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The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth, and Success
The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth, and Success
by Leon Shapiro
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.02
27 used & new from CDN$ 20.40

5.0 out of 5 stars “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2 (Act III, Scene 1), March 22 2016
Results of the most recent research in child psychology suggest that peers rather than parents have the greatest influence on most children by the time they are in second or third grade. (Opinions are somewhat divided about when but that seems to be the consensus.) Other influences include older siblings, authority figures, celebrities (especially entertainers), and various social media.

It is important to keep that in mind when working your way through the material that Leon Shapiro and Leo Bottary provide in this book. It helps to explain why so many C-level executives derive substantial benefit from membership in a peer advisory group such as Vistage. Peers seem to be very influential throughout one’s lifetime.

Some business leaders (many who are also owner/CEOs of small companies) have created their own informal advisory groups that usually consist of their company’s banker or major investor, attorney, accountant, and one or two owner/CEOs of companies with which they neither compete nor do business. Members of these groups have no fiduciary responsibilities, usually meet quarterly or semi-annually, and meanwhile are available to provide one-on-one assistance whenever it is requested.

In the superb Foreword to The Power of Peers, Rich Kalgaard observes: “To be the CEO of a small or midsize company is brutally hard. Lonely, too. Honest and empathetic advice is hard for CEOs to come by. Who does one talk to? Is it fair to burden the family? Dare one show doubt or vulnerability in front of employees, investors, or the board? Sure, one might confide difficulties to a therapist or coach, but what if the therapist or coach knows little about the specifics of the CEO’s business? Trusted CEO peer groups are the perfect answer to these solitary challenges and awesome responsibilities borne by men and woman at the top.” The Power of Peers by Leon Shapiro and Leo Bottary shows how to do this. It is the right book at the right time for CEOs today.”

It is noteworthy that Kalgaard is the publisher of Forbes magazine and author of two books destined to become business classics: The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success (Jossey-Bass 2014) and Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations (HarperBusiness 2015). I hold his insights and counsel in very high regard.

Personal digression: Over the past two decades, it has been my pleasure as well as privilege to work closely with hundreds of small-to-midsize companies, retained as a consultant, and also chaired two peer groups (in Dallas and Arlington, Texas) for more than a decade within The Technical Committee (TEC) organization, founded by Bob Nourse in Milwaukee in 1957. Last I heard, TEC remains active only in Wisconsin and Michigan. I can personally attest to the unique value of a CEO peer advisory group if (HUGE “if”) it has crisp as well as cordial leadership and actively engaged members who are eager to receive help but also to help others.

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

o Goals for "communities of practice” (Pages 8-9, 32-36, 40-41, and 57-58
o Optimizing business opportunities (11-12, 37-39, 88-92, 129-130, and 138-141)
o Learning (19-20, 42-43, 54-55, 84-85, and 111-112)
o Culture of emotional support (20-21, 55-56, 98-99, 107-109, 111-112. and 119-121)
o Trust (21-22, 70-72, 125-126, 147-148, and 151-152)
o Young Presidents’ Organization (34-35, 57-58, and 65-66)
o Five factors for successful peer groups (44-45)
o Nourishing a safe environment (61-62)
o Smart guides (73-86)
o Conversations between and among members (78-79 and 138-140)
o Fostering valuable interaction (87-89)
o Accountability: Individual and Organizational (101-114)
o Diverse perspectives (131-144)

Understandably, Shapiro and Bottary draw upon their association with the Vistage organization which rebranded TEC in 2006. This wide and deep first-hand experience with peer advisory relationships gives credibility to their insights and counsel. Membership in a group such as Vistage is best considered in terms of cost (i.e. hours and dollars) and value (i.e. the ROI of cost). As with most (if not all) other human initiatives, the nature and extent of the benefits (i.e. ROI) will be determined by how much knowledge and wisdom the member is willing to (a) obtain from the group’s chair and other members and then (b) apply it effectively in her or his own company. Stated bluntly, you get about as much from membership as you put into it.

Also consider the wisdom of this Chinese proverb: “If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap. If you want happiness for a day – go fishing. If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a life time – help someone else.”

When concluding their book, Leon Shapiro and Leo Bottary suggest that a peer advisory group “is one of the most powerful, proven, and efficient leadership tools for enhancing the value of your business and your life. A diverse group of your peers will help you identify your blind spots, challenge your assumptions, and provide you with the kind of insights you’ll need to succeed and thrive.” I agree while noting, as indicated, that such a group is not for everyone. Those who read this book with appropriate care will be well-prepared to make that determination.

