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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

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Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine
Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine
Price: £14.24

5.0 out of 5 stars How to lead a customer-driven business transformation by establishing value for the role of the chief customer officer, 24 Jun. 2015
This is a sequel to Chief Customer Officer, published in 2006. The material in that volume has been revised and updated to accommodate all that has happened...and not happened...since then but its core thesis is even more relevant now than it was then: world-class companies share five customer leadership core competencies. Here they are, in essence

o Treat customers as the most precious asset
o Focus on providing an experience that is most desirable to the customer
o Listen to customers to learn how to improve that experience
o Make customer experience development as important as product development
o Sustain proactive customer leadership at all levels and in all areas

I agree with Jeanne Bliss about the importance of these core competencies while presuming to point out that companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable with the greatest cap value in their industry. It would impossible to build a "customer-driven growth engine" unless and until everyone involved in customer relationships (directly or indirectly) is wholly committed. Years ago, when then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher, was asked to explain the spectacular success of Southwest Airlines, he explained, "We take great care of our people, they take great care of our customers, and our customers take great care of our shareholders." Kip Tindell (CEO of The Container Store) and John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) are among those who share that opinion.

As I worked my way through this book, I was again reminded of another. Jackie Huba and Ben MbcConnell wrote a book in which they explained how to create "customer evangelists." First, there must be "employee evangelists" and Bliss addresses that, notably with material provided on Pages 168-171 that includes a Code of Conduct to Employees. Leaders must inspire workers to become self-motivated customer leadership evangelists. One of the best ways is for leaders to serve as role models of customer leadership evangelism.

Bliss makes brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include a "Reading Road Map" for this book, mini-commentaries located throughout her narrative that focus on 33 customer leadership exemplars, "Action Lab" interactive exercises and assessments through each of nine chapters, checklists of key points, worksheets, and summaries that facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

Bliss provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel when explaining HOW TO:

o Define the Chief Customer Officer with clarity
o Unite leadership initiatives to ensure role adoption, community, ownership, and accountability
o Honor and manage customers as precious assets
o Align leadership with nature and extent of customer experience
o Build a "customer listening path"
o Establish and manage a revenue erosion early-warning system
o Sustain a shared commitment to customer-driven growth
o Design a five-competency "Maturity Map"
o Recruit, interview, and evaluate candidates for CCO position
o Then select the person best qualified
o Ensure the CCO's success with a full commitment of support from CEO and other C-level executives

As Jeanne Bliss explains, "My goal in writing this book was to establish clarity for what it takes to lead a customer-driven business transformation, and to establish value for the role of the chief customer officer." She succeeds. Indeed, much of the information. insights, and counsel that she provides (with appropriate modification) can be helpful to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Many (if not most) companies cannot afford a CCO but all businesses need everyone involved in the given enterprise to be customer-driven. Peter Drucker nailed it "If you don't have a customer, you don't have a business."

The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking
The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking
by Rowan Gibson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.30

5.0 out of 5 stars How to establish a culture within which everyone's abilities are free to enrich high-impact innovation throughout the enterprise, 16 Jun. 2015
First of all, I cannot recall a book that I enjoyed reading more while learning so much about cutting-edge thinking, seamless organization, rock-solid content, brilliant illustrations, and superior production values. I offer a hearty "Bravo!" to Rowan Gibson, of course, but also to those whom he acknowledges, notably Adriana Matallana, Gustavo Valentino, Peter Barratt-Jones and his team at Rethinking Group Design, and the publishing team at Wiley.

* * *

In this volume, Gibson provides a wealth of information, insights, and counsel in response to critically important questions such as these:

"How do innovators manage to spot the opportunities for industry revolutions that everyone else seems to miss?"

"What is it that enables them to imagine radically new or different ways of doing things that will fundamentally change customer expectations and behaviors, or break long-established industry paradigms, of shift the entire basis for competitive advantage?

" Where don they get the brilliant flashes of inspiration that lead them to their game-changing discoveries?"

To what does the book's title refer? According to Rowan Gibson, "If we could distill from our study of the Renaissance a key principle of creativity and innovation, it would be this: The breakthrough discoveries of that period [roughly 1300-1700] were made not because people were simply connecting and conversing with a rich network of contemporaries from different fields [although that certainly occurred], but because they were looking at the world from some refreshingly new and very particular angles of view."

More specifically, Challenging Orthodoxies (i.e. questioning deeply entrenched beliefs and assumptions, and exploring new and highly unconventional answers), Harnessing Trends (i.e. recognizing the future potential of emerging developments, and using these trends to open up new opportunities), Leveraging Resources (i.e. understanding our limitless capacity for redeploying skills and assets in new ways, combinations, or contexts), and Understanding Needs (i.e. paying attention to issues or frustrations that others have ignored, and experimenting with new solutions to problems).

