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Presentation Skills 201: How to Take It to the Next Level as a Confident, Engaging Presenter
Presentation Skills 201: How to Take It to the Next Level as a Confident, Engaging Presenter
by William R. Steele
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.02
8 used & new from CDN$ 13.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How you present yourself when interacting with others will probably determine what they think of you, for better or worse, June 15 2016
Years ago, Maya Angelou observed, 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' I was again reminded of that wisdom as I began to read the Second Edition of Bill Steele's book. From the Preface: 'I need to stress that this book is NOT a step-by-step guide to creating and delivering presentations. I titled it Presentation Skills 201 because it assumes you know the fundamentals and you're now looking for ways to enhance your skills. This book is a collection of the ways I would recommend you strongly consider.'

Keep in mind that the term 'presentation' refers to a variety of situations that range from a confidential discussion with one's supervisor about compensation, a promotion, and/or career opportunities to a public presentation to an audience off several thousand people at a conference. Whatever the given subject or agenda may be, whatever the nature and extent of the given circumstances may be, Steele correctly stresses the importance of the same fundamentals. They comprise a seven-stage process and Steel devotes a separate chapter to each.

1. PLANNING: Benjamin Franklin insisted, 'If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.' Abraham Lincoln once said if he has six hours to chop down a tree, he would use four of those hours sharpening the axe. Plan what you will do and how you will do it'and be prepared to make adjustments and modifications.

2. PREPARATION: Sun Tzu asserts in Art of War that every battle is won or lost before it is fought. Planning and Preparation are inseparable and interdependent. Michael Porter suggests that the essence of formulating a strategy is deciding what NOT to do. Similarly, as Steele makes crystal clear, it is imperative to plan and prepare a presentation that omits whatever is non-essential. 'Brainstorm first, then organize,' 'Don't Prepare More Than Enough,' and 'Answer the 'So What?'' are spot on.

3. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Anders Ericsson coined the term 'deliberate practice,' practice that is sharply focused, rigorously disciplined, and preferably under expert supervision. Rehearse until you reach a point at which you seem so natural that no one would ever guess that you rehearsed so thoroughly and so frequently. Like Sabatini's Scaramouche, seem effortless.

4. WORK WITH A TEAM: This is especially important if help is needed with research, fact checking, and use of multi-media equipment and resources. Discuss the details and issues of the given situation only with those who will offer candid as well as informed opinions. Steele and I agree with Ken Blanchard: 'Feedback is the breakfast food of champions.' Just be certain that those from whom you request know what they are talking about and will pull no punches.

5. DIMENSIONS OF DELIVERY: There is much to be said for looking and sounding 'like a winner.' It is also true that even if you insert a large cow pie in a blue Tiffany box and tie a yellow ribbon around it, it's still a cow pie. Keep in mind that about 70% of your impact during a face-to-face interaction will be determined by body language and tone of voice. Oscar Wilde advised, 'Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.' Quite true but I presume to add, be your BEST self.

6. PLATFORM: Re-read my comments for #5. In Chapter 6, Steele provides some of his most helpful advice. (So does Maya Angelou.) 'Sound like you care' and you better care or the audience will see through artificial passion. Don't overcook the 'meal.' Let the content seem as natural as the presentation of it. Above all, relax. These moments are what you so carefully prepared for them. Appreciate them and your audience will, also.

7. LANGUAGE USE: Probably because of the rapid emergence of the social media, people have been marinated in clichés and, in fact, the term 'cliché' has itself become one. Steele fully realizes and understands this, of course. There challenge is to speak with afresh voice, using language that helps to tell a story (i.e. background, given situation, people, acquisitions and/or problems, developments, and resolution). Again, Steele's advice is solid (e.g. 'retire' your favorite words and phrases, eliminate unnecessary qualifiers, avoid or translate jargon) and my only suggestion re language use is to check out the 'USAGE' section in Stanford K. Pritchard's The Elements of Style: Updated and Annotated for Present-Day Use, 2nd Edition (2012). I also highly recommend an earlier edition, The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition (1999), co-authored by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White with the Introduction provided by Roger Angell (White's stepson and himself a great writer).

