The Story of the Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved a Beloved Business


In many ways, the story of Market Basket, a regional grocery chain in the northeast, is a familiar one: The heirs to a family business engage in a tug-of-war for control of the company. In this case, however, the community, including employees, managers and customers, responds with massive action in favor of one faction of the family over the other. They mobilize with protests, petitions (organizers of one last-minute petition hoped for a few hundred signatures; they received 40,000) and widespread boycotts by customers — not to hurt the company but to save it — making the battles of Market Basket unique in the annals of family-business history. As told engagingly in We Are Market Basket, written by marketing professor Daniel Korschun and newspaper reporter Grant Welker (who covered the contentious saga for the local Lowell Sun daily), the battle of Market Basket was not just a war between cousins but a fight between two opposing views of the purpose of business.

On one side is Arthur T. Demoulas, the son of Telemachus Demoulas, son of founders Athanasios and Efrosine Demoulas. On the other side is his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, son of George Demoulas, who is another son of the founders. At one point, brothers Telemachus and George ran the chain in harmony. There is no such harmony between their sons.

There are years of recriminations, lawsuits and board battles too complex to review here. However, for the authors, the core of the conflict is in two opposing business philosophies.

Serve the Stakeholders

For CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, the purpose of the company, write Korschun and Welker, was to serve the needs of the loyal low- to middle-income customers at the low-priced store. Following what is now known as a “stakeholder” view of business, Arthur T. ensured that the company fulfilled the needs and desires of its employees, served the communities in which its stores were located and even went the extra mile for its loyal vendors.

We Are Market Basket offers numerous stories of Arthur T.’s stakeholder philosophy. For example, Arthur T. not only empowered his employees but also took a personal interest in every employee: He once offered to pay to move a store director’s severely injured daughter to a better hospital. Instead of cutting off a vendor that had fallen on hard times, he helped the vendor restore his business.

The company also considers itself a corporate citizen and contributes millions to charities.

Or Serve the Shareholders

Arthur S. and his supporters, according to the authors, had a completely different view of the business: A company existed to make money for shareholders. Arthur S. disagreed with the large employee profit-sharing bonuses and other spending that didn’t benefit shareholders. When he gained control of the board, he and his supporters set out to fire Arthur T. and succeeded in June 2014.

The firing led to huge protests in the street, walkouts by employees and most managers and a wholesale boycott of the stores by customers — a revolt that grabbed the attention of the northeast media. In essence, all of the stakeholders that Arthur T. had supported for so many years united and shut down the company. The board finally relented; Arthur T. was restored.

Neither Arthur T. nor Arthur S. agreed to be interviewed for the book, but in some ways this only adds to the authenticity of the narrative. Many company books are written by the CEO, giving a perhaps overly simple and positive view of the company’s efforts. We Are Market Basket is written from the point of view of employees (known as “associates”), managers, vendors and customers. It is written by the “we” of the title and, for that reason, deserves to be carefully read by all managers who want to learn the secrets of a successful stakeholder strategy.

The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World

Today’s guest blogger is Brian Robertson, author of Holacracy and founder of HolacracyOne.

If you’re old enough to remember the days when most PCs ran MS-DOS, consider the leap in capabilities that came with a new operating system like Windows. Your computer’s operating system, invisible though it may be, radically shapes everything on top of it.  It determines how the overall system is structured, how different processes interact and cooperate, how power is distributed and allocated between applications, and so on.

Likewise, the social “operating system” underpinning an organization is easy to ignore, yet it’s the foundation on which we build our business processes and organizational cultures.  The traditional top-down, predict-and-control management hierarchy has been the standard organizational operating system for nearly a century.  Yet when we unconsciously accept the management hierarchy as our only choice for structuring and scaling companies, we lose the opportunity to innovate in this fundamental domain of company building.

Holacracy is a new “social technology” for governing and operating an organization, which replaces the traditional management hierarchy with peer-to-peer distributed processes for structuring an organization, defining roles and responsibilities, and coordinating across organizational functions.  Holacracy aims to improve organizational responsiveness by increasing the number and scope of decisions that can safely be made quickly and locally.  It gives staff more authority and autonomy to get work done and drive continual improvements to the organization’s policies and processes.  To avoid increased autonomy coming at the expense of coordination and scale, Holacracy also adds processes to align actions and update expectations and constraints dynamically, which everyone in the organization can take advantage of.  This results in a just-in-time, minimally sufficient organizational structure that stays nimble and lightweight, driven by on-the-ground experience from getting work done.