"These four perceptual lenses were an important part of the recipe for Renaissance invention and innovation. And they can be an equally powerful formula for catalyzing the innovations of your own organization."

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

o The Mind of the Innovator (Pages 1-59)
o The Elusive Source of Creative Genius: European Renaissance (6-10, 12-14, 20-29, and 40-45)
o The Four Lenses of Innovation (40-45 and 54-57)
o The Power of Patterns (61-88)
o Resistance to Change (74-77)
o Challenging Orthodoxies (92-117)
o Meet the Challenges (102-104)
o On a Path of Disruption (105-110)
o Seeing the Future in the Present: Harnessing trends (118-151)
o Apple Store: "A global change bomb" (120-121 and 137-141)
o The race for tomorrow 122-125)
o Learning to ride the waves of change (126-136)
o Meet the trend surfers (130-133)
o Jeff Bezos (134-136)
o Steve Jobs: The man from the future (120-121 and 137-141)
o Fast Forward Companies (142-146)
o The next big thing for your business (147-149)
o Leveraging Resources from Others (152-177)
o Extending the boundaries of business (160-165)
o Understanding needs: Innovating from the customer backwards (178-201)
o How Big Ideas Are Built (202-235)
o The Archimedes Principle (204-207)
o Unpacking the Creative Process (224-229)
o What Exactly Is an Insight? (236-259)

I agree with Rowan Gibson: "Once we accept that creativity is not a birthright of exceptional people but a skill [or set of skills] that can be taught and acquired, we can begin to seriously tap into the latent innovation potential inside all of us and across our organizations." This is precisely what David and Tom Kelley had in mind when writing Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. "As brothers who have worked together for thirty years at the forefront of innovation, we have come to see this set of misconceptions as 'the creativity myth.' It is a myth that far too many people share. This book is about the opposite of that myth. It is about what we call 'creative confidence.' And at its foundation is the belief that we are [begin italics] all [end italics] 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."

To paraphrase Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can be or can't be innovative, you're probably right."

The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life (Columbia Business School Publishing)
The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life (Columbia Business School Publishing)
by William Duggan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "your first six senses tell us who you are. Your seventh sense tells who you can be., 16 Jun. 2015
Opinions are divided with regard to what is generally referred to as the "Aha!" moment -- referring to Eureka! ("I have found (it)") reputed to have been exclaimed by Archimedes -- when there is a breakthrough in understanding. Some believe that it is the latest step or stage in a scientific process whereas others see it as an isolated experience. In Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement, William Duggan observes, "Suddenly it hits you. It all comes together in your mind. You connect the dots. It can be one big 'Aha!' or a series of smaller ones that together show you the way ahead. The fog clears and you see what to do. It seems so obvious. A moment before you had no idea. Now you do."

This in essence is strategic intuition. It is very different from ordinary intuition such as vague hunches or gut instinct. "Ordinary intuition is a form of emotion: feeling, not thinking. Strategic intuition is the opposite: It's thinking, not feeling. A flash of insight cuts through the fog of your mind with a clear, shining thought. You might feel elated right after, but the thought itself is sharp in your mind. That's why it excites you: at last you see clearly what to do." Strategic intuition is also different from snap judgments (i.e. expert intuition such as Malcolm Gladwell discusses in his book, Blink), hence the importance of developing the discipline needed to recognize when a given situation is new. In that event, "disconnect the old dots, to let new ones connect on their own." It is this term, "discipline," that differentiates it from all other forms of intuition.

In his latest book, Duggan acknowledges the importance of this sixth sense but also notes that one's intuition only works "when you encounter something very similar to what you've seen before. If the situation is new, your sixth sense isn't enough...For a new situation, you need a new idea. And your sixth sense cannot give it to you. Your intuition gives you the same idea, again, faster and better with each repetition. For new situations, for new ideas, you need something else."

What would that be? The seventh sense because it is the mechanism of the human mind that produces new ideas. As Duggan explains, "It's the epiphany, the flash of insight, the Eureka moment -- in the form of an idea you never had before. And in its highest, rarest form, it's an idea that no one else had before either. The seventh sense is how new ideas are born. And not just new ideas, but useful ideas. Human achievement advances through flashes of insight that come from the seventh sense."

All that said, let's not ignore the importance of the sixth sense. It is absolutely essential, for example, to emergency room staff members because almost all of those entrusted to their care are strangers. Decisions must be made based on prior experience as well as training. The same is true of firefighters and countless others who much cope with immensely complicated situations, to be sure, but they are not unprecedented situations.