Bill Steele thoroughly explains how to complete each of these stages. He adds a Q&A section in Chapter 8 and then 'Challenging Audiences' and 'Virtual Presentations' in the next two chapters. I agree with him that almost anyone can ' over time ' become an exceptional presenter. As indicated earlier, I think the material in this book has a rather broad range of applications, from a private conversation involving two people to a formal presentation so several thousand.


Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity
Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity
by Ken Segall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.97
27 used & new from CDN$ 17.41

5.0 out of 5 stars Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.' Albert Einstein, June 15 2016
Einstein's admonition helps to create a context for Ken Segall's brilliant explanation of how smart leaders defeat complexity, especially now when the global marketplace seems to become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember. Complexity resembles (in my opinion) kudzu as it captures and enslaves individual lives and even entire organizations.

Seagull focuses on nine themes or dimensions of simplicity, asserting 'Simplicity isn't simple.' Rather, it is on a mission, in the air, loves a leader, is a team spirit, is true to the brand, fits all sizes, is sleeker, creates love, and is instinctive. Long ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. observed, 'I do not care a fig about simplicity this side of complexity but would, give me life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.' Helping as many people as possible to get to that 'other side' is why Segall wrote this book.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Segall's coverage in Chapters 1-4:

o The Science of Simple (Pages 8-9)
o The Transformational Power of Mission (13-16)
o Finding a Mission That Scales (16-18)
o Simplicity Starts Here (23)
o Values Guider Behavior 25-29)
o Values Transcend the Product (29-32)
o Strong Values Inspire Bold Action (35-37)
o Integrity Is a Powerful Value (37-40)
o A Culture of Commitment (48-51)
o Leaders Who Empower, Not Dominate (55-57)
o Serving as Chief Uncomplicator (58-61)
o Keeping the Start-up Simple as It Grows (68-72)
o Focus Starts at the Top (72-75)
o When Leading for Simplicity Failed: The JCPenney Story (75-82)
o Brilliant Hires Are the Key (87-91)
o 'People Are the Whole Ballgame' (91-96)
o 'The Art of Firing' (101-103)
o Values Are an Employee Magnet (103-105)
o Simplicity Is a Group Effort (105-106)

In my opinion, some of Segall's most valuable material is provided in the final chapter, 'Finding Your Road to Simple.' He offers fifteen specific recommendations that will help his reader formulate a 'road map to developing a road map ' an outline of strategies to consider and actions you might take as you set out to leverage the power of simplicity.' All of the most significant journeys that people take in life should begin well and that's really what this chapter addresses. In fact, with only minor modifications, this same material offers wise and practical counsel to everyone who is involved in all major organizational change initiatives. 'Making a company simpler typically requires steely determination, a touch of relentlessness, and marathon-like endurance. There's only one reason why any sane leader would launch such an initiative. It's worth it.'

Ken Segall notes that Steve Jobs never diminished the challenge of simplification. He then adds, 'But in the same breath he said that once you achieve simplicity, 'You can move mountains.' He wasn't talking about himself. He was talking about you. The philosophy he expressed can be embraced by anyone, in any company, in any industry. To begin, you only need to put your stake in the ground.'

Your move.


Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets
Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets
by Al Ramadan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.68
26 used & new from CDN$ 14.73

5.0 out of 5 stars How to achieve and then sustain a competitive advantage in almost any marketplace, June 14 2016
In this book, Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney explain how almost any company can dominate its competitive marketplace. Category design is one of the key concepts that they examine. What is it? “Category design is about creating a new space and ecosystem for an innovation. An innovation without category design wins you a Techcrunch award.

"Innovation with category design turns you into a powerful, enduring business. Disruption is a by-product of creating a new category that happens to suck the life out of an old category — the way Salesforce.com’s cloud-based software emasculated the on-premise CRM software industry. But plenty of great new categories don’t disrupt anything. Airing didn’t disrupt hotels. Hotels are doing fine. Disruption should never be a goal. Create something great, and it disrupts, well then you get the Disruptor merit badge.

