countdown boutiques-francophones Eco Friendly Cleaning and Care Furniture Kindle Explore the Amazon.ca Vinyl LP Records Store sports Tools
Profile for Robert Morris > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Robert Morris
Top Reviewer Ranking: 19
Helpful Votes: 3068

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically  Successful Businesses
Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses
by Joe Pulizzi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.82
32 used & new from CDN$ 23.35

5.0 out of 5 stars How content can help to create or increase demand for whatever you then offer to a market that did not exist before, Nov. 8 2016
In this single source, Joe Pulizzi provides about all you need to know in order to use content marketing to build a massive audience and create a radically successful business. Content marketing? Briefly, “By concentrating on building an audience [begin italics] first [end italics] and defining products and services [begin italics] second [end italics], an entrepreneur can change the rules of the game and significantly increase the odds of financial and personal success…Once a loyal audience is built, one that loves you and the information you send, you can, most likely, sell your audience anything you want. This model is called Content Inc.”

He introduces a six-step process:

1. The Sweet Spot: “Simply put, the entrepreneur needs to uncover a content area that the business model will be based around. To make this happen, we need to identify a ’sweet spot’ that will attract an audience over time.”

2. Content Tilt: ”Once the sweet spot is identified, the entrepreneur needs to determine the ’tilt,’ or differentiation factor, to find an area of little to no competition.

3. Building the Base: “Once the sweet spot is found and the tilt occurs, a platform is chosen and a content base is constructed. This is exactly like building a house. Before we get into all the paint and pictures and flooring options, we have to plan and install the foundation.”

4. Harvesting Audience: “After the platform is chosen and the content base is built, the opportunity presents itself tom increase the audience and convert ‘one-time readers’ into ongoing subscribers. This is where we leverage social media as key distribution tools and take search engine optimization seriously.”

5. Diversification: “Once the model has built a strong, loyal, and growing audience, it’s time to diversify from the main content stream. Think of the model like an octopus, with each content channel being one of the arms.”

6. Monetization: It’s time. You’ve identified your sweet spot. You’ve ’tilted’ to find an area of content noncompetition. You’ve selected the platform and built the base. You’ve started to build subscribers, and you’ve even begun to launch content on additional platforms. Now is when the model monetizes against the platform.”

All of these six distinct steps are fully explained in Content Inc.

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

o Content acceptance (Pages 15-18)
o Adding audience to sweet spot (43-52)
o Aspiration vs. needs (68-71)
o Key word searches (74-76)
o Custom publishing (79-81)
o Platforms (85-94)
o BuzzFeed (90-91 and 164-165)
o Website publishing platforms (93-94)
o Content ideation (98-102)
o Repurposing content (131-137)
o Subscribers (142-151)
o Influence marketing (171-182)
o Tips for executing a book (204-208)
o Three and Three Model (204-216)
o Process of acquiring a content platform (230-234)
o Joy Cho (269-275)

For whatever reasons, content marketing remains one of the most effective, albeit one of the least appreciated means by which to accelerate effective cultivation of those among whom you wish to create or increase demand for what you offer. In this volume, Pulizzi provides an abundance of invaluable information, insights, and counsel that can help almost anyone in almost any organization to build a massive audience and create a radically successful business. I presume to add three points of clarification. By “entrepreneur,” Pulizzi means someone who has not become hostage to what Jim O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” The entrepreneurial spirit should be alive and well at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.

Also, initially, he asks his reader to set aside all thoughts about coming up with a new/better product or service and concentrate on locating a market segment that is currently under-served, if not wholly neglected, or creating one that does not as yet exist. He cites more than a dozen examples in the book of precisely that focus and initiative. Finally, meanwhile, he does not advocate abandoning what has been until now a core business. Rather, leverage its resources until the new venture becomes self-sufficient.

Obviously no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the material that Joe Pulizzi provides. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of the book. Read other reviews of it and if you are encouraged by that, read the book and form your own opinion.

One final point: Content marketing really is a contact sport that requires an effective team to succeed. You will need to recruit some colleagues to help establish and then nourish various relationships. Patience and persistent are imperative. There will be setbacks and disappointments, of course. Keep the faith. During rough times, remember 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."


Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right
Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right
by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 15.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Here are decisions that could – and probably will — reveal a manager’s basic values and, probably, those of an organization, Nov. 7 2016
I read this book when it was first published (in 1997) and recently re-read it while preparing to interview its author, Joe Badaracco. If anything, his key insights are even more relevant and more valuable now than they were then as business leaders continue to struggle with ethical issues today that are more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall. Crickets may advise on decisions involving right-versus-wrong but we need more when making more difficult decisions.

According to Badaracco, “This book argues that “right-versus-right choices are best understood as [begin italics] defining moments [end italics]. These are decisions with three basic characteristics: they reveal, they test, and they shape. In other words, a right-versus-right decision could reveal a manager’s basic values and, in some cases, those of an organization. At the same time, the decision tests the strength of the commitments that a person or organization has made. Finally, the decision casts a shadow forward. It shapes the character of the person and, in some cases, the organization.”

Badaracco cites a number of sources from which he extracts some important perspectives. For example, consider this passage in Machiavelli’s classic, The Prince: “how one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation, for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his profession of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil.”

Machiavelli’s central insight is that successful leaders have to follow a special ethical code, one that differs from their private morality and from Judeo-Christian ethics. He affirms virtu, his word for the moral code of public life in an perilous world. Virtu is a combination of vigor, confidence, imagination, shrewdness, boldness, practical skill, personal force, determination, and self-discipline.

In Machiavelli’s time and in our own, leaders need to address three questions:

1. Have I done all I can to secure my position and the strength and stability of the organization?
2. Have I thought creatively and imaginatively about my organization’s role in society and its relationship to its stakeholders?
3. Should I play the lion or the fox?

Machiavelli: “The lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves.” Do whatever the situation requires to prevail. Be as strong as a lion and as cunning as a fox.

Badaracco: “Here are Machiavelli’s lessons for managers whose decisions will define their company’s role in society and its relationship with stakeholders. First, don’t be coifed by success. Success means having a strong and prosperous organization., for the weak and impecunious can do little good. Second, watch your adversaries; don’t overestimate they ethics or underestimate their power. Third, remember that managers cannot simply define their company’s role in society; they most negotiate it. Therefore, be fluid and seize opportunity — sometimes play the lion, more often play the fox. And in all cases, rely on [begin italics] virtu [end italics].”

Other sources include (in alpha order) Aristotle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, Marcus Aurelius, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, and Sophocles. Badaracco quotes these comments by Nietzsche in The Will to Power (his unpublished notes) with which I now conclude this brief commentary: “The greatest persons perhaps possess great virtues, but in that case also their opposites. I believe that is precisely through the presence of opposites and the feelings they occasion that the great man, [begin italics] the bow with great tension [end italics], develops.”


The Mosaic Principle: The Six Dimensions of a Remarkable Life and Career
The Mosaic Principle: The Six Dimensions of a Remarkable Life and Career
by Nick Lovegrove
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.20
25 used & new from CDN$ 6.64

5.0 out of 5 stars “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman, Nov. 6 2016
“Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman

I was reminded of Whitman’s observation as I began to read this book in which Nick Lovegrove engages his reader in an extended exploration of what the potentialities are in six dimensions of a remarkable life and career. As he explains, each of us really does have a choice: increase the breadth or increase the depth of our lives. “In today’s world, there are intensifying pressures on us to choose depth [i.e. specialization], because the world is increasingly obsessed with the power of narrow specialist expertise” and if we resist that siren call of greater specialization, “if at least sometimes we move in the direction of breadth, and diversity, and life outside the comfort zone, then we open up all sorts of possibilities.”

With regard to the word “mosaic,” its original meaning was “belonging to the Muses” and that seems to imply what Lovegrove views as a multifaceted unity. “This book defines the mosaic [the metaphor] as an organizing concept not just for society but for each of us as individuals. The essence of the Mosaic Principle is that we can each build a remarkable life and career of eclectic breadth and diversity — rather like assembling small pieces of material and placing them together to create a unified whole. When we follow this principle, we too can experience the pleasure and fulfillment of a full, well-rounded adaptable life.”

So, what’s the problem with highly developed specialization? “We are starting to pay a heavy price for this obsession — individually and as a society. More and more people with a broad range of intrinsic capabilities and interests are living relatively narrow lives — because that is what is what they think, and what they are told, it will take them to achieve professional success and personal fulfillment. And more and more aspects of our society are being undermined and damaged by this narrow and limiting focus, and by the adverse consequences of an over reliance on deep specialists.”

