Friday Book Review! Be the Business by Martha Heller

heller-book-excerpt2-100684008-primary.idgeThe information-age tidal wave has submerged our companies and organizations. If the IT department was once contained in a room where brainy technologists worked their magic, today every office, every desk, every employee and manager — and every customer! — is involved with the company’s information technology.

In many ways, this new digital era (“new” relative to eras, of course) has not changed the core mandate of most executives and managers. What has changed is how that mandate is fulfilled. At the C-suite level, for example, the CEO must still guide strategy, instill a culture, lead his or her top management team, and take responsibility for the successes and failures of the company. The Chief Marketing Officer is responsible for the successful positioning of the company’s products in the marketplace. The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company.

The role of the Chief Information Officer, however, has been dramatically altered. In her thoughtful new book, Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT, Martha Heller explains the challenges and opportunities that CIOs must face and embrace. The book’s title — as spare and relevant as her chapters — tells the story: CIOs must “be the business.” Information technology is in every nook and cranny of a business. Information technology is back office and front office and connecting the two. Information technology is about digital marketing but also — as one CIO tells Heller — about turning operations into “algorithms.”

CDOs Are Not the Solution

Today’s organizations recognize the omnipresence of information technology in every department and function. One response, according to Heller, is the creation of a new Chief Digital Officer (CDO) function — in essence, relegating the CIO to the operational side of information technology as the fancy new CDO occupies himself or herself with the strategic implications of the digital age. Unfortunately, CDOs are often glorified CMOs — they understand the digital contribution to marketing but do not have a complete end-to-end grasp of the organization…(to continue reading this review, click here).

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How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues

Image result for the ideal team playerIn his classic book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni laid out a groundbreaking approach for tackling the perilous group behaviors that destroy teamwork. Here he turns his focus to the individual, revealing the three indispensable virtues of an ideal team player. In The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni tells the story of Jeff Shanley, a leader desperate to save his uncle’s company by restoring its cultural commitment to teamwork. Jeff must crack the code on the virtues that real team players possess, and then build a culture of hiring and development around those virtues.

Beyond the fable, Lencioni presents a practical framework and actionable tools for identifying, hiring and developing ideal team players. Whether you’re a leader trying to create a culture around teamwork, a staffing professional looking to hire real team players or a team player wanting to improve yourself, this book will prove to be as useful as it is compelling.

In this summary, you will learn:
• An entertaining story of how leaders discover and embrace the three virtues of the ideal team player.
• The distinct, surprising features of the three virtues and how to recognize those features. • How people behave when they possess only one or two of the virtues.
• Principles and tips for hiring, assessing and developing people according to the three virtues.
• Tips for embedding the virtues in your organization.

Join Us for a FREE webinar with Best-Selling Author and Business Leader, Patrick Lencioni

lencioniRegistration is now open for the FREE Patrick Lencioni webinar “How to Be the Ideal Team Player” presented by Soundview on Thursday, May 5th at 12:00 p.m. EDT.

Register today and get a FREE summary of Lencioni’s book, The Ideal Team Player.

Whether you’re a leader trying to create a culture around teamwork, a staffing professional looking to hire real team players, or a team player wanting to improve yourself, this webinar offers applicable tips for your career.

In this FREE Soundview Live webinar, How to Be the Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni uses a fable to dissect the ins and outs of an ideal team player. Lencioni tells the story of Jeff Shanley, a leader desperate to save his uncle’s company by restoring its cultural commitment to teamwork. Jeff must crack the code on the virtues that real team players possess, and then build a culture of hiring and development around those virtues.

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Register Here:
http://www.summary.com/free-webinar/lencioni
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You Will Learn:

  • The three indispensable virtues of an ideal team player
  • A practical framework and actionable tools for identifying, hiring, and developing ideal team players
  • How to improve your ability to lead and be an active team player

About the Speaker:

Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to helping leaders improve their organizations’ health since 1997. His principles have been embraced by leaders around the world and adopted by organizations of virtually every kind including multinational corporations, entrepreneurial ventures, professional sports teams, the military, nonprofits, schools, and churches.

Lencioni is the author of ten business books with over three million copies sold worldwide. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek, and USA Today.

