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How I Did It: Lessons from the Front Lines of Business [Kindle Edition]

Harvard Business Review , Daniel McGinn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Powerful stories from the world’s top CEOs to help prepare you for the hard decisions ahead.

The essays in How I Did It teach and inspire. Pulled directly from the pages of one of the most popular columns in Harvard Business Review, these essays offer firsthand accounts of the most difficult management challenges faced by the men and women who occupy the corner office. It’s the next best thing to sitting down and talking face-to-face with these corporate leaders. You’ll hear from renowned global leaders including:

• Kevin Ryan, Gilt Groupe
• Mindy Grossman, HSN
• Kevin Plank, Under Armour
• Daniel P. Amos, Aflac
• Pramod Bhasin, Genpact
• Eric Schmidt, Google
• Ellen Kullman, DuPont
• Patrizio Bertelli, Prada
• Pierre Omidyar, Omidyar Network
• Jorge Cauz, Encyclopaedia Brittanica
• Richard Gelfond, IMAX

Let these potent stories of strategic thinking—and often bold and unconventional action—be your guide as you step into your own future as a leader.

About the Author

Harvard Business Review Harvard Business Review is the leading destination for smart management thinking. Through its flagship magazine, twelve international licensed editions, books from Harvard Business Review Press, and digital content and tools published on HBR.org, Harvard Business Review provides professionals around the world with rigorous insights and best practices to lead themselves and their organizations more effectively and to make a positive impact.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 533 KB
  • Print Length: 333 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1625272219
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (25 Feb 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1625272219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1625272218
  • ASIN: B00GQDL7RK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #469,309 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
There were 14 editors involved with these essays, written by 34 CEOs, originally published in the Harvard Business Review column. They were copy edited by Martha Spaulding and Daniel McGinn then edited the material for this collection. The essays are organized within six key business areas such as "Telling the Right Story" and "Finding a Strategy That Works." According to the Editors in the Introduction, "The essays in this book are singular contributions to this tradition [of wisdom-based decision making]. Like case studies, they take readers inside the C-suite, but they go further, giving inside detail and perspective about the decisions made by the chief executives themselves -- told in their own words."

With regard to the collection's title, the CEOs share a wealth of information, insights, and counsel how and why they have been able to make the most difficult, therefore most important decisions for their respective companies. However different these leaders may be in many (if not most) respects, they seem to share (at least to me) several defining characteristics.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Real-Life Success Stories 21 April 2014
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
When Kevin Peters became CEO of Office Depot he found its sales declining faster than those of competitors, despite customer service scores from a 3rd-party mystery-shopper services going through the roof. Attempting to resolve the conflict, Peters tried doing his own mystery shopping - visiting 70 stores in 15 states. His routine - first watching customers go in and out for a few minutes from the parking lot, then spending 20-30 minutes observing inside - talking to customers in the aisles and as they were leaving (including those who hadn't bought anything). Besides observing some instances of inappropriate behavior (eg. an employee arguing with a customer over whether a calculator was satisfactory, a manager standing outside smoking - ignoring customers who bought nothing), Peters realized its 3rd-party raters were asking the wrong questions. 'Are the floors clean? Are the shelves full of inventory? Are the windows clean?' just weren't important to its customers - at least within the performance range observed.

What Peters realized was more important was 1)its stores were too large and too difficult to shop in, 2)staff needed to focus on customers - not what Office Depot had incentivized, and 3)customers also wanted help installing software and fixing computers - not offered at the time. They also found ways to cut 80 hours/week from non-value-added tasks. Smaller stores (15-17,000 square feet have been introduced (average had been over 24,000). And CEO Peters continues to visit stores, paying special attention to those leaving without a purchase.

Honeywell CEO David Cote saw business going downhill in 2008 when the Great Recession began. Instead of laying of staff while focusing on weak performers, he decided to use wide-spread temporary furloughs for several reasons. One - companies typically underestimate the cost of layoffs - each person gets, on average, about six months' worth of severance pay and outplacement services, and then need to begin rehiring about a year later when the economy usually turns up. A second - layoffs are more disruptive than furloughs in both the short- and long-term. Cote also decided that top executives would NOT participate - they were needed, and would suffer more regardless since more than
half their annual compensation came in the form of a bonus.

Supposedly furloughs penalize top performers and cause them to leave - but Cote states that its 'regrettable turnover' decreased.

