Soundview Executive Book Summaries

What Do Companies and Rockets Have In Common?

In physics, escape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy plus the gravitational potential energy of an object is zero. It is the speed needed to “break free” from a gravitational field without further propulsion.

What does this have to do with business? Just like a rocket can be held in orbit by the gravitational pull of a planet, so companies can be held back from capitalizing on new opportunities by their legacy franchises. In both cases, more power is needed to break free

In Geoffrey Moore’s latest book Escape Velocity, he contends that companies must align what he calls the “hierarchy of powers” in order to obtain escape velocity and not fall by the wayside in the still-developing global economy. And what is this hierarchy of powers? Moore lists five areas of power that can be utilized to break free of the past.

  1. Category Power – growth born from category expansion.
  2. Company Power – growth born from competitive advantage.
  3. Market Power – growth born from customer consensus.
  4. Offer Power – growth born from unmatchable offers.
  5. Execution Power – growth from reaching tipping points.

If you sense that your company or organization is being held down by the forces of your past success, you’ll want to join Geoffrey Moore on February 23rd for our Soundview Live webinar How to Achieve Escape Velocity. Don’t be satisfied with the status quo.


Who Are the Real Decision-Makers in Your Company?

When a major decision is being made in your company, who’s in the room? Is it the boss and a group of his or her confidants? Or is it the boss and his senior management team?

Bob Frisch contends that in many companies, it’s a group of the boss’s confidants, a “team with no name” that exists outside formal processes. And, surprisingly, he makes the case that this is the way it ought to be.

Frisch explains, “Senior teams have undeniable strengths, and they are in a unique position to do things that no other group in the organization can do as well. Making big decisions isn’t one of them—for very good reasons that will be dissected here. Unless the senior team’s limitations are understood and its genuine strengths put to work, the blame and frustration on all sides will continue.”

This is quite a stance to take, but it comes from Frisch’s many years of consulting with top companies. His stated goal is “that by understanding the nature of executive decision-making, executives and the members of their senior teams can stop beating up themselves and each other.”

Perhaps you’re in that senior management category, or you’re the boss that’s trying to make the best decisions and are drawing flack from management. If so then you’ll benefit from our upcoming webinar with Bob Frisch entitled Transforming Decision-Making.

Grab your lunch and your management team, and join us on February 9th to see how you can improve your decision-making process, while helping top management understand where they fit in as well.

Drilling for Business Strategy

In our December 2011 Executive Insights video, we interview Ed Breiner of Schramm, Inc. While the name might not be familiar to everyone, Schramm was very involved in the Chilean mine rescue back in October of 2010.

Breiner provides interesting details on their involvement, along with their client GeoTech. Through extensive consultation with the Chilean government, they devised the best route for bringing up the miners, including the use of sophisticated equipment which Schramm manufactured.

Along with this interesting story, Breiner also offers insights into how his company has survived and thrived in the midst of the recent economic downturn, to emerge prepared to take advantage of the recent surge in demand for commodities.

Among the strategies Schramm has implemented:

  1. They provide a strong global warranty on their equipment, ready to send their technicians anywhere in the world. Breiner tells new hires that with Schramm they can see the world without getting shot at.
  2. The company philosophy starts with making a profit. Breiner states that they don’t focus on profits but they need to be profitable to survive. After that, it’s about providing customers with something they can use. With the commodities boom this includes drilling and extraction equipment for oil and gas, geothermal, water and exploration.
  3. Transparency is integral to management’s approach with their employees. Breiner says they’re all adults and so they speak straight with their staff. When the economy began to weaken, he told employees to put away their credit cards. They did have to eventually lay off some people, but they held off from November until January for the sake of their employees. They also worked with Pennsylvania’s unemployment department to take advantage of their furlough program.
  4. Breiner likes Jim Collins’ strategy of “discovering what you’re good at and doing more of it.” They focus on their strengths as a company and shore up their weaknesses. Their quarterly strategy meetings include people from outside top management to get a broader view.

If you would like to see this interview or read our corresponding Executive Edge report How to Steer Through a Crisis, subscribe to our Premium Edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries, which include access to all videos and reports in one self-contained Online Library, along with book summaries, author interviews and past author webinars.

Bring On the Next Boom

As we read the latest news about the financial crisis in Europe and the deficit stalemate in the United States, it’s hard to imagine that there could be a financial boom coming anytime soon. So how do we plan for the future?

Jack Plunkett, author of The Next Boom, believes that there is another boom coming, knows what to look for to predict it, and knows how companies should be planning now to prepare for it. It seems like wishful thinking until you see the hard facts and extensive research that Plunkett provides to back up his claims.

Plunkett points to three emerging trends that will lead to the next boom:

  1. A soaring global population – While some countries have seen their population growth decline, others like the U.S. are seeing continued growth. Statistics show that the U.S. could reach a population of 1 billion by 2100 to 2120. The growing worldwide population, especially among the middle class, will provide the engine for economic growth.
  2. Sweeping changes in consumers, demographics and education – There could be a tripling of trade world-wide by 2030 to $27 trillion, due to the growing needs of the populations of emerging countries like China and India.
  3. Emerging technologies, centered on health care, wireless communications, biotechnology, nanotechnology and energy – As Africa joins India and China at over 1 billion people, innovations in biotechnology will have to take place to feed this growing population. And that’s just one example of the emerging technologies that will be needed.

Plunkett’s point as he expands on these trends, is that all of these developments will create another world-wide economic boom. If his predictions pan out, then companies need to be preparing now for what’s coming.

We’ve invited Jack Plunkett to join us for our next Soundview Live webinar, Bring On the Next Boom, to hear more about these trends and what we need to do now to prepare for the future. Please join us on December 1st to hear more, and to ask your questions of the author.

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, 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 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!

Remembering Prahalad and His Pyramid

Soundview was saddened by the news Friday of the death of management guru C.K. Prahalad. In addition to his writing and consulting exploits, Prahalad served as a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. While many students benefited from his tutelage, Prahalad treated the globe as his classroom. As noted in this report from The Wall Street Journal, Prahalad was a champion for the poor and viewed the impoverished as a vital part of the future of global commerce. He wrote about this subject at length in his 2004 best-seller The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, a book Soundview reviewed upon its release.

Prahalad was an excellent collaborator and produced two key works summarized by Soundview. He worked with Venkat Ramaswamy to create The Future of Competition, a book that delved into the role of the customer in the value creation process. In more recent times, Prahalad teamed with M.S. Krishnan to produce The New Age of Innovation. This book helped executives handle the crisis of the demand for instant gratification in their companies’ innovation efforts. Customers and resource providers need to be connected in a flawless, real-time solution. In a world where innovation theory shifts with each passing month, Prahalad’s book still retains valuable insights for executives.

Prahalad’s theories and management consultation were a vital part of connecting his native India with the industrialized West. His passing after a brief illness brings to a close a career that left an important imprint on the global management community. Prahalad was 68 years old.