Find New Approaches with These Summaries

This month, our book summaries are all about looking ahead and finding new approaches to doing business. Learn how to anticipate the future of your organization, prepare for change, and take a new approach to working with people. Each of these authors are on the cutting edge in their area of expertise.

Anticipate

 

 

 

Anticipate
by Rob-Jan de Jong

Business schools, leadership gurus and strategy guides agree — leaders must have a vision. But the sad truth is that most don’t…or at least not one that compels, inspires and energizes their people. How can something so essential be practiced so little in real life? Vision may sound like a rare quality, unattainable by all except a select few — but nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can expand their visionary capacity. You just need to learn how.

In Anticipate, strategy and leadership expert Rob-Jan de Jong explains that to develop vision you must sharpen two key skills. The first is the ability to see things early — spotting the first hints of change on the horizon. The second is the power to connect the dots — turning those clues into a gripping story about the future of your organization and industry. Packed with stories and practices, Anticipate provides proven techniques for looking ahead and exploring many plausible futures, including the author’s trademarked Future Priming process, which helps distinguish signal from noise.

You will discover how to tap into your imagination and open yourself to the unconventional, become better at seeing things early, frame the big-picture view that provides direction for the future, and communicate your vision in a way that engages others and provokes action. When you anticipate change before your competitors, you create enormous strategic advantage. That’s what visionaries do … and now so can you.

stackingthedeck

 

 

 

Stacking the Deck
by David S. Pottruck

Change is a constant, and leaders must do more than keep up — they must innovate and accelerate to succeed. Yet people are often unnerved by change. As a leader during a time of transformation, you may stand up before teams that are indifferent, or even hostile, and need to convince them that change is necessary and urgent. What does it take to be an effective change leader and increase the odds of success?

Stacking the Deck presents a nine-step course of action leaders can follow from the first realization that change is needed through all the steps of implementation, including assembling the right team of close advisors and getting the word out to the wider group. Based on Dave Pottruck’s experiences leading change as CEO of Charles Schwab and later as chairman of CorpU and HighTower Advisors, these steps provide a guide to ensure that your change initiative and your team have the best possible shot at success.

Leading an organization through major change — whether it’s the introduction of a new product, an expansion to a new territory or a difficult downsizing — is not for the faint of heart. While success is never guaranteed, the right leadership, process, and team make all the difference. For all leaders facing major change in their organizations, Stacking the Deck is an indispensable resource for putting the
odds in your favor.

giveandtake

 

 

 

Give and Take
by Adam Grant

For generations we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Give and Take illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership skills have in common.

Adam Grant examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder, while others sink to the bottom. In professional interactions, it turns out that most people operate as takers, matchers or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own groundbreaking studies, Grant reveals that these styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Praised by social scientists, business theorists and corporate leaders, Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary. This visionary approach to success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups but entire organizations and communities.

 

 

 

The Art of Social Media

HOW TO LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA

Perhaps in a few years, as the leadership of companies is taken over by a generation that grew up with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the myriad of other current and future social media channels, there may be less need for books such as Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users. Kawasaki, the former chief evangelist for Apple and author of the highly popular book on entrepreneurship, The Art of the Start, joins forces with co-author Peg Fitzpatrick, a social media strategist, to produce a short yet surprisingly exhaustive primer on the vast variety of tools and processes that individuals and companies can use to leverage their social media efforts.

Feeding the Content Monster

“The biggest daily challenge of social media is finding enough content to share,” Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick write. “We call this ‘feeding the Content Monster.’”

There are two ways to feed the content monster, according to the authors: content creation and content curation. Content creation is the traditional approach: writing copy, taking pictures and/or creating videos, and posting them. The problem is that such creation takes time, making it difficult to add more than two pieces of content per week to the page. Not enough, write the authors. The better approach, therefore, is content curation, which consists of finding high quality content from other people’s social media, then summarizing and sharing it on your page. The authors offer a list of 14 of their favorite curation and aggregation services that make it easy to find good content to curate. They do warn against too much straight sharing, which, they note, will “dull your personal voice and perspective.”

Moving from general to the specific, subsequent chapters range from how to perfect your posts, how to get more followers and how to respond to comments, to how to socialize events, how to run Google+ Hangouts on Air and how to rock a twitter chat.

One of the great strengths of this book is the succinctness of the advice offered. A chapter on “how to perfect your posts” exemplifies the authors’ cut-to-the-chase approach. One section, entitled “be visual,” argues that every single post should have a picture, graphic or video. You can be visual, the authors explain, by including a link to the original story or creating your own graphics, using a company called Canva. Taking a screenshot or “save as” picture from the source and adding it manually to your post is another option but could be legally tricky. The authors refer their readers to a University of Minnesota checklist to see if they are not breaking fair-use laws.

Opt for the E-Book Version

The Art of Social Media is available both as an e-book and in print. However, the University of Minnesota tip exemplifies the problem with the print book. There is no explanation of where to find the University of Minnesota checklist; instead, the words “the University of Minnesota provides a checklist” are underlined in the text, which signifies that it is a hyperlink in the e-book text. The book is crammed with such hyperlinks that will leave print readers frustrated, as these links substitute for examples.

The Art of Social Media is both comprehensive and succinct in its explanations of the myriad possibilities of social media. However, it is recommended to skip the print version and read the e-book.

Bringing Romance Back to Business

Yes, you read that title right!

To many of us this is a foreign concept. What do romance and business have to do with each other?

Tim Leberecht thinks they have a lot to do with each other, that romance is essential to a successful business. Leberecht states: “[Business] is an indispensable part of our lives, from the long hours we work to the products and services we buy—and yet business seems divorced from the full expression of our humanity. For many of us, something is missing, something both essential and immeasurable that lets us see the world with fresh eyes every day: romance.”