One final thought, expressed in an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”


Global Vision: How Companies Can Overcome the Pitfalls of Globalization
Global Vision: How Companies Can Overcome the Pitfalls of Globalization
by R. Salomon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.15
28 used & new from CDN$ 13.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Here is 'a lens through which to view globalization in a new and compelling way, March 17 2016
Robert Salomon provides an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel for leaders of companies that now struggle to meet the challenges of a global marketplace that seems to become even more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous each day. He explores the concept of 'Institutional Distance'; that is, the institutional differences between and among countries (be they cultural, political, and/or economic differences) that often determine how best to approach and then manage conditions in a company's home market. Obviously, globalization involves risks. Salomon shares his thoughts about how to avoid them or minimize them.

The best business books tend to be research-driven and that is certainly true of Global Vision, what with Salomon's ten pages of 'Notes' and another six pages o0f resources in the 'Bibliography.' I commend Salomon on his skill full use of various reader-friendly devices that include 'Keeping It Real' boxed mini-commentaries throughout the narrative; '101' briefings on 'What Managers Should Know' about political, economic, and cultural institutions; more than a dozen 'Tables' (e.g. three data sources), and five 'Figures' (e.g. 'Institutional Distance Illustration'); and 'Binging It All Together' sections at the conclusion of Chapters 2-10. These devices help to facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of key material later.

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

o Four Examples of Flawed Expansion (Pages 3-8)
o Reimagining the Globalization Landscape (10-11)
o Institutional Distance: A Key Factor (12-14)
o Globalization and Profits (18-21)
o Real-World Complexity (26-32)
o Why National Institutions Matter (36-40)
o The Danger of 'Seeing' Successful Globalization Everywhere (40-47)
o Political Institutions 101: What Managers Should Know (49-52)
o Navigating Political Institutions: The Broader Managerial Challenge (53-56)
o Analyzing a Country's Regulatory Institutions (57-60)
o Measuring a Country's Political Institutions (63-66)
o Anticipating Economic Shocks (73-77)
o Defining Economic Institutions (78-85)
o Direct and Indirect Measures of Institutions (85-91)
o What We Mean by Cultural Institutions and Culture (102-111)
o What Managers Are Missing (120)
o The Nuts and Bolts of Institutional Distance (121-125)
o Global Acumen: Complement Instead of Substitute? (147-148)
o Dealing with Uncertainty: When Institutional Data Are Scarce (152-154)
o A Summary of Lessons Learned (184-185)
o Finally Bringing It All Together (192-193)

Global Acumen is one of the most important concepts that Salomon examines is this book. It generates globalization risk values between almost any pair of countries over a range that extends from 0-to 30; uses mathematical distances to account for differences in cultural and political institutions across countries; and also uses mathematical differences to account for differences in economical differences across countries. 'To make this procedure more concrete and easier to envision,' Salomon provides Figure 7.2 (Page 134) which presents 'the overarching architecture for Global Acumen version 2.0' as well as 'the three overarching institutional factors ' political, economic, and cultural ' described in chapters 4, 5, and 6.' Salomon fully understands that tackling globalization is no easy task. 'It takes a bit of creativity and effort to convert raw measures of institutions into useful measures of risk using mathematical distance and distance formulas.' Knowing the institutional risk spread between two countries 'is only half the battle. The real value is knowing how to [begin italics] use [end italics] risk spreads to improve decision making.'

As I read and then re-read Salomon's discussion of how and why to develop Global Acumen, it occurred to me that failing to do so suggests a metaphor: flying a Boeing 787 or Airbus A380 into a foreign country while being blindfolded, entirely alone, and out of contact with anyone.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do mukluk justice to the scope and depth of material to be found in Global Vision. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. I agree with Robert Salomon: 'Global Acumen can help managers do much more than avoid catastrophic globalization mistakes ' it is a tool to help managers win at the globalization game.'

I presume to add one other point: All management teams must not only share but embrace the same global vision and collaborate fully on making it a reality. Just about everything they need to know about HOW to achieve that strategic objective can be found in this book. Bravo!


Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual
Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual
by David Burkus
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.44
27 used & new from CDN$ 20.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done.” Peter Drucker, March 16 2016
When concluding his previous book, The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas, David Burkus discusses the Mousetrap Myth, suggesting that it “is perhaps the most stifling to innovation because it doesn’t concern generating ideas. Rather, it affects how ideas are implemented. It’s not enough for an organization to have creative people; it has to develop a culture that doesn’t reject great ideas…Leaders need to get better at counteracting their own bias and recognizing innovations sooner. We don’t just need more great ideas; we need to spread the great ideas we already have.”

The process of doing that throughout an enterprise must therefore be at least as innovative as the process by which great ideas are produced. He also discusses ten other myths, each of which is also a formidable barriers to creative thinking. Burkus has an insatiable curiosity that drives his rigorous examination of all manner of organizations whose leaders have become hostage to what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Myths such as the eleven Burkus discusses in the earlier book help to explain the “business as usual” mindset that resents — and resists — whatever it perceives to be a threat to there status quo. More often than not, those who defend the status quo played a significant role in upending the status quo that preceded it.

