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This Brave New World: India, China and the United States
This Brave New World: India, China and the United States
by Anja Manuel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the United States, China, and India – indeed must – create a positive brave new world, 22 July 2016
As Anja Manuel explains, “The phrase ‘brave new world’ has famously been used twice. William Shakespeare coined the expression when his heroine Miranda paints a rosy picture of the future in The Tempest, a play that reacted to the discovery of the new world. Alloys Huxley later used the words ironically to describe the dystopian world in his novel Brave New World (1931), set in the year 2540.”

I often wonder what kind of a world my grandchildren and their children will have. That will probably depend on whether or not the United States will be able to accommodate the ambitions, insecurities, values, concerns, and other issues of greatest interest among the leaders in two new great powers, China and India.

Why did Manuel write this book? “If you want a glimpse into the future of the world economy, look no further than the corridors of power and boardrooms of China and India. They are the world’s most populous countries; and in a decade or so, they will be the world’s largest and third largest economies, have more than one billion Internet users, be consuming the most energy and resources, and creating the most pollution. Like it or not, they will have veto power over many [most?] international decisions.”

Manuel draws upon two decades of experience negotiating with Delhi and Beijing at the State Department, “traveling the backroads of each country, and now advising American businesses how to navigate their often opaque systems. I wrote this book to help explain what makes these two Asian giants ‘tick,’ and how we can work together for a future where we can all prosper, instead of working against each other and — in the worst case — slipping into a new cold war with China.” This book certainly provides more than a “glimpse” into the future, one that is certain to become even more ambiguous, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than it is today.

With meticulous care, Manuel creates a context and case for each of her recommendations. They include:

o Instead of viewing and interacting with China as an adversary, the U.S. should treat both China and India “with the same subtlety that Britain used for the upstart United States.” We need to coach them on how to become great powers. “To extend a world order based on American values, we must make a sustained, long-term effort to bring China and India along rather than alienating one or both.”

o As with the U.S. relationship with the U.K. throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, we must be in direct and frequent contact with China and India. When disagreements occur — and they will, especially with China — it cannot be “USA versus”; rather, for example, “we should press India, Japan, Australia, and European nations to also express their concerns about China land grabs and cyber-hacking.” It makes so much sense to treat both China and India as valued members of an exclusive club and then respond to unacceptable behavior as fellow members rather than as antagonists.

o We should also “keep encouraging both China and India to accept open investment and trade regimes. This is hard work…U.S. officials should encourage Delhi and Beijing to push economic reforms. This will help China stabilize its economy and help India to jump-start the growth it needs to benefit from the demographic dividend.”

o It would also make sense to encourage companies from all three countries — U.S., China, and India — to invest in each other. “This creates jobs that benefit all three, and produces a strong constituency in each country for good relations with the others. It may take a decade or more [if not a century or more], but this is the patient work that creates lasting partnerships.”

Manuel is convinced that the future is “ours to lose.” I agree, although I remain uncertain what specifically “winning” and “losing” could — and probably will — mean in the brave new world ahead. The current presidential campaign certainly suggests more questions than answers. I also wonder what roles Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan will play. Finally, what about terrorism?

Perhaps, just perhaps, if India, China, and the United States can create and then strengthen the partnership that Anja Manuel envisions, all the other issues will be addressed. Yes, “it may take a decade or more [if not a century or more], but this is the patient work” that can perhaps create such a lasting partnership.

What are the alternatives?


Great Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently
Great Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently
by Don Yaeger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

5.0 out of 5 stars “If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.” William L. McKnight (1924), 22 July 2016
However different great business teams and great sports teams may be in most other respects, all of them do have much in common. Don Yaeger asserts that each has a culture within which success is most likely to thrive. He identifiers and discusses four "essential pillars" that serve as the foundation of that culture:

1. Members feel connected to a higher purpose than competition. As Simon Sinek describes it, they understand the "Why" for their efforts.