I am grateful to William Duggan for providing an abundance of information, insights, and counsel about the nature and power of the seventh sense. He includes dozens (hundreds?) of real-world illustrations of how flashes of insight -- in unfamiliar situations -- can reveal extraordinary ideas, ideas that would otherwise be inaccessible. He explains the science behind the sixth sense and how it differs from other human mental capabilities; he then provides practical tools and exercises that will help his reader discover and develop their own seventh sense. Ultimately and inevitably, the value of the material in this book will be determined by the extent to which a person can free their mind, formulate and execute a personal strategy map, and then focus on a question to be answered or a problem to be solved that is of greatest interest and potential importance. That will serve as a strategic objective that requires a process of networking to be achieved.

As I thought about all this while reading the book, I began to make all manner of correlations with some of the greatest breakthroughs in innovation throughout human history. Only a seventh sense could have suggested to Johannes Gutenberg, for example, that combining a wine press with separable type could somehow (perhaps) mass produce copies of a document such as the Bible. I am also reminded of another situation, centuries later, when Wilbur and Orville Wright recognized that "the difficulty was not to get into the air but to stay there." They built their first aircraft from split bamboo and paper. Kitty Hawk (North Carolina) had open space and an ample supply of a precious commodity: wind. The idea was to master gliding, after which Wilbur reckoned it would be easy to add a motor. "Maintaining equilibrium was the key--not much different than riding a bike."

Granted, few (if any) of those of us who read this book will experience such a flash of insight but we can indeed stimulate, nourish, and develop a seventh sense that, when needed most, will perhaps help us to recognize, to understand what we need to know when all of our other capabilities cannot.

Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (TED)
Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (TED)
by Margaret Heffernan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "paradox of organizational culture": it makes a big difference although comprised of small actions, habits, and choices., 13 Jun. 2015
I have read and reviewed all of Margaret Heffernan's previously published books and most of her articles in various prominent journals as well as interviewed her. In my opinion, she is among the most valuable business thinkers, presenting valuable insights with rigor and eloquence. Her latest book, Beyond Measure, offers an excellent case in point. It is a follow-up to her eponymous TED Talk and I urge everyone to watch that video at the TED websites as soon as they can.

Here's her thesis: "Institutional cultures are non-linear systems. Small changes -- listening, asking questions, sharing information -- alter beyond measure the ideas, insights, and connections those systems are capable of producing. Each of these small things generates responses that influence the system itself. And everyone, from CEO to the janitor, makes an impact."

Personal digression. Years ago, I was retained by a Fortune 50 company to help design an online "suggestion box" that would enable employees throughout the enterprise to suggest ways to reduce waste, improve a process. etc. A recent hire in the mail department at its headquarters made this suggestion: except when absolutely necessary, send all mail for next-business-day delivery only on Fridays. Did that "small change" have a "big impact"? Within the first few months, it began to save about $80,000 a month.

This is what Peter Sims affirms in his book, Little Bets, when recommending an experimental approach that involves a lot of little bets and certain creative methods to identify possibilities and build up to great outcomes eventually, after frequent failures. Constant experimentation ("learn by doing") is fundamental to this approach, as indicated, as are a playful, improvisational, and humorous environment; immersion in unfamiliar situations, localities, circumstances, etc.; definition of specific questions to answer, specific problems to solve, specific objectives to achieve, etc.; flexibility amidst ambiguity and uncertainty in combination with a willingness to accept reorientation; and, as indicated, constant iteration (reiteration?) to test, evaluate, refine, test again, etc. Those who are curious wish to understand what works. Experimental innovators have an insatiable curiosity to know what works (or doesn't), why it works (or doesn't), and how it can be improved.

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

o Introduction (Pages 1-5)
o Difference Makes a Difference (9-13)
o Crucial Differences (16-18)
o Making the Most of Mistakes (19-22)
o Teaching Empathy (25-26)
o Time Compounds Social Capital (31-34)
o Power Listening (35-38)
o Hours Up/Productivity Down (42-44)
o Quiet Time Together (46-50)
o Crunch -- Then Detox (51-56)
o Curiosity Smashes Silos (57-59)
o Divergent Thinking (63-70)
o Making Opposites Work (70-72)
o The Elevating Impact of High Expectation s (75-76)
o Leaders Believe (81-82)
o The Best Idea Leads (84-85)
o The Problem with Power (87-90)
o Epilogue (96-97)

I agree with Margaret Heffernan: "The aim of a human life is not one that is free of human flaws and friction but one that enriches, and is enriched by, others. Similarly, the3 goal of a great career or organization isn't the elimination of error but a relation ship with the world that is renewable because it grows as it gives. And for that you need all the small things that life has to offer: silence and noise, action and reflection, focus and exploration, time, respect, errors, inventions, humility, and pride in the human capacity to think again...So my one more simple thing is to ask: What small change made a big impact on your work? On your culture? Let your mind wander. You'll find it. Then share it.