It would be desirable but not necessary to read The Myths of Creativity before reading Under New Management. In my opinion, both are destined to become business book “classics.” I highly recommend both.

In his Introduction to the latter, Burkus explains that “the purpose of this book is to challenge you and your company to ask whether the time has come for you to reexamine some of the most fundamental concepts in management today. Remember, the business of business is all about change and keeping up with the latest trends. Here’s your chance to see for yourself what kinds of management changes you should be considering.”

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

o Sabbaticals (Pages 9-10 and 162-175)
o Limiting email (13-25)
o Employees first, customers second (26-43)
o Vacation policies (44-57)
o Pay to Quit program (67-68)
o Salary transparency (71-85)
o Dane Atkinson (71-72 and 74-76)
o Salary transparency at SumAll (74-76)
o Noncompete clauses/agreements (86-101)
o Performance appraisals (102-116)
o Hiring as a team (117-1341)
o Eden McCallum (132-136 and 139-140)
o Organizational charts/hierarchy (132-147)
o David Kelley (145-146)
o Open vs. closed offices (148-160)
o TEDGlobal conference (162-163 and 174-175)
o Companies without managers (176-191)

Burkus offers several dozen recommendations as to how organizations can overcome the aforementioned “ideology of comfort and tyranny of custom.” Here are four:

o Put Customers Second: “To better serve their customers, some corporate leaders have found that they must put their customers’ needs second and their employees’ needs first. They have basically inverted the hierarchy and aligned their companies with a well-researched model of customer satisfaction that comes through company happiness.”

o Ditch Performance Appraisals: “Performance appraisals have long been assumed to be vitally important to a manager’s job. But many companies have found that rigid performance management structures actually prevent people from improving their performance, so smart leaders have begun eliminating these structures in favor of newer measures [e.g. frequent feedback] that actually enhance performance.”

o Take Sabbaticals: “Despite the temptation to be ‘always on,’ the best leaders give themselves and their employees a good long break once in a while — a sabbatical. These leaders have found that the best way to stay productive all of the time is too spend a good portion of the time being deliberately unproductive.”

o Celebrate Departures: “As individual job tenure in companies becomes shorter, leaders say a good-bye to even their best people more frequently. How they do this — whether they celebrate or shun the departed — affects not just those leaving but those who stay, as well as the performance of both the old and the new firms.”

I am grateful to Burkus for providing an abundance of information, insights, and counsel about organizational transformation and, especially, for introducing me and his other readers to two companies of which I (at least) knew nothing about previously: Sum All in the United States and Eden McCallum in the United Kingdom. The lessons to be learned from them will be of substantial value to leaders in almost any other organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

David Burkus realizes that the new methods he recommends for consideration may seem counterintuitive — “but they shouldn’t. Instead these methods should be seen as what they are — honest attempts to build a better engine. They might not work, or might not work as well, insider every organization. But their success in their own companies should be seen as validation for leaders everywhere to start experimenting with their company. Their efforts may not work perfectly, but the old methods didn’t work so perfectly [or, more to the point, may not work as well now as they once did]. If they can get efficiency, or engagement, up just a few percent wage points, then it’s clearly worthwhile to continue to experiment.”


Get Smart!: How to Think and Act Like the Most Successful and Highest-Paid People in Every Field
Get Smart!: How to Think and Act Like the Most Successful and Highest-Paid People in Every Field
by Brian Tracy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.34
41 used & new from CDN$ 11.55

5.0 out of 5 stars “We shall not cease from exploration....", March 16 2016
And here's the complete observation by T.S. Eliot: “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.”

In the Introduction, Brian Tracy points out that – on average – people use only 2% of their mental ability. I am among those who question that estimate as being too low but, whatever the percentage is, human mental ability tends to be underdeveloped and thus underutilized. “The natural tendency for most people is to slip into a comfort zone of easy thinking and decision-making based on old, false or incomplete thinking. Many people use far less of their mental potential because they become lazy in their thinking, jump to simple conclusions, assume causation when two events occur close together, and do what they’ve always done rather than to challenge the ideas [especially assumptions] or consider entirely different approaches. Years of television watching, failure to read, learn, and grow, non-stop electronic interruptions (email, social media, messaging and phone calls) make a person incapable of functioning fast and efficiently.”

Tracy then adds, “Your mind is like a muscle. To develop it so that it functions at a higher level, you must place demands on it, the same as lifting weights for muscle building. Get Smart shows the reader a series of simple, practical, powerful ways of questioning and examining a situation to assure the best choices and decisions. By challenging the reader to think with greater clarity, the reader challenges his/her mind and makes it stronger and more resilient — like a muscle subject to vigorous physical exercise.”