2. In Yaeger''s words, members of the team "think creatively and act dynamically in order to stay fresh, effective, and relevant."

3. Moreover, each member of the team "brings a unique set of talents, experiences, perspectives, work ethic, personality traits, and know-how that melds with and complements those of the other team members."

4. Finally, "there is a strong sense of understanding, appreciation, shared responsibility, and trust that unites and motivates the team to work together."

Great business teams (e.g. Disney's animators in the late-1930s and Lockheed's "Skunk Works") have such a culture as do great sports teams (e.g. John Wooden's basketball teams at UCLA and Red Auerbach's Boston Celtics in the NBA). They also have great leadership, sufficient resources, and (for lack of a better term) good chemistry.

Yaeger makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices. They include these sections in Chapters 1-15:

o "Great Teams in Sports"
o "More from Great Teams in Sports"
o "And for the Truly Great Teams in Business"
o "Great Takeaways"

He includes an Appendix (Page 201-234) which consists of "Great Takeaways from Business and Sports Leaders."

Yaeger observes, '"According to the Harvard Business Review, A-caliber players are four times as productive than as average employees. There is a universal truth seen across all industries. Tech-giant Apple reports that A-level developers are nine times more productive than the average programmer. Top sales representatives deliver eight times more revenue than the average rep. In the operating room, high-performance transplant surgeons have a success rate six times higher than the average transplant surgeon. These individuals don't settle for less but consistently pursue greatness ' and an organization cannot be successful without them."

In The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen Covey points out, "'If you hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won't require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone else could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external."'

Now consider these words of caution from Warren Buffett: '"Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it's true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.'"

High-performance workers are attracted to high-performance organizations and make them even more productive. They also increase their appeal to other high-performance people who in turn....


Neuroscience for Leaders: A Brain Adaptive Leadership Approach
Neuroscience for Leaders: A Brain Adaptive Leadership Approach
by Dr Nikolaos Dimitriadis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "It is not the strongest of the species that survives [but rather] it is the one that is most adaptable." Charles Darwin, 22 July 2016
Mikolaos Dimitriadis and Alexandros Psychogios offer what they characterize as “a practical and holistic approach to understanding and implementing the leadership brain,” adding that they propose “the brain adaptive leadership (BAL) approach as a way of thinking, feeling, and acting within organized social entities. Brain adaptive leadership is an attitudinal approach that individuals can follow in their attempt to recalibrate their brains and mould their behaviour according to lead projects, processes and people.”

The BAL approach consists of three core elements: the brain, adaptation, and leadership. This approach has four pillars. “These are the four main groups of ideas, scientific insights and practical recommendations that we have gathered, organized and used as a comprehensive brain-based approach in our business, managerial, educational, and personal lives.” The first pillar reflects the cognitive function of the brain, the second reflects the emotional life of our brains, the third reflects the automated responses and protocols of our brains, and finally, the fourth and last pillar reflects the social aspect of our leadership lives.

I agree with Dimitriadis and Psychogios: "Today, modern leaders need all the help they can get, wherever this comes from.” Hence the timeless relevance and importance of Darwin’s observation. These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of their coverage:

o Pillar 1: Thinking (Pages 8-9, 15-74, and 76-77)
o Pillar 3: Brain automations (9-10 and 131-155)
o Pillar 4: Relations (10-11, 163-217, and 216-217
o Brain power (17-31)
o Cognitive bias in challenging situations (39-41)
o Performance focus (51-74)
o Creativity (62-66)
o Adaptability (70-73)
o Pillar 2: Emotions (79-124 and 127-128)
o Emotions: Role in business decision making (81-100)
o Richard Davidson and emotional styles (85-94)
o Emotional quotient (97-100)
o The Brain: Basic emotions (105-111)
o Power of unconscious mind (131-136)
o Priming the unconscious mind (136-143)
o Habits (143-158)
o Persuasion (192-213)

I commend Dimitriadis and Psychogios on their skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include recurring sections in chapters throughout the narrative: “Keep in mind while reading this book,” “References,” boxed mini-commentaries, “Action box,” Tables, “How tos,” “Summary of [X],” “Keep in mind while reading this book,” and “References.” These devices will help facilitate interaction with key material and expedite frequent review of it later.