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

o Dr. Paul Farmer (Pages 9-12, 69-70, and 80-81)
o Transferable Skills (26-27 and 137-153)
o Prepared Minds (28-29 and 227-259)
o Financial Crisis of 2008 (36-41, 44-45, and 116-117)
o Moral complexity (69-72)
o David Hayes (104-113)
o BBC (135-137)
o Future business leaders (142-150)
o Iraq (153-157)
o Contexts (175-182)
o Adapting to new contexts (185-189)
o Networks (198-226)
o Broader teams (210-214)
o Broadening career options (214-221)
o Careers (263-271)
o Foley Center for the Study of Lives (278-281)
o Arnold Bennett (285-288)

In the Epilogue, Longlove concludes his explanation of how he thinks people can – and should – seek both professional success [begin italics] and [end italics] personal fulfillment. Whitman’s observation quoted earlier is a useful reminder (for those who need one) that people tend to be far more complicated and – yes, at times contradictory – than we seem willing to concede. That said, professional success and personal fulfillment are not and should not be viewed as mutually-exclusive. Development of each involves a process, one of rigorous preparation and another of bold exploration.

As I concluded my first reading of this book, I was again reminded of what I had learned while reading another book, How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. So much of what Sarah Bakewell shares about Montaigne’s values tracks with many of Nick Longlove’s insights as well as with observations he cites from a variety of other sources, notably Arnold Bennett.

Although the metaphor has become a cliché, each life really is a journey...one of personal discovery. My hope is that the material in this book will help those who absorb and digest it to become more venturesome in their own exploration of possibilities and potentialities.

In this context, I am again reminded of this passage in T.S. Eliot’s classic work, Four Quartets: "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."


Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us About Navigating the New Normal
Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us About Navigating the New Normal
by Geoffrey Colon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.32
29 used & new from CDN$ 22.32

5.0 out of 5 stars How business, human behavior, technology, and communications intersect, 'and how they are shaped by the world around us, Nov. 5 2016
I wholly agree with Geoffrey Colon that “the power of imagination and empathy is more critical in the world than ever before. As a result, it is even more necessary for people to pay attention to their thoughts, beliefs, actions, and experiences. No thought, debate, debate, or ream is a waste anymore. There is a massive amount of power in being enthusiastically inefficient.” Prudent and continuous experimentation will usually not achieve the ultimate object (breakthrough innovation) but it can — and usually does — serve as a precious learning opportunity to understand what does not work as well as why it doesn’t.

In this context, I am remanded 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 their latest book, Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change (published by Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), Chris Zook and James Allen observe, “In business, entropy often leads to waste and loss of focus in the daily operations of complex organizations, such as the emergence of self-contained, internal activities without direct linkage to, or value for, the customer. Yet, when organizations grow and become more complex, internal units proliferate…As the forces of entropy strengthen, more time is taken up with internal meetings, or written reports, or preoccupation with narrow, often political, agendas that come with complex organizational structure. The customer becomes less central and suffers, and the strategic priorities become less clear.”

This is certainly true of marketing. For several millennia, its essential purpose has been to create or increase demand for the given offering. That remains true. However, as Colon correctly suggests, disruptive marketing is significantly different from conventional and nondisruptive marketing applications of that basic function. More specifically, disruptive marketing challenges the mindset that established and continues to sustain the given status quo. According to Colon, for example, marketers in old media “paid for space and time. In emerging media, marketers will pay for audience and attention.”

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

o Disruptive mindset (Pages 21-34)
o Abundance of information (52-55)
o Impact of loss of control (53-55)
o Hierarchy in companies (61-63)
o Information jamming (65-69)
o Creative hybrids (74-79)
o Disruptive marketers (83-100)
o The End of the Marketing Department (112-119)
o Content creation: BuzzFeed (125-128)
o Connecting (141-147)
o Listening (153-165)
o Disruptive marketing vs. conventional and nondisruptive marketing (154-160
o Value of Big Data (168-170)
o Corporate social responsibility (178-183)
o Continual learning (186-188)

In Future Shock, Alvin Toffler suggests, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” I agree and this may be what Colon had in mind when writing this book. Among his concluding thoughts, he says this: “Trust me, I’m no Luddite. But trust me, -- reading another blog post [such as this review] or watching another piece of video content may not inspire you with creative ideas or flights of imagination. However, separating yourself from the world of digital devices just might. It can put into your perspective what you are trying to accomplish and what your life’s mission is in the creative economy – not as a marketer, but as a human being.”

