Friday Book Review! Stretch by Scott Sonenshein

y648In 1985, the American beer market was dominated by three companies, Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Stroh’s. The third may elicit the response, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to them?”

What happened, according to Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein, is that Stroh’s was a “chaser.” As Sonenshein explains in a new book, Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined, a chaser is a person or company that is constantly chasing more and more resources. In the case of Stroh’s, chasing meant growing ever larger through serial acquisitions, until the company finally crumbled under its own weight.

The opposite of chasing is “stretching”: those who know how to do more with less. During the same period that Stroh’s was on its growth binge, a small company named Yuengling, which had a fraction of the resources that Stroh’s had, was using its limited resources to carefully and incrementally increase its capacity and its market reach. Eventually, the former beer giant Stroh’s would be liquidated, while Yuengling would become America’s largest domestically owned beer company.

According to Sonenshein, stretchers have a completely different mindset and different behaviors than chasers. Instead of constantly undervaluing or squandering their resources, stretchers recognize the value of what they have and act accordingly. For example, Sonenshein tells the story of a store manager stuck with a shipment of poorly made dresses that were not selling. Instead of putting them in the trash, the manager, Ethan Peters, cut off the straps and sold them as “beach cover-ups.” Click here to continue reading this review. 

Strategies to Combat Gender Bias

Image result for breaking through biasWomen continue to face unconscious biases in the workplace that undermine their success, according to Andrea Kramer and Alton Harris, authors of the new book Breaking Through Bias. Although written by long-time activists working to break down barriers to women in the workplace, Breaking Through Bias is not an indictment of gender discrimination but, rather, a straightforward guide on how women can achieve success in spite of the discrimination.

For Kramer and Harris, a husband-and-wife team of attorneys, the secret to overcoming the gender bias, deliberate or unconscious, that pervades today’s workplace is to develop an effective communication style through which women can display their competence and experience while neither encouraging nor buying into gender stereotypes. The authors call this attuned gender communication.

The general message of the book, however, is twofold. First, while women are not to blame for gender stereotypes, they sometimes undermine their own efforts to overcome such stereotypes. The second message is that many women do not even attempt to battle stereotypes; instead they buy into them.

For example, a study of men and women who had graduated from an elite international MBA program revealed that women were far less likely to apply for jobs in finance and consulting and far more likely to apply for general management jobs — no doubt because of the unconscious bias of the women that men are better at math or handling the pressure of consulting, while women are better at the soft skills needed to successfully manage people.

The focus of their book, however, is to help women who refuse to buy into the biases but understand that they have a responsibility to help themselves. The challenge of this “help yourself” message is illustrated in the story of a leader that Kramer was coaching remotely. Ellen was constantly passed over for promotions because, according to her superiors, she was a “sloppy thinker.” When Kramer finally met Ellen, she discovered a leader who dressed so casually “it was hard for me to tell if she was wearing her pajamas or a sweat suit.” At Kramer’s suggestions, Ellen started dressing “like a banker” and never heard the “sloppy thinker” comment again.

The story does not end there, however. Kramer recounted Ellen’s experience in a workshop and learned later that many of the women criticized Kramer’s actions. “These women said that I had advised Ellen to be inauthentic and to buy into traditional stereotypes,” Kramer writes. Although disappointed that she had failed to get her message across, Kramer was also sad. “I realized that the women who had criticized me were unlikely to get as far as they wanted to in their own careers if they really thought that a woman would lose her authenticity if she didn’t go to important meetings dressed in her pajamas,” she writes.

The fact of the matter is that impressions count, and indeed, the importance of managing impressions is one of the key lessons in the book. As the authors explain, “…..

Click here to read the rest of this review. You can also sign up for our Executive Book Alert newsletter to receive reviews like this every month!

Our Latest Summaries are Now Available

We’re finishing out 2015 with three great titles that demonstrate innovative business thinking it the areas of personal resilience, the collaborative economy and conversational intelligence.

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Peers Inc by Robin Chase

A co-founder of Zipcar, Robin Chase, introduces the collaborative economy in which companies and governments are using the Internet’s ability to facilitate collaboration by leveraging expertise, assets and resources outside their sphere of control. A revolutionary transformation is occurring between companies and people. The new paradigm is called Peers Inc.

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Stronger by Dennis K. McCormack, George S. Everly, Jr., Douglas A. Strouse
Personal resilience is the ability to bounce back in the wake of adversity. The authors share a set of five core factors that protect successful people against psychological distress and emotional injury. These factors that act like psychological body armor can actually help a person to grow stronger.
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Judith E. Glaser presents a framework for understanding how conversations trigger different parts of the brain. By deciphering the neuroscience, Glaser offers strategies for learning conversational intelligence and developing the conversation skills that propel individuals, teams and organizations toward success.