Each day, I realize that the world today has become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember. Organizations have a greater need now than ever before to have effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Dimitriadis and Psychogios observe: “People, especially leaders, need to understand that they play a critical role in formulating the VUCA world around us. They are not passive actors. To do so, though, they need to develop new skills of adaptation.”

“Brain science brings a message of hope here. This hope is called [begin italics] neuroplasticity [end italics]. Our brain does not go unchanged during our life. On the contrary, it changes constantly, every single day. Neuroplasticity is the proven ability of the brain to change, be trained, adapt, grow new neural connections or degrade the existing ones.”

When sharing these thoughts, Mikolaos Dimitriadis and Alexandros Psychogios may have been channeling this insight by Alvin Toffler in his classic work, The Third Wave (1980): “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”


The Intelligent Conversationalist: 31 Cheat Sheets That Will Show You How to Talk to Anyone about Anything, Anytime
The Intelligent Conversationalist: 31 Cheat Sheets That Will Show You How to Talk to Anyone about Anything, Anytime
by Imogen Lloyd Webber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Need advice on how to strengthen your conversation skills and social presence? This is by far the best single source., 21 July 2016
Among Andrew Lloyd Webber’s countless claims to fame is the fact that he is the father of the author of this remarkably entertaining as well as highly informative book. Briefly, Imogen Lloyd Webber is a New York-based British author, broadcaster, PEOPLE Now's Royals Correspondent & Broadway.com’s Senior Editor. Educated at Cambridge University and a former MSNBC Contributor and Fox News regular, she has made hundreds of appearances on air talking everything from Hillary Clinton to HAMILTON.

Many people are reluctant to become engaged in conversation, especially with strangers, because — they plead — they have “nothing interesting to say.” That will emphatically not be true if and when they read the material that Webber provides.

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

o Cheat Sheets #1 and #2: Spelling and Grammar (Pages 13-20)
o Three Case Studies: Warren Buffett, Bernard Madoff, and Oprah Winfrey (61-67)
o Briefing Grid: Major Religions (74-83)
o Two Case Studies: Christianity...and Homosexuality, and, Religion...and Terrorism (94-98)
o Why Basic American Beginnings Matter (119-123)
o Briefing Grid: American Presidents (127-138)
o Talking Points: Classic lines to make you see wise (151-152)
o Red Flags: American Imperialism (152-154)
o Briefing Grid: Kings and Queens of England from 1066 (157-183)
o Cheat Sheet #17: Middle Eastern History (210-233)
o Three Case Studies: Republicans and Men, Democrats and Women, and Money and Power (255-260)
o Talking Points: Elections (268-271)
o Red Flags: Elections (271-273)
o Briefing Grid: Authors You Need to Know About (328-336)
o Briefing Grid: Artists You Need to Know About (338-347)
o Briefing Grid: Composers You Need to Know About (350-360)

Lloyd Webber makes brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include an Introduction to each of eight subject categories, followed by these sections: ”Wise Words,” “Argument/Crisp Fact/Pivot” format, “Background Briefing,” “Talking Points,” “Key Terms,” “Red Flags,” “Noteworthy Nugget,” and subject “Summaries.”

Regrettably, for whatever reasons, there is no Index. Perhaps if there is a second edition, one will be added. Meanwhile, the Table of Contents must suffice.

