with.' They reject a number of myths and misconceptions that help to explain why so many innovations fail:

1. 'If you simply build a great new product, customers will pay fair market value for it. 'Build it and they will come' is the mantra.'
2. "The new product or service must be controlled entirely by the innovation team working in isolation.'
3. 'High failure rate of innovation rate is normal and is even necessary.'
4. 'Customers must experience a new product before they can say how much they will pay for it.'
5. 'Until the business knows precisely what it's building, it cannot possibly assess what it is worth.'

As Ramanujam and Tacke would presumably agree, there are exceptions. Moreover, Steve Jobs has been perhaps the most outspoken among those who believe that most (if not all five) of these myths and misconceptions are, in fact, true; especially the first two.

With regard to #3, most experts seem to agree that a high number of low-risk experiments (using prototypes) rather than a high failure rate is desirable. The mantra 'fail fast' should be subject to reasonable limitations. If DOA, bury it.

The wisdom of the Lakota advises against feeding a dead horse.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Ramanujam and Tacke's coverage:

o Product innovation (Pages 3-13)
o New product development (15-32)
o Feature shocks (16-20)
o Hidden gems (24-27)
o Undeals (27-32)
o Monetization and innovation (33-36)
o Customer segmentation (53-62)
o Key principles of bundling (71-73)
o Pricing strategies (97-110)
o Business cases for new products (111-120)
o Behavioral pricing (135-147)
o Example of behavioral pricing at Internet companies (137-140)
o Behavioral pricing tactics (140-145)
o Price integrity (149-159)
o Post-Launch (153-157)
o Porsche (164-170)
o The "Porsche Principle'(169-170)
o LinkedIn (170-174)
o B2B (174-182)
o Swarovski (188-193)
o Optimizely (194-200)
o Implementing the 'design the product around the price' approach (207-218)

With regard to monetizing failure, Ramanujam and Tacke have found four recurring patterns of product failures that all into four categories:

1. Feature Shock: 'Cramming too many features into one product ' sometimes even unwanted features ' creates a product that does not fully resonate with customers, and is often overpriced.'
COMMENT: There may not be immediate resonation but a liquid always assumes the shape of its contained. Over time, applications will be used to the limit of the capabilities available. Especially with a new product, offering more can accelerate adoption.

2. Minivation: 'An innovation that, despite being the right product for the right market, is priced too low to achieve its full revenue potential.'
COMMENT: With pricing, almost everything depends on two factors: margins and market appeal.

3. Hidden Gem: 'A blockbuster product that is never properly brought to market, generally because it falls outside of the core business.'
QUESTION: Who or what determines that?
ANSWER: Eventually if not immediately, the market.

4. Undead: 'An innovation that customers don't want but has nevertheless been brought to market, either because it was the wrong answer the right question, or an answer to a question no joined was asking.'
COMMENT: People can't make a choice they don't know exists. Some of the most successful products answer questions that consumers had not asked. Swiffer, for example, and handles built into large containers of liquids such as milk and antifreeze.

These are among Madhavan Ramanujam and Georg Tacke's concluding thoughts: 'In a world in which innovation success has become more important [begin italics] and [end italics] more difficult, we believe no company can afford to build its future on wishes, hopes, and dreams.' I agree. In fact, I cannot recall a prior time when the business world was more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than it is now.

This book offers an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that can help leaders in almost any organization'whatever its size and nature may be ' to use the principles of monetiization to design new or improved products and/or services that are most likely to create or increase demand.

Right Moves:The Conservative Think Tank in American Political Culture since 1945
Right Moves:The Conservative Think Tank in American Political Culture since 1945
by Jason Stahl
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 46.81
15 used & new from CDN$ 29.60

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant analysis of the impact of the current “marketplace of policy values and ideas,” for better or worse, June 27 2016
I agree with Jason Stahl: “Despite the plethora of recent studies examining conservative and right political movements in U.S. history, to date there has been no full-length historical study of one of the central institutions of conservative political organizing: the think tank…Such an omission is in large part due to the way in which historians have written the history of American conservatism over the past twenty-five years.” Stahl’s objective is explored what Kim Phillips-Fein has characterized as the “new intellectual history of conservatism.” That is: “how, when, and why the think tank as an institution became so useful to conservatives in forwarding theist ideologies, policies, and coherent political identities. It is to this story that we now turn.”