“Category design is the discipline of creating and developing a new market category and conditioning the market so it will demand your solution and crown your company as its king.” More specifically, here are what specifically category design is and does:

o It drives the company’s strategy to become a category king.
o Involves product and ecosystem design.
o Is part of a company culture.
o Is about creating a powerful and provocative story that causes customers to make a choice.
o Is marketing, public relations, and advertising in combined/cohesive/collaborative focus

“Above all, category design is making all of these components work together, in lockstep, feeding off each other, so each action builds momentum for both the category and its king. In that sense, category is like a musical score for a symphony. Just as every part of the orchestra needs to play the same score together, every part of the company needs to execute category design together.” Ramadan, Petterson, Lochhead, and Maney explain HOW all this can be accomplished.

As I worked my way through their narrative, I was reminded of another recently published book, The Three-Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation, in which Vijay Govindarajan introduces a comparable approach to problem solving. Here’s the paradigm:

Box 1: Optimize the current business.
Box 2: Let go of the values and resources that fuel the current business but fail the new one.
Box 3: Invent a new business model.

“Success in each box requires a different set of skills, attitudes, practices, and leadership.” Success also requires seamless coordination of initiatives in each box to achieve the aforementioned objectives. For example, if the company is not functioning at peak efficiency (in Box 1), it will lack sufficient resources and commitment to build its future (in Box 2), and complete the transition to the future (in Box 3). Just as Boxes 2 and 3 must be protected, Box 1 must remain focused and undistracted. Moreover, with the three boxes kept in proper balance, a business can change dynamically over time. Yes, there are differences between this approach and the one proposed in Play Bigger but both have the same objective: achieve and then sustain competitive advantage.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of co-authors’ coverage in Parts I-II (Chapters 1-7):

o Legendary Questions, and, True Stories of Kings and Kingdoms (Pages 3-9)
o Category Kings Defined (9-13)
o Introducing Category Design (18-21)
o Bad Category Design: A Cautionary Tale (21-24)
o Why Categories (27-42)
o A Category Crowns a King (46-49)
o Great Category Design in World History (50)
o What the Hell Is Category Design? (51-56)
o The Ol’ Frotos (From/Tos): (59-65)
o The Courage of Category Design (65-68)
o Inspiration to Insight (71-78)
o Insight to Category (78-86)
o Insight to Category The Story That’s Not Original (86-89)
o Timing in a POV Is…Well, Not Everything, but Close, and Expressing Your POV (106-112)
o Reality Bites Implementing Category Design (123-127)
o Implementing Category Design (127-131)
o Stories of Gravity (140-146)
o The Play Bigger Guide to Mobilization (145-148)
o How to Get Attention (149-152)
o What a Lightning Strike Does to Brains (155-157)
o Hijacks and Hijinks (161-166)
o The Play Bigger Guide to Strikes, Hijacks, and Attention Grabbing (166-169)

Ramadan, Peterson, Lochhead, and Maney provide an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that – together –provide just about everything C-level executives need to create and develop a new market category and condition that market so it will demand their solution and crown their company as its king.

Where to begin? My suggestions: First, re-read the Play Bigger, then recruit 5-8 others to form a “Sprint” team such as the ones created at Google to achieve high-impact results with innovative thinking. Whoever leads the group should read Jake Knapp’s Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, written with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz. Those who question what a few people can accomplish should consider this observation by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior
Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior
by Jonah Berger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.74
29 used & new from CDN$ 17.76

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here are the 'simple, subtle, and other surprising ways that others affect our behavior, June 14 2016
Actually, the invisibility to which the book’s title refers is — in my opinion — a misnomer. Influence in this instance is not so much a matter of others deceiving us (although that may be a motive) as it is a matter of our failure to recognize that influence when it occurs. We don’t “see” it only because we don’t recognize and understand it for what it is.

Jonah Berger shares what he has learned during fifteen years of research that involved countless surveys, experiments, and interviews and additional surveys, experiments, and interviews based on what he learned from their predecessors. As is also true of all other sciences, the science of social influence is evidence-driven. Berger is determined to do all he can to prepare as many people as possible to become mindful of the nature and extent of influence that others have and that was not previously recognized.