Here are a few representative quotations that Lloyd Webber includes:

o “I didn’t know he was dead. I thought he was British.” Woody Allen
o “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” John Kenneth Galbraith
o “There are no facts, only interpretations.” Friedrich Nietzsche
o “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.” Rebecca West
o “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.” Margaret Thatcher

Here are two examples of Lloyd Webber’s counsel:

o Argument: “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are Abrahamic. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikkism are Dharmic. It’s naive, but why can’t we all just get along? Really, why can’t we?” Use this when someone is focusing on the dissimilarities of people around the world and you feel the need to point out that we are all human beings — tragedy comes when we forget that.

Note: I presume to add an observation by Margaret Mead: "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

o Crisp Fact: “The last time the Republicans won a presidential election without a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket was 1928.” This is one of those mind-boggling, jaw-dropping truths that always adds spice to a political discussion.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the quality of information, insights, and counsel that Imogen Lloyd Webber provides but I do hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of her and of this book. For those in need of advice on how to strengthen their conversation skills and social presence, this really is — by far — the best-single source.


PeopleShock: The Path to Profits When Customers Rule
PeopleShock: The Path to Profits When Customers Rule
by Tema Frank
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £23.95

5.0 out of 5 stars The increasing value of the human element in a world that becomes more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous each day, 18 July 2016
In one of their books, Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell explain how to create what they characterize as “customer evangelists.” They recommend a number of cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective strategies by which to create what becomes, in effect, “a volunteer sales force.” This is what Tema Frank has in mind when introducing her concept of PeopleShock™, “the power of a people-focus in an era of increasing competition, social media missteps, an overwhelming pace of technological change, and pressures to replace workers with automation.”

She makes a strong case for her assertion that personal growth and professional development as well as organizational success are most likely to thrive in a workplace culture that is customer-centric. I agree with her advice to her reader: “ What all this boils down to is that using your systems, processes, and people interactions [both internally and externally] to create consistently great customer experiences, regardless of when and how your customers deal with you, is your best chance for long-term survival.”

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

o Customer characteristics (Pages 18-19 and 27-28)
o Human behavior: Shopping patterns (20-28)
o Competition (21-22, 49-50, and 194-196)
o Growth stages (29-30, 43-44, 166-117, and 190-192)
o 3P Profit Formula (35-39-56-58, and 294-298)
o Feedback from front-line staff (38-39, 121-123, and 204-207)
o Customer complaints (86-88, 158-159, 161-167, 203-204, and 249-255)
o Human resources (125-126 and 261-262)
o Potential customers (133-135 and 13-143)
o Change management (258-264)

Frank also includes several instructive micro-case studies

o Indigo Books & Music (70-72 and 151-153)
o Mount Engadine Lodge (83-86)
o Jancoa Janitorial Services (96-98)
o Lake Shore Cryotronics (117-120)
o Oxford Properties (127-129)
o Vitamart (156-158)
o “United Breaks Guitars” (162-164)
o BuildDirect (176-178 and 193-194)
o Beach resort (200-201 and 217-219)
o Corrosion and Abrasion Solutions (234-237)
o Softel (249-251

Many of those who read this book are now at work in companies that may claim to be “customer-centric” but, in fact, are not…or at least not to the extent its leaders claim. All of the information, insights, and counsel that Tema Frank provides can be of substantial benefit to any organization, whatever its size and in nature may be. What she calls PeopleShock™ can help any organization to survive, then become profitable, and over time sustain a high level of customer satisfaction if, (HUGE “if”) everyone involved collaborates on creating a great customer experience whenever there is an interaction. Here’s the formula: People = Promise + Process + Process. Easy to specify, yes, but immensely difficult for a workforce to embrace as a way of doing business. Mutual respect and trust are the “glue” in any culture of collaboration.

That reality prompts one final point I presume to share: Don’t expect to create any customer evangelists if you have few (if any) employee evangelists.


