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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without unorthodox thinking, there can be no cultural transformation
As I began to read this book, I recalled again the comments of Southwest Airlines' then chairman and CEO, Herb Keller, when asked to explain his company's competitive advantage: "Our people. We take good care of them, they take good care of our customers, and our customers take good care of our shareholders." Vineet Nayar's concept of Employers First, Customers Second...
Published on 21 Sept. 2010 by Robert Morris

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull
I was expecting to be wowed by this book but was not impressed. Was recommended to read this but found it dull and uninspiring
Published 17 months ago by Deb


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without unorthodox thinking, there can be no cultural transformation, 21 Sept. 2010
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
As I began to read this book, I recalled again the comments of Southwest Airlines' then chairman and CEO, Herb Keller, when asked to explain his company's competitive advantage: "Our people. We take good care of them, they take good care of our customers, and our customers take good care of our shareholders." Vineet Nayar's concept of Employers First, Customers Second (EFCS) could be misunderstood to mean that an organization's customers have secondary importance. In fact, as Nayar explains, customers are the ultimate beneficiaries of EFCS. Kelleher makes the same point in the remarks quoted earlier.

Here's the challenge for C-level leaders: How to establish and then sustain am employee-centric organization? Nayar write this book in response to that question but I think he has accomplished much more than he may have originally intended. With all due respect to the importance of crating what Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba characterize as "customer evangelists" in a book that bears that title, I think Nayar is advocating an even more important role for employees' relations with customers: as co-creators. He advocates "inverting the management pyramid," beginning with front-line employees, and fulfill aspiration needs, notably the need to give everyone a sense of purpose, to address the need for what Dave and Wendy Ulrich call "gthe why of work."

I agree with Nayar that customers should be among those who are centrally involved in an inside-out transformational process by which to adopt, implement, and then strengthen an organization, guided and informed by an open business model such as the one Henry Chesbrough describes: "A business model performs two important functions: it creates value and it captures a portion of that value. It creates value by defining a series of activities from raw materials through to the final consumer that will yield a new product or service with value being added throughout the various activities. The business model captures value by establishing a unique resource, asset, or position within that series of activities, where the firm enjoys a competitive advantage."

In this instance, Nayar insists, that advantage is provided by employees who are actively and productively engaged because (a) they feel that they and their efforts are appreciated, (b) they perceive their organization is committed to "trust, transparency, and management accountability" because there is an active and (yes) open "engagement platform" to expedite communication, cooperation, and collaboration, and finally (c) they are confident that they will play an active role throughout what is certain to be a long-0term process of cultural transformation.

Chesbrough could well have had Nayar's company, Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL), in mind when observing, "An open business model uses this new division of innovation labor - both in the creation of value and in the capture of a portion of that value. Open models create value by leveraging many more ideas, due to their inclusion of a variety of external concepts. Open models can also enable greater value capture, by using a key asset, resource, or position not only in the company's own business model but also in other companies businesses."

In the fifth and final chapter, Nayar caught me by surprise with the approach he takes. I expected the usual summary of "key takeaways," reassurances, caveats, call to action, etc. Instead, Nayar explains "what EFCS really is and what it isn't" as well as what it can and cannot do for the business leader who reads it, and what it can and cannot do for the reader's organization and associates. Why does he take this approach? Because he acknowledges that, perhaps, it is easier to misunderstand EFCS than it is to understand it. With surgical skill, he corrects five (presumably common) misunderstandings. By taking this approach, Vineet Nayar achieves two very important objectives: he clarifies whatever his reader may have misunderstood, and, he thereby strengthens the preparation of his reader to discuss EFCS with others.

Bravo!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a must for business leaders, 12 Jun. 2010
By 
A. Elfaki "Sagai" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
I have been in IT industry for reasonably long time. I never worked as a manager and I enjoy my technical role. Customers first was what we get used to. This book puts customers first in a very different and in my opinion the only right way. I ordered this book a couple of days ago and when I received it I wasn't able to put it down. Mr Vinnet style is direct and blunt and still beautiful and attractive. "Unless the company becomes obsessed with constant change for the better, gradual change for the worse usually goes unnoticed." is the core of the book. Focusing on how and not only on what gives business leaders a real life experience.
I like his classification of his employees to three groups:transformers, lost souls and fence sitters. This is true in any company I believe.
I recommend this great book for any one who is running his own business or leading or transforming a business.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exceptional case study, must read..., 20 Jun. 2010
By 
Ashutosh Jhureley "ashutosh jhureley" (Hemel Hempstead, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
Must read for leaders and managers, employers and employees.... exceptional case study about how simplicity can do magic....

