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

Related image

“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.

Get the latest business book reviews (like this one) delivered right to your inbox every month when you subscribe to our FREE Executive Book Alert newsletter!

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)

Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers

The Decoded CompanyAmazon delights customers with recommendations that are spot on. Google amazes us by generating answers before we’ve even finished asking a question. These companies know who we are and what we want. The key to their magic is Big Data. Personalizing the consumer experience with the collection and analysis of consumer data is widely recognized as one of the biggest business opportunities of the 21st century. But there is a flip side to this that has largely been missed. What if we were able to use data about employees to personalize and customize their experience –– to increase their engagement, help them learn faster on the job and figure out which teams they should be on?

In The Decoded Company, the authors outline the six principles they’ve used to decode work and unlock the maximum potential of their talent, and share success stories from other organizations that have embraced this approach. The Decoded Company is an actionable blueprint for any company that wants the best from its people and isn’t afraid of radical approaches to get it.

• To personalize processes to the individual based on experience and offering training interventions precisely at the teachable moment.
• To codify organizational battle scars using actual code that watches your blind spots and gives your people a decision-making superpower.
• To prevail over hierarchies, reducing bureaucracy, increasing transparency and being wildly inspiring to teams.


How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out

What key question do managers and supervisors at Marriott Hotels ask their employees each day, enabling them to maintain a turnover rate that is one-third of the industry standard? Why are there more than 500 “co-presidents” at a software firm that has twice been recognized as the best place to work in Minneapolis? Why does a burgeoning healthcare consultancy firm in Philadelphia ban its people from sending business-related emails after 6 p.m. and on weekends?

The answer to these intriguing questions –– along with many others –– can be found in Eric Chester’s On Fire at Work. Chester reveals the seven cultural pillars that today’s leading employers focus on to attract and retain top talent: compensation, alignment, atmosphere, growth, acknowledgment, communication and autonomy. On Fire at Work is a practical field guide that leaders in any organization can implement to build more than an engaged workforce, but rather a workforce that’s on fire!

In this summary, you will learn:

• The seven cultural pillars used to attract and retain top talent.
• What sparks on-fire commitment to a job.
• Five ways to ensure core value alignment.
• The Four Ps of Recognition and Reward.

Look for the full-length summary in your Soundview library. Not a Soundview subscriber? Click here to sign up!


The Top Title … According to You

We asked. You answered, and I can not thank you enough. Soundview recently polled its subscribers for their vote for the best business book of 2009. We received an avalanche of votes and after running them through our various computational methods, we are pleased to announce that the 7th Annual Harold Longman Award for Best Business Book goes to Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.

I can honestly say this was one of the most difficult  decisions we’ve put to readers in some time. We’re very careful in selecting the titles that reach our readers each month, but we’re often surprised to find that some of our 30 best each year are clear favorites among subscribers. The field of contenders this year was absolutely stacked. It included some of the most diverse, thought-provoking books from top name authors. Among the contenders were Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check, Martin Lindstrom’s Buyology and Keith Ferrazzi’s Who’s Got Your Back, to name just three. If these books were grapes growing on a vine, we may look back at 2009 as an exceptional vintage.

The debate was intense among readers and even within our own editorial department. It seemed as though everyone had a favorite title and (secretly, of course) we each were hoping it would be our “horse” that would be first across the finish line. I owe you fine folks in our reader base a debt of gratitude, because my personal favorite title came out on top.

If you’ve yet to read Talent is Overrated, there is no better time than the present. Colvin’s examination of the truth behind what we label world-class talent reveals that it has very little to do with chance. Examining notable names from the worlds of business, sports and the arts, Colvin digs deep to uncover the methods which led the best in these fields to their lofty positions. One aspect of the book which cinched it as my personal favorite is Colvin’s acknowledgment of the lonely, difficult path that many describe as the “curse of genius.” The book is an essential read for executives who wish to gain a better understanding of why some people soar so far above the rest … and what it takes to join those ranks. The journey through the forge of Colvin’s “deliberate practice” is something which reader’s are unlikely to forget.

Congratulations to Colvin for winning the Longman Award, and congratulations to you for another excellent selection!