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. (I also thought of Becker’s book when I first read Robert Cialdini’s classic, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.) Why do people try to influence others' behavior? Berger suggests a number of different motives that, I think, tend to fall into one of two categories: those that are altruistic and those that are self-serving. It is important to add that not all influence initiated with the purest of intentions is necessarily good advice. Also, at least some influence can be of benefit to everyone involved.

To what extent are those who attempt to influence others fully aware of doing that? To what extent are the “others” fully aware of that influence? Why are some people more receptive than others? This is an immensely complicated subject, certainly much more than I realized prior to reading Berger’s book. As he explains, “Social influence has a huge impact on behavior. But by understanding how it works, we can harness its power. We can avoid its downsides and take advantage of its benefits.” That is why he wrote this book.

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

o Familiarity (Pages 10-11, and 160-162)
o Mimicry (30-35)
o Harry Potter books (44-46)
o Music website experiment (46-49)
o Parking preferences (49-52)
o Differentiation (63-97)
o Birth order (64-70)
o Social class (86-96)
o Signals (101-128)
o Academic performance and race (117-120 and 141-142)
o Novelty (164-171)
o The Goldilocks Effect (166-171)
o Optimal distinction (171-181)
o Social facilitation (189-196)
o Winning and losing in sports (204-208 and 211-218)
o Low-income housing (223-229)

It remains for each reader to ask and then answer questions such as these: “Where do you see influence? How do others around you shape your life and how are you shaping theirs? Understanding these often invisible [or previously unrecognized] influences can make us all better off.” Of course, the scope and depth of impact of the information, insights, and counsel that Berger provides will vary from one reader to the next but my own opinion is that this material can be of substantial [begin italics] practical value [end italics] to parents and their children as well as to supervisors and their direct reports, to classroom teachers and their students as well as elected public officials and their constituents. In fact, that is only a partial list. Near the top of any list of benefits would be substantially increased self-awareness. More specifically, developing the “growth mindset” to which Carol Dweck and the “mindfulness” to which Ellen Langer have devoted so much productive attention in their own work.

Social influence that is unrecognized by no means has less impact; if anything, it may have greater impact because none of those involved is aware of it. What I call “enlightened influence” has almost unlimited potentiality for good or ill. The choice is ours, once we fully realize that we have that choice and fully appreciate its implications. Thank you, Jonah Berger, for increasing and enriching our enlightenment.


Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy
Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy
by Robert H. Frank
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.39
35 used & new from CDN$ 17.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Like it or not, that’s how the extra cookie crumbles., June 13 2016
Those who have read one or more of Robert H. Frank’s previously published books – notably The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good (2011) and The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas (2008) — already know that he has a brilliant mind, a playful wit, and an allergy to bull****. He also believes that sacred cows make the best burgers.

What we have in his latest book are his thoughts and feelings about recent research on “the influence of external chance events and environmental factors on individual life outcomes — influences that occur independently of people’s virtues or flaws.” Much of the material in the book is drawn from his personal experiences. However, he also cites other sources as he explores several subjects. Here are five among those of greatest interest to me:

o Successful people tend understate luck’s role and overstate merit’s role.

o Unsuccessful people tend to blame “bad luck” rather than their own inadequacies.

o Making “a few relatively simple policy changes could produce dramatic improvements for all of us”

o Self-interest “is clearly an important motive, perhaps even the most important one.”

o Self-control deficits are obstacles to success and can cause serious problems in human relationships.

Early in the book, Frank quotes several passages from Michael Lewis’ commencement address at Princeton during which he suggests that those who are born into a privileged life are “the lucky few.” They have been faced with an extra cookie.

“All of you will be faced with many more of them. In time you will find it easy to assume that you deserve the extra cookie. For all I know, you may. But you’ll be happier, and the world will be better off, if you at least pretend that you don’t.”

I agree with Frank that what people deem reasonable is often determined, at least in part, by what their conversation partners believe. “The upshot is that although popular beliefs may remain at odds with reality for c considerable periods of time, the consensus can flip with surprising speed once good [i.e. sound, convincing] arguments begin to find their footing. And those arguments can spread through one conversation at a time.”

