Soundview Executive Book Summaries


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 http://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!



Don’t Miss These Great New Summaries!

Summer is known to be a time for blockbusters in the entertainment industry. Although the start date seems to be earlier each year, it’s generally accepted that by the middle of June, we’re well into a stretch of time that sees multiple big-budget, highly-anticipated films debuting every Friday in theaters across the nation.

I bring this up because the latest edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries could easily be described as a summer blockbuster. We’ve got three incredible summaries for readers this month featuring some serious star-power in the author department. Let’s take a look at the titles in this exciting triple-feature:

For those who enjoy a great story as part of their learning experience, we start our latest edition with Patrick Lencioni’s Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty. Lencioni, an expert at weaving fiction and strong business applications together, tells the tale of Jack, a consultant tasked with learning about a competitor his company recently acquired. Jack learns a surprising lesson about why absolute transparency can create intense loyalty in customers.

Innovation is a topic that continues to garner a great deal of interest among our subscribers. The U.S. is engaged in an ongoing race with developing nations to maintain an economic presence in the innovation arena. With this in mind, Adam Richards offers Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems are Its Greatest Advantage. Richards offers an intriguing argument that defines a new class of business problems — X-Problems. These tough new challenges thwart conventional planning but present massive innovation opportunities.

Finally, we take a look at the building blocks of a great organization. While CEOs tend to garner attention from internal and external audiences, there are individuals in an organization who are an indispensable part of the company’s success. Marketing mastermind Seth Godin terms these individuals “linchpins” and his new book Linchpins: Are You Indispensable? helps readers understand how to exude the attributes of the linchpin employee.

Like I said, it’s a real blockbuster this month! It’s a great time to subscribe to Soundview. Also, each of the above summaries are available for individual purchase for low, low prices. The online edition of each summary is only $8.50. Depending on where you live, that’s less than the price of a movie ticket … and unlike the occasional big-budget action film, these summaries won’t disappoint.



Did You Face the “Naked” Truth?

For those of you that were unable to attend, I wanted to share a highlight from today’s Soundview Live event with New York Times best-selling author Patrick Lencioni.

During the course of the 60-minute event, Lencioni fielded some terrific questions from our attendees. The range of questions dealt with everything from applying Lencioni’s “Naked Service” technique to dealing with difficult clients and the best ways to get both service provider and client on the same page.

One of the questions that Lencioni receives the most about this topic is how uncomfortable the level of honesty is for many people. When asked if this approach ever costs anyone business, Lencioni had this to say:

“The irony here is that by demonstrating to your client that you will do whatever is necessary, even if it means jeopardizing the account, you ensure that the account will never be jeopardized.”

Lencioni went on to relay a story that while consulting with a major, well-known corporation, he was forced to say, “I think if you go through with this plan, you’re crazy!” Despite the fact that this level of honesty can be jarring and uncomfortable, Lencioni pointed out that he was able to make a difference because the client recognized that he had their best interest at heart.

Great advice, isn’t it? I think it’s a lesson we could all put into practice in our own businesses.

Keep your eyes on Summary.com and this blog for an announcement about the release of the summary of Lencioni’s latest book Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty.

And if you haven’t joined us for a Soundview Live event, now is the time! Attendance is FREE for subscribers!