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on 3 February 2001
This book is the best one I have read to date on helping a company accelerate its ability to move ahead of the competition by being better at sensing the environment and reacting to it. Those who are interested in checking their organizations for stalled thinking in this regard will find a useful list of areas to investigate and improve.
"Do more with less and do it faster." That's the mantra that the authors have investigated through their case histories of Charles Schwab, Clear Channel Communications, America On Line, H&M (clothing stores), Hotmail, Telepizza (European home delivery pizza chain), and Lend Lease (Australian company).
The book is organized into four sections: Fast thinking; fast decisions; get to market faster; and sustaining speed. Each one contains a number of key points, with subpoint details to further elaborate.
Here's how Fast Thinking is organized:
"Speed . . . without a destination in mind, is haste." The focus of this section is on creating improvements in your business model or new business models.
The key sections under the heading are to anticipate; spot trends; put ideas through a thorough testing process to probe for their downside weaknesses; and being sure that the best idea wins by changing the company environment. Each of these sections is illustrated with examples from the companies that were studied and more detail on the key elements.
In this example, you should see the potential weakness of the book. It correctly points you toward spotting trends, but cannot possibly teach you what you need to know in just a few pages. So you will want to expand on the points here by reading other books that deal with these areas in more depth. In essence, the book then is an outline of the business processes you need for innovation in business models, choosing the right ones, getting them implemented well, and staying agile.
The primary metaphor is to Wayne Gretzky, who was famous for his ability to anticipate where the puck would go next . . . and to aim for that spot. If you can determine what is "likely to occur in the next few months and the next few years [that] is enough to give you an edge . . . ."
While I have not studied all of these companies, what was said about the ones that I know well was certain accurate and full of insight. I assume the rest was done equally as well. Many of the conclusions are similar to my own work on irresistible forces.
Of the four sections, I thought that the first section on fast thinking had the most original material, and will be the most valuable for many companies. If you have problems with fast decisions and getting to market fast, you may find it hard to change very quickly. But if you are already in pretty good there, the first section can increase the flow of good new ideas for you to consider. Many CEOs tell me that this is a limitation for them.
I do have some concerns. If everyone organizes for speed, how sustainable will that be? Perhaps it would be better to organize to grasp advantages that then become unavailable to others.
Also, what is it going to be like to work for a company like this? What is your family life going to be like? For readers who are interested in these questions, I suggest you read Professor Robert Reich's new book, The Future of Success. It has many thought-provoking ideas on this subject.
After you have organized for maximum speed that makes sense for your business and the personal lives of those involved, I suggest that you consider how the experience can be made much less demanding on everyone. That's the area where the most innovation is needed.
May you make rapid progress towards worthwhile goals . . . and have time to smell the roses along the way!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 September 2005
This is the first of two books by Jennings which I have recently read. (The other is Less Is More.) It was written in collaboration with Laurence Haughton. The subtitle reveals their core assertion: "How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business." Correctly, they stress the importance of using speed to achieve and then sustain a decisive competitive advantage. They also realize that there are times for an organization to be a sprinter but other times to proceed as if in a marathon.
In the Prologue, Jennings and Haughton explain that they "began with a blank canvas. No points to prove, no axes to grind, and no one to impress. We truly wanted to figure this 'speed thing' out and boil it down into easy-to-replicate tactics." They developed criteria for selecting the fastest companies and then focused on them: Charles Schwab, Clear Channel Communications, AOL, H&M, Hotmail, Telepizza, and Lend Lease. The book presents a number of real-life lessons from these high-speed companies and their full-throttle executives. The authors also provide "time-proven instructions on becoming faster than anyone else."
The material is organized within four Parts: Fast Thinking, Fast Decisions, Get to Market Faster, and finally, Sustaining Speed. In their Epilogue, the authors observe that, early on in their research, they discovered that "truly fast companies that have demonstrated the ability to maintain momentum aren't naturally any faster than their slower-moving rivals. But they are smarter." What's the difference? The truly fast companies avoid, "blow up," or get past various "speed bumps," refusing to be delayed or prevented from getting to where they want to be.