Pass it on.


Execution Excellence: Making Strategy Work Using the Balanced Scorecard
Execution Excellence: Making Strategy Work Using the Balanced Scorecard
by Sanjiv Anand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.30
25 used & new from CDN$ 14.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Vision without execution is hallucination.' Thomas Edison, June 13 2016
David P. Norton and Robert S. Kaplan co-authored an article, “The Balanced Scorecard: Measures That Drive Performance,” published in the January/February 1992 edition of Harvard Business Review. The material was later developed into a book, The Balanced Scorecard Card: Translating Strategy into Action, published by Harvard Business Review Press (1996). Basically, when Kaplan and Norton first introduced the BSC concept, companies were busy transforming themselves to compete in the world of information; their ability to exploit intangible assets was becoming more decisive than their ability to manage physical assets. The scorecard allowed companies to track financial results while monitoring progress in building the capabilities needed for growth. The tool was not intended to be a replacement for financial measures but rather a complement—and that’s just how most companies treated it. The term “balanced” is critically important: it refers both to the sources of data, and, to the data themselves

As I worked my way through Sanjiv Anand’s narrative in Execution Excellence, I was again reminded of two observations: by Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all”; and by Michael Porter: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” They correctly stress the importance of focusing on the right question to answer, the right problem to solve, as well as having a strategy that drives whatever must be done to answer that question or solve that problem.

I agree with Anand: “it is clear that the real world is different than what [some] books make it out to be. In some markets, the strategy can be complex. In other markets, the strategy is simple because the market is simple. Irrespective of the complexity of the market or the strategy, what matters is the execution. It’s about getting the strategy executed, within the timelines you have, with the resources you can bring to the table to achieve the results you desire. That’s execution excellence.” And it presupposes that the given strategy is appropriate to the given objectives.

These are among the subjects of greatest interest and value to me in Part I:

o The unique challenges posed by the global business environment inn today’s flat world
o The evolving role of strategy in a VUCA marketplace
o How to build a strategy that “works” both internally and externally

NOTE: Keep in mind Drucker’s comment that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The best strategy is “for all seasons.”

o Why execution is implementation at all levels and in all areas
o How to manage the business planning process

Anand shifts his attention to the BSC in Part II; examines the challenges of design in Part III; the challenges of implementation in Part IV; and then in Part V, he shares his concluding thoughts, then provides five substantive appendices, three of which are mini-case studies of generic industries (banking, textiles, and travel/tourism).

The Balanced Scorecard concept is more relevant and more valuable today than it was when first introduced more then twenty years ago. Why? Because the global marketplace is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous now than it was at any prior time that I can remember.

Perhaps I am channeling Porter when suggesting, also, that the BSC is not a crystal ball or a telescope or an MRI scanner. Business leaders need sufficient quantities of the right data to “keep score” so that the best decisions can be made when pursuing the right strategic objectives.

Sanjiv Anand is to be commended for the wealth of information, insights, and counsel he provides in this volume. He offers most business leaders just about all they need to help their organization achieve execution excellence.


The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth
The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth
by Chris Zook
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.86
28 used & new from CDN$ 21.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to avoid or resolve three organizational crises that can occur after start-up and early-growth phases, June 7 2016
In 1865, a German physicist, Rudolph Clausius (1822-1888), coined the term entropy during his research on heat. The word's meaning 'a turning towards' (in Greek, en+tropein), 'content transformative' or 'transformative content.' Claudius used the concept to establish a mathematical foundation for the second law of thermodynamics: without the injection of free energy, all systems tend to move (however gradually) from order to disorder, if not to chaos.

Chris Zook and James Allen may have had this phenomenon in mind when writing this book, one in which they examine the paradox of growth as companies mature: complexity is the silent killer of profitable growth. That is why only 1 in 9 achieves more than modest levels of profitable growth and hit their targets over a decade and why 85% of executives say their biggest challenges are internal and self-inflicted.

