Friday Book Review! The Signals Are Talking by Amy Webb

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There is “no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” “The personal computer will fall flat on its face.” With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to smirk at these quotes from 1977. However, the person responsible for both quotes was not some anti-technology Luddite. Kenneth Olsen was the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, or DEC, and one of the first people to conceive and build a computer meant to be used by just one person.

Olsen turned that insight into a company that by the 1980s would reach $14 billion in sales and employ 120,000 people. However, as Amy Webb, of the Future Today Institute, documents in her brilliant book The Signals Are Talking, “Olsen was shackled by his immediate frame of reference … Outside his view of the present, there was a revolution underfoot.” This revolution included, according to Webb,

  • The establishment of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), a network of computers linking programmers in several universities, and the development of Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), which made it possible to remote-access the network.
  • The appearance of personal computer models built by Atari and Commodore and a small computer built in a garage by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.
  • Programming advances that led to games created by programmers for computers; computer-generated graphics; a digital bulletin-board system to post messages.

These quiet but eventually significant events are examples of what Webb calls “signals” that foretell the future but often go unnoticed because they are on the fringe. From Olsen’s “mainstream” perch at the head of a multibillion dollar company, he never saw these signals on the fringe that would cause his company to disappear by the end of the 1990s…(click here to continue reading)

Mastering Civility by Christine Porath

Image result for Mastering Civility by Christine Porath Incivility is silently chipping away at people, organizations and our economy. Slights, insensitivities and rude behaviors can cut deeply and hijack focus. Even if people want to perform well, they can’t. Ultimately incivility cuts the bottom line. In Mastering Civility, Christine Porath, the leading authority on workplace incivility, shows why it pays to be civil and how people can enhance their influence and effectiveness with civility. Combining scientific research with fascinating evidence from popular culture and fields such as neuroscience, medicine and psychology, Porath makes clear what’s really at stake regarding civility, helps individuals evaluate and improve their own behavior and provides valuable strategies for how leaders can find and keep employees who help to create civility in organizations. Mastering Civility provides managers and employers with a much-needed wake-up call, while also reminding them of what they can do right now to improve the quality of their workplaces.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• The physical, psychological and monetary costs of incivility for individuals and organizations.
• Why you can be civil and get ahead.
• To evaluate your own civility and concrete strategies to improve.
• A four-step plan for organizations to improve civility.
• How to respond if you are the target of incivility.

Friday Book Review! If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat! by Leonard Sherman

Speed Review: If You're in a Dogfight, Become a Cat!For many businesses, writes Columbia University professor Leonard Sherman, competition is a dogfight between rival firms viciously battling each other for market share. In his evocatively titled book, If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat!, Sherman argues that the most successful strategy is not to engage in the dogfight but to do something completely different — to become the metaphorical “cat” of his title.

Sherman, who has been a partner, managing partner and senior partner at blue-chip consultancies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, J.D. Power and Associates and Accenture, offers a specific prescription for becoming a cat. This prescription is based on three strategic imperatives that, he writes, drive sustained profitable growth.

The first strategic imperative is continuous innovation, which is not an imperative for its own sake but is required in order to deliver the second strategic imperative: meaningful differentiation that is recognized and valued by customers. Meaningful differentiation, in turn, is enabled by the third strategic imperative: business alignment. Business alignment, writes Sherman, is “where all corporate capabilities, resources, incentives, and business culture and processes are aligned to support a company’s strategic intent.”

The Australians Are Coming!

Welcome to the U.S. wine market in the year 2000. Not only is the market crowded, but breaking into the U.S. is even tougher because most Americans prefer beer to wine. Yet, somehow, a new wine from a small vineyard in southeastern Australia would become the top-selling imported wine in the U.S. within five years after introduction. The secret? Casella Family Brands, which made and sold the upstart wine, decided to act like a cat. (click here to continue reading)

Friday Book Review! Time, Talent, Energy by Michael C. Mankins & Eric Garton

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“Too many companies are living in yesterday’s world. They are seeking competitive advantage through traditional methods, and they aren’t finding it. And they are missing their main opportunity for boosting performance and outstripping competitors. Let us explain what we mean.”

With these opening words of their new book, Time, Talent, Energy, Bain consultants Michael Mankins and Eric Garton launch a combination manifesto and manual urging companies to stop focusing on acquiring and managing the principal scarce resource of the past — capital — and instead focus on acquiring and managing the scarce resources that truly make a competitive difference today: the time, talent and energy of your best people.

Confronting the Productivity Killer

Unlike capital, which is easier to locate and access than ever before, the authors’ research shows that the time, talent and energy of leaders and employees are becoming more and more scarce. To be successful, the authors write, companies must ensure that their employees are the most productive they can be — that is, that they use their time productively and that they pour their talent and their energy into their work.