These are among the subjects of greatest interest to me:

o The evolving role of the American Economics Association (AEA)

o How and why the AEA became the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

o The major contributors (e.g. William J. Baroody, Jr. and Sr.) to the development and impact of conservative think tanks in “the marketplace of policy values and ideas”

o The nature and extent of the “new liberalism’s” impact within the same marketplace

o Similarities and differences between and among the major think tanks, including AEI, Brookings Institution, Cato Institute, Democratic leadership Council (DLC), Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, and the Progressive Party Institute (PPI)

There are so many “major players” in this book’s lively narrative and, in my opinion, Stahl discusses each without any hint of partisan bias. I share his concern for the current state of policy discussion or, worse yet, the lack of policy discussion in terms of what is in this nation’s best interests. Balance and compromise are emphatically not mutually-exclusive. Our nation needs think tanks that share the compelling vision that the Constitution and Bill of Rights affirm. Obviously there will be liberal and conservative preferences but surely statesmanship could — and should — prevail.

Here are Jason Stahl’s concluding thoughts: Given the fact that so many people “use politics as tribal markers to easily declare allegiances, the best Americans can probably hope for, then, is that the marketplace of policy ideas actually becomes truly diverse as opposed to ‘balanced’ between various conservative positions. The Internet and media fragmentation my make such diversity possible heading into the future. And exposure to a wider spectrum of ideas through such a fragmentation would undoubtedly make for as healthier democracy than the one we have now.”

Meanwhile, we would be well-advised to consider advice offered by Voltaire long ago: “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking
Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking
by Jim Dewald
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.72
27 used & new from CDN$ 26.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Improvement that is not continuous is merely a gesture of no enduring value, June 24 2016
Improvement that is not continuous is merely a gesture of no enduring value

Years ago at a GE annual meeting, its then chairman and CEO — Jack Welch — was asked to explain why he admired small companies and wanted GE to be more like them. His response:

“For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy.”

W. Brett Wilson may have had this perspective in mind when observing in the Foreword: “Entrepreneurship is something everyone should study for life…Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking. It’s about innovation. And if there is one lesson I’ve learned from my career, it’s that anyone, anywhere, can have/develop/enjoy an entrepreneurial mindset.”

I agree with Welch and Wilson as well as with Jim Dewald who is convinced that organizations really do prosper if they establish and then nourish an entrepreneurial mindset at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Their people are constantly asking this question: “How can we make things better and do so faster at a lower cost?” In this book, Dewald responds to these questions:

1. “What is driving the renewed interest in entrepreneurship — specifically, corporate entrepreneurship? Are we entering a new era in which corporate entrepreneurship will become essential, even for short-term success?”
Comment: Welch thought that it was essential for GE thirty years ago. That’s good enough for me.

2. “How can existing business firms best prepare themselves to be entrepreneurial?”
Comment: Leaders in many (if not most) organizations think they are entrepreneurial and most are, to varying degree. My opinion is that organizations tend to reward what they value.

3. “What are the pitfalls or barriers, and how can firms and managers best prepare for these unexpected concerns?”
Comment: “Unexpected”? In Art of War, Sun Tzu asserts that every battle is won or lost before it is fought.

When responding to these key questions, Jim Dewald draws upon a wide and deep background in all dimensions of the business world. He shares an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel to leaders who face, each day, challenges in a business world that has become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember.

His concluding thoughts: “The ability of our corporate sector it adapt to paradigm-shifting innovation is unproven at best, and horribly immature at worst (based on the bubble). The path to longevity and firm sustainability is paved with the skill of entrepreneurial thinking, embracing an entrepreneurial culture, opportunity identification, bricolage, and effectual reasoning. I hope this book will help you find [or reignite] the entrepreneurial spirit and the source for longevity for your organization.”

I share that hope.

When the Pressure's On: The Secret to Winning When You Can't Afford to Lose
When the Pressure's On: The Secret to Winning When You Can't Afford to Lose
by Louis S. Csoka
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 34.06
23 used & new from CDN$ 19.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Champions get up when they can't.' Jack Dempsey, June 22 2016
All of us can identify with a situation when someone has been knocked down (emotionally as well as physically) and seems unable to recover, to 'get back up.' Some do, others don't, and reasons vary. Louis Csoka wrote this book in order to share what he has learned about how to cope with severe stress, especially when it cannot be avoided and those involved are not responsible for its causes.

He identifies three options:

1. Opt out of the situation by quitting.
2. Attempt to eliminate the causes.
3. Improve response.

For many people, #1 really isn't an option. They endure as best they can and may ' or may not - attempt to eliminate or alleviate the causes. Csoka recommends #3 and provides a wealth of information, insights, and counsel that can help almost anyone who reads this book to improve how they respond to severe stress.

In this context, I presume to share a few thoughts of my own. First, stress is not necessarily bad. It can stimulate rather than debilitate and give focus to effort. Some people need deadlines. They are more productive if they know the dos and don'ts when attempting to complete the given task. The stress to which Csoka refers diminishes self-confidence, enthusiasm, energy, stamina, and worst of all, hope.