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Tracy’s coverage in Chapters 1-4 of the ten:

o 10 Percent of Potential (Pages xiii and xiv)
o Action is Everything (3)
o The Common Denominator (7-8)
o Back from the Future (12-17)
o Slow Thinking, and, Two Thinking Styles (23-24)
o Practice Solitude (29)
o Use the GOSPA Thinking Model (32-33)
o Use the Scientific Method (39-40)
o Be Willing to Fail (40-41)
o Become a Master of the Game (43-45)
o The Strategy of the Rich (45-46)
o Earn and Acquire Ten Times as Much (51-52)
o The Impact of Change: Information Explosion, The Expansion of Technology, and Aggressive Competition (54-56)
o Goal Setting Brings Out the Best (57-62)
o Goal-Setting Process (62-65)
o Goal-Setting Exercise (66-68)

It is noteworthy that each of the ten chapters’ titles focuses on a juxtaposition of two mindsets that, at first glance, seem to be mutually exclusive. For example, there are three:

2. “Slow Thinking Versus Fast Thinking”
6. “Positive Thinking Versus Negative Thinking”
9. “Entrepreneurial Thinking Versus Corporate Thinking”

In fact, one of Tracy’s key points seems to me to be, as I now perhaps channel The Gambler, that smart thinkers

“Got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run.”

Moreover, I selected the quotation from Eliot’s Little Gidding V in his poem, “Four Quartets,” because it correctly stresses the importance of allowing extensive and intensive personal experience to enable us to see where we began our journey of discovery in entirely new ways, recognizing meaning and significance to an extent that could not have been possible then.

As Tracy explains in Chapter 2, he favors the GOSPA Thinking Model, one that enables people to slow down and think with great precision. The acronym refers to Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Priorities, and Actions. He explains each component, suggesting that this method of thinking, “and carefully considering each action you must take, dramatically improves your decision-making abilities. It forces you to use both long-term thinking and slow thinking together.”

I presume to add this simple but often under appreciated reality: More often than not, people struggle to obtain the right answers to what prove to be the wrong rather than the right questions; they also struggle to determine the right solutions to what prove to be the wrong rather than the right problems. This is what Peter Drucker had in mind (in 1963) when observing, "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."

With all due respect to the importance of becoming rich to so many people, the value of this book to me is to be found in the mental fitness program Tracy recommends. The brain is indeed a muscle that really can be strengthened substantially over time, especially when that process is in combination with sufficient rest (at least eight of the 24 hours each day), rigorous physical exercise, and proper nutrition. We also know that most human limits are self-imposed and many people are hostage to what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

I commend Brian Tracy on this latest contribution to our understanding of how to accelerate personal growth and professional development. He has explained what’s involved. It remains for those who embark on that perilous but promising journey to stay the course. To them I offer a heartfelt “Bon voyage!”


Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow's Workplace
Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow's Workplace
by Karie Willyerd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.56
36 used & new from CDN$ 14.81

5.0 out of 5 stars It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change., March 12 2016
There seems to be some disagreement as to what exactly Charles Darwin said about responding to change but there's no doubt about this observation by Albert Einstein: 'The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.' In Stretch, Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick pose a question and then respond to it: 'How do we stay relevant in our work lives? Our answer: stretch. Stretch how we learn, stretch to stay open in our thinking, stretch to build diverse networks and experiences, and stretch our motivation. This is precisely what Alvin Toffler had in mind when asserting, 'The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.' Willyerd and Mistick assert, 'stretching is the future imperative for us all.'

My own opinion is that we must do that stretching [begin italics] now [end italics]. And we must do it better, more effectively, as we welcome each new day and the opportunities for personal growth and professional development that accompany each new day.

The subtitle of Willyerd and Mistick's book refers to 'future-proofing' ourselves for 'tomorrow's workplace.' I think that is naive. Why do I think that? Because I cannot recall a prior time when changes occurred faster and with greater impact than they do now'and I expect the acceleration as well as the frequency to increase.

That said, I think this can be an immensely valuable book for almost anyone who has become ' or is in danger of becoming ' hostage to what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes as 'the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.' Willyerd and Mistick recommend a combination of 'Stretch Strategies,' many of which I have struggled to follow (with mixed results) for several decades.

One additional thought about strategy, provided by Michael Porter: 'The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do."

Reading and then re-reading Stretch has energized my motivation to re-evaluate various assumptions and premises because I know (or at least suspect) that one or more have reduced the effectiveness of the seven strategies. They are best revealed within the narrative, in context, but I will acknowledge this: Too often, I become wholly preoccupied with either The Big Picture or The Small Picture when in fact I need to stretch my mind to accommodate both because every major decision ' answering a question or solving a problem ' invariably requires consideration of both an overview and relevant details.