One final point: I congratulate those involved with TED Books for this volume's superior design and production values, notably MGMT Design and the Simon & Schuster team. Bravo!

Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others
Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others
by Tacy M. Byham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.", 11 Jun. 2015
I agree with Jack Welch's insight that serves as the subject of this review. Throughout history, great leaders are those who seem to have a "green thumb" for "growing" others to become leaders. For decades, especially during Welch's tenure as chairman and CEO, GE was among the major corporations where executive search firms "hunted" for the best candidates ("heads") for senior-level executive positions. I thought about all this as I began to read Tacy Byham and Richard Wellins' book as well as another, The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader, co-authored by Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Rosen, and Robert Wiltbank.

The title of their book is a word that they chose very carefully to describe exemplary leaders. "Catalysts drive action. But there's more. In science the term catalyst refers specifically to an agent that is [begin italics] required [end italics] to activate a particular chemical reaction. In other words, chemical catalysts don't just make things happen; they make things happen that wouldn't happen at all without them. They accomplish this by reducing the barriers that would, under normal circumstances, prevent a reaction. That is exactly how the growth leaders - our corporate catalysts - overcame growth gridlock [i.e. an entrepreneurial initiative is neutralized by administrative skepticism] and the terror of the plug [i.e. an arbitrary, often unrealistic revenue target] in their organization."

This is essentially what Byham and Wellins had in mind when formulating their own concept of catalytic leadership, exemplified by someone "who ignites action in others. That ignition might jump-start a change in an inefficient process, spawn a new idea for a new product, or, most important, effect change in others." In their book, they identify and discuss the defining characteristics of a Catalyst Leader:

o Asks and listens
o Fosters innovation
0 Provides balanced feedback
o Builds trust
o Focuses on other people's potential
o Collaborates and networks
o Empowers others
o Encourages/nourishes personal growth and professional development
o Energizes and mobilizes both individuals and teams
o Gets action in proper alignment with strategy

Whatever their size and nature may be, Byham and Wellins are convinced -- and I agree -- that all organizations need such leaders at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise, and, that such leaders can be developed. How? They answer that question in their research-driven book. First, they present "a clear picture of what catalytic leadership is really about." Next, they introduce the concept of leadership brand, one that can cement their reader's standing as an effective leader. There are "clearly identifiable practices associated with your leadership brand that separate truly effective leaders from average to poor ones. Finally, they "share some secrets for making every interaction a successful one. As a leader, you have dozens of conversations [Doug Conant characterizes them as 'touch points'] with others every single day. Your ability to connect with them -- by making people feel valued, heard, motivated, trusted, and involved -- will go a long way toward making you a perfect leaders!" If not perfect, at least a significantly more effective one.

As indicated earlier, Byham and Wellins identify and discuss the defining characteristics of a Catalyst Leader. They also respond to questions such as these:

o What are the core concepts and values of Catalyst Leadership?
o What is the Leadership Brand? What is it not?
o How to bring out the best in you?
o How to bring out the best in others?
o Ho to make people feel heard, valued, and motivated?
o How to improve communication, cooperation, and collaboration between and among everyone involved in the given workplace?
o How to drive results with focus, measurement, and accountability?
o How to attract, develop, and retain the talent needed in given workplace?
o How to establish and then sustain w workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development thrive?
o How to provide as well as receive and then act upon the most helpful feedback?
o How best to measure both individual and organizational performance?
o How to improve the nature as well as the extent of both internal and external connectedness?
o How to avoid or eliminate what Jim O'Toole so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom" in the given workplace?

No brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the wealth of material that is provided in this book but I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it and its authors. Here are Tacy Byham and Richard Wellins' concluding thoughts: "When people ask you what you do for a living, tell them you're a leader. And mean it." Adding, "We believe that leadership is a craft that is perfected through the focused dedication of time, attention, and self-awareness -- not unlike a chef, artist, or surgeon. When you become a leader, whatever your level or industry, it becomes your profession. We believe that you have an obligation to invest the time and effort to become the best leader you can be." I presume to paraphrase an inquiry by Hillel the Elder (110 BC - 10 AD): "If not you, who? If not now, when?"