Long ago, I became convinced that every person is a marketer, differing only in the nature and extent to which we attempt to create or increase demand for what we offer. It could be a product or a service. It could be an agreement or rejection of other offerings and options. Whatever, Geoffrey Colon urges us to disrupt our thinking “not as a marketer, but as a human being...Paint. Travel. Read. Observe. Love. Learn. Slam-dance. Rave. DJ. Feel. Solve math equations. Listen.”

The more we commit to personal exploration that is internal as well as external, gaining an understanding that is “enthusiastically inefficient,” we will experience what T.S. Eliot describes so well in his classic work, Four Quartets: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."


Simply Brilliant: Powerful Techniques to Unlock Your Creativity and Spark New Ideas
Simply Brilliant: Powerful Techniques to Unlock Your Creativity and Spark New Ideas
Price: CDN$ 14.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.' Albert Einstein, Nov. 1 2016
In Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, Tom Kelley and David Kelley assert “we all have far more creative potential waiting to be tapped.” They wrote the book to help those who to “u lock and draw on more of the creative potential that is within us all.” Their book “is about what we call ‘creative confidence.’ And at its foundation is the belief that we are all creative…Creative confidence is a way of seeing that potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt. We hope you’ll join us on our quest to embrace creative confidence in our lives. Together, we can all make the world a better place.”

I recalled these remarks as I began to read Bernhard Schroeder’s book, Simply Brilliant, in which he shares his own thoughts about how to “unlock creativity and spark new ideas.” He offers his Creativity Works Framework whose components are mindset, environment, (leadership and culture), habitat, and powerful brainstorming tools. (More about that later.) He explains how to develop a growth mindset. He draws upon extensive research by Carol Dweck and Lisa Blackwell that leaves no doubt that having this mindset is essential to creative thinking…to creative living…but only if and when we overcome a “fixed mindset,” one that that assumes “our character , intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way.” Years ago, Henry Ford suggested, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” The choice is ours. More specifically, to reject all manner of myths that are self-defeating, such as these:

o We can only be creative when a “flash of insight occurs.” In fact, that flash is only part of what can be an extended process rather than an isolated development. Henri Matisse once said that he wasn’t always painting but when his muse inspired him, “I better have a brush in this hand and know what to do with it.”

o Some people have a “creativity gene,” most don’t. In fact, just as a child’s parents are very creative does not mean that the child will also be creative. Conversely, if the parents are not creative, that does not mean that their child cannot be. Schroeder offers this reassurance: "No matter what your current mindset may be, anyone can adopt and nurture a growth mindset. Most people have one mindset or the other. The good news is that we can all adopt a growth mindset simply by [begin italics] putting ourselves in one [end italics]. It’s easy to change. Just knowing about the two mindsets can make us think and act in new ways.”

Most off us who read this book need more than Schroeder’s admonitions. Hence the importance of the Creativity Works Framework. Details are best provided within his lively and eloquent narrative, in context, but I am comfortable with reveal a few key points. First, to derive maximize benefit from this framework, it is imperative to open your eyes (examine rather than merely look at what’s around you), make new mind connections, talk to those who rely on you and your abilities (e.g. customers), observe everything much more intently, ask “Why?”, “Why not?” and “What if?” much more often, reframe the given challenge from a different perspective, and build a network of people and activities that stimulate your curiosity while challenging your assumptions. In other words, create an environment within which your creative capabilities are most likely to thrive.

The framework’s infrastructure rests on these “pillars”: the aforementioned growth mindset that embraces as well as liberates all manner of possibilities; the environment within which you live and work; a “habitat” or segment of the environment in which you feel unrestrained; and a set of brainstorming tools that Schroder identifies and explains. The framework facilitates, indeed expedites a process by which to identify the right questions to answer as well as the right problems to solve. This last point is especially important because most people tend to respond to symptoms rather than to root causes or make the mistake to which Peter Drucker refers when observing, "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."

It would be a good idea to heed that warning as well as Einstein’s admonition. All of us have clutter in our minds as well as in most areas of our lives. Continuous improvement depends on relentless simplification by elimination. Schroeder is a passionate advocate of lean thinking, as should you be also.

In the final chapter, Schroeder shares some excellent ideas about how and why two market segments probably offer the best opportunities to solve a major problem, thereby enabling a business to achieve breakthrough growth.

“Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. And these 71 million boomers own about 80 percent of the wealth in the United States and account for more than 40 percent of net household income. In other words, they have the money and they will spend it. Solve their problems and you could do amazingly well.