As I read this book, I began to think of an organization as a vehicle. As such, what are its requirements? First, a specific and appropriate destination. Next, a capable driver. Then, a sufficiently powerful engine and enough fuel to keep it running. Also, a transmission with different gears (including reverse), shock absorbers, and brakes. Gauges keep the driver fully informed of available fuel, oil pressure, speed, time, etc. Jennings and Haughton discuss "speed bumps" and could have just easily included a discussion of terrain and weather. A number of organizations -- S&Ls 15-20 years ago and dot coms more recently -- have failed because they could not cope with "rough roads" and "foul weather." In several instances, imprudent speed was a factor in their demise. I want to stress this point because Jennings and Haughton do not glorify speed per se. In certain situations, however, speed is the determinant insofar as success and failure are concerned. Rapid response to customers' needs, for example, or to a new business opportunity. To extend the vehicle metaphor, executives also need a multi-gear "transmission" as well as an accelerator and brakes...and the skill to use each as well as the wisdom to know when.
Jennings and Haughton have a Snap! Crackle! and Pop! writing style which is eminently appropriate to the subject. They also have a delightful sense of humor which substantially increases the entertainment value of their work even as they focus on an especially serious subject: business competition in an age and at a time when it has never before been so intense and when prudent speed frequently determines the difference between organizational life or death. This is a brilliant achievement.
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Jennings' Less Is More as well as Curt Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina's Follow This
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This book is the best one I have read to date on helping a company accelerate its ability to move ahead of the competition by being better at sensing the environment and reacting to it. Those who are interested in checking their organizations for stalled thinking in this regard will find a useful list of areas to investigate and improve.
"Do more with less and do it faster." That's the mantra that the authors have investigated through their case histories of Charles Schwab, Clear Channel Communications, America On Line, H&M (clothing stores), Hotmail, Telepizza (European home delivery pizza chain), and Lend Lease (Australian company).
The book is organized into four sections: Fast thinking; fast decisions; get to market faster; and sustaining speed. Each one contains a number of key points, with subpoint details to further elaborate.
Here's how Fast Thinking is organized:
"Speed . . . without a destination in mind, is haste." The focus of this section is on creating improvements in your business model or new business models.
The key sections under the heading are to anticipate; spot trends; put ideas through a thorough testing process to probe for their downside weaknesses; and being sure that the best idea wins by changing the company environment. Each of these sections is illustrated with examples from the companies that were studied and more detail on the key elements.
In this example, you should see the potential weakness of the book. It correctly points you toward spotting trends, but cannot possibly teach you what you need to know in just a few pages. So you will want to expand on the points here by reading other books that deal with these areas in more depth. In essence, the book then is an outline of the business processes you need for innovation in business models, choosing the right ones, getting them implemented well, and staying agile.
The primary metaphor is to Wayne Gretzky, who was famous for his ability to anticipate where the puck would go next . . . and to aim for that spot. If you can determine what is what's likely to be ahead, that can be enough of an advantage to win over competitors.
While I have not studied all of these companies, what was said about the ones that I know well was certain accurate and full of insight. I assume the rest was done equally as well. Many of the conclusions are similar to my own work on irresistible forces.
Of the four sections, I thought that the first section on fast thinking had the most original material, and will be the most valuable for many companies. If you have problems with fast decisions and getting to market fast, you may find it hard to change very quickly. But if you are already in pretty good there, the first section can increase the flow of good new ideas for you to consider. Many CEOs tell me that this is a limitation for them.
I do have some concerns. If everyone organizes for speed, how sustainable will that be? Perhaps it would be better to organize to grasp advantages that then become unavailable to others.
Also, what is it going to be like to work for a company like this? What is your family life going to be like? For readers who are interested in these questions, I suggest you read Professor Robert Reich's new book, The Future of Success. It has many thought-provoking ideas on this subject.
After you have organized for maximum speed that makes sense for your business and the personal lives of those involved, I suggest that you consider how the experience can be made much less demanding on everyone. That's the area where the most innovation is needed.
May you make rapid progress towards worthwhile goals . . . and have time to smell the roses along the way!
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on 18 February 2016
Great read right here. Never stop learning. Added to my collection now!
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