HBR's 10 Must Reads 2015: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review (with Bonus Mckinsey Award--Winning Article "the Focused Leader") (HBR's 10 Must Reads)
HBR's 10 Must Reads 2015: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review (with Bonus Mckinsey Award--Winning Article "the Focused Leader") (HBR's 10 Must Reads)
by Harvard Business Review
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here's an abundance of cutting-edge thinking to help business leaders solve today's critical challenges, 9 Jun. 2015
Harvard Business Review Press now publishes several series of anthologized articles that first appeared in HBR. One of them is the HBR's 10 Must series on which the focus is on a general subject such as Essentials (my personal favorite), Change Management, Collaboration, Communication, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership, a total of twelve thus far. To them we can add another focus: a calendar year. All but two of the articles in HBR's 10 Must Reads 2015 were published in 2014. Dan Goleman's "The Focused Leader," a bonus, and David A. Garvin's "How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management" were published in 2013. In December, HBRP will publish HBR's 10 Must Reads 2016: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review (with a bonus article, William Lazonick's McKinsey Award-Winning article, "Profits Without Prosperity").

As the HBR Editors explain, "Some management challenges never go away (the mysterious art of managing talented people is chief among them). Others are solved for one generation and then crop up years later in response to new market conditions. Still others really do get settled -- at least for one set of people in one place. Our hope is that the pieces in this volume -- the big themes they raise, the big ideas they put forward, and the practical guidance they detail -- will help business leaders solve today's critical challenges in their own jobs and organizations."

In this context, I am again reminded of an incident many years when one of Einstein's colleagues at Princeton gently chided him for asking the same questions on the final examinations each year. "Quite right. Each year, the answers are different."

Briefly, the material in this volume can help business leaders to:

o Lead by focusing their attention on the tasks, issues, questions, problems, etc. that are most important
o Identify, locate, and establish new (better) management practices that will strengthen the given organization
o Manage much more effectively one of any organization's most precious resources: time
o Evaluate and rethink vital functions such as HR and marketing
o Complete a transition from a yearly planning cycle to formulating a winning strategy
o Make better long-term organizational decisions with an eye to national and global economic trends

Several of the contributors to this volume have earned and deserve their prominence in thought leadership. Clay Christensen ("The Capitalist's Dilemma"), for example, as well as Goleman ("The Focused Leader"), W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne ("Blue Ocean Leadership"), and Roger Martin ("The Big Lie of Strategic Planning").

However, in my opinion, some of the most valuable material in this volume was contributed by several with whose work I was previously unfamiliar. For example, Julian Birkinshaw, Tarun Khanna, and Patty McCord. Here are three brief excerpts (i.e. samples) from their articles.

"By taking deliberate steps to understand other companies' innovations and how they relate to your own firm's ways of thinking and functioning, you better discern which experimental concepts are worth your while. With thoughtfulness and care, you can increase your chances of success when you borrow ideas and, in the process, acquire new knowledge that will improve your business in the long run." Julian Birkinshaw, "Beware of the Next Big Thing" (Pages 1-13)

Lessons to be learned from Birkinshaw: Channeling Marcus Aurelius, the best approach is to extract the essential principle from a management innovation -- its underlying logic -- by asking a series of questions about it such as "How is your organization significantly different from the source of the innovation?" Best practices seldom travel Well

"Understanding the limits of our knowledge, which is at the heart of contextual intelligence, is a very basic component of human comprehension. Yet it's also a profoundly difficult, complicated process that has vexed philosophers from Plato to Isaiah Berlin, who distinguished between [begin italics] knowing the facts [end italics] and [begin italics] making a judgment [end italics] in a widely read 1996 essay...We need to understand so many things better than we currently do [before entering a new market]: How do [consumers in that market] prioritize spending, given their extremely limited resources? What forms of communication will they respond to? How can they accumulate capital in the absence of collateral? The answers to these questions will differ from Mumbai to Nairobi and from Nairobi to Santiago." Tarun Khanna, "Contextual Intelligence" (59-75)

Lessons to be learned from Khanna: The first steps in adapting to unknown realities is to jettison assumptions about what will work and then experiment to find out what actually does work. Make certain everyone buys into the idea that whatever goes wrong is not a "failure" unless nothing of value is learned from it.