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

o What Does Excellence Look Like? (Pages 37-40)
o Strategies for Learning on the Fly (40-49)
o Learning Traps to Avoid (50-53)
o Stretch Strategies to Be Open (65-80)
o The Two Networks Everyone Has (97-100)
o Strategies to Build a Diverse Network (105-115)
o The Experience Catch 22 (125-126)
o Strategies for Being Greedy About Experiences (128-142)
o The Recipe for Springing Back (164-174)
o Maintain the Faith (175-176)
o Ten Predictions for the Future of Work (187-196)
o The Top Ten Capabilities for Tomorrow (196-203)
o The Home Stretch (204-208)

I especially admire how carefully Willyerd and Mistick create a framework within which their reader can then complete a process of personal growth in an orderly manner. For example, they include a total of 22 'Stretch Breaks' in Chapters 2-7 that enabled me, for example, to re-evaluate the aforementioned assumptions and premises, most of which ' I realized ' had become severe limitations, not only on what I thought but also how I thought. Think of the 22 'Stretch Breaks' as a reality check.

Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick are to be commended on the abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that they provide in this book, accompanied by several reader-0friendly devices that will facilitate, indeed accelerate effective application of the material that her readers deem most relevant to their needs, interests, values, concerns, and objectives. That said, I presume to suggest that those who read this book do so with a mind and a heart that are stretched beyond what may now be (or seem) comfortable and customary.

One other key point: Adaptability should be proactive rather than reactive. That is, just as Sun Tzu once suggested that every battle is won or lost before it is fought, I suggest that thorough preparation for the most likely contingencies improves the odds significantly that the response will be effective ' and in a timely manner ' to the given challenge. Masters of chess think several moves ahead and so must C-level executives. The more they stretch the nature and extent of their capabilities, the more likely they will prevail in a global marketplace that seems to become more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous each day.


The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity
The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity
by George Couros
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.86
16 used & new from CDN$ 18.91

5.0 out of 5 stars We don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it." Ken Robinson, March 12 2016
As you may already know, Sir Kenneth Robinson's presentation, "Do schools kill creativity?" is the most popular of all TED videos, with 37,824,635 total views thus far. Presumably George Couros agrees with Robinson that many (if mot most) schools kill the development of their students' creative thinking and the mindset responsible for that systemic process now controls it and steadfastly resists change.

In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck observes, 'In a growth mindset, students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.' When concluding The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas, David Burkus discusses the Mousetrap Myth, suggesting that it 'is perhaps the most stifling to innovation because it doesn't concern generating ideas. Rather, it affects how ideas are implemented. It's not enough for an organization to have creative people; it has to develop a culture that doesn't reject great ideas'Leaders need to get better at counteracting their own bias and recognizing innovations sooner. We don't just need more great ideas; we need to spread the great ideas we already have.'

With only minor modification, most of the material in The Innovator's Mindset is as relevant to a workplace environment as it is to an academic environment. According to Couros, 'The growth mindset is crucial to one's openness to learning. But to change education and prepare students for their futures, we need to adopt an innovator's mindset for ourselves and instill this mindset in our students. We must focus on [begin italics] creating [end italics] something with the knowledge that's been acquired.' Substitute 'workers' for 'students.' Peter Senge is a staunch and eloquent advocate for the total learning organization. He probably had corporations in mind but all of his insights could also be applied to schools, colleges, and universities.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Couros's coverage in Parts I and II (Chapters 1-7):

o Introduction (Pages 1-10)
o Defining Innovation, and, Innovation Starts with a Question (19-22)
o Open Innovation Learning (22-23)
o Adopt an Innovator's Mindset (32-36)
o Critical Questions for the Innovative Educator (39-41)
o The 8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset (48-58)
o The Power to Kill Innovation (70-71)
o The Power of 'No' versus a Culture of 'Yes (72-73)
o Disrupt Your Routine (82-84)
o Master Learner, Innovative Leader (86-88)
o The Characteristics of an Innovative Leader (88-90)
o A Culture of Empowerment (97-99)
o 8 [Occurences, Habits, Customs, etc.] to Look for in Today's Classroom (111-115)

Whatever and wherever the given circumstances may be, the challenge remains the same for everyone involved: create an environment within which creative thinking is most likely to thrive. Organizations need innovative governance, leadership, and management. That is as true of each elementary school in an inner city such as Detroit as it is of a Fortune 50 company such as General Motors. George Couros has identified eight crucial characteristics that are necessary for an innovator's mindset, not only for teachers but also for everyone involved in education. And I presume to add, not only for C-level executives but for others at all levels and in all areas of operation.

Many of those who read this book and feel motivated to empower learning, unleash talent, and (perhaps) lead a culture of creativity may hesitate because of doubts about what can be accomplished. I urge them to remember what Margaret Mead once observed: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."


How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life
How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life
by Caroline Webb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.58
31 used & new from CDN$ 11.43

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.' Annie Dillard, March 10 2016
I selected the Dillard observation because it correctly suggests that each life, however many years it lasts, is lived one day at a time. Therefore, the challenge is to make each day as good a day as possible (however defined) and revelations from recent research in behavioral and neural sciences suggest how to do that. Caroline Webb focuses on three: the Two-System Brain, the Discover-Defend Axis, and the Mind-Body Loop. She discusses each in layman’s terms and each is best explained within her narrative, in context.