The magic that Ford's "Assembly Line", Toyota's "Kanban", Dell's "Global Supply Chain" and Google's "Revenue Model" did to the manufacturing, supply chain and eCommerce, HCLT's "Employee First Customers Second" is going to do to service industry.

The book is first person narration of Vineet Nayar (CEO, HCL Technologies), through the transformation journey In HCL Technologies. Fast-paced, realistic, to the point, comprehensive, straight forward, solution oriented, bold but humble and stimulating.... may be provoking..

In the book, author narrates simple catalysts and tweaks that transformed HCL and those that are transforming HCL to be leader in IT. These can be applied to any enterprise or organisation, big or small, indeed already been or being applied in some shape or form - focus on value zone like Ford, Toyota, Dell and Google did in their businesses.

The journey is described in four stages, as mentioned in the book: looking in the mirror, creating trust through transparency, inverting the pyramid and transferring the responsibility for change to all.

Book is more like a travelogue, full of passion, excitement, celebration and achievement.

I couldn't stop reading, since I picked up and writing this review immediately completing amazing 185 pages.

-- ashutosh jhureley
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid how-to for companies looking to enable their front line employees deliver maximum value, 7 May 2013
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
Vineet Nayar has produced a summarized account of the turnaround he helped mastermind at HCLT, a leading Indian IT company in this book. While accounts of this sort often risk turning into an advertorial for the company or the CEO, in this case I would say the author managed to successfully thread the thin line and deliver content first, with the company itself remaining more in the background.

The premise - somewhat provocatively named 'employees first, customers second' - is that often most value in companies is generated at the bottom layers of the pyramid and that it is exactly those people there that should be empowered by management, so as to deliver the maximum value to the customer. In the end, as the author repeatedly mentions, this does not mean putting the customer second as such, it just means that priorities internally should lie with enabling the employees to be as effective at solving customer issues, as possible.

Specific issues tackled are the role of management, communication channels, reorganizing support functions, blue skies strategies, etc. If you have been working in a larger company in the recent years, you will definitely recognize some of the approaches - such as ticket systems for support functions (although if the companies I have worked with in the last years are indicative of the whole, this has been sadly successfully resisted by all but IT departments), various blogs and other social media like platforms enabling employees to confront top management with inadequacies they face in their daily work lives, etc. What I find refreshing is the introduction of those as a coherent whole, with clear objectives behind and a constant development. Not trying to claim this is not the case anywhere else but the author at least does an excellent job of demonstrating how to do it right (as opposed to just paying lip service to the new fad of the day).

If you are looking at the book from a 2013 perspective (the turnaround started in 2005), some of the things do not seem as new as they were when introduced (where many were much closer to, or at the leading edge). This should not deter you from reading the book, though - the explanations, the overarching plan and the consequent implementation is what matters and where the book delivers very well.

In the end you may forget the employees first, customers second catchphrase, or use your own. Still, the book is likely to garnish you with some solid concepts that will help you in improving the management of a medium sized or large enterprise. In spite of all the useful advice, success will probably still be highest, if you initiate such change from high enough up (like the author), otherwise many of the ideas will probably fail to penetrate the resistance of the status quo defenders.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Business Story (All Proceeds to Charity), 30 Oct. 2011
By 
Mr. William Oxley "oxenblocks" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
This is the simple story of how one man went about the challenging task of running a huge almost directionless global conglomerate into a cutting edge innovate group of companies across the globe all pulling in one winning direction. AND succeeding!
"
The title of the book was spot on. It had me hooked. Put your employees first goes ahead of the typical sales mantra that "the customer is always right" rather like the annoying financial mantra that a "sale is not a sale until the money is collected". Recently my own company has started to invest heavily in the more talented and hard working employees because that is where the future success of the company will come from. So what does Nayar add to this?