One way or another, whether it’s Holacracy or another approach, the management hierarchy is ripe for disruption. The environment around our companies has changed dramatically since its introduction, and our organizations face new challenges in today’s global fast-moving world. But those of us building companies today have other options, and regardless of what we choose, I think we’ll be better off by at least asking the question: what power structure is right for my company?

To learn more about Holacracy, join Soundview and Brian Robertson for our Soundview Live webinar: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World.


How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation


Why do some projects deliver under budget and ahead of schedule, while others cost more and take longer than expected? More important, which products work better: the quick and thrifty or the slow and expensive?

In a story-filled blend of quirky pop culture and practical engineering insight, Dan Ward’s F.I.R.E. answers those questions and more. Ward’s extensive research and firsthand experience show how the world’s top technologists consistently deliver best-in-class results on shoestring budgets and cannonball schedules, and using skeleton crews.

But this is not just a book about how to win. With unflinching candor, Ward shows how the FIRE method, even when followed wisely and well, can result in a flop. Taking a deep look at several negative outcomes, he shows how to make failures optimal rather than epic.

F.I.R.E. provides strategic concepts for leaders, decision-making principles for managers and practical tools for people working on anything from spacecraft and fighter jets to websites and children’s toys. Technology professionals and curious amateurs alike will come away with a deeper understanding of effective product design.


• Build strategies for speed.

• Streamline your designs.

• Design your products and processes with less cost.

• Unleash the power of small teams and short meetings.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.


The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design


A patient with kidney disease goes to his doctor with good news: He found a donor who would be willing to give up one of her kidneys. A series of tests, however, shows that the donor-recipient match is incompatible. This scenario occurred at Rhode Island hospital with two pairs of donors and recipients. Then the Rhode Island surgeons realized that the donor of one pair was compatible with the recipient of the other pair, and vice-versa. With the permission of both donors and both patients, the surgeons did a kidney “exchange.”

Those operations planted the seed of what would become the New England Program for Kidney Exchange (NEPKE), a “matching market” for kidneys based on algorithms developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Alvin E. Roth. (As opposed to commodity markets, matching markets allow buyers and/or sellers a choice in what they buy or whom they sell to.)

In his new book, Who Gets What — and Why, an engaging exploration of the different types and different roles of matching markets that underpin how our world operates, Roth devotes a full chapter to the creation and expansion of NEPKE — a market that does not involve money since the sale of kidneys is illegal and has been expanding thanks to the continued evolution of its rules.

Rules Are Necessary for Markets

Rules are at the heart of market design, the discipline for which Roth is perhaps the world’s most pre-eminent expert. Politicians talk of free markets as if no rules are necessary, as if self-interest and self-control will ensure the efficiency of markets. But as Roth shows through his many examples, rules are necessary because markets only work under the right conditions. For example, markets need to be thick — there must be a sufficient number of buyers and sellers all active at the same time for the market to work. The kidney exchange works because a sufficiently large database of donors and patients was created.

At the same time, markets cannot be too congested. Buyers need to be able to find what they want in the market in a timely manner. Travelers using Airbnb, which created a market of rooms in personal homes acting as hotel rooms, were hampered by the response time from hosts using personal computers. Smartphones (hosts no longer had to wait to check their computers at home at night) relieved the congestion. Markets also need to be safe: Both buyers and sellers must be assured that they will not be cheated. One of the challenges of Uber was convincing travelers that the car would show up and convincing Uber drivers that passengers would wait. Markets that are not thick, uncongested or safe will unravel and no longer fulfill their functions.

In Who Gets What — and Why, Roth’s clear jargon-free writing helps readers navigate the nuances and implications of market design. Roth’s wit and the variety of case studies he describes in detail also help. For example, Roth describes how the market for gastroenterology fellowships (the educational step after internal-medicine residency) “unraveled.” The section is titled, “Finding the Guts to Wait.”

Packed with fascinating stories, from the history behind the nickname Oklahoma Sooners to the role that repugnance plays in market design, Who Gets What –– and Why is at once supremely insightful and entertaining — a rare combination for an economics text.

