Soundview Executive Book Summaries


How Does Your Company Rate?

Although we’re seeing some slight improvements in our economy in recent weeks, we still have a long way to go to a full recovery. However, some are looking beyond the present crisis and see signs of a strong economy in the future – that is for those that make the grade.

In Good Company, Laurie Bassi and her co-authors make the case that to succeed in the future a company will need to meet the criteria for what they call a “good company.” They have developed a rating system (The Good Company Index) which takes into account certain criteria that are becoming essential in the new economy.

  1. Good Employer – they use a starting number based on ratings from Glassdoor.com and the Fortune list of 100 best companies.
  2. Good Seller – they use the consumer ratings of wRatings regarding quality, fair price and trust.
  3. Good Steward – they based this on statistics regarding a company’s record on the environment, penalties/fines, restraint in executive compensation and contribution to society/community.

As they state in their book, “A good company is one that starts with good intentions and then puts those into practice concretely through its actions in these three areas. Is your company good or moving toward good?

If you think that your company may not rate well and would like to move it up the charts, join Laurie Bassi and co-author Ed Frauenheim for our Soundview Live webinar Business Success in the Worthiness Era coming up on March 1st.

Advertisements


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.



Will Your Company Be Around in 20 Years?

The pace of change in business is increasing faster than ever. Consider how long an average company from the S&P 500 stays in the index. In 1955 it was estimated to be 45 years; in 1975, 26 years; and in 2009, 17 years. At this rate, half of the companies that appeared in the 2010 S&P 500 Index are likely to have left it before 2020.

How can you guarantee staying power for your company? Scott Keller and Colin Price offer the answer in their new book Beyond Performance. They argue that what really needs to be measured and developed is the health of the organization. The authors define organizational health as “its ability to align, execute and renew itself.”

Keller and Price draw their conclusions from more than a decade of research, drawing on input from more than 600,000 executives and employees from over 500 organizations across the globe, some 900 academic books and articles, and hands-on practical work with more than 100 client organizations.

From this research they developed a process to transform company health and performance, based on what they call the “5As.”

  1. Aspire (where do we want to go?) is about setting overall performance goals and the health aspirations that will enable them to be achieved.
  2. Assess (how ready are we to make the journey?) is about determining what capabilities and shifts in underlying mindsets are needed to reach the aspirations.
  3. Architect (what do we need to do to get there?) is about developing a portfolio of initiatives to improve performance and planning how to implement them to shape the desired mindsets and behaviors.
  4. Act (how do we manage the journey?) is about adopting the right scaling-up model, using governance to ensure broad ownership, and measuring performance and health rigorously throughout.
  5. Advance (how do we keep moving forward?) is about establishing the mechanisms and building the leadership capacity to drive continuous improvement.

If you would like to learn more about how you can measure company health and guarantee the longevity of your organization, join us for our December 15th Soundview Live webinar, How to Achieve and Sustain Organizational Excellence, and bring your questions for Scott Keller.



Book Trends Part II

Leadership and communication are trends that have been and will continue to be with us, but some business book trends come and go with the hot topics of the business world.

Not too surprisingly, social media is one of those hot topics that are currently generating new books. Everyone wants to know how to make money with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Coupled with this subject is that of customer empowerment, that through the use of social media the customer has taken the reins and is telling companies what they want.

Chris Brogan is among the authors filling the need for information in the social media arena, with Trust Agents which he wrote with Julien Smith last year, and Google+ for Business coming out in November. Shel Israel and Robert Scoble discuss blogs in Naked Conversations, Adam Penenberg demonstrates the power of viral media in Viral Loop, and Robert Bloom explains the new power of the customer in The New Experts.

In tandem with the green movement, we’re also seeing an emphasis on corporate and personal responsibility. Customers are making product, service and investment decisions based in part on how good a “corporate citizen” a company is, rather than just on how good the products are.