As she notes, “Over the years, I noticed some common answers to my ‘what is a good day’ question – answers that resonated with the small delights of my humble supermarket job. First, people often talked about getting a buzz from feeling productive, and from knowing that their efforts counted toward something worthwhile. The best days also tended to involve people feeling confident that they were doing a fine job, and that they had the support they needed from others. Finally, people talked about good days leaving them feeling more energized than depleted, overall. I don’t mean that the work wasn’t physically or mentally tiring -- just that it gave back enough enjoyment and motivation to make up for whatever it was taking out of them.”

As I worked my way through this book, I was again reminded of what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “Mee-high CHEEK-sent-me-high-ee”) has to say about a state he characterizes as “flow”: a single-minded immersion and perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task, although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions. Ellen Langer suggests that flow is a pure state of mindfulness and thus, when we interact with others, they have our full attention. We are totally “in the moment” with them.

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 Choices (Pages 10-11 and 221-226)
o Discover-Defend Axis (12-13 and 20-27)
o Two-System Brain (13-20 and 23-26)
o Automatic system (16-21)
o Brain shortcuts (18-19, 176-183)
o Mind-Body Loop (27-32)
o Filters (35-46, 208-218, and 314-315)
o One More Thing: Check Your Assumptions (42-46)
o Goals (47-56)
o Distractions (76-77 and 91-92)
o Mindfulness (90-91 and 274-276)
o Relationships (113-163 and 170-171)
o Assumptions (131-133 and 262-264)
o Feedback (136-137 and 158-162)
o Listening (152-155)
o Thinking (165-205)
o Options (180-182, 185-186, and 221-233)
o Warren Buffett (183-184)
o Boosting Brainpower (192-206)
o Influence (207-245)

Webb would be the first to agree that it would be a fool’s errand to attempt apply everything she recommends. However, it does make abundant sense to experiment with those ideas that seem most appropriate to your needs, interests, concerns, and circumstances. Experimentation is the key to innovation. Try stuff. For example, “Identify your signature strengths. Set aside time to reflect on your signature strengths – the personal qualities, values, and skills that are character istu8c of you when you’re at your best. Examine your peaks, ask others for input, and take [an informal] survey. Notice the themes that emerge.” Excellent advice.

Also, keep in mind what my maternal grandmother once advised, with a Swedish accent: “You got two eyes and two ears but only one mouth. So spend at least 80% of your time observing and listening; no more than 20% to talking.” I’m still working on that one but hope to get there soon.

However you define what is a good day for you, Webb is convinced that – with the power of behavioral science now available to you – that you can have many more good days, in fact better days than what you now think is a good day

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that Caroline Webb provides. However, I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of her and of her work. I join with her in wishing you great success as you continue your journey of personal growth and professional development. Almost everything you need is between your ears…and in her book.


All the Leader You Can Be: The Science of Achieving Extraordinary Executive Presence: The Science of Achieving Extraordinary Executive Presence
All the Leader You Can Be: The Science of Achieving Extraordinary Executive Presence: The Science of Achieving Extraordinary Executive Presence
Price: CDN$ 31.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Here's a "research-based definition of executive presence" with an explanation of how to develop it, March 10 2016
Opinions are divided (sometimes sharply divided) about the importance of charisma to effective leadership but there seems to be a consensus that those who aspire to lead can increase and enhance their appeal. How? Develop what's called 'executive presence.'

Here's what Suzanne Bates has to say about it: "We have a holistic view of the leader as a person and call out qualities often not discussed. As a result, our model of executive presence offers a far richer, more complete picture of each leader in three dimensions: Character, Substance, and Style. The bottom line is that for purposes of assessing executive presence, we believe that labels do not serve leaders well, as leaders often get results and conclude, 'Well, I guess this is who I am!' Instead, this model [she devised] is grounded in the philosophy that all these qualities are amenable to change. Leaders can be empowered to take action. That's powerful stuff!'

Bates provides an abundance of information that serves as the foundation of what she characterizes as 'a research-based definition of executive presence.' She also provides a wealth of insights and counsel that can help almost any reader to develop executive presence, not only in a workplace but in all other domains of human interaction. Moreover, this material can help supervisors to help aspiring leaders among their direct reports to develop executive presence, also.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Bates's coverage in Part 1 (Chapters 1-4):

o Conducting Theoretical Research to Build a Model, and, A Science-Based Definition (Pages 7-10)
o Building the EP [Executive Presence] Model (8-10)
o Lessons from the Bates ExPI Pilot Study (17-18)
o Conclusions from the Pilot Study (19-20)

THE FUNDAMENTALS THAT BUILD TRUST AND GOOD WILL
o Authenticity (23-25)
o Integrity (25-28)
o Concern (28-31)
o Restraint (31-33)
o Humility (33-38)