They identify and discuss three predictable crises that can result from growth. Each of the three occurs at a different phase of an organization's lifecycle. Here they are:

o 'The first crisis, overload, refers to the internal dysfunction and loss of external momentum that management teams of young, fast-growing companies experience as they try to rapidly scale their businesses.'

o 'The second crisis, stall-out, refers to the sudden slowdown that many successful companies suffer as their rapid growth gives rise to layers of organizational complexity and diluted the clear mission that once gave the company its function and energy.'

o 'The third crisis, free fall, is the most existentially threatening. A company in free fall has completely stopped growing in its core market, and its business model, until recent tly the reason for its success, suddenly no longer seems viable.'

Zook and Allen go on to observe, 'These three crises represent the riskiest and most stressful periods for businesses that have made it successfully through their start-up and early-growth phases. The good news is these crises are predictable and avoidable. The killers of growth that these crises contain can be anticipated and even turned into a constructive reason for change.'

With regard to the book's title: 'The founder's mentality constituters a key source of competitive advantage for younger companies going up against larger, better endowed incumbents, and it consists of three main traits: an insurgent's mission, an owner's mindset, and an obsession with the front line.'

These are the major business challenges on which Zook and Allen focus

o How to develop the founder's mentality in workers at all levels and in all areas throughout the given enterprise
o The three predictable crises of growth and how to avoid or overcome them
o How to use the founder's mentality to overcome the chaos of rapid growth
o How to reverse stall-out by rediscovering what made your organization great its growth diminishes
o How to use the founder's mentality to save a business in rapid decline
o And as indicated previously, how to infuse the founder's mentality at all levels of your organization

Will it be easy? Hardly. However, Zook and Allen provide business leaders with the information, insights. and counsel they need. 'These three crises represent the riskiest and most stressful periods for businesses that have made it through their start-up and early-growth offices. The good news is these crises are predictable and often avoidable. The killers of growth that these crises contact can be anticipated and even turned into a constructive reason for change.' I hasten to add that change may involve only a minor adjustment or two. All three crises have early-warning signs.

In The Elegant Solution, Matthew Matt shares a mantra that he cites again in his latest book, Winning the Brain Game:

'What appears to be the problem, isn't.
What appears to be the solution, isn't.
What appears to be impossible, isn't.'

More than 50 years ago, Peter Drucker observed, 'There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."

That is excellent advice. Zook and Allen would be the first to agree that it is important, indeed imperative to focus on the right question to answer, on the right problem to solve. Keep that mantra and Drucker's advice in mind when absorbing and digesting Chris Zook and Jim Allen' concluding remarks:

'Imagine if [begin italics] you [end italics] were the leader in your core business. Imagine if [begin italics] you [end italics] were faster to the ball than anyone else in your industry. Imagine if [begin italics] you [end italics] had employees highly energized and as committed. If you could make that happen [and you [begin italics] can [end italics] make that happen, your company would be the best place for talent to work, and you would become your competitors' worst nightmare. You would be a true scale insurgent.'

Why not now?

* * *

Chris Zook is a Partner in Bain & Company's Amsterdam office and has been co-head of the Global Strategy Practice for the past 15 years. He specializes in helping companies find new sources of profitable growth. He is the author of five books with Harvard Business Review Press in the past ten years including his Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change, published in March 2012. Among his best-selling books are Profit from the Core: a Return to Growth in Turbulent Times (HBRP, January 2010), an updated edition of his 2001 book, Profit from the Core: Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence, Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth (HBRP, May 2007) and Beyond the Core: Expand your Market without Abandoning your Roots (HBRP, November 2004).

James Allen is a partner in Bain & Company's London office and a coleader of Bain's Global Strategy practice. He has served a variety of leadership roles at Bain and is the founder of the Bain Founder's Mentality 100, a global network of high-growth companies mostly led by their founders. Allen has more than twenty-five years of consulting experience and has worked extensively for global companies in consumer products, oil and gas, technology & telecommunications, healthcare and other industries. He has advised clients on the development of global growth strategies, emerging market entry strategies, and turnaround strategies.

If you read a better business book than this one in 2016, please let me know immediately.