Book Review: The Advantage

by Patrick Lencioni

A quick check of Amazon.com will reveal that the past decade has seen a proliferation of business books that use fiction to teach and reinforce the author’s lessons. In the realm of the “business fable,” Patrick Lencioni can be considered the master of the medium. From the immensely popular The Five Dysfunctions of a Team to the groundbreaking Silos, Politics and Turf Wars and the introspective Getting Naked, Lencioni repeatedly produced material that was as entertaining as it was informative. What executives may not know is that during the course of the past 15 years, Lencioni was unknowingly charting a course toward a business concept that would exceed the medium he helped pioneer. The result is Lencioni’s new book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. The Soundview Executive Book Summary is now available for download in multiple digital formats.

In an interview with Soundview, Lencioni said the following about the book’s genesis:

This book is really the compilation of everything I’ve been working on in the last 15 years. My first tendency was to think, “How do we make this one a fable?” But I think the breadth of what I’m covering here is so great that a fable would have ended up the length of War and Peace. I think it was time for me to write a more traditional book that really put together the entire model in one place. It was hard at times because I love creating characters to bring the ideas to life, but I think it was the right decision.

Readers will agree with Lencioni’s decision. The Advantage provides four disciplines to help companies understand and achieve organizational health. While it would have been tempting to read a narrative about a troubled executive who finds his or her way to enlightenment about the importance of organizational health, it is far more practical to read Lencioni’s numerous case studies and supporting examples.

Any executive who cringes at the mention of the word “health” needs to read The Advantage. One of the most important points made by Lencioni is that many companies fail to gain the benefits of organizational health because their leaders feel that the idea is beneath them. When executives discover Lencioni’s three biases that prevent leaders from harnessing the power of the principles of organizational health, there may be more than a few ashen faces. This pain should be temporary because The Advantage offers a powerful transformation process that, though arduous, can lead executives and their companies to greatness.

Download your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of The Advantage today!

New Summaries for Every Leader!

As much as it pains residents of the northern hemisphere to admit it, summer is rapidly rushing past us. However, those in leadership positions have probably been far too busy to notice. There are quarterly goals to meet, strategic plans to execute and a workforce with whom to interact. There are also critical new business concepts to learn and apply. This month, Soundview Executive Book Summaries offers three great new titles that should be on every executive’s reading list. Now available for download in multiple digital formats are:

by Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link

Smart Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link with Rebecca R. Merrill: After illustrating the global relevance of trust with his book The Speed of Trust by selling more than one million copies in twenty-two languages, Stephen M. R. Covey again illuminates the hidden power of trust to change lives and impact organizations in Smart Trust. In a compelling and readable style, he and long-time business partner Greg Link share enlightening principles and anecdotes of people and organizations that are not only achieving unprecedented prosperity from high-trust relationships and cultures but — even more inspiring — also attaining elevated levels of energy and joy.

by Patrick Lencioni

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni: An organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, when its management, operations and culture are unified. Healthy organizations outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave. Patrick Lencioni’s first non-fiction book provides leaders with a groundbreaking, approachable model for achieving organizational health — complete with stories, tips and anecdotes from his experiences consulting to some of the nation’s leading organizations. The Advantage provides a foundational construct for conducting business in a new way — one that maximizes human potential and aligns the organization around a common set of principles.

by Jennifer Prosek

Army of Entrepreneurs by Jennifer Prosek: As a young entrepreneur who turned a small PR business into a highly successful, international communications firm, Jennifer Prosek has experienced firsthand the power of instilling an “owner’s mind-set” in every employee. In Army of Entrepreneurs, Prosek presents an easy-to-follow action plan any company can use to build a workforce dedicated to generating new business, creating new products and services, and sustaining growth. Filled with inspiring examples, the book shows readers how to: motivate, train, and reward their employees; provide everyone from interns to executives with the skills and support they need; and refresh and evaluate the program over time for continuous results.

Take a break from your busy schedule and download these three new summaries today!