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Most productivity books are focused on the individual. However, Mankins and Garton have a different message: “It’s not your employees’ fault that they are not as productive as they could or should be; it’s your organization’s fault.”

Most organizations are undermining their employees’ productivity with roadblocks and obstacles. The authors call these organizational obstacles “organizational drag.” “Organizational drag slows things down, decreasing output and raising costs,” they explain. “Organizational drag saps energy and drains the human spirit. Organizational drag interferes with the most capable executive’s and employee’s efforts, encouraging a ‘What’s the use?’ attitude… It’s time for companies to confront this productivity killer head on.”

The authors’ analysis of the time budgets of 17 large corporations indicates that time is still a scarce resource that is being squandered. Some of the culprits are well known, including a tidal wave of e-communications and meeting time that, according to the study, has skyrocketed. In addition, real collaboration is limited: most meetings, the authors write, are within departments, not between functions or business units.

Unfortunately, there are few controls and few consequences for time-wasting processes…(click here to continue reading)

A Guide to Strategic Cost Cutting, Restructuring and Renewal

Image result for fit for growth Vinay Couto, John Plansky & Deniz CaglarVery few organizations manage their expenses for sustainable success. And when the time inevitably comes to cut their costs, many companies cut in a way that makes them weaker, not stronger.

The experienced consultants with PwC’s Strategy& team reveal the hidden problems of conventional cost management –– and how your company can do better. Drawing on decades of research, observation and experience helping clients, these experts have developed a unique approach to help CEOs and senior executives cut costs constructively.

The Fit for Growth concept redirects an organization’s resources and investments toward its few differentiating capabilities –– the strengths that set it apart from competitors. When a company manages costs this way, it becomes fit for growth. Its cost structure, organization and culture are aligned with its strategy.

Total business transformation requires total buy-in, and it entails a series of decisions that must not be made lightly. Fit for Growth offers a definitive game plan to cut costs and grow stronger.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• The three essential actions for becoming Fit to Grow.
• Why growth requires cuts and how to achieve both.
• Smart levers to restructure costs.
• Strategies to help leaders, managers and employees embrace large-scale organizational transformation.

Friday Book Review: Getting to “Yes, And” by Bob Kulhan & Chuck Crisafulli

pid_25618In the early morning of May 2, 2011, a team of Navy SEALS invaded a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden. As author Bob Kulhan writes in his book, Getting to “Yes And”: The Art of Business Improv, “the mission had been meticulously planned: the SEALS trained for it over months and several contingency plans were developed and put into place.” Unfortunately, during the raid, one of the team’s helicopters crashed. In addition, “the SEALS discovered that the intelligence they’d based their plans on was not entirely accurate,” he writes. “There were a number of unknown variables (how many people they would encounter, the types of people, the weapons, the doors and hallways, etc.). So they had to improvise.”

The Osama Bin Laden raid may seem a surprising choice as the first case study to appear in a book written by a veteran stage performer and alumni of the famed improvisational troupe Second City. The story underscores, however, Kulhan’s point that the techniques of improvisation are valuable and important in any domain.

Much More Than Laughs

The building blocks of improvisation, Kulhan writes, are reacting, adapting and communicating — building blocks that are equally valuable in dealing with uncertainty or the unexpected. “Improvisation,” he explains, “is a key element of busy emergency rooms; it takes place on NBA basketball courts; it’s a part of the skill set for every policeman cruising the streets — all contexts in which comedy is certainly not intended to be part of the picture.”

As for business, Kulhan writes, “the same skills that make for exceptional comedic improvisation — intense listening, focus, energy, engagement, teamwork, authenticity, adaptability — are skills that any businessperson can use to make positive changes in the workplace.” Improvisation, Kulhan argues persuasively, is clearly not just “making stuff up” to be funny.

Getting to “Yes And” explores how to apply improvisational skills to the business arena. In detailed and grounded chapters, Kulhan shows how improvisation can be applied to personal development, communication, team building, leadership and changing a corporate culture.

The first step, however, is to understand…(click here to continue reading)

How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas and Other Difficult People

ihwx.fc9b05df-dddb-4c29-a399-330c78377c64.200.175The control-freak, the narcissist, the slacker, the cynic… Difficult people are the worst part of a manager’s job. Whether it comes from direct reports or people above, outbursts, irrational demands, griping and other disruptions need to be dealt with –– and it’s your responsibility to do it. Leading the Unleadable turns this dreaded chore into a straightforward process that gently yet effectively improves behaviors. Written by an insider in the tech industry, where personality issues routinely wreck projects, Alan Willett reveals a core truth: Most people actually want to contribute results, not cause headaches. Once you realize the potential for change, the Willett’s simple steps and examples explain how to right even the most hopeless situations. You’ll learn how to master the necessary mindset; explain the problem calmly in a short feedback session; get a commitment to change and follow up; coach others to replicate the process; and develop the situational awareness required to spot trouble even earlier in the future. Every manager has “problem people.” What sets great managers apart is how they turn them into productive team players. Prepare to transform the troublesome into the tremendous.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• What it means to accept the call of exceptional leadership.
• How to take action and follow through with troublesome employees.
• Key criteria for deciding whether to remove or improve an employee.
• How to prevent problems by setting the bar high.