"Over the years we learned that if we asked people to rely on logic and common sense instead of on formal policies, most of the time we would get better results, and at lower cost. If you're careful to hire people who will put the company's interest first, who understand and support the desire for a high-performance workplace, 97% of your employees will do the right thing. Most companies spend endless time and money writing and enforcing HR policies to deal with problems that the other 3% might cause. Instead, we tried really hard to not hire those people, and we let them go if it turned out we'd make a hiring mistake." Patty McCord, "How Netflix Reinvented HR (77-88)

Lessons to be learned from McCord: Hire, reward, and tolerate only fully formed adults. Always tell the truth about performance. Make it crystal clear to managers that their top priority is building great teams. Spare no expense to accelerate personal growth and professional development. Don't expect excellence. Demand it.

It would be a fool's errand to attempt to apply most or even much of the insights and counsel provided in the eleven articles. All are thoughtful and thought-provoking, to be sure, but the potential value of each will depend almost entirely on two factors: its relevance to the given organization, and, how effectively the relevant material is applied. That said, here's my recommendation: Carefully read the "Editors' Note" and review the Contents. Then read (and re-read) the article that seems to grab you by the nose. Somewhere in this book is an insight -- if not in that nose-grabbing article, then in another -- that can help you and/or your organization to solve an especially serious problem or answer an especially important question. It's in there. Go find it!

Your Strategy Needs a Strategy
Your Strategy Needs a Strategy
by Reeves
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do." -- Michael Porter, 9 Jun. 2015
Porter's comment offers a valuable reminder, as does this one from Peter Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." The same is true of all other major business initiatives: to paraphrase an ancient proverb, "old wine in new bottles is still old wine." During an interview of Jon Katzenbach years ago, he confided that the most difficult challenge to change agents is to think differently about change. In another interview, Tom Kelley stressed the importance of thinking innovatively about innovation.

This is probably what Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, and Janmejava Sinha had in mind when observing that a leader "has a number of critical roles when matching strategic approaches to environments, keeping the resulting strategy collage dynamic, and catalyzing the execution of those approaches. From the CEOs we interviewed for this book, we heard that the toughest and most valuable challenge of all is managing the dynamic complexity inherent in large companies that requires multiple simultaneous or successive approaches to strategy."

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

o Five Strategy Environments (Pages 6-7)
o Five Strategy Archetypes (7-14)
o Mars, Inc.: Winning Classically (25-27)
o The Classical Approach to Strategy: Core Idea (27-30)
o When to Apply a Classical Approach (32-33)

o Positioning Play at Huawei (38-39)
o Planning and Challenge at Mahindra (41-44)
o Planning with Discipline at Mylan (44-45)

o The Classical Approach in Practice: Implementation (47-54)

o The Adaptive Approach to Strategy: The Core Idea (60-63)
o Managing a Portfolio of Experiments (72-76)

o The Adaptive Approach to Strategy: Implementation (76-85)

o The Visionary Approach to Strategy: The Core Idea (89-93)
o The Visionary Approach to Strategy: Strategizing (97-101)
o The Visionary Approach in Practice: Implementation (104-110)

o The Shaping Approach to Strategy: Core Idea, and, When to Apply a Shaping Approach (115-123)

o The Renewal Approach to Strategy: Core Idea (143-148)
o The Renewal Approach in Practice: Strategizing (150-158)
o The Renewal Approach in Practice: Implementation (159-164)

o Ambidexterity: Core Idea (175-178)
o Four Approaches to Ambidexterity: Which Fits Your Canvas? (178-184)

o Key Leadership Roles in a Complex and Dynamic World (197-199)
o Animating the Collage: The Eight Roles of Leaders (199-209)

Obviously, no brief commentary can do full justice to the wealth of information, insights, and counsel that Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, and Janmejava Sinha provide in this volume. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of the material, most of which (with appropriate modification) can be of incalculable value to leaders in almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

Strategies can be viewed as "hammers" that drive tactics or "nails." In today's global marketplace within which change occurs faster and in greater number than at any prior time that I recall, business leaders need more than a toolkit. They need a giant hardware store and the skills that tools require. Strategies must help organizations to achieve their objectives. First, however, business leaders must identify those objectives with care. When doing so, I presume to suggest that that they keep in mind the aforementioned observation by Peter Drucker : "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams
Price: £7.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why a small, informal discussion group is viewed today as "a major literary force, a movement of sorts", 8 Jun. 2015
Who were the "Inklings"? Briefly, the name refers to an informal discussion group that met weekly, founded by a student in University College at Oxford University, Edward Tangye Lean, in the early 1930s. Its purpose was to have compositions (i.e. works-in-progress) read and discussed. Membership consisted of students, teachers, and others with some manner of association with the University. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien joined, as did Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. Later, the group met in Lewis' quarters in Magdalen College. In this volume, Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski focus primarily on Lewis, Tolkien, Barfield, and Williams.