Carol Sanford just released a book entitled The Responsible Business, about which we’re hosting a webinar tomorrow. Daniel Goleman recently shifted from emotional intelligence to Ecological Intelligence.  Joel Kurtzman emphasizes having a Common Purpose that looks beyond the bottom-line. And Tim Sanders discusses the responsibility revolution moving through corporate American in Saving the World at Work.

One more trend that needs a mention is innovation. Although this topic isn’t new, there has been a strong emphasis in the business book world on recreating companies to be innovation powerhouses. Clayton Christensen is a leader in this arena, with the concepts he introduced in The Innovator’s Solution, and then is applying to other fields like healthcare, with The Innovator’s Prescription. Josh Linkner explains how to empower employees to be creative in Disciplined Dreaming, and Norihiko Shimizu describes the continuous innovation practices of Toyota in Extreme Toyota.

One great thing about these prolific business authors is that they are ready to fill in the information gap when a new trend comes up on the horizon. Our challenge as businesspeople is to find the time to read and apply this information before the next sweeping change takes place. That’s why Soundview is in business – to cut down the time from book to application.



The Responsible Business

What does it mean for a company to be responsible? In the past the focus was on treating employees fairly, obeying the law, and not polluting the environment. Dictionary.com defines corporate responsibility this way: duty and rational conduct expected of a corporation; accountability of a corporation to a code of ethics and to established laws.

But a shift has taken place in recent years away from the idea of just doing no wrong, to a forward-looking idea of doing more right. This is the new corporate responsibility. Recent books that touch at the many aspects of this change in thinking include Common Purpose by Joel Kurtzman, Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and Tactical Transparency by Shel Holtz and John Havens.

But Carol Sanford, author of The Responsible Business, takes it a step further by looking at the very heart and soul of the company and how it operates. One key principle that Sanford emphasizes is having a workforce of CEOs, where “every person in the co-creative group (employees, suppliers, partners, contractors) think like a CEO and feel responsibility for the success of the whole, including financials, in their everyday decisions and actions.”

In this way of thinking, responsibility is taken down to the level of the employees – the people who live in the community, have children in the local schools, and see the day-to-day effects of the decisions made by the company. If a company is accountable to the larger community in which it functions, this can have a huge impact on how it does business.

If you’d like to hear more about Carol Sanford’s thinking on corporate responsibility, please join us for our Soundview Live webinar with her on October 13th at noon EST. The webinar is aptly named Becoming a Responsible Business, and there will be ample time to ask your questions regarding the implications for your company.



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!



The Art of Conservation

If you’re a visitor to the site that hosts my little blog, you’ve probably seen the “Freshly Pressed” page. This listing of six or eight attention-getting blog posts always offers something intriguing. I’ve made the list before, an accomplishment that I’m sure would hardly impress my children, but I digress.

This post from a nature blog caught my eye because of its message. Soundview headquarters is located in the Philadelphia area, and we’ve received an extra dash or two of snow this year. In fact, more fell last night, so the first three photographs in this post are quite similar to images I saw as I left home this morning. The blogger makes a brilliant point about leaving a city to build a home in the pastoral beauty of the country. The first step involved in building such a home is destroying the very environment we sought to enjoy when we left the city. The blogger’s plea for a more mutual coexistence between man and his surroundings echoes an important point from one of our current summaries.

Once we’ve finished knocking down trees to build a house, we stock the house with stuff. It’s the stuff with which we stock the house that has author Daniel Goleman concerned. In his book Ecological Intelligence, Goleman provides key insights for consumers and manufacturers alike about the need to reform our manufacturing and purchasing practices.

In a conversation with Soundview, Goleman said, “We’re using up fresh water. We’re using up forests. We’re using up non-renewable resources all because of, basically, our individual decisions when we go shopping because we are collectively the wheel that’s driving a gigantic industrial commercial machine that is harvesting the planet. People are seeing that we can’t do this in the same way. It’s not sustainable.”

The summary of his book is a great place to start with information about how to make the changes we need. In the meantime, maybe we could follow the blogger’s advice and let those hedges at the edge of the yard get a little ragged. After all, they look rather nice when covered in snow.