So first we should define this romance that Leberecht is talking about. In The Business Romantic, Leberecht reveals the power of business to elevate us above mere rationality and self-interest toward deep, passionate exchanges that honor our most complete selves. From strategy to the workplace, from product innovation to branding, customer relationships, and sales, Leberecht presents ten “Rules of Enchantment” that illustrate the value of choosing intimacy over transparency, mystery over clarity, devotion over data, vulnerability over control, delight over satisfaction, and love over liking.

The 10 Rules of Enchantment:
1. Find the Big in the Small
2. Be a Stranger
3. Give More Than You Take
4. Suffer (A Little)
5. Fake It
6. Keep the Mystique
7. Break Up
8. Sail the Ocean
9. Take the Long Way Home
10. Stan Alone, Stand By, Stand Still

If you would like to bring a little romance in to your business, then join us on March 19th to hear the full explanation of these rules of enchantment from Tim Leberecht himself at our Soundview Live webinar, Bringing Romance Back to Business.

Book Review: The Best Place to Work

TheBestPlaceToWork

by Ron Friedman

The world described in The Best Place to Work, by psychologist and consultant Ron Friedman, is the polar opposite of the world of Frederick Taylor, in which efficiency and productivity was based on economizing the movement of the worker; in today’s world, efficiency and productivity depend on maximizing the thinking of the worker. In the time of Taylor, employees and workers were nothing more than living machines; today, the key to a successful business is meeting the human needs of your people.

And this is why psychology has become a key component to creating the most efficient and productive workplace, Friedman writes. Building on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, covering areas such as motivation, creativity, innovation and management, Friedman lays out the sometimes surprising insights and solutions for motivating employees to achieve their best, enhancing creativity and collaboration, and attracting and retaining the best performers.

Friedman’s “menu of proven ingredients” is extensive and detailed — and although some discussions might be more or less relevant based on the specific organization, it is probable that every organization will find at least some takeaways from each chapter. Beyond the specific workplace and work-experience solutions contained in its chapters, The Best Place to Work provides three overarching lessons:

Psychological needs are at the heart of employee engagement. Employees need to experience autonomy, a sense of competence and “relatedness” — a connection with other employees — on a daily basis.

Organizations are more successful when they address the limits of the mind and body. Humans are not machines. There are a number of limitations, for example, the number of hours we can work at our highest productive level or the decline of problem-solving skills when we’re under stress. The best organizations recognize these limitations and, through innovative measures, give employees an opportunity to overcome them.

Integrating work and family life improves the quality of both. The idea that work and personal time are separate is a myth, according to Friedman. Instead of artificially separating the two, the best organizations find ways to “blend the two worlds.” “The future of great workplaces,” writes Friedman, “lies in helping employees fuse their personal and professional lives in ways that position them to deliver their best work.” The Best Place to Work should become one of the definitive books on creating the motivating and empowering workplace and work experience that are at the heart of any business success. Building on solid and extensive research, Friedman’s overarching themes and specific solutions and insights establish the context for all future efforts to motivate and engage employees and develop inspiring and persuasive leadership skills.

How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF BIG DATA

When used car dealer Les Kelley launched the Kelley Blue Book, his target customers were used car dealers (and insurance companies and banks that made car loans). Dealers could consult the book and, based on the information it contained, have an idea of what price tag to put on their merchandise. Today, the target customers for the Kelley Blue Book, now free online, are used car buyers who consult it to have an idea of what they should pay for the used car they are buying.

The customer flip for Kelley’s Blue Book exemplifies the switch in power in the purchasing process from seller to buyer. Buyers are no longer dependent on sellers to give them the information they need to make a purchasing decision. So in this new purchasing paradigm, are sellers completely powerless?

The answer is no, and the reason, in large part, is what is commonly known as “big data.” As explained in The Big Data-Driven Business by LinkedIn marketing executives Russell Glass and Sean Callahan, in today’s world, buyers don’t have to go to sellers in order to find the information they need to make the right decisions. Instead, they can use a variety of digital search channels to gather any information they need and then approach the sellers.

However, write Glass and Callahan, the same digital capability that allows buyers to take the initiative allows sellers to follow what the buyers are doing. They track the websites and pages within those sites that buyers or potential buyers are visiting. They also track purchasing trends, which merchandise is popular at a given time, which items lead to the purchase of other items and a whole host of other customer-related data — so much data, in fact, that we now refer to all of this information as “big data.”

Such extensive tracking takes some sophisticated software, of course. This software, write Glass and Callahan, is what is known as the “marketing stack.”

The marketing stack includes marketing automation software, business intelligence databases, CRM systems, content management systems (which allow marketers to take over updating digital marketing content with minimal IT involvement), blogging and data management platforms, analytics tools, social media management platforms, search engine platforms, and other systems and software that, in essence, enable marketers to manage the accumulation and analysis of big data.

Principles for the Data-Driven Company

It may seem, from the litany of technological systems just cited, that establishing a big data-driven company is complex and expensive. It can indeed be complex. The chief marketing officer and the chief information officer must work closely together if a company is going to have any success at using big data. Some companies have started hiring “chief marketing technologists” solely responsible for the technology side of marketing. The bottom line is that all marketing professionals today must be at least knowledgeable about the technological components of the marketing function.

Using big data does not have to be expensive, however. In one of the most insightful chapters, Glass and Callahan offer 11 principles for successfully making a business more data-driven. Among the principles are, determine what you want to know about your customers and prospects; start small; don’t bet everything on technology (figure out first what you need, not what technology you want to use); and hire the right people — forget the art schools, and think about Star Trek conventions instead.

Glass, who heads B2B marketing at LinkedIn, and Callahan, LinkedIn’s senior manager for content marketing, present a guide for marketers in companies of all sizes.