If you’re a Soundview subscriber, check out your new titles in your online library today. And if not, click on a title to purchase it; or perhaps now is the time to Subscribe and get these great titles and much more to strengthen your business skills.

Why Effective Leaders Use Stories To Train Others

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim.

Most leaders focus on data and factual information.  And accurate data is important for making good decisions.  But throughout history, communicating facts has not been the most utilized method for developing leadership qualities.  Stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression.

Let me show you the power of stories and the incredible staying power they have in our lives.

    • Do you remember the Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare?  Briefly, in your mind, outline the gist of the story.  What is the main principle this story communicates?
    • How about the Back to the Future series of movies where Alex (Michael Fox) and Professor Brown are constantly trying to correct changes that occurred in the “space – time continuum”?  What key life principle are these stories communicating (indirectly, but powerfully) to the viewer?2

Why Stories Are So Powerful

 *Stories involve different parts of our brain, which makes learning (and remembering) more effective.  Stories obviously involve words, but stories also bring up visual images and pictures in our mind.  Also, the most effective stories involve emotionally-charged situations: challenges, risks and adventure.

*Stories are non-threatening, which keep people from not putting up their defenses. Stories are usually framed in the context of someone else (either the storyteller themselves, or the fictional characters of the story).  Since the story is not about me and usually communicated in an informal style, then most listeners start out with an “open” mindset

 *We often identify with one or more of the characters and we can easily relate to their experiences and reactions.  We “see” ourselves in the story and actually vicariously see ourselves experiencing the same challenges and emotions the characters are feeling.

 *We see characters that represent people in our lives (which gives us insight to them and why we react to them the way we do.)  Some stories have characters with whom we don’t personally relate, but they remind us of others in our lives.  The characters’ reactions then provide us insights into why they do what they do, and show us the strengths associated with character qualities that we may find irritating.

 *We are able to learn from others’ experiences and can observe different options for handling challenging situations and people.  One of the core benefits of stories is that they allow us to learn from others vicariously, rather than having to experience difficult situations ourselves.  We also are given examples of different ways to handle situations (both positively and poorly.)

 *Stories are easier to remember and communicate to others than facts and principles. Because of their use of imagery, we are able to remember the general gist of a story more easily than remembering pure factual information.   Additionally, we can quickly communicate the main points of a story and the lesson it teaches.

Watch and observe effective leaders and influencers.  They often are excellent at communicating through stories.  Think about life experiences that have impacted you, and start to tell stories to teach important lessons to those you are leading.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

A Transformational Capability, Hidden in Plain Sight

This guest blog features Karl Danskin and Lenny Lind, authors of Virtuous Meetings.

Large group meetings aren’t what they used to be.  In the last 10 years, the most fundamental aspect of meetings has transformed: the role of the participant. A revolution in organizational capability and effectiveness has occurred, hidden in plain sight. What only became possible around 2005, will be commonplace in 2025.

Along with the internet and interactive websites and media and now “social media” came the ability and expectation of giving one’s feedback – having one’s say.  During the same time, internet input devices became ubiquitous. So reading and then writing in response to one’s world has become commonplace.

Within the context of meetings, especially large ones, smartphones and iPads have become commonplace too. Consider this situation: a large meeting, convened by an organization that has important designs and objectives for the participants. Each participant has a computer of some sort on their person (at least a smartphone).  Each participant is brimming with thoughts and feelings after hearing the CEO tell about the way forward … What would happen if you activated a wireless internet in that room, with some software that opened a screen on all those devices that asked, “What insights are you having?”  And then the CEO, and everyone in the room, could review and discuss those insights after they’d been themed quickly …

This situation describes a transformation – the shift from a meeting designed for mostly one-way communication, from the stage to the participants, to a meeting designed for frequent two-way communication, from the stage to the participants and back again to the stage … and then from the stage outward again, with thoughts about what the participants were saying.  Two-way.  Cycles of communication. Deep understanding.  Like dialogue, except now possible in large groups of hundreds or thousands.

Finally, because old habits die hard most large meetings are designed now just like they were 50 years ago – as one-way communication events.

Consider those possibilities in your own context, and bring those thoughts to this Soundview Live webinar: A New Model for Thinking About Large Meetings.  We will explore this capability and its profound impact on meeting outcomes.

For anyone who is remotely connected with organizational effectiveness and/or large meeting design and facilitation, this webinar should rock your world.  Organization leaders, welcome.

What Could You Learn From Our Latest Summaries?

Our September summaries are all about what is best for employees. Whether it’s corporate education, empowering employees through lean practices, or developing employee character, this set of summaries offers a wealth of information to strengthen your company.