Moreover, "they also could be seen regularly on Tuesday mornings, gathered for food and conversation in a side nook of a smoky pub at 49 St. Giles', known to passersby as the Eagle and Child but to habitués as the Bird and Baby." They explain how and why, during several decades, these four and their associates discussed literature, religion, and ideas; read aloud from works-in-progress; took philosophical rambles throughout the woods and fields nearby; shared companionship and constructive criticism; and in process, rewrote the cultural history of their times.

When Warren Lewis, C.S. Lewis's brother, realized that the Inklings had "already passed into literary legend," he felt obliged to explain the group's nature: "Properly speaking it was neither a club nor a literary society, though it partook of the nature of both. There were no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections -- unless one counts it as a rule that we met in Jack [C.S. Lewis]'s rooms at Magdelan every Thursday evening after dinner...The ritual of an Inklings was unvarying. When half a dozen or so had arrived, tea would be produced, and then when pipes were well alight Jack would say, 'Well, has nobody got anything to read us?' Out would come a manuscript, and we would settle down to sit in judgment upon it -- real unbiased judgment, too, since we were no mutual admiration society; praise for good work was unstinted, but censure for bad work -- or even not-so-good work -- was often brutally frank."

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of the Zaleskis' coverage in the first ten chapters:

o "Friendship to the Nth Power" (Pages 26-28)
o The Pudaita Bird (36-38)
o The Banks of the Styx (43-49)
o Introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien (57-72 and 123-143)
o Introduction to C.S. Lewis (72-98 and 144-172)
o Introduction to Owen Barfield (99-122)
o The Evolution of Consciousness (105-107)
o The "Great War" (110-114)
o Opening a New World (124-129)
o Benedictus Qui Venit in Nomine Domini (137-143)
o Introduction to C.S. Lewis (72-98 and 144-172)
o Realism...And Idealism (156-162)
o Duties and Pleasures (167-172)
o "The Fire Was Bright and the Talk Good" (176-185)
o The Pilgrim's Regress (189-191)
o The Hobbit (202-209)
o The Extraordinary Ordinary (209-213)
o Introduction to Charles Williams (221-230)
o The Theology of Romance (232-233)

I was especially interested in what the Zaleskis have to say about the artistic maturation of several Inklings, notably Lewis, Tolkien, Barfield, and Williams. Fantasy was in the Oxford community's blood "and it is no wonder that the major Inklings experimented in so many fantastic subgenres (myth, science fiction, fable, epic fantasy, children's fantasy, supernatural thriller, and more). They chose to be fantasists for a variety of reasons - or, rather, fantasy seemed to choose them, each one falling in love with the genre in youth...For all the leading Inklings, however, the rapture of the unknown pointed also to something more profound; it was a numinous event, an imitation of a different, higher, purer world or state of being."

It should be added Lewis, Tolkien, Barfield, and Williams, especially, did not indulge fantasy independent of their ideas; rather, as David Cecil suggests, "it was fantasy [begin italics] about [end italics] their ideas. Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski concur: "The Inklings, then, constituted `Oxford's nearest recent approximation to a school'...a school of ideas expressed through adventurous but learned fantasy.' Whatever the Inklings may have been during their most clubbable years, today they constitute a major force, a movement of sorts. As symbol, inspiration, guide and rallying cry, the Inklings grow more influential each year."

God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican
God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican
by Gerald Posner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant analysis of "the inexorable quest for power that is tied to the pursuit of money" in the Roman Catholic Church, 6 Jun. 2015
According to Gerald Posner, he explains in this book "how for centuries the clerics in Rome, trusted with guarding the spiritual heritage of the Catholic faithful, have fought an internecine war over who controls the enormous profits and far-flung businesses of the world's biggest religion." This is a substantial volume, based on nine years of rigorous and extensive research: 513 pages of narrative plus 181 pages of "Selected Bibliography" and "Notes." One of Posner's major challenges was "to follow the money from the Borgias to Pope Francis, all the while prying into the institution that guards its secrets and keeps massive documentation sealed in self-described secret archives."