Jeffrey Immelt, G.E. CEO, writes about 'Sparking an American Manufacturing Renewal.' About 30 years ago, G.E. began moving manufacturing out of Appliance Park. In 2012 G.E. spent $40 million on a new data center located in its Louisville Appliance Park - replacing more than 330 systems across the business. G.E. is also now outsourcing less and producing more in the U.S., creating over 7,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs in 2010 and 2011. This was the result of Asian competitors who were former suppliers improving their products and lowering prices, rising shipping and wage costs, currency fluctuations, and concern over separating R&D from manufacturing. G.E. also brought lean manufacturing to Appliance Park, and more cooperative unions at the site. In other areas, G.E. also benefitted from partnering with local universities for advanced research. Immelt does not see bringing back jobs to the U.S. as all smooth sailing, pointing out we also need improved broadband, a bigger and smarter electricity grid, and a well-trained workforce.
5.0 out of 5 stars Cutting-edge perspectives on the unique leadership challenges at the CEO-level 9 Jun 2014
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There were 14 editors involved with these essays, written by 34 CEOs, originally published in the Harvard Business Review column. They were copy edited by Martha Spaulding and Daniel McGinn then edited the material for this collection. The essays are organized within six key business areas such as "Telling the Right Story" and "Finding a Strategy That Works." According to the Editors in the Introduction, "The essays in this book are singular contributions to this tradition [of wisdom-based decision making]. Like case studies, they take readers inside the C-suite, but they go further, giving inside detail and perspective about the decisions made by the chief executives themselves -- told in their own words."

With regard to the collection's title, the CEOs share a wealth of information, insights, and counsel how and why they have been able to make the most difficult, therefore most important decisions for their respective companies. However different these leaders may be in many (if not most) respects, they seem to share (at least to me) several defining characteristics.

o They ask the right questions and listen intently
o Welcome, indeed demand principled dissent
o Thrive on challenges
o Are impatient with -- rather than intimidated by -- ambiguity
o Are results-driven
o Encourage and reward productive collaboration at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise
o Possess superior decision-making skills
o Focus on a problem's root(s) rather than on its symptoms
o Celebrate others' achievements
o Are leaders "for all seasons"
o Agree with Thomas Edison: "Vision without execution is hallucination"
o And with Peter Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."

Prominent contributors include

o Angela Ahrendts, "Turning an Aging British Icon into a Global Luxury Brand" (Burberry)
o Tony Hsieh, "Going to Extremes for Customers" (Zappos)
o Jeffrey Immelt, "Sparking an American Manufacturing Renewal" (GE)
o Anne Mulcahy, "Why Succession Shouldn't Be a Horse Race" (Xerox)
o Vincent Nayar, "Persuading His Team to Leap into the Future" (HCL Technologies)
o Eric Schmidt, "The Enduring Lessons of a Quirky IPO" (Google)

It is important to keep in mind that these essays are personal accounts that, as a result of brilliant editing, seem to be direct responses to a reader's question, "How did you do it?" For example:

To Cynthia Carroll, CEO of Angelo American plc: "How did you create safer working conditions for Angelo American employees?"

To Daniel P. Amos, CEO of Aflac: "How did the noisy duck increase and enhance visibility and recognition for Aflac?"

To Mo Ibrahim, founder of Celtel and chairman of Satya Capital: "How did you create a telecom infrastructure in Africa from scratch?"

To Ellen Kullman, chair and CEO of DuPont: "How did you respond to the challenges and opportunities associated with the $7-billion acquisition of Denmark's Danisco?"

To Andrew C. Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings: "How did you do ensure that the acquisitions of Alamo and National would be cordial rather than hostile?"

You get the idea. In fact, I suggest to those who read this book for the first time that they begin each essay with two separate but related questions in mind: What were the difficult objectives to achieve? and How did you and your associates do it?

I presume to add that second question because, as indicated in one of Tom Davenport's recent books, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer "an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance": [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics]. That is, "the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control."

All of the CEOs who contributed essays to this volume would be the first to point out that, with all due respect to importance of makes especially difficult decisions, these decisions have little (if any) value unless and until effectively and productively implemented. That means but-in and commitment at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. For that reason, this volume could have just as easily be titled How We Did It.

Once again, I am reminded of 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."
4.0 out of 5 stars great experience learned!! 18 Sep 2014
By Wong Tian Yeong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good for learning all the rights and wrong in the competitive business world
Great book

High recommended for all business owners ... Thumbs up
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading 11 Sep 2014
By Giulio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting business reading to help you getting strategy insights from CEOs of different companies.
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