The Indian IT company HCLT was one that I had never heard of before, (I have heard of Tata), but do not let that put you off. For here is a company that goes on to disrupt the status quo in IT consultancy. How?

1. Mirror Mirror. Creating the Need for Change. Basically Point A is where the company now. Point B is where Nayar wanted to take the company. And to make the journey the company would have to change so radically because there was no easy steps moving between the 2 points. The radical change was within the concept of putting the employees first. Why - because they are right at the front face dealing with customers in the value zone. If they are not in it to win it, then the customers will get a poor service, and HCLT will not get repeat business.

2. Trust Through Transparency. Creating a Culture of Change. Why would anybody want to change when habits create a stress free environment, and change disrupts peoples' power bases, or creates more work? In all company's the most difficult change to push through is often the one form the top, as you have to push and push and keep on pushing. The longer lasting and more successfully integrated changes are usually the ones that originate or are championed from by the employees themselves. Nayar needed to put a lot of resources into his project (the U&I site) to make his thousands of employees understand that the new change is here and here to stay.

3. Inverting the Organisational Pyramid. Building a Structure for Change.

4. Recasting the Role of CEO. Transferring the Responsibility for Change.

5. Find Understanding in Misunderstanding. Renewing the Cycle of Change.

A really inspiring story of how to implement change in a huge organisation that not only benefits the many hard working employees, but then ultimately the customers, and the company. Great story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Open mind reading, 6 April 2014
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This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
Excellent publication as long as it's read with an open mind as it does make.
Recommended flex your board room colleagues
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4.0 out of 5 stars Indeed, exciting book !!, 12 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
I worked at company where all concept described in this book had been implemented (though, not fully and only 70% or so).

After reading this book, I realised how important is remaining 30% to achieve stated objective.

A must book for any one working in software industry..or big SI companies.

Though, it is bit repetitive as well in end...as there are 4-5 main ideas and then Author keeps on referring same.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Common sense - but surprisingly uncommonly done, 24 Oct. 2011
By 
Hugo Minney "hugie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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Nayar identifies the part of the organisation that creates value - the people who work for the customers. With the right support, these people can create much more value for customers, which means the customers will create the business success that the organisation wants.
This book is more than the exposition of a theory. Nayar became CEO of a $700million turnover 30,000 staff professional services company in 2005, and he describes the journey he and the company traveled, from a company that was being left behind, to a multi-billion turnover (Turnover for the most recent 3 months was $1billion) 80,000 staff company with 21% growth year on year.
This brave CEO rethinks the very basis of 19 and 20C business management. In a knowledge economy, knowledge is power, so each level of management jealously guards his or her knowledge because it appears to be the sole reason they hold that management position. What if you share your information with the front-line staff, the people who create value? What if the whole company, all of the support functions, the office of the chief executive, are dedicated to supporting the front line to produce the highest quality, best, and most effective experience for your customers? What if you (as Chief Executive) refuse to pretend that you have all the answers, and instead insist that people come up with the solutions themselves? Surely 80,000 heads are better than one? They know the customers better, they know the technology better, they know their own passions better.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Nayar has transformed HCL Technologies. The numbers speak for themselves (4X increase in turnover and 2.6X increase in employees in 5 years is impressive in anyone's book). But the reputation that HCL Technologies holds has also transformed, both as an employer and as a supplier.

This is a book everyone should read. It's relevant to industry, to commerce, to public sector, to charities and voluntary sector. Even if you don't do everything that Nayar suggests, you'll pick up ideas to focus on value creation. See also [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for managers, 18 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
A really good & simple read - the author (Vineet) makes innovative management easy to understand & appreciate, through casual storytelling & challenging the status quo to get proven company results. Something to keep in mind when I need to manage employees! Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful concepts but an easy read, 11 April 2011
By 
N. Bettes - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Hardcover)
This makes an enormous change sound deceptively easy. I'm sure most organisations would struggle to implement this approach. Still, it shows how powerful it can be to liberate and empower your staff and does give some excellent suggestions for getting started - if you have the courage.
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