“The second segment will be the largest in the United States by 2025. Millennials, born between 1982 and 1994, will number over 81 million by then…Not only are they drivers of innovation (e.g. want everything yesterday, willing to pay for quality), but they will be a part of the largest wealth transfer in history from their parents, the baby boomers.”

Opportunities in these market segments are almost (not quite) unlimited. However, only those who have developed a growth mindset and mastery of specific skills will be able to succeed within either segment. Just about everything you need to prepare yourself for these opportunities is provided within this book.


Marketing with Strategic Empathy: Inspiring Strategy with Deeper Consumer Insight
Marketing with Strategic Empathy: Inspiring Strategy with Deeper Consumer Insight
by Claire Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 49.77
25 used & new from CDN$ 25.20

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why Strategic Empathy® can enrich all human relationships, Oct. 29 2016
At least since the bazaars in the ancient world, the basic purpose of marketing has remained the same: to create or increase demand for the given offering. As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Dan Goleman’s research on emotional intelligence as well the relatively recent transfer of power during purchase decisions to the consumer. Also, we now have a much greater understanding and appreciation the impact of emotions during the purchase-decision process. Moreover, the business world today is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I remember.

This is what Claire Brooks has in mind when observing, “The challenge facing organizations now is how to equip managers, employees and other stakeholders with a new mindset and skills for a new paradigm. “The idea of Strategic Empathy® was developed in my consulting practice. At its core is the idea is that the idea of empathy with consumers, customers or service users can be learned as a form of ‘muscle memory’ which facilitates flexible strategy formation and activation.”

In this book, Brooks explains how managers in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) can use Strategic Empathy® processes and tools “to learn, activate and communicate deep insights and strategies for success, not only with consumers and customers but with all the organization’s stakeholders.”

Basically, the material in her book will help her readers master and manage what could be characterized as “people power,” beginning with their own.

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

o Shaping and reshaping marketing strategy (Pages 4-7 and 53-66)
o Strategic Empathy (14-18)
o Framework One: emotions (22-28)
o Framework Two: needs, goals, and values (28-29)
o Framework Three: culture (29-34)
o Framework Four: decision-making (35-40)
o Differentiated brand positioning (56-61)
o Strategic Empathy Process for marketing strategy formation (71-90)
o Phase One: Immerse in then consumer’s world (79-83, 91-123, and 124-155)
o Deep Visualization (133-137)
o Metaphor elicitation (139-145)
o Activate insights into strategy (157-177)
o Step 2: build fresh consumer or customer insights (163-165)
o Inspire: communicate strategic learning (179-210)
o Strategic story-telling, not presenting (183-192)
o Video production guidelines (194-207)
o Strategic Empathy Process: Non-profit organizations (211-230)
o Show the Strategic Empathy Process works in a non-profit (215-225)

As Dan Goleman explains, "In 1990, in my role as a science reporter at The New York Times, I chanced upon an article in a small academic journal by two psychologists, John Mayer, now at the University of New Hampshire, and Yale’s Peter Salovey. Mayer and Salvoes offered the first formulation of a concept they called “emotional intelligence.” He has since developed the concept in much greater depth, suggesting (in an article in 1999) that there are five components of emotional intelligence and one of them is empathy, “the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. A skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions. Hallmarks include expertise in building and retaining talent, cross-cultural sensitivity, and service to clients and customers.” You may also wish to check out mirror neurons that “mirror” the behavior (especially body language) of others.

I mention this because empathy can be a critically important factor in all human interactions. For example, according to Nicholas Webb in What Customers Crave, “Most companies haven’t transitioned from their customer service-industrial service complex past to today’s connected world. They’re still stuck in the old ways, the old mindsets, of customer service. They’re still [begin italics] internally [end italics] focused on profit, rather than [begin italics] externally [end italics] focused on the only thing that matters – the customers and [begin italics] what they love [end italics] and [begin italics] what they hate [end italics]. You must lean into the new customer experience to succeed.”

Presumably Brooks would respond, “It is one thing to understand what consumers love and hate. It is quite another to reassure them that you have that understanding and will always do all you can to serve their best interests. Empathy gives credibility to such reassurances.” In this context, I am again reminded of Maya Angelou’s observation, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I commend Claire Brooks on the abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that she provides in this book. It is important to note that, however different they may be in most respects, all of the companies annually ranked most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked most profitable with the greatest cap value in their industry segment have culture within which empathy is a core value, not only in relationships with customers but also in relationships between and among those who comprise the workforce. That doesn’t happen by accident.