Also, all of his recommendations take into full account the importance of decompression. Workplace burnout helps to explain why, on average, less than a third of employees in a U.S. company are actively and positively engaged. More than 70% are either passively engaged ('mailing it in'), or actively disengaged, working to undermine the success of their company.

Finally, positive stress will help to accelerate the personal growth and professional development in any workplace environment whereas negative stress will prevent them.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Csoka's coverage:

o Mindsets (Pages 13-17)
o Mental strength (13-22 and 25-29)
o Desired behavior inventory (25-29)
o Peak Performance Skill Level Self-Assessment (27-29)
o Goal Setting (34-35 and 51-68)
o Adaptive Thinking (35-37 and 71-82)
o Stress and Energy Management (37-39 and 85-121)
o In-Depth Look at Training (43247, 131-132, and 160-162)
o Neuro Training (44-45)
o Outcome Goals (55-56)
o Controlling the Negative Voices in Our Heads (74-78)
o Rules of Stress Management (116-121)
o VUCA framework for self-assessment (167-183)
o Learned Instinct (174-175 and 180-183)
o Situational Awareness (176-180)
o Chelsey ('Sully') Sullenberger and U.S. Airways flight 1549 (183-188)
o Commander's Calm (190-196)

I agree with Louis Csoka that in a world that has become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I (at least) can remember, it is imperative to 'get comfortable being uncomfortable.' And keep in mind that stress is not necessarily bad. Also, some causes of stress can be avoided or overcome (if not eliminated) such as improving communication skills (e.g. making performance expectations crystal clear) and identifying the right question to answer or the right problem to solve.

Also, I agree with him about the importance of establishing a workplace culture within which individual awareness (Ellen Langer calls it "mindfulness,'" same thing), self-reflection, self-control, and self-regulation are encouraged, indeed cherished ' and rewarded as well as recognized ' because they leverage positive stress to achieve high-impact results. Champions in the boxing ring get up when they can't. So do peak performers in the business world.

When the Pressure's On is a brilliant achievement. Bravo!

The Innovation Formula: The 14 Science-Based Keys for Creating a Culture Where Innovation Thrives
The Innovation Formula: The 14 Science-Based Keys for Creating a Culture Where Innovation Thrives
by Amantha Imber
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.75
18 used & new from CDN$ 14.59

5.0 out of 5 stars To paraphrase Henry Ford, 'If you think you can or think you can't create a culture where innovation thrives, you're right., June 21 2016
What can leaders in almost organization do to establish a workplace culture in which innovation or creativity will thrive? Amantha Imber has identified several 'keys' (i.e. components or factors) of such a workplace culture. Each poses unique challenges and most are interdependent.

Imber's material is rock-solid. She draws upon a wide and deep base of direct experience with all manner of organizations. I agree with her that innovation is ' or at least should be ' an ongoing process of using creative thinking to improve products and services, of course, but also improve the processes by which to create or generate demand (marketing) produce and distribute whatever is offered, and meanwhile minimize waste of resources (especially hours and dollars).

As Imber well realizes, the term 'code' with regard to individuals is comparable with the term 'secret sauce' with regard to organizations. Just as there are defining characteristics of great organizations, there are defining characteristics of exceptionally creative people. Breaking a code does not necessarily mean that the knowledge gained will be effectively applied. The same is true of any formula, once in hand. The great value of this book will be derived from the options that Imber identifies and the context within which she examines each. This material will be of essential and substantial value to leaders as well as to those who aspire to become one.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of her coverage:

o 'Innovation Culture Audit' (Page xxxiii-xxxii)
o Challenge 3-12)
o Esty marketplace (3-15, 92-93, 133-135, 141-142, and 150-151)
o Autonomy (3-25)
o Individual factors driving innovation (21-40)
o Goals (22-23, 111-118, and 162-163)
o Carol Dweck and the growth mindset (z37-39)
o Team level factors driving innovation (41-72)
o Creativity (42-72)
o Intellectual stimulation: Team(43-53)
o Support from teams (53-60)
o Cohesion and innovation (55-57)
o Team collaboration (61-72)
o Communication (68-69, 112-113, and 172-173)
o Individual factors driving innovation (73-118)
o Support from leaders (78-85)
o Impacts of leaders on teams (78-81)
o Risk Taking (121-137)
o Failure (122-127)
o Cohesion (139-143)
o Participation (149-162)
o Steps in innovation process (151-156)
o Physical environment (163-173)

With regard to the 14 'drivers of an innovation culture,' the companies annually ranked among those considered to be the most innovative (e.g. probably few (if any) of them have tall at full strength all of them time. (How could they?) In my opinion, and presumably Imber agrees with me, the key to success (however defined) is to have all of the factors operative and interdependent, in ways and to the extent appropriate. It remains for leaders to provide the coordination that is needed at all levels and in all areas throughout the given enterprise.