Building a Culture of Innovation: A Practical Framework for Placing Innovation at the Core of Your Business
Building a Culture of Innovation: A Practical Framework for Placing Innovation at the Core of Your Business
by Cris Beswick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.13

5.0 out of 5 stars The Easy Part: Defining an Innovation Workplace Culture, 12 July 2016
I just checked: Amazon US now offers 14,901 titles in its “innovation culture” category. Experts agree on the defining characteristics of a workplace culture within which innovation is most likely to thrive. The hard part, obviously, is creating and then sustaining one. Cris Beswick, Derek Bishop, and Jo Geraghty offer an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that can help business leaders achieve that objective. More specifically, they present and examine a “six-stage practical framework” that will enable those who read the book to define, develop, champion, and embed a culture of innovation thereby enabling them to discover and realize the true potential of their organization.

Here’s Beswick, Bishop, and Geraghty’s definition of innovation: “The successful implementation off something new or different that is affordable, accessible, adds value to the customer by solving a real problem and drive growth for the creator.” With regard to organizational culture, it is “essentially the collective beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviors and communication style of the people who work within an organization.” However different the companies annually ranked as being most innovative may be in most respects (e.g. Buzzfeed, Facebook, CVS Health, Uber, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Black Lives Matter, and Taco Bell) certainly exemplify both definitions. They also suggest an important business lesson to leaders in companies now attempting to build a culture of innovation: Each views what it is, what it does, and how it does it today as the greatest threat to what it wants to become and do better tomorrow.

This is what Marshall Goldsmith has in mind when suggesting in a recent book that “what got you here won’t get you there.” In fact, I presume to add, what got you here won’t even be good enough to keep you here, however “here” and “gather” are defined. So the need for a framework is obvious. The one that Beswick, Bishop, and Geraghty propose consists of these steps:

1. KICK OFF WITH THE “WHY": Understand where you are today and what the case for change is.
2. ASSEMBLE A TEAM: Build an innovation leadership team and internal change team.
3. AGREE ON THE DESIRED FUTURE: Design the future organization and culture around innovation.
4. ENGAGE IN CONVERSATION/COLLABORATION: Establish innovation and the required change as the foundation for communication and employee engagement.
5. CREATE A ROADMAP: Build innovation aptitude and develop a detailed design plan.
6. MAKE IT HAPPEN: Embed a culture of innovation and make it stick.

Beswick, Bishop, and Geraghty devote a separate chapter to each of these stages, with a focus on HOW. These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of their coverage:

o Adaptability (Pages 19-20)
o Case study: Identifying and overcoming barriers to innovation (27-30)
o Case study: The importance of the cultural assessment (47-49)
o Building leadership teams (69-72)
o Innovation (71-75)
o Accountability (86-87 and 102-103)
o Leading through change (89-91)
o Building innovation capabilities Case study: (106-108)
o Case study: Innovation collaboration (137-138)
o Communications (138-144)
o Case study: Launching innovation projects (146-147)
o Creating a compelling vision (153-157)
o Relationships (156-157 and 166-167)
o Case study: Harnessing people-powered innovation (167-169)
o Embedding change: Perspective (181-183)
o Inadequate culture change (183-187)
o Hiring for cultural fit (195-197)

No brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the quality of the information, insights, and counsel that are provided in this book but I hope that I have at least indicated why I think highly of it. As Cris Beswick, Derek Bishop, and Jo Geraghty make crystal clear, innovation really is more than a project or even an ongoing process; it is a way of life. The Japanese term for this mindset is “kaizen,” continuous improvement. The challenge is “make it better” at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.

The extent to which that challenge is embraced by an organization’s workforce will determine the extent to which that organization prevails in a global marketplace that becomes more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous each day.


Million Dollar Maverick: Forge Your Own Path to Think Differently, Act Decisively, and Succeed Quickly
Million Dollar Maverick: Forge Your Own Path to Think Differently, Act Decisively, and Succeed Quickly
by Alan Weiss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why “simply taking a contrarian or one-off view” – and acting on it – can be the secret to success, 11 July 2016
This is a sort-of memoir during which Alan Weiss reflects upon especially significant personal experiences throughout his 30-year career thus far. It is also one of those books that remind me that there are some people who are delightful companions during a 16-hour flight from JFK Airport to Hong Kong and others who are not. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Million Dollar Maverick and suspect others will not.