What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint
What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint
by Nicholas J. Webb
Edition: Hardcover
Offered by Blackwell's U.K.
Price: CDN$ 18.45
30 used & new from CDN$ 18.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Channeling Margaret Mead, 'Keep in mind that every customer is profoundly unique, just like every other customer., Oct. 28 2016
According to Nick Webb, connection architecture is “the ability to connect anything to anything” and this is especially important when attempting to create or increase demand for what is offered to prospective buyers/customers/adopters/etc. Hence the importance of being able to answer two questions: “What do they love?” and “What do they hate?”

I agree with Webb: “Most companies haven’t transitioned from their customer service-industrial service complex past to today’s connected world. They’re still stuck in the old ways, the old mindsets, of customer service. They’re still [begin italics] internally [end italics] focused on profit, rather than [begin italics] externally [end italics] focused on the only thing that matters – the customers and [begin italics] what they love [end italics] and [begin italics] what they hate [end italics]. You must lean into the new customer experience to succeed.”

Webb is convinced that success in creating and then sustaining the best customer relationships is derived from these three principles:

1. Understand your customers not through their market demographics but from the perspective of what they truly love and hate.
2. Invent exceptional hum experiences across all touchpoint (informal, casual, interaction); the pre-touch, the first-touch, core touch, last-touch, and in-touch.

Note: I highly recommend TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments, co-authored by Douglas Conant and Mette Norggard and published by Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint (2011).

3. Express these exceptional experiences via digital and non-digital means.

“That’s it. The secret sauce. It’s not rocket science after all.”

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

o Exceptional customer service (Pages 3-25)
o Last-touch moment (23-24 and 189-201)
o Customer types (27-54 and 81-103)
o Maximizing customer satisfaction (32-35)
o Designing plans and initiatives (55-80)
o Soul of the Customer (74-78)
o Framing customer experience (97-99)
o Innovation (105-117)
o Collaboration (119-131)
o Love engendered in pre-touch moment (136-141)
o Sensory experiences in first-tough moments (149-152)
o Core-touch moments (165-187)
o Risk management (169-172)
o Making lifetime customers out of dissatisfied customers (174-177)
o Core-touch moment for Trader Joe’s (178-183)
o In-touch moments (203-215)
o Constructing customer experiences (227-246)
o Strategic plan (228-233)

One key point is that different customer types have differences in terms of what they love and hate. Another key point is that the nature, extent, and impact of a touchpoint “moment” can vary with each customer. What they love and hate can (and often does) change over time. Their expectations can rise (good news) or decline (bad news) based on their perceptions, not necessarily on your assumptions. Webb invokes the journey as a metaphor for each evolving relationship.

Caveat #1: “To understand your customer types, you can’t [or at least shouldn’t] take a set of generic customer types, slap them onto your customer experience strategy, and then expect to provide your customers with relevant experiences. You must begin at the beginning with your own customers.”

Caveat #1: “The four pillars of success [i.e. design, culture, insights, and customer types] must be integrated across each [of the five touchpoint] of your customer’s journey…Using these four pillars, we treat customer service as a systemic process, not as a computer function or a training method. The culture of customer-centric innovation must permeate every aspect of your business.” In other words, channeling Margaret Mead, “Keep in mind that every customer is profoundly unique, just like every other customer.”

Also, “What’s important to remember is that you must take the time and make the effort to understand what customer types your business serves, and then learn what those types love and what they hate. It’s that simple – and it’s that hard.”


Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator's Dilemma
Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator's Dilemma
by Charles O’Reilly
Edition: Hardcover
Offered by more_for_u
Price: CDN$ 27.52
36 used & new from CDN$ 27.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Why do successful firms find it so difficult to adapt in the face of change – to innovate?”, Oct. 26 2016
It was Clayton Christensen who posed the “innovator’s dilemma”: the same practices that lead a business to be successful in the first place can — and often do — result in their eventual demise. Whereas in one of his recent books, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that “what got you here won’t get you there,” Worse yet, Christensen suggests, “what got you here will probably doom you to failure.”