This book was written for those who are determined to establish or strengthen a workplace culture within which innovation is most likely to thrive. It remains for each reader to recruit those who share that determination and, together, formulate a game plan based on what the 'Innovation Culture Audit' reveals. Select a leader. Set priorities. (Be sure to check out 'What Now' Pages 175-176.) Agree on the division of labor. You may wish to consider creating a 'sprint team,' using a model developed by Google and thoroughly explained in Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, written by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz, and recently published by Simon & Schuster. Most of the information, insights, and counsel you need are in Amantha Imber's book. Pay special attention to the 'Key Points' section at the conclusion of each chapter and review them frequently.

If you ever have any doubts about what you and your colleagues can accomplish together, keep this observation by Margaret Mead in mind: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.'

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms
Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms
by David S. Evans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 36.22
39 used & new from CDN$ 27.37

5.0 out of 5 stars How to help those with a need for a product or service to connect with those who can provide it, June 20 2016
The concept is obviously simple, one than can be traced back to the ancient markets in Athens and Rome as well as throughout Egypt where goods and services were also exchanged on the same cashless premise: by barter. Establish a location (a "platform") where those in need of a product or service are able to connect with those who can provide it. Today the Web provides (by far) the best meeting place for buyers and sellers of almost everything. Payments are processed electronically.

In Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy--And How to Make Them Work for You, Geoffrey Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary pose two interesting questions: How can a major business segment be invaded and conquered in a matter of months by an upstart with none of the resources traditionally deemed essential for survival, let alone market dominance? And why is this happening today in one industry after another?'

Here's the answer to both questions: "the power of the platform," a new business model embraced by Airbnb, Uber, Alibaba, and Facebook'and previously by Amazon, YouTube, Wikipedia, iPhone, Upwork, Twitter, KAYAK, Instagram, and Pinterest, among others. As is also true of the Worldwide Web that Tim Berners-Lee devised more than twenty years ago, the platform's core functions are connectivity and interactivity. Its overarching purpose is to "consummate matches among users and facilitate the exchange of goods, services, or social currency, thereby enabling value creation for all participants."

Unlike the traditional linear value chain, platforms scale more efficiently and more quickly by eliminating gatekeepers; unlocking new sources of value creation supply and demand; using data-based tools to create community feedback loops; and centering on people, resources, and "functions that exist outside the operations of a platform business" such as Uber, "complementing or replacing those that exist inside a traditional business" such as a taxi cab company.

If possible, Platform Revolution and Matchmakers should be read in combination. Yes, David Evans and Richard Schmalensee discuss several of the same companies and address some of the same issues but, as I think the co-authors of both books agree, the importance of understanding the new economics of multisided platforms --- and then leveraging that understanding --- requires as much information, insights, and counsel as can be obtained.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Evans and Schmalensee''s coverage:

o Frictions (Pages 7-20)
o OpenTable (7-8 and 9-14)
o Critical Mass (9-14 and 69-83)
o Network Effects (21-31)
o Microsoft (26-27 and 106-110)
o Apple (126-127 and 142-143)
o Internet Service Providers (45-47)
o Creative Destruction (49-51)
o YouTube (73-76)
o eBay and Pay Pal (81-82)
o AT&T (113-114)
o Alibaba (158-161)
o Ecosystems (100-121)
o Amazon (105-106)
o Aventura Mall (121-122 and 129-133)
o Design and Value (121-133)
o Externalities (128-140)
o Governance Systems (135-148)
o Apple Pay (149-150 and 156-164)
o M-PESA Financial Services (167-181)

Evans and Schmalensee provide a brilliant examination of one of the most interesting business developments during the last decade: the matchmaker company, one "that helps two or or more different kinds of customers find each other an engage in mutually beneficial interactions. Matchmaking does not involve literally finding matches for people" like the old village matchmaker would try to do for a potential marriage ' but rather finding good trading parties. A payment card network, for example, helps retailers and customers get together and transact by using the same, agreed-upon payment method.'

They examine dozens of example of these "mutually beneficial interactions." The Web also plays a major role by facilitating, indeed expediting transactions almost anywhere, almost anytime, between and among almost any organizations and/or individuals. I commend David Evans and Richard Schmalensee on the abundance of uniquely valuable information, insights, and counsel in their book, provided within a lively and eloquent narrative.

Whatever the size and nature of a platform may be, it serves two timeless and timely functions: connection and interaction. Needs and interests are certain to change in years to come and the same is true of products and services as well as of the technologies and systems involved. I have no idea what the platforms will look like but I am certain there will be matchmakers then who share much in common with matchmakers today.

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