The Importance of Storytelling in Business

 Jesus was having a discussion with a religious leader. When told that he might enter eternal life if he loved God and loved his neighbor, the man sought to justify himself by asking Jesus who his neighbor was. Jesus replied with the parable (story) of the Good Samaritan. Even though this conversation took place over 2,000 years ago, this story has become one of the best known stories of the last two centuries, even among those that have never read the New Testament. Jesus knew the power of the story.

Stories have always been a part of business communication, but in the last several years a trend has developed around the power of storytelling in business. I found over a dozen business books written in the past decade that specifically teach the importance of storytelling in organizations, whether to improve leadership, to help focus meetings, to sell more effectively, or to build strong teams. There is even a National Storytelling Network.

Robert McKee put it this way in the Harvard Business Review: “A big part of a CEO’s job is to motivate people to reach certain goals. To do that, he or she must engage their emotions, and the key to their hearts is story.”

Storytelling is no longer just for CEOs, but the key truth is still the same – storytelling engages the emotions, assisting the speaker in communicating his or her point effectively. In Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, Nancy Duarte expands this point. Information is static; stories are dynamic – they help an audience visualize what you do or what you believe.

Patrick Lencioni has perfected the art of storytelling in his series of business books, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Silos, Politics and Turf Wars and Getting Naked. Lencioni uses the fable as a way to engage the minds of his readers, communicating the business truths through the characters of the fable.

In The Story Factor, Annette Simmons introduces six story goals:

  • “Who I am” stories – stories that reveal something about how you are.
  • “Why I am here” stories – to reassure the audience about your intentions.
  • “The Vision” story – to transform your vision into the audience’s vision.
  • “Teaching” stories – to communicate certain skills you want others to have.
  • “Values in action” stories – story lets you instill values in a way that keeps people thinking for themselves.
  • “I know what you are thinking” stories – in a story you can identify potential objections and disarm the audience as you build credibility.

Perhaps it’s time to develop your own storytelling skills. The resources above will help and you can read more in our Executive Edge newsletter Learn the Art of Storytelling.

What Is a Healthy Company?

Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increased reference in news articles and books to the subject of organizational health. In a Fortune article back at the end of 2010, Colin Price pointed to the demise of an emphasis solely on performance and a movement toward a more sustainable focus on the health of the organization.

But what does a healthy organization look like? Patrick Lencioni, in his latest book The Advantage, says “an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, when its management, operations and culture are unified.” And he goes on to claim that “Healthy organizations outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave.”

Can you imagine an organization free from politics and confusion? But Lencioni says that it’s possible and offers four actionable steps to get there.

  1.  Build a cohesive leadership team – cohesive teams build trust, eliminate politics and increase efficiency.
  2. Create clarity – healthy organizations minimize the potential for confusion.
  3. Over-communicate clarity – healthy organizations align their employees around organizational clarity by communicating key messages.
  4. Reinforce clarity – organizations sustain their health by ensuring consistency.

This is of course only part of the picture, and Lencioni will be filling in the details at our Soundview Live webinar Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else on March 27th. Please join us and bring your questions for Pat.

Three Summaries We’d Like to See as Films

As predicted in this … very … blog …, The Social Network, the new film based on Ben Mezrich’s Facebook bio The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, debuted at number one at the box office last weekend. Don’t forget to send me your comments on the film, and while I wait, I’ll continue to track its box office progress.

While The Social Network is busy bringing in dollars, there is another film based on a business book that’s currently circulating. It’s hard to believe, but there is now a documentary based on Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.

This sudden conjunction between Tinseltown and the generally stoic world of business books makes me believe that movie producers have finally wandered away from the graphic novel listings on Amazon.com and are now scrolling through business book listings for ideas. Far be it from me not to fall headlong into the Hollywood hype machine. I started thinking about what other business books could become great films. Here’s a list of three:

Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni.I’m cheating a bit with this selection. Lencioni’s line of business fables lend themselves well to filming because they deliver their messages via fiction. In light of the fact that Lencioni chose to name his main character Jack Bauer, the easy pick to star in the film would be Keifer Sutherland. I’m going to go in a different direction and give Don Cheadle the role of the consultant who learns about building stronger relationships by honest communication.

Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki. I can’t remember who said it, but someone said the following: If, in the fall of 1977, in the wake of Star Wars’ massive success, George Lucas charged admission to watch him stand in front of a chalkboard and explain what happened next to the film’s characters, it would still have grossed $100 million. That’s how I feel about Kawasaki and Reality Check. A brilliant book from one of the most entertaining and knowledgeable authors working today.

Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. The winner of Soundview’s Harold Longman Award as Best Business Book of 2009, this book would make a fantastic film. If you attended the Soundview Live Webinar with Colvin, you saw video of a few individuals demonstrating the results of what Colvin terms “deliberate practice.” Imagine watching three tales of otherworldly abilities and the harsh reality of what it took to develop them.

What business book would you turn into a feature film or documentary? Send me a few suggestions and I’ll post the best ones in a future blog.

Shoot for PAR in Plugged

Today’s guest blog post comes from Krissi Barr, president of Barr Corporate Success.

In the real world, a crisis can crawl out from under a rock at any time. The bigger the problem, the more important it is to have a swift and accurate response.

Ideas for how to deal with such a crisis can also emerge from an unlikely place, as is the case in my book Plugged. My co-author Dan Barr, senior executive at Cintas, and I created a fast-paced business fable in which the protagonist’s passion for golf turns out to be the mysterious but ingenious source of inspiration.

Only hours after his boss leaves for a weeklong vacation, Chet McGill, the dedicated VP of Sales at AlphaMax Manufacturing, gets thrown for a loop. His company’s biggest client is seriously considering switching to a competitor, and it’s up to Chet to rally the troops. Faced with the biggest crisis in his career, Chet discovers what’s most important to his customer — and his company — through inspiration he finds on the putting green.

At its core, Plugged is about digging out and getting the right things done. The central message Chet learns is that he needs to shoot for PAR. This is not “par” in the golfing sense, but in a simple methodology based on three proven principles:

Prioritize — Focus on what matters most. Chet learns he has to concentrate the entire company’s efforts on the most critical elements in order to hold on to their largest customer.

Adapt — See change as an opportunity. The world is changing rapidly and only those who can quickly adapt to those changes will survive.

Responsible — Take ownership of the outcome. Only when each member of the team accepts full accountability for their actions are they able to turn the tide.

Everyone measures success differently. You may measure success by leading your company to growth and prosperity. Maybe your view of success includes sending your children to college or finally having the lowest score in your golf foursome. However you define it, Plugged is a road map for you and your entire team on how to dig out and get the right things done.

Krissi Barr is president of Barr Corporate Success, a business consulting and coaching firm specializing in strategic planning, implementation, leadership coaching, and training. Visit www.PluggedTheBook.com for FREE tools, including an assessment to see how well you get the right things done and a planning and implementation scorecard.

For more business fables including Patrick Lencioni’sSilos, Politics and Turf Wars” visit Summary.com.

A FREE Resource You HAVE to Use!

There’s a reason I tend to conclude my posts by telling everyone to visit Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com. The site is regularly updated with information about newly released executive book summaries, book reviews (1,000 FREE reviews and growing!), upcoming Soundview Live Webinars and other great business learning resources.

I’ve got great news about another new resource available at Summary.com. How much do you think it would cost to attend an event where you hear vital business lectures from speakers such as Bill George, Patrick Lencioni, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Paul Krugman and David M. Rubenstein, among others? The event is the World Business Forum, and a ticket can cost as much as $2,500.

Fortunately, Soundview has partnered with HSM Global, producers of the World Business Forum, to bring you exclusive audio summaries of the event’s major speakers. These audio summaries are available for you to listen to for FREE!

Each audio summary is a 10-minute MP3 that features a narrated overview of the speech. The summary includes actual clips from the live speech given by the presenter at World Business Forum. If these tough economic times meant that you weren’t able to spend $2,500 on a ticket to the World Business Forum, these FREE audio summaries allow you to hear what you missed.

I need to stress here that you do NOT have to be a Soundview subscriber to listen to the World Business Forum audio summaries. These exclusive content pieces are FREE for everyone to learn from and enjoy. In fact, I’d recommend starting with Patrick Lencioni, whose latest book Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty is now available as a Soundview summary!

To listen to the audio summaries from the World Business Forum, CLICK THIS LINK!