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Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood

Our guest blogger is Jeff Cohen, author of The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments.

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments provides a practical, no-nonsense methodology for negotiating deals, managing your time and handling crisis, all at the highest level.

In a storied instance of professional redemption, I created The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments to overcome resistance and achieve my goals without losing my soul along the way. Although developed in Hollywood, the real world tactics, strategies and guiding principles are vital for any business environment.

Success is life on your own terms. The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments empowers you to successfully navigate and negotiate the terms of your life.


“Love is preserved by the link of obligation which…is broken at every opportunity for advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

Being feared is more useful and reliable than being loved.


“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Power not reason drives the outcome of a transaction.


“Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self-interest.” – Napoleon Bonaparte  

Parties are motivated by and can be predicted to behave in accordance with their perceived best self-interest.


“Things are entirely what they appear to be – and behind them…there is nothing.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

All manner of irrational and emotional impulses must be shaved away to objectively analyze the battlefield.


“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” – George Bernard Shaw

Combat is honor. Choose your enemies and battles wisely.  If combat is thrust upon you, choose to define your enemy and the conditions for victory.


“The man who can’t dance thinks the band is no good.” – Polish Proverb

Dealmaking is a dance whose basic steps are: offer, counter, close.  Conduct the tempo and tune to your advantage.


“Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.” – John Randolph

Time is the Dealmaker’s commodity. Set goals and create a time management system to maximize the impact of your labor and resources.


“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson

Train yourself to calmly and effectively handle emergencies.  Then, fix the problem, analyze the error and improve the algorithm.


“A.B.C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. Always be closing.” – Blake/Glengarry Glen Ross

Dealmakers make deals.  Know your role, get paid and remember your ABCs.  Always be closing.


“Whoever fights monsters should beware that he, himself, does not become a monster.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Don’t allow fighting monsters to make you a monster. Heed Nietzsche’s warning by internalizing the virtue of forbearance and finding shelter from the storm.

To hear more about Cohen’s controversial commandments, join us for our Soundview Live webinar: The Essential Tools for Business Negotiation.

Turning Uncertainty into Breakthrough Opportunities

attackersadvantageThe forces driving today’s world of structural change create sharp bends in the road that can lead to major explosions in your existing market space. But exponential change also offers exponential opportunities. How do you leverage change to go on the offense? The Attacker’s Advantage is the game plan for winning in an era of ambiguity, volatility and complexity, when every leader and every business is being challenged in new and unexpected ways.

Ram Charan, harnessing an unequalled depth and breadth of experience working with leaders and companies around the globe, provides tested, practical tools to help you:

• Build the perceptual acuity to see around corners and detect, ahead of others, those forces — especially people, who are the catalysts of change — that could radically reshape a company or industry.

• Commit to a new path forward despite the unknowns, positioning your business to make the next move ahead of competitors.

• Make your organization agile and steerable by aligning people, priorities, decision-making power, budgeting and capital allocation and key performance indicators to the new realities of the marketplace.

The Attacker’s Advantage provides a stark and simple challenge: Stay in a legacy world of incremental gains or defensiveness, or be an attacker by creating a new world, scaling it up quickly, ahead of the traditional players.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.


A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest


When a valued employee suddenly and unexpectedly gives his or her notice, managers and supervisors will want to know why. Often, they will seek the answer in the “exit interview,” the standard meeting between outgoing employees and their bosses. The concept of exit interviews raises an obvious question: Would it not be better to find out why valued employees may want to leave before they turn in their resignation letters?

Consultant Richard Finnegan agrees and offers a solution: the “stay” interview. In his book The Stay Interview: A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest, Finnegan lays out the process for regular face-to-face meetings during which managers can pre-emptively uncover problems and concerns and resolve them.

Questions and Probes

The goal of the stay interview, and one that differentiates it from performance reviews or personal-development meetings, is for the employee to set the agenda, not the manager. This does not mean that the manager should not prepare for the meeting. On the contrary, managers should prepare as much as possible, Finnegan writes. For example, he suggests that before the meeting managers prepare two lists: an “important to them” list and a “my beliefs” list. The “important to them” list is an effort to anticipate (and thus be prepared to respond to) all the issues and concerns that the employee might have. “Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that if something is important to you, then it must be important to everybody,” warns Finnegan. “Conducting effective stay interviews requires putting your needs on the sidelines and focusing entirely on those of your employees.” The “my beliefs” list must follow this rule. It is a list of solutions or suggestions that managers believe should be offered (if the employee does not ask for them first) because they believe the employee will benefit from them.