QUALITIES THAT INSPIRE OTHERS TO GO ABOVE AND BEYOND
o Practical Wisdom 40-42)
o Confidence (43-47)
o Composure (48-52)
o Resonance (52-56)
o Vision (56-58)

THE SECRET TO GETTING OTHERS TO GET THINGS DONE
o Appearance (60-66)
o Intentionality (66-70)
o Inclusiveness (70-74)
o Assertiveness (78-82)

These are the three dimensions and 15 attributes of executive presence. Then in Part 2, Bates shifts her attention to explaining how executive presence can help achieve early wins, cope with new (i.e. unexpected) challenges, facilitate dynamic interaction, and drive results. I use the term 'help' because the most effective leaders serve as energizers, igniting/inspiring self-motivation in others when sharing a compelling vision but as Thomas Edison observed long ago, 'Vision without execution is hallucination.' Only a sustained collaborative effort can make that vision a reality.

Also, it is important to keep in mind my favorite passage in Lao-tse's Tao Te Ching:

"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.'

The focus in Part 3 is on executive presence insofar as senior leaders, high potentials, women, and diversity initiatives are concerned. I agree with Bates that executives (i.e. those who execute) now face unique competitive challenges in a global marketplace that seems to become more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous each day. 'A technology revolution has transformed how we work and play in ways we couldn't have imagined. We have the world at our fingertips and are always connected. Navigating the digital landscape and digital transformation is at once perplexing and exciting for business today. And that's how it is as we contemplate other changes, including the impact of rising global tensions, unstable foreign economies, seismic demographic shifts, intensifying cyber threats, growing geostrategic competition, and increasing pressure on natural resources. We have more than enough to challenge us.'

We do indeed. Fortunately, there are knowledge leaders such as Suzanne Bates whose books that will help prepare business leaders to respond effectively to whichever challenges they face. Long ago, Oscar Wilde suggested, 'Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.' Bates takes that sound advice a step further, suggesting (in effect) that those who read her book become the best leader they can be. Presumably she agrees with me that personal growth and professional development are not ultimate objectives; rather, they occur during a never-ending process. Executive presence offers an excellent case in point.


What Works: Gender Equality by Design
What Works: Gender Equality by Design
by Iris Bohnet
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.94
28 used & new from CDN$ 21.22

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why behavioral designers can help us to make much better decisions, March 10 2016
As Iris Bohnet explains, this book is the result of a nearly ten-year journey that began when David Ellwood, then dean of Harvard Kennedy School, invited her to serve as faculty chair and later director of the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP), one of the Kennedy School’s research centers.

“The book’s goal is to offer good designs it you; designs that make it easier for our biased minds to get things right. Based on research evidence, we can change the environments in which we live, learn, and work. My principal focus here is the stubborn, costly problem of gender inequality, but the recommendations I make stem from a wealth or research about decisions and behavior that go well beyond gender. The book takes as a given that people make mistakes; they make them often and (sometimes) unknowingly, As a consequence, these mistakes reduce everyone’s well-being.” She goes to suggest that the solutions she recommends come from the field of behavioral economics, “building on insights on how our mind works.”

She invites her reader to become a behavioral designer and I hope each reader accepts this invitation because those who read this brilliant book — not Iris Bohnet — will need to achieve the behavioral changes in their respective environments. Think of this book as both a call to action and an operations manual. It provides just about all the information, instruction, insights, and counsel that anyone needs to help create and sustain healthier environments. It must be a collaborative environment.

It is important to keep in mind that behavioral design “goes beyond law, regulation, or incentives, although it acknowledges that these are and will remain important. But they do not always work…We do not always do what is best for ourselves, for our organizations, or for the world — and sometimes a little nudge helps.” For example, as Bohnet notes, orchestras that conduct blind auditions (i.e. candidates perform behind a screen) can be transformed by doubling the talent pool. “Careful timing of breaks allows judges to make decisions more accurately and fairly. To the business case, then, we must add the moral case: behavioral design is the right thing to do.”

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

o Team performance (Pages 16-17, 228-235, and 241-243)
o Negotiations (31-32, 46-47, and 62-81)
o Daniel Kahneman (34-35)
o Wages (63-68 and 73-74)
o Leadership development programs (83-85 and 98-99)
o Sponsoring (86-89 and 211-212)
o People analytics (103-104 and 118-119)
o Gender wage gap (110-115, 155-156, and 189-190)
o Comparative evaluation (126-127 and 267-268)
o Australia (157-1458, 162-163, and 217-218)
o Risk aversion (167-175, 186-187, and 192-193)
o Quotas for corporate boards (208-209, 238-239, and 240-241)
0 Fairness (234-235 and 241-242)
o Affirmative action (237-238 and 252-253)
o Social norms (244-265)
o Transparency (273-283)

After offering 36 research-driven design suggestions in this book, Bohnet suggests some key design principles, focusing on “the four areas that we have covered in this book: training, talent management, school and work, and diversity. These become useful shorthand aspirations as you introduce any single or several designs.” For example:

1. Training: Move from “training” to “capacity building.”
2. Talent Management: Move from “intuition” to “data” and “structure.”
3. School and Work: Move from an “uneven” to an “even” playing field.
4. Diversity: Move from a “numbers game” to the “conditions for success.”