 

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Learning to Succeed

Rethinking Corporate Education in a World of Unrelenting Change

by Jason Wingard
Corporate learning expert Jason Wingard proposes that to keep ahead of the competition, organizations should shift to embracing learning across the ranks and become dynamic learning organizations. With a dedication to learning initiatives, a company will be better equipped to make the decisions that will ensure its future.
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The Lean CEO

Leading the Way to World-Class Excellence

by Jacob Stoller
Many companies and CEOs are finding that to do more with less, that they can find solutions in Lean management techniques to deliver sustainable financial results, empower and motivate employees, break down internal silos and build solid partnerships with customers and suppliers. Journalist and facilitator Jacob Stoller explains the methodology by including in-depth interviews with CEOs who have established Lean as a corporate-wide management system.
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The Good Ones

Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees

by Bruce Weinstein
Ethics expert Bruce Weinstein presents 10 crucial qualities associated with high-character employees that can enhance employee satisfaction, client relationships and the bottom line. Character refers to the most important qualities that define a person’s identity and it is revealed not by words but by actions. The qualities are honesty, accountability, care, courage, fairness, gratitude, humility, loyalty, patience and presence.

If you’re a Soundview subscriber, check out your new titles in your online library today. And if not, click on a title to purchase it; or perhaps now is the time to Subscribe and get these great titles and much more to strengthen your leader skills.

The Principles of Decision-Making

Next week will be all about decision-making at Soundview Live. Our two speakers will be talking about very different issues within the decision-making process.

Mark Hefner – The Advantage Strategy Paradigm: July 28th

In this Soundview Live webinar Mark Hefner explains the principles that can guide all executives in the decisions and actions they take related to developing, planning, and executing strategy. Principles provide a broad context for strategic action and guidelines that can be communicated and taught at all levels of the organization, eventually becoming part of the organization’s culture.

Marlene Chism – How to Increase Leadership Effectiveness: July 30th

In this Soundview Live webinar Marlene Chism introduces just the model the corporate world needs in decision making. Using case studies, checklists, and examples from various levels of hierarchy in leadership and from a variety of industries, Chism introduces the mindset shifts and practical skills needed to develop enlightened leaders, whose decision making flows from a much more grounded and aligned place.

If you want to strengthen your decision-making skills, or would like to host a decision training time with your staff, then register for these two events over the lunch-hour.

As always, these webinar are free for subscribers. And if you’re not yet a subscriber, you can Subscribe to our Online Edition for what it would cost for just these two events, and receive our summaries and a year of weekly webinars.

 

How Technology Leaders Are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age

With the onslaught of cloud solutions, consumerization of technology and increasingly tech-savvy businesspeople, it’s time for a manifesto for leaders who recognize –– and are nervous about –– the demands of the digital age. Whether you’re an executive, department head or IT manager, The New IT provides an action-ready blueprint for building and strengthening the role of IT in your company –– and prescribing IT’s future.

By using field-tested techniques to align your IT department with your corporate objectives, you can leverage the power of technology across the entire company. The New IT provides a set of tactical and experience-based frameworks to help you and your colleagues conceive a new roadmap. You’ll learn how to bring your business and IT teams together in a way that is truly transformative. The new IT doesn’t just deploy technology. It balances strategy and delivery. It’s interactive and inclusive. It’s as omnipresent as the smartphone and just as revolutionary.

The New IT equips you with the tools you need to succeed in reframing the IT conversation and propelling your business forward.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

• To identify your current and future IT archetype.

• How and why you need to make your IT portfolio central.

• To reorganize IT into service lines.

• To build a stronger and enduring role for IT as a business partner.

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.

 

Soundview Summaries for July

 

This month we are covering three great new titles: Triggers, which is about personal success, and Design to Grow and The New IT, which are about corporate success.

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Triggers

Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be

by Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith shows how we can overcome the unappreciated triggers in our lives prompted by people and situations that lure us into behaving in a manner diametrically opposed to the colleague, partner, parent, or friend we imagine ourselves to be. Goldsmith details six engaging questions that can help us enact meaningful and lasting change in order to become the person we want to be.

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Design to Grow

How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale & Agility (and How You Can Too)

by David Butler & Linda Tischler

David Butler and Linda Tischler share the successes and failures of Coca-Cola as this large, global company learned to use design to create both scale and agility. Regardless of size or industry, the same approach, which is presented in a clear and actionable way, can be used successfully by other businesses.

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The New IT

How Technology Leaders Are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age

by Jill Dyché

Jill Dyché provides a new business model for building and strengthening the role of IT. By using field-tested techniques to align your IT department with your corporate objectives, you can leverage the power of technology across the entire company. The New IT reframes the IT conversation to bring your business and IT teams together in a truly transformative way.

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