The next step is to prepare the questions for the interview that will, in essence, help the employee set the agenda — that is, keep the meeting focused on his or her needs and not the needs of the manager. Finnegan offers five key questions to use in the interviews:

When you come to work each day, what things do you look forward to?

What are you learning here?

Why do you stay here?

When was the last time you thought about leaving our team? What prompted it?

What can I do to make your experience at work better for you?

These questions are the opening to the conversations. Each question, Finnegan emphasizes, must be followed up with what he calls “probes”: questions designed to dig deep into the reasoning of the employee’s responses. Effective probing will reveal the core emotions, concerns or challenges at the heart of the first responses to the questions.

Four Essential Skills

Probing, according to Finnegan, is one of the four essential skills required to make stay interviews work. Listening and taking notes are also essential skills, but it may be the fourth skill that Finnegan highlights that may be the most challenging to managers: supporting the employee without throwing the company under the bus. It’s easy in such situations to commiserate with the employee about the unfairness of the situation. In the long run, however, an employee is not going to stay engaged in a company in which even middle managers agree that the executives don’t know what they’re doing. Managers, Finnegan writes, should respond by expressing to employees their trust in top management — a trust that must be sincere. If managers have their own doubts about the company, they are not in a good position to work with employees on engagement.

Finnegan’s comprehensive guide, which covers all the facets of stay interviews, including developing stay plans and avoiding interview traps, does not gloss over the challenge of keeping the best and brightest in the company. In The Stay Interview, he introduces a valuable employee engagement tool that is realistic and practical but requires a conscientious effort from both parties.

Customers Buy. Fans Buy In.

Our guest blogger is Lee Elias, co-author of Think Like A Fan.

What do you call the people that do business with you? Are they consumers, patrons, customers, etc? I have become fond of referring to these people as fans. In reality, anyone who does business with you, whether it is monetarily or through trade, is making an investment into your brand and company. The physical transaction between a person and business may make them a literal consumer, however the choice to put their trust and faith in what you are providing is what makes them a fan.

Fans come in many forms; casual, fair weather and die-hard. Simply taking money from these people is no longer the most effective business model. With today’s limitless connectivity and ability to communicate, cultivating relationships and making these fans feel like part of your organization can be infinitely more beneficial, both monetarily and mentally, than ever before.

In a time when challenging the status quo has become the status quo, consumers have placed a responsibility on all organizations to stand out in order to gain their loyalty, not just their money. In order to find continued success moving forward, organizational leaders will all need to gain an understanding of how digital technology is reshaping the consumption of media.  Our entire market is integrating deeper and deeper into wireless, mobile, and digital solutions that consumers crave. These innovations are a major opportunity for revenue and brand building if implemented and integrated correctly. Proper planning and preparation for a digital migration effort is essential, and business leaders will find they cannot sit back and “see how it plays out” for as long as they may have been used to with earlier, more traditional marketing methods.

Today’s connectivity has opened the door for organizations to touch an audience 24/7/365.  Fans are constantly calling for a better overall experience – how are you answering the call?

There are several opportunities to transform from “merchandise” people buy to a “mission” they believe in. For example, organizations can

– “Broadcast” uniformed information across multiple platforms

– Speak with their audience, not at their audience

– Enable current customers and followers to promote your brand

– Stay constantly visible to supporters in order to stay relevant

– Continually “tap” their audience to engage and incite interaction

– Understand how to respond to both positive and negative reviews

– Substantiate internal sales forces to increase creativity and productivity

– Establish trust and authenticity as a keystone of the brand

– Create a digital community in which followers want to visit

– Utilize social media platforms to their maximum potential

– Work with (not against) competitors to maximize profits

– Create a culture of confidence in their brand

There is no doubt that a digital migration is happening. The question most of the elite are looking to have answered is when to make the change…the answer is now, as in right now.

Join us on September 29th at 12 PM ET for our Soundview Live webinar titled “Think Like A Fan”.