Weiss immediately establishes a cordial, almost collegial rapport with his reader. These are among the subjects about which he shares his thoughts and feelings, each having the same prefix, “How to”:

o Differentiate yourself by developing a contrarian mindset
o Lose the fear of failure (it really is a precious learning opportunity)
o Earn trust and respect that increase your influence
o Develop critical thinking skills
o Learn “the hard way” how to get serious
o Compartmentalize pain to avoid extended suffering
o Master the art of the setup
o Communicate with intent, purpose, and agility
o Attract people who attract other people
o Adopt a “mantra of “life, contribution, and success”

Weiss asserts: “It’s not the road most traveled or less traveled. It’s the road you create for yourself.” As I worked my way through his lively narrative, I was again reminded of several other insights expressed by contrarians. Here are five, all of which are relevant to Weiss’s assertion:

From Socrates: “If indeed I am the wisest man in the world, it is because all that I know is that I know nothing.”

Voltaire: “Cherish those those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Marshall Goldsmith: “What got you here won’t take you there” to which I presume to add “nor will it allow you to remain here, wherever and whatever 'here’ or ’there’ may be.”

Finally, from Ernest Becker in Denial of Death who acknowledges the inevitability of physical death but asserts that there is another form of death than CAN be denied: that which occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others’ expectations of us.

This last insight is precisely what Alan Weiss has in mind when referring to “the road you create for yourself.” However, he stresses the great importance of collaboration and teamwork in Chapters 9 and 10 as well as in the Epilogue when urging his reader to “Follow your own passion…surround yourself with liberal arts learning…read voraciously…engage in writing…and coach and teach others.”

Don’t follow his “path” or anyone else’s but you do need to have an ultimate destination in mind and it make sense to know where the land mines, quick sand, shark-filled waters are. I agree with Steven Wright: “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” Bon voyage!


Fix It: Getting Accountability Right
Fix It: Getting Accountability Right
by Roger Connors
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Channeling Hillel the Elder: “If not now, when? If not you, who?”, 11 July 2016
Organizations are human communities within which everyone involved must somehow balance personal obligations to themselves with obligations to others. For me, the interdependence of these obligations best illustrates the importance of “The Oz Principle”: According to Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman, “Accountability for results is at the very core of continuous improvement, innovation, customer satisfaction, team performance, talent development and corporate governance movements so popular today.” They go on to observe, “Interestingly, the essence of these programs boils down to getting people to rise above their circumstances and do whatever it takes (of course, within the bounds of ethical behavior) to get the results they want,” not only for themselves but also for everyone else involved in the given enterprise.

The primary purpose in their previous book, The Oz Principle, is “to help people become more accountable for their thoughts, feelings, actions, and results; and so that they can move their organizations to even greater heights. And, as they move along this always difficult and often frightening path, we hope that they, like Dorothy and her companions, discover that they really do possess the skills they need to do whatever their hearts desire.”

That is the same primary purpose in Fix It. Written with Hickman, Tracey Skousen, and Marcus Nicolls, this book is a sequel in which Connors and Smith develop in much greater depth their concept of establishing a Culture of Accountability in the workplace.

Imagine an organization whose operations have a Line. Above it, Four “Steps to Accountability” when there is a problem:

1. See It
2. Own It
3. Solve It
4. Do It.

Below the Line, a regressive “The Blame Game” process begins once the problem appears:

Ignore/Deny
Wait and See
“It’s Not My Job”
Confusion/ Tell Me What to Do
Cover Your Tail
Finger Pointing

“The more time you [and everyone else] spend Above the Line, the more effective you, your team, and your entire organization will be.”