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

o Benito Mussolini (Pages 44-45, 52-61, and 7-71)
o The Vatican and the Nazi Party (62-68, 76-77, and 90-91)
o Pope Pius XI (66-76)
o Bernadino Nogara (120-129, 155-161, and 179-180)
o Pope Pius XII (148-163)
o Holocaust and Pope John XXIII (164-165)
o Second Vatican Council Called by Pope John XXIII (166-167 and 191-192)
o Paul Casimir Macinkus (189-193, 197-207, 238-241, and 330-337)
o Michele Sindona (194-197, 200-2002, 241-245, and 296-300)
o Roberto Calvi (195-197 and 286-291)
o Roberto Calvi's relationships with Vatican Bank (236-244, 365-372, 378-380, and 396-398)
o Pope John Paul I (258-274)
o Pope John Paul II (275-277 and 305-310)
o Vatican relations with Italy (345-349 and 352-358)
o Angelo Caloia (396-398 and 437-438)
o Pope Benedict XVI (417-425, 438-439, 450-465, and 491-495)
o Pope Francis (423-424. 498-499, and 500-501)

All human organizations are imperfect because all human being beings are imperfect and that is especially true of an organization as large as the Roman Catholic Church. I agree with Posner: "Only by examining [its] often contentious and uneasy history is it possible to expose the forces behind [Roberto] Calvi's death. Ultimately, Calvi's murder is a prequel to understanding the modern-day scandals from St. Peter's and full appreciating the challenges faced by Pope Francis in trying to reform an institution in which money has so often been at the center of its most notorious scandals."

While providing an abundance of information and insights, Gerald Posner "cuts through the masses of misinformation to present an unvarnished account of the quest for money and power in the Roman Catholic Church. No embellishment is needed. The real tale is shocking enough" and he has told it with precision, conviction, and eloquence. Bravo!

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-And the World
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-And the World
by Rachel Swaby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Helen Keller, 6 Jun. 2015
Do you already know that, during the last 100 years or so, many of the most important breakthroughs in science were achieved or led by women? Frankly, I did not until reading this book in which Rachel Swaby provides mini-profiles of 52 truly exceptional scientists in seven fields: medicine, biology and the environment, genetics and development, physics, Earth and stars, mathematics and technology, and invention. By the way, all of them are women. When examining the list, I did recognize the names of several, notably Jane Wright, Rachel Carson, Barbara McClintock, Irene Joliot-Curie, Sally Ride, Ada Lovelace, and Hedy Lamarr.

With regard to Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Kiesler in Vienna in 1914, she was among the most popular film stars in the 1930s through the 1950s but, as Swaby points out, she and George Antheil developed a frequency-hopping technology that was a much better way to guide torpedoes. "Lamarr's ideas paved the way for a myriad of technologies, including wireless cash registers, bar code readers, and home control systems, to name a few. While she had a long career as a celebrated actress, Lamarr finally got the full recognition she deserved when she was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award in 1997. Her response: 'It's about time.'" Of course, her contributions during World War Two were classified and her key insight was not revealed until 1976 -- "thirty-five years after Lamarr patented it."

Here's a representative selection, a "sampler," of biographical details among those of greatest interest to me:

o Charlotte Auerbach (1899-1994) realized that, to understand a gene, she needed to understand its mutation. "Just a few mustard-gas burns and some lab work later, and Auerbach was at the top of the field, the so-called mother of mutagenesis."

o Anne McLaren (1927-2007) not only proved in vitro fertilization was possible, "but years later, she was also responsible for safely and ethically guiding it into the world."

o Marguerite Perey was the first woman elected to the French Academy of Sciences (before Madame Curie) in recognition of her development of a new radioactive element, #87, that "filled an empty square in the periodic table's alkali metal group, and completed the table's spaces for naturally occurring elements."

o Chien-Shung Wu (1912-1997): When the results of her experiments in radioactivity to coax the K-meson into an observable state were announced, "an article in the New York Post gushed, 'This small modest woman was powerful enough to do what armies can never accomplish: she helped destroy a law of nature."

o Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron and received what was in her time a superb education. Her research notes helped Charles Babbage to develop his "Difference Engine" and then his "Analytical Engine," providing what amounts to programming code for two of the earliest computers.

o Stephanie Kwolek (1923-2014): Her preparation of the cold-spun threads (kevlar, developed in the DuPont labs) "launched a brand-new area of research around liquid crystalline polymers."

Throughout the history of science, most breakthroughs have been the result of cross-functional, often cross-generational collaboration. The 52 scientists on whom Swaby focuses would be among the first to acknowledge the value of what they learned from others as well as the value of what their associates contributed to the given process eventual success, to reveal, for example, the complex structures of biochemical substances (Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin) or to calm the temperament of the arc light (Hertha Ayrton).

Rachel Swaby urges her reader to learn about those whose research "jump-started the Environmental Protection Agency, who discovered the wrinkle-free cotton, and even those whose ingenious score has now saved generations of struggling newborns."

If you are a young woman who aspires to gain an education and then pursue a career in one of the STEM disciplines or is now embarked upon that journey, I urge you to read and then re-read this book and leave the final comment in this brief commentary to one of my personal heroines, Helen Keller: ""Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

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