The Subtle Science of Getting Your Way


How do you get people to see things your way? Whether you’re trying to secure a promotion, make a sale or rally support for a new idea, the ability to persuade those around you is absolutely essential to success.

Merging research and real-world application, Persuasion Equation is an insightful guide that reveals what really drives decisions, and introduces readers to the persuasion  equation –– a powerful combination of factors proven to speed agreement.

Readers will discover the surprising reasons that people say “yes” and learn how to radiate an aura of expertise; win trust and leverage credibility; build a business case that appeals to both heart and mind; adapt for personality differences; understand technology challenges and persuasion tactics; use language strategically; perfect the five-step persuasion process; generate group buy-in; and be sensitive to the crucial psychology of self-persuasion.

From crafting compelling emails, to convincing a colleague, to nailing the big presentation, Persuasion Equation is your personal recipe for success.


• The three persuasion precepts and how to set your persuasion priorities.

• Key heuristics and biases that influence your decision making.

• To build a convincing business case via quantitative and qualitative reasoning.

• To build credibility and use verbal and nonverbal “power language.”

• Why positive self-talk is key to your persuasive efforts.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

Balancing the Inverse Equation of Increasing Demands + Shrinking Resources


What consultant Jesse Sostrin calls “the manager’s dilemma” is easily explained and all too familiar to any manager: too much demand, not enough resources. Specifically, as Sostrin writes in his new book, The Manager’s Dilemma: Balancing the Inverse Equation of Increasing Demands and Shrinking Resources, “There is not — and never will be — enough time, energy, resources or focus to meet the demand.” As a result, managers and businesses are often toggling between a “performance zone,” where resources meet demands, and a “danger zone,” when resources and demands are out of balance, and one, Sostrin writes, becomes “defensive, disorganized, disrupted, disoriented and disengaged.” (Sostrin uses the evocative acronym TERF for time, energy, resources and focus.)

Before addressing the dilemma, you have to know that it exists, Sostrin writes. Many managers are unaware that they are in the dilemma. They say things such as, “With so many deadlines and demands, some priorities will have to be sacrificed,” or “It’s too crazy now; I’ll focus better once things settle down.”

Contradictory statements such as these — not addressing priorities only means that the deadlines and demands will continue, for example — are red flags that indicate the manager is entangled in the manager’s dilemma and doesn’t know it, writes Sostrin. “The first and best response to the manager’s dilemma,” he explains, “is to accept the situation for what it is and to focus all of your available TERF in a concentrated effort to balance the equation.”

Principles to Guide Managers

Balancing the equation is the first of the two big phases that managers must achieve to effectively emerge from the manager’s dilemma. Sostrin offers four principles, explored in detail in the book, that will guide managers in balancing the equation.

The first principle is to follow the contradiction. Contradictions, explains Sostrin, are subtle clues that tell the alert manager something is wrong. Rushing your work because you have no time to slow down, only to spend more time fixing the mistakes in the rushed work is a typical contradiction reflecting the manager’s dilemma.

Once alerted, the other three principles help you move out of the danger zone: Determine your line of sight; in other words, focus on the right priorities. Distinguish your contributions; that is, know your strongest value-added capabilities, and use those capabilities over others. And plug the leaks, i.e., the ongoing experiences that reduce performance by draining your TERF.

These four principles, writes Sostrin, “rebalance the inverse equation of shrinking resources and increasing demands” — but he believes managers can do better. In a section called “Flip the Scales,” Sostrin introduces an additional four principles that, he writes, will “render the dilemma’s effects irrelevant.”

The first principle is to create the conditions you need to achieve more value. A sample of such conditions, according to Sostrin, includes flexibility, openness to diverse ideas or a willingness to innovate even if it requires letting go of the past.

The second principle is to find the pocket of influence. The issue is timing — learning the optimal time to take the bold action required. Sostrin’s third principle is to convert your challenges to fuel — in other words, turn setbacks into opportunities for learning and performance. A tool called the navigation map makes this possible. Finally, Sostrin urges you to make your goals their priorities. This last principle entails building a mutual agenda with your team.

Scenarios, examples and tools in The Manager’s Dilemma support this solid eight-principle methodology for addressing one of the core barriers to management performance: too little resources for too many demands.