These transitions can be completed only if and when those involved recognize when and why learning the sex of someone immediately activates gender biases that can (and usually do) lead to unintentional and implicit discrimination. This book cannot totally eliminate those biases but it can make people much more aware of them and their potential influence.

I congratulate Bohnet on a brilliant achievement and share her deep conviction that, through behavioral design, “we can move the needle toward creating equal opportunities for female musicians, for male teachers, and for everyone else. Good design often harvests low-hanging fruit, left on the tree not so much because if bad intentions but rather because of the mind bugs that affect our judgment. Behavioral design offers an additional instrument for our collective toolbox to promote change; it complements other approaches focusing, for example, on equal rights, education, health, agency, or on policies making work and family compatible.” Also healthier for everyone involved.

Some who read my brief commentary may say, “All that is fine and dandy but what can I do or only a few of us do?” I presume to remind them of Margaret Mead’s observation, one with which both Iris Bohnet and I totally agree: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."


The Clayton M. Christensen Reader
The Clayton M. Christensen Reader
by Clayton M. Christensen
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 28.64
37 used & new from CDN$ 17.88

5.0 out of 5 stars If you think disruption is a problem, try stagnation., March 9 2016
The Harvard Business Review Press continues to publish anthologies of HBR articles that Amazon now sells for less than $20 each. If the individual articles in each were purchased as reprints, the total cost would be about $65. That’s not a bargain, in my mind. That’s a steal. Better yet, all of the articles are bound in a single volume.

Case in point: The Clayton M. Christensen Reader which contains eleven articles authored or co-authored by – in my opinion – the world’s foremost business thinker and certainly the pre-eminent authority on disruptive innovation. Amazon US sells it for only $18.28.

As his editors indicate in the Introduction, he continues to warn “large, established companies of the danger of becoming [begin italics] too [end italics] good at what they do best. To grow profits and margins, he observes, such companies tend to develop products that satisfy the demands of their most significant customers. As successful as this strategy may be, it means that those companies also tend to ignore opportunities to meet the needs of less sophisticated customers – who may eventually form much larger markets. An upstart can therefore introduce a simpler product that is cheaper and thus becomes more widely adopted (a ‘disruptive innovation’). Through incremental innovation, that product is refined and moves upmarket, completing the disruption of the original company.”

There in a proverbial “nut shell” are the components of what continues to be one of the important developments throughout a global marketplace that remains volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Long ago I realized that all organizations (whatever their size and nature may be) must create some disruption by challenging what they do and how they do it. If they don’t, they will stagnate and eventually, inevitably perish.

The competition between incumbents and disruptors reveals many different pieces of the “disruption puzzle,” including these eleven:

o The threat of disruptive innovation
o Organizational structure
o Product innovation
o The financial tools in the way
o Business model innovation
o The role of business models in M&A
o Where each industry’s growth lies
o The extendable core
o Disruptive Innovation
o What makes good management theory
o A personal strategy

Each of these core issues is addressed in one of the HBR articles in this volume. Readers will appreciate the provision of the “Idea in Brief” and “Idea in Practice” sections in each article, best viewed as a précis of the given author(s)’ key insight and suggestions as to how it could be implemented.

Mini-biographies of all of the contributors are also included. Here is a somewhat expanded bio of Christensen provided by Amazon: "Clayton M. Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. In addition to his most recent book, How Will You Measure Your Life, he is the author of seven critically-acclaimed books, including several New York Times bestsellers — The Innovator's Dilemma, The Innovator's Solution, and most recently, Disrupting Class. Christensen is the co-founder of Innosight, a management consultancy; Rose Park Advisors, an investment firm; and the Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank. In 2011, he was named the world’s most influential business thinker by Thinkers50."

I hope that Harvard Business Review Press adds additional “Readers” that could become a “best of the best” series.

Meanwhile, here are Christensen’s concluding remarks in the final article in this Reader: “This past year [2010] I was diagnosed with cancer and faced the possibility that my life would end sooner than I’d planned. Thankfully, it now looks as if I’ll be spared. But the experience has given me important insight into my life.

“I have a pretty clear idea of how my ideas have generated enormous revenue for the companies that have used my research; I know I’ve had a substantial impact. But as I’ve confronted this disease, it’s been interesting to see how unimportant that impact is to me now. I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.

“I think that’s the way it works for all of us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped to become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.”

Let’s all hope that Clayton Christensen will have many more years so he will be able to help countless others to become better people.


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