“Why do successful firms find it so difficult to adapt in the face of change – to innovate?” Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman respond in Lead and Disrupt: “The book was written to help organizations tackle the challenge of innovating in a way that is consistent and repeatable, using Jobs to Be Done as the cornerstone of a rigorous framework. Our view is that to create innovation, it’s necessary to focus as much on the approach taken as on the ideas themselves. In fact we argue that getting the ‘how’ of innovation right will in large part determine the quality of the ‘what’ — the solutions that organizations ultimately produce. Through a detailed but straightforward approach, which we call the Jobs Roadmap, companies can navigate the various requirements of innovation and consistently come up with winning solutions.”

This is what Christensen and his colleagues have in mind when suggesting that “good theory helps us understand ‘how’ and ‘why.’ It helps us make sense of how the world works and predict the consequences of our decisions and actions. Jobs Theory [a term interchangeable with Theory of Jobs to Be Done], we believe, can move companies [and more specifically, their leaders] beyond hoping that correlation is enough to the causal mechanism of successful innovation.”

In Lead and Disrupt, O’Reilly and Tushman offer their concept of ambidexterity, an ability that leaders in some companies have (e.g. IBM, R.R. Donnelley, 3M, Toyota, and Ikea) and in others don’t (e.g. Kodak Westinghouse, Polaroid, and Sears). More specifically, leaders who able and willing “to exploit existing assets and capabilities in mature businesses, and, when needed, reconfigure these to develop new strengths.”

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of O’Reilly and Tushman’s coverage:

o Organizational Evolution (Pages 7-13)
o Amazon (9-10, 39-49, and 49-52)
o Disruptive Innovation (13-15)
o Innovation streams (15-19)
o Strategy and execution (49-52)
o Requirements of ambidexterity (73-74)
o Achieving balanced with innovation streams (75-91)
o Linking strategic insights and execution (91-97)
o Flextronics (113-119)
o Case study of federation of entrepreneurs (129-136)
o Defining traits of leaders who exhibit ambidexterity (137-139)
o Examples of successful ambidexterity (144-162)
o Lifecycles of emerging business opportunities (150-151)
o Successful ingredients for ambidexterity (174-192)
o Leading exploration and exploitation: Examples (198-205)
o Leadership principles associated with ambidexterity (202-212)
o Effective strategic renewal: Examples (234-240)

Long ago, Charles Darwin observed, “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” More recently, Alvin Toffler observed, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” In their brilliant book, O’Reilly and Tushman’s recommendations can be of incalculable value to all business leaders – whatever the size and nature of their organization may be – who now struggle to adapt to a global marketplace that seems more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall. Those unable to cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn cannot thrive in that world. Indeed, they cannot survive.

These are among Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman’s finals thoughts: “In the innovation game, it is easy to feel as though you are on a treadmill, especially when your organization faces the threat of extinction. But remember that exploration is the path to changing the game in your industry; it is what allows you to discover the future before your competitors do. Fifer leaders — and, really, everyone involved with winning organizations — this is an electric possibility. But this possibility of leading ambidextrously requires emotional and strategic clarity and the ability embrace contradiction.”

I commend them on a brilliant achievement. Bravo!


Why Simple Wins: Escape the Complexity Trap and Get to Work That Matters
Why Simple Wins: Escape the Complexity Trap and Get to Work That Matters
Price: CDN$ 28.44

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why simplification can 'dramatically improve results [whereas] complexity can accelerate a company's death knell., Oct. 25 2016
This is one of those books whose greatest value, in my opinion, will be to those who are now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked on one and need a primer, and, to those in middle management who need a reminder of basics that are too easily forgotten or compromised. There are no head snapping revelations in this book, nor do Harbir Singh and Michael Useem make any such claim. Rather, they focus on what they believe are the six essential steps to integrating leadership and strategy.

Today’s business world is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I remember. Various trends, shifts, and (yes) disruptions pose unique challenges. A manager’s ability to integrate strategy with leadership is also of greater value than at any prior time that I remember.

According to Singh and Useem, “We define leading strategically as mastering the elements of strategy and leadership both separately and as an integrated whole. It entails applying them together, and continuously drawing on both as markets morph, disruptions occur, and openings arise. In framing strategy and leadership as a single unified discipline, we are seeking to see both components applied consistently and completely. Just one or the other will not suffice.”