Delivering on Digital: The Innovators and Technologies That Are Transforming Government
Delivering on Digital: The Innovators and Technologies That Are Transforming Government
by William D. Eggers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.95
25 used & new from CDN$ 6.51

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to attract, hire, train, and then retain the talent for digital thinking that can transform any organization, June 7 2016
This book’s title refers to taking full advantage of unique opportunities that have been created by various digital technologies. Hence William Eggers’ emphasis on the importance of attracting, hiring, training, and then retaining the talent needed. This is a major challenge to which he directs his response in this brilliant book.

Years ago, John Kotter told me during an interview that the most difficult change to achieve is changing how people think about change. It is also necessary to think innovatively about innovation, especially when attempting to transform government.

In this context, I am again reminded of the fact that, in 1865, a German physicist, Rudolph Clausius (1822-1888), coined the term entropy during his research on heat. The word’s meaning “a turning towards” (in Greek, en+tropein), “content transformative” or “transformative content.” Claudius used the concept to establish a mathematical foundation for the second law of thermodynamics: without the injection of free energy, all systems tend to move (however gradually) from order to disorder, if not to chaos.

In Leading Change, Jim O’Toole suggests that the strongest resistance to change seems to be cultural in nature, the result of what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Those who seek to transform government at any level (federal, state, county, or municipal) do indeed face some daunting challenges.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Eggers’ coverage in Chapters 1-4:

o Making a New Kind of Government (Pages 9-12)
o The Journey to Digital Transformation (17-19)
o The Digital Mindset (22-37)
o Strategy Drives Digital Maturity (44)
o Digital Leadership (46-49)
o Building Digital Talent (50-54)
o Scaling Digital Capacity (54-59)
o Developing Digital Capacity (64-65)
o Talent Strategies (65-67)
o The Design Stage: Imagining a New Future (75-82)
o Making Agile Development Work for Government (89-91)
o Putting It All Together: A Billion-to-One Experiment (99-101)
o The Sad Legacy of Government IT Procurement (111-113)
o Principles of a Reinvented Procurement System for the Digital Age (114-115)
o Leveraging best practices (128-130)
o Success Strategies (135-137)
o The Case for Horizontally Integrated Government (139-141)
o Branching Out: Creating Systems Built Around Data Exchanges (150-156)
o Managing Identity (161-163)
o Four Obstacles to Uniform Digital ID (166-171)
o Creating Value (171-172)

William Eggers recommends and explains nine strategies that will help decision-makers in governmental entities that need to attract, hire, train, and then retain the talent they need to compete successfully in a global marketplace that seems to become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous each day.

In my opinion, these same strategies — with only minor modification — can also be of substantial benefit to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Fortune International 500.

Here they are:

o Create an interesting job description.
o What’s your offer? Create a unique value proposition to attract the best talent.
o Don’t leave recruitment to HR staff.
o Embrace a temporary dream team.
o Balance tech whiz kids with government veterans.
o Identify each capabilities gap.
o Ensure cutting-edge technology for cutting-edge talent.
o Identify the torch-bearers.
o Build a digital ecosystem.

So, what to look for when recruiting candidates?

Having high-potential to develop a digital mindset would be high on the list, if not atop it. William Eggers: “There’s no agreed-upon definition of a digital mindset, but five characteristics tend to be common among individuals and organizations that understand d the opportunities inherent in digital transformation: a belief in openness, user-centricity, co-creation, simplicity, and agility.” Eggers thoroughly discusses each. (Please see pages 25-37.)

* * *

William (Bill) Eggers is responsible for research and thought leadership for Deloitte’s Public Sector industry practice and has advised governments around the world. He is an internationally recognized authority on government reform, columnist, and author of seven books. His books have won numerous awards and his commentary has appeared in dozens of major media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and the Chicago Tribune.


Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art
Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art
by Virginia Heffernan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.77
30 used & new from CDN$ 8.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the Internet is "the most powerful expansion and expression of the project of being human", June 7 2016
Virginia Heffernan observes, “These are exciting times, filled increasingly with the desktop zines and other transitional forms that presaged blogs, but cultural loyalists are still hoping to hold on to old paradigms.” In Leading Change, James O’Toole suggests that the strongest resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” I agree, adding that those who defend the current status quo were probably among those who overthrew the previous one.