Fix It presents the results of the previously unpublished “Workplace Accountability Study” conducted by Connors and Smith’s firm, Partners in Leadership. “With more than forty thousand respondents, the three-year study involved hundreds of organizations from a wide variety of industries and job titles.”

The results of that study offer additional evidence to explain why most of the companies annually ranked most highly admired and best to work for are also among ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in the industry segment. Of greater, more specific value to those who read this book are 240 solutions to the toughest business problems. Obviously, the nature and extent of any problem usually vary somewhat from one organization to another (e.g. attraction and retention of high-value) and therefore the nature and extent of the given solution will also vary. Hence the importance of the “Fix It Assessment.” It will guide and inform efforts to improve the mindset and the process to see a problem, own it, solve it, and then execute the solution (do it).

Some problems cannot be avoided but almost all problems can be fixed. That is true of human beings and it is also true of the organizations to which they belong. Years ago, my annual PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test indicated that I had prostate cancer. I took a second PSA test with identical results. After cryosurgery, PSA test results indicate no cancer. It is possible to develop analytics that measure the health of an organization in key areas. It is not only possible but indeed imperative to detect, diagnose, prescribe, and then eliminate the cause(s) — not merely the symptoms — to the problem ASAP. I agree with Roger Connors, Tom Smith, Craig Hickman, Tracey Skousen, and Marcus Nicolls that organizations must have everyone involved in that process, at all levels and in all areas. In Fix It, they thoroughly explain both HOW and WHY.


Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader
Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader
by James M. Kouzes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

5.0 out of 5 stars “The illiterate of the 21st century will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Alvin Toffler, 8 July 2016
I cannot recall a prior time when there was a greater need for exemplary leadership at all levels and in all areas of each human community, whatever its size and nature may be. In all fields: in the business world, of course, but also others such as government, education, the military services, not-for-profit organizations, the military services, the legal system, and law enforcement.

“Are leaders born or made?” My answer is yes. I’ve stopped counting the number of books co-authored by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner on the subject of leadership that I have read, reviewed, and then re-read. They have helped to develop hundreds of thousands of effective leaders.

In their latest collaboration, they identify a widely recognized but underserved need, then respond to it. They assert: “There’s a leadership shortage in the world. It’s not a shortage of potential talent. The people are out there. The eagerness is out there. The resources are out there. The capability is out there. The shortage is the result of three primary factors: demographic shifts, insufficient training and experiences, and the prevailing mindsets that discourage people from learning to learn.” This is the situation to which Toffler refers.

Worse yet, the global marketplace today is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than any prior time that I can remember. This is both a principal cause and a major result of the shortage to which Kouzes and Posner refer. “After more than 30 years of research, we know that [begin italics] you [end italics] are fully capable of leading. You may not realize it or fully believe it, but it’s true. It’s also true for 99.9999 percent of people in the world...The larger purpose of this book is to share with you what we’ve learned about how you can create the conditions, inside yourself and in the context in which you live and work, to become a much better leader than you are today.”

Those who read this book should expect to be challenged as well as enlightened. I urge them – I urge you – to embrace this challenge fully and eagerly. Keep Helen Keller’s brilliant insight in mind: “Life is either a great adventure or nothing." That’s a bit of an overstatement but essentially true. In fact, Kouzes and Posner focus on the five fundamentals of becoming an exemplary leader:

1. Believe you can.
2. Aspire to excellence.
3. Challenge yourself.
4. Engage support.
5. Practice deliberately.

They are separate but [begin italics] interdependent [end italics] fundamentals. You must be committed to all five. Without exception, the greatest teachers I was associated with in school, college, and graduate school were also great students. They exemplified commitment, discipline, self-sacrifice, and insatiable curiosity as well as a passionate delight in learning, in exploring, in challenging the status quo (especially their assumptions and premises), and became almost radioactive with excitement during class discussions. Whenever I watch one of the videos of Richard Feynman in a classroom or at a lectern in an auditorium, I immediately recall my own magical adventures in learning.