How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution

SpeedSpeed
by John H. Zenger and Joseph R. Folkman

During the last few decades, speed has increased dramatically in daily business activity. Speed in business is partly a reflection of the increase in speed in every area of modern life. In order to stay competitive and profitable, companies must improve the speed at which they operate and make crucial decisions. Today, competition is fiercer than ever as companies all over the world vie to be the first to market new products and services. The first-to-market advantage nearly always results in a dominant share of that market. But, can an organization move quickly if its leaders and professionals move slowly? Drawn from extensive data and field research, Speed reveals eight essential behaviors that anyone can adopt to improve speed and drive organizational effectiveness.

Leadership experts Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman share valuable insights gleaned from one million 360-degree feedback assessments of more than 75,000 leaders. Repeatedly, speed was shown to be a powerful predictor of a leader’s effectiveness. As the authors demonstrate, speed is produced not by frantic activity but by skillful execution of several key behaviors. Step by step, they show how to increase your own speed, anticipate trends and be more productive. Speed gives you a much-needed competitive advantage in business and in life.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• How to overcome “speed bumps,” challenges and obstacles.
• Tactics and strategies for speeding up critical elements of your day.
• Quicker, more effective communication.
• Behaviors that increase speed and spark innovation in yourself and others

Don’t Miss our Next Webinar: Embrace Clarity to Reach Your Full Potential

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Date: Thursday, April 6th
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Speaker: Dr. Brit Poulson

Click here to register for free!

Would you rather be right or effective?

We all see the world through “reality maps” we’ve made about life. But the truth is, these maps are highly subjective and full of blind spots that lead to ineffective choices, toxic patterns, and miscommunication that holds us back from having stronger relationships, getting better results, and realizing our full potential.

In this Soundview Live webinar, Embrace Clarity to Reach Your Full Potential, Dr. Brit Poulson, shares the cognitive framework that he has developed over 30 years as a leadership coach. This presentation will help you pinpoint your blind spots, move through them, and broaden your perspective so you can be freer, happier, and more effective.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Have confidence in your own decisions
  • Build stronger team relationships
  • Broaden your perspective and invite new possibilities
  • Develop strategies on how to navigate complex situations and personal conflicts

Friday Speed Review! Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers

Speed Review: Tools of TitansChampion snowboarder Shaun White reveals that he always approaches major competitions with both serious goals (win the Vancouver Olympics) and silly goals (wear stars-and-stripes pants on the cover of Rolling Stone). “It takes a lot of pressure off,” he tells podcaster and author Tim Ferriss. “Winning the Olympics is a very big goal, it’s a very stressful goal to have. So it’s nice to have something else to offset it. Everything was so serious at the time, and that was just my way of dealing with it.”

Conversations and Facts

White’s unexpected but effective method for dealing with intense pressure is one example of the many gems found in Ferriss’ latest book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers. This 670-page collection of notes offers lessons, snippets of conversations and surprising facts from more than 100 of his podcast guests. There is, for example, this quote from Peter Diamandis, the engineer and entrepreneur who founded the $10 million XPRIZE for private space travel. “I talk to CEOs all the time, and I say, ‘Listen, the day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea. If it wasn’t a crazy idea, it’s not a breakthrough; it’s an incremental improvement. ’”

White and Diamandis exemplify the astounding diversity of the highly successful people in the book, ranging from famous CEOs and company founders to athletes and coaches to business writers, cartoonists, generals, professors and actors. Tools of Titans is divided into three parts that reflect Benjamin Franklin’s three measures of success: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. Ferriss notes in his introduction that “Wealthy” includes not only money but also an “abundance in time, relationships and more.”

There’s no doubt that finding the right category for many of his guests would be a challenge. Where does one put photographer Chase Jarvis or actor Kevin Costner, for example? (They finished in Wealthy and Wise, respectively.) Ferriss puts Dilbert creator Scott Adams in the Wealthy category, a decision to which this reviewer takes exception: Is there anyone wiser than Dilbert?

At any rate, the entry for Adams offers a glimpse of the combination of insights, facts and factoids offered in each profile. Ferriss explains…(click here to read the full review)