“Today holding on [to old paradigms] is just about impossible. The tectonic shift has happened…Like all new technologies, the Internet appears to represent the world more faithfully than the technologies that preceded it. And the Internet is an [begin italics] extraordinarily [end italics] seductive representation of the world. We’ve never seen a work of art like it.” Heffernan then adds “that the Internet is a massive and collaborative work of art…the Internet [seems to be] life” but in fact isn’t. “That’s why the Internet becomes more deeply meaningful and moving when ‘read’ as an aesthetic object than lived or reported on as firsthand human experience.”

Frankly, until reading this book, I never looked at the Internet that way and still have some reluctance to do so. However, credit Heffernan for making a far more convincing case in support of the assertion “that the Internet is [of course not] a massive and collaborative work of art…[nor is] the Internet life” more than I could when challenging that assertion. Definition of such terms is, at best, subjective. I do agree, however, that “a new brand of intellectual courage must be brought to envisioning this new symbolic order” just as it make sense for change agents to change their thinking about change and innovators to thinking innovatively about innovation.

With regard to the book’s title, Heffernan suggests that trade-offs are inevitable. That is, “to truly fathom the high-velocity and rapacious new medium that has both re-created and shattered traditional forms, we need to risk the pain and scrap our old aesthetics and consider a new aesthetics and associated morality.”

As Hamlet notes, “Ay, there’s the rub.” Fair enough but Heffernan persists with admirable determination: rather than being abrasive, “I want instead to show how readers might use the Web and not be overwhelmed by it; how we might stop fighting it, in short, and learn to love its hallucinatory splendor.”

I agree that the Internet and then the Web have made possible a cultural transformation that has had greater impact and greater significance than any other that preceded it. This is what Virginia Heffernan seems to have in mind when observing, “At stake in this cultural transformation are the way we think, the way we love, the way we talk, and even the way we fight across the globe. The Internet is entrenched. It’s time to understand it — and not as a curiosity or an entry in the annals of technology or business but as an integral part of our humanity, as the latest and most powerful extension and expression of the project of being human.”

Indeed, “the project of being human” has never had more and better potentialities -- as well as more and better resources and capabilities to fulfill them — than it does now.


That's Not How We Do It Here!: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall--and Can Rise Again
That's Not How We Do It Here!: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall--and Can Rise Again
by John Kotter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.03
29 used & new from CDN$ 17.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Kotter and Rathgeber recommend an eight-step process that is best revealed within the ..., June 7 2016
How to create and then sustain a best-of-both-worlds organization

Previously, John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber used the business parable/fable format featuring penguins in Our Iceberg Is Melting to explain how to create a sense of urgency and increase buy-in throughout an organization when a severe crisis develops, one that could destroy it. In their latest collaboration, they use the same format — this time featuring a clan of markets — to explain how and why all organizations need a dual system: one that responds effectively and efficiently to immediate demands as well as developments in a global marketplace that becomes more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous each day.

Kotter and Rathgeber recommend an eight-step process that is best revealed within the narrative, in context, on Pages 152-155. “Much of this was discovered by one of us — Kotter — years ago. But today, in a faster changing world, the basic method has grown and evolved in three particularly import ways. First, it is no longer a set of processes you bring out of the file drawer once every five, ten or fifteen years…Second, it requires many more people than before engaged not just inn cooperating to implement the visionary ideas of top management but in finding ideas, dealing with all the institutional and attitudinal barriers to change, and motivating large groups to act in new ways — in other words, helping to lead. And third, to make the first two points practically feasible, it requires a second component working hand in glove with a traditional management-driven hierarchy, something that looks more like a highly-successful start-up organization.”

This is a dual system, “the best of both worlds,” one that combines — indeed integrates — the strengths of a traditional management-driven hierarchy with those of a highly-successful start-up organization. How the meercats installed this system is revealed in the book. How this system is designed for and then installed in your organization is for you and your colleagues to determine.

Have a question? Ask. John.Kotter@KotterInternational.com.


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