Singh and Useem cover as much ground in a volume of only 107 pages as authors of many other business books do in 300 0r more pages. Their coverage is by no means definitive but certainly sufficient to serve most managers’ purposes. They make brilliant use of one reader-friendly device they call a “Box.” Each is an annotated checklist of key points. There are 14, listed now to suggest their scope of coverage:

1. The Strategic Leader’s Checklist
2. Setting Company Strategy
3. Features of Competitive Positioning
4. Leading the Company
5. Integrating Strategy and Leadership: Two Key Questions
6. Integrating Strategy and Leadership
7. Learn to Lead Strategically
8. Ensuring Strategic Fit
9. Conveying Strategic Intent
10. Layering Leadership
11. Deciding Deliberatively
12. The Strategic Leader’s Checklist: Carlos Ghosn
13. Execution: From Strategic Diagnosis to Implementable Initiatives
14. The Strategic Leader’s Checklist: John Chambers

They also make brilliant use of several “Tables” and “Figures” that also highlight key points. These devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of material later.

However different they may be in many (if not most) respects, all of the companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for as well as most profitable have strategic leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. They have developed people who have indeed mastered the elements of strategy and leadership both separately and as an integrated whole. Harbir Singh and Michael Useem have created a roadmap to guide and inform that process. They also function as guides for those who embark on that journey.

I agree with them that “becoming a strategic leader oneself and developing strategic leadership in others is one of the greatest calling of our era…And though we sometimes say that an individual is a gifted strategist or a natural-born leader, we know from research and experience that both are learned — and that we can all become strategic leaders if we stay on the right path. Self-directed learning, personal coaching, and stretch experience provide the proven avenue for getting there.”


The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough
The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough
by Samuel B. Bacharach
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.37
18 used & new from CDN$ 22.69

5.0 out of 5 stars “Vision without execution is hallucination.” Thomas Edison, Oct. 22 2016
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of the fact that, for decades, those enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course shout out this mantra: ‘'I know people in the ranks who are going to stay in the ranks. Why? I'll tell you why. Simply because they haven’t the ability to get things done.’' There is no shortage of talkers. There is always a shortage of doers.

To what does this book’s title refer? Samuel Bacharach explains: “The leadership challenge of moving an agenda can present itself at any level of an organization, from the president’s office to the mail room. If you have a project that needs to happen, if you’re backing an innovation that is meeting resistance, if you want to push change in your organization, then you are called upon to lead. And to lead, you have to [be or have] an agenda mover, being mindfully aware of the intentions of others and mastering the pragmatic skills necessary to execute.”

In football, “moving the chains” is a term used when a team with the ball is gaining ground to score with a series of first downs. That can be done with a long pass completion, of course, but usually with a series of plays that gain first downs only a few yards at a time. That’s the agenda and the quarterback is usually the agenda mover. Businesses also need people who are results-driven, who have a knack for making steady (seldom dramatic) progress toward achieving a goal. It could be meeting a deadline. It could mean avoiding or responding to a major crisis. It could mean solving a serious problem or answering an especially important question. You cannot move the chains without teamwork and that is usually true in business, also. An agenda mover not gets others involved; he gets them [begin italics] engaged [end italics]. Achieving high-impact results is the essence of what Bacharach characters as “pragmatic leadership.”

What about charisma? ”The nineteenth century sociologist Max Weber was the first to emphasize the importance of charisma as a key leadership attribute. For Weber, charisma is a deeply rooted personality trait that enables certain individuals to command others by the sheer power of their presence. Charisma suggests a mystical bond between leader and followers, with the latter defining their aspirations and in some cases their values by those of the former. As such, charisma, for Weber is a crucial ingredient in the mix of qualities that make for successful, productive leaders.”

Quite true but not all great leaders are charismatic nor do all charismatic leaders possess admirable qualities of character, such as decency and compassion. Agenda movers know that in the final analysis, charisma on its own doesn’t get a lot done. Leadership comes down to execution.” More specifically, to collaborative execution. This is probably what Martin Luther King Jr. had in mind when observing, “Ultimately, a genuine leader is not a searcher but a molder of consensus.” His most famous speech is “I Have a Dream,” not “I Have a Plan.”

I commend Samuel Bacharach on the abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel he provides in support of the core message in The Agenda Mover: “Try to be mindful of where you want to go and whose support you will need to help get you there. There is an implicit message throughout this book — an agenda mover knows that he or she cannot do it alone.”

However different the healthiest organizations may be in most respects, all of them have pragmatic leadership at every level and in every area of the given enterprise. Also, their people think and communicate with first-person plural pronouns. “I” may have a dream but only “We” can overcome.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20