As in the forests of academe, great thought leaders in business are great teachers if (HUGE “if”) those with whom they are associated – directly or indirectly – absorb, digest, and then apply what can be learned from them. Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner, and their latest book offer an excellent case in point.

There is also a shortage of exemplary learners and they respond brilliantly and generously to that need.


The Art of Strategic Leadership: How Leaders at All Levels Prepare Themselves, Their Teams, and Organizations for the Future
The Art of Strategic Leadership: How Leaders at All Levels Prepare Themselves, Their Teams, and Organizations for the Future
by Steven J. Stowell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.90

5.0 out of 5 stars “The future is already here. – it’s just not evenly distributed.” William Gibson, 7 July 2016
In Strategy Is Everyone’s Job, Steven Stowell and Stephanie Mead explain how and why even a slight competitive advantage can be decisive for an organization…and a career. Long ago, I concluded that strategies are “hammers” that drive tactics (“nails”) for individuals, groups, and even entire organizations. Metaphors such as “hammers” and “nails” can be extended but only for a finite distance. In their latest collaboration, Stowell and Mead explain how and why effective leaders at all levels and in all areas of an enterprise “prepare themselves, their teams, and organizations for the future.” I happen to agree with Gibson that the future is here or, agreeing with Peter Drucker, that at least some of the future now en route can be created or at least managed to serve one’s purposes.

Whatever you may think about all this, Stowell and Mead provide an abundance of information, insights, and counsel embedded within a business narrative that anchors fictitious characters in real-world circumstances with which almost all readers can identify. Details of the narrative are best revealed in context. However, I feel comfortable divulging that the business issues are plausible, the story line is not overcooked by melodrama, and the resolution is plausible. Each of Chapters 2-13 begins with a segment of the story, followed by comments by Stowell and Mead that facilitate, indeed expedite their reader’s interaction with the material. The best works of non-fiction function both as window and as mirror. That is certainly true of this one.

The gambler that Kenny Rogers sings about was a strategic thinker: He knew when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, when to walk away, and when to run. Don Schlitz wrote the lyrics for that song and may have been channeling Art of War. How’s this for a paraphrasing of one of Sun Tzu’s key concepts? If every battle is won or lost before it is fought, why can’t the future be known before it arrives?

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

o Strategic leadership (Pages 1-10 and 165-180)

o Business plan (11-17)
o Qualities of Leadership (19-27)
o Team (29-35)
o Leaders on leadership (37-43)
o Ownership (45-61)
o Tenacity (63-78)
o Risk (79-97)
o Agility (99-115)
o Dashboard for awareness (126-128)
o Change (133-148)
o Vision (149-163)
o Focus: Four-phase framework (167-176)

With regard to the seven essential qualities of strategic leaders on which Stowell and Mead in their “business story,” here’s my take on them, listed in alpha order:

AGILITY: Capable of rapid response ion thought and deed in any direction, on a moment’s notice.
AWARENESS: What Ellen Langer means by “mindfulness”; sees or anticipates what others don’t.
DRIVES CHANGE: Focuses on getting results and will “make haste slowly,” if necessary, to achieve objectives.
OWNERSHIP: Assumes full personal accountability for consequences of actions (including decisions).
RISK: Respects dangers, understands potential consequences, is proactive and willing to take prudent risks.
TENACITY: Sharply focused, takes a pit bull approach to answering questions and solving problems.
VISION: Sees both the BIG picture and all the significant details; when planning, begins at the end.

Steven Stowell and Stephanie Mead wrote this book to help as many people as possible to become much more aware of a global marketplace that has become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember. To think strategically is to take what has already happened into full account, apply the most relevant lessons learned from past experience to the current situation, and — to the extent possible — identify the most likely contingencies and their degree of probability, then prepare accordingly.

In essence, that is what leadership is and does...and is needed at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.


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