Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Watching Out for Blind Spots

I’m in the middle of a kitchen renovation. My job is demolition but I’m letting the professionals handle the construction. In order for everything to turn out right I have to depend on the contractor, the counter top installer, the hardware stores, and my volunteer friends to each do their part.

But sometimes people fail to meet our expectations, and when this happens our own plans can be put in jeopardy. If I just move forward as though everything is okay, without making sure everyone is on board and knows the plan and schedule, I may end up with a disaster instead of a finished kitchen.

This is not unlike the situation when a company is trying to compete in the marketplace, and is depending on other services and suppliers to produce and innovate right along with them, and these other companies don’t keep up the pace. Not being aware of this can be a blind spot that will bring a company’s own innovation to a halt.

This is the contention of Ron Adner in his book The Wide Lens. Adner suggests that we take a new perspective – a wide lens – to better assess our strategy. He introduces a new set of tools and frameworks to expose our sources of dependence so that we can make better choices and multiply our chances of success.

Among the examples he gives of companies that have been caught in this innovation blind spot are Philips Electronics with their HDTV and Sony with their e-reader. They were both ahead of their time and the other innovations needed for success were not yet available.

If your company is dependent on others for success then you’ll want to join us on April 10th to hear Ron Adner talk about this wide lens. Sign up for our Soundview Live webinar Avoiding the Innovation Blind Spot and have your questions ready for Ron.



Business Learning in Bloom with Three New Summaries

If you check your calendar today, you’ll notice that the first quarter of 2012 is rapidly coming to a close. How are you progressing on your personal and professional goals for the year? What about your people? Are your interactions with them leading to increased success for both sides? With spring upon us, it’s time to do what’s necessary to help your ambitions begin to bloom. To that end, here are three great new Soundview Executive Book Summaries to help your business development efforts:

 

by John C. Maxwell

The 5 Levels of Leadership by John C. Maxwell: The concept of 5 levels of leadership is one that John C. Maxwell has taught all over the world. The levels represent stages in leadership development starting with being the boss who people follow because you have been appointed as their leader, to reaching the pinnacle of leadership, when you are followed because of who you are and what you represent. In The 5 Levels of Leadership, you will learn how to master the ability to inspire people and achieve results. Maxwell details each level of leadership and provides a clear path to reach the next.

 

 

 

 

by Harrison Monarth

360 Degrees of Influence by Harrison Monarth: The best leaders influence those who are below and above them, as well as people external to the organization, such as customers and partners. In 360 Degrees of Influence, Harrison Monarth provides advice on how to gain the trust and respect of those around you and how to expand your influence well beyond your immediate environment. Providing valuable insight into human emotion and behavior, Monarth reveals the secrets to knowing what people are thinking and feeling — maybe better than they do.

 

 

 

 

by Gary Vaynerchuk

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk: Gary Vaynerchuk’s Thank You Economy principles are about the way we communicate, the way we buy and sell, and the way businesses and consumers interact online and offline. Companies and brands are now competing on a whole new level in an entirely new business era. The Thank You Economy reveals how businesses can harness all the changes and challenges inherent in social media and turn them into tremendous opportunities for profit and growth.

To get your copies of these summaries in all of Soundview’s digital formats, visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.



Book Review: One Piece of Paper

What are the guiding principles of your management philosophy? If you were to make a list of the people, texts and experiences that molded you into the leader you are today, who and what would appear on the list? The majority of executives could fill a 32 GB hard drive with inspirational presentations, quotes and passages from books, and journal entries of their own successes and failures. Author, consultant and U.S. Army veteran Mike Figliuolo believes that while we are the sum of our experiences, the process of attempting to summarize what we’ve learned (and subsequently communicating those lessons to others) has become clouded. In One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership, Figliuolo teaches readers the process of concentrating their personal leadership philosophies into a set of maxims that fit on the titular 8.5″ x 11″ sheet. Figliuolo’s book is now available in multiple digital formats as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

One Piece of Paper offers a considerable challenge to any executive that attempts Figliuolo’s method. While the process of creating one’s list of leadership maxims seems simple, Figliuolo spends a significant amount of time explaining the complexities of why the maxims govern your ability to lead yourself, individuals and teams. One of the book’s greatest strengths is Figliuolo’s willingness to share his personal experiences. His biographical anecdotes serve not only as a demonstration of the Maxims Approach, but they also solve one of the most common questions for readers of any business book: Does the author practice what he or she preaches? In Figliuolo’s case, he provides one example after another that answers a reader’s question in the affirmative.

To get your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of One Piece of Paper in any of Soundview’s digital formats, visit Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com.



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.



Leadership, Quality and Work Ethic: Three New Must-Reads

While subscribers to Soundview Executive Book  Summaries frequently praise our variety of leadership titles, we take pride in the fact that our selections for the 30 Best Business Books each year help strengthen every aspect of an organization. To see a great example of this feature of Soundview, take a look at the three newest summaries to help your business reach new heights in quality, hiring and, of course, leadership.

by Eric Chester

Reviving Work Ethic by Eric Chester: Work ethic in America is fast declining, plaguing young and old alike. But in Reviving Work Ethic, Eric Chester shows that you do best to focus on your young employees — those whose habits and ideals can still be influenced. He presents an incisive look at the root of the entitlement mentality that afflicts many in the emerging workforce and shows readers the specific actions they can take to give their employees a deep commitment to performing excellent work. His advice is crucial to a healthy bottom line: too often, talented-but-difficult-to-understand younger workers stand between your company and its profits.

 

 

 

by Subir Chowdhury

The Power of LEO by Subir Chowdhury: Subir Chowdhury is the long-established global authority on the critical importance of quality and how to achieve it with Design for Six Sigma. Now, he takes it to the next level by showing you how to build quality into the DNA of your entire organization. In The Power of LEO, he describes how continuous focus on quality improvement can revolutionize any process from manufacturing operations to managerial decision making.

 

 

 

by Mike Figliuolo

One Piece of Paper by Mike Figliuolo: Based on leadership expert Mike Figliuolo’s popular “Leadership Maxims” training course, One Piece of Paper teaches decisive, effective leadership by taking a holistic approach to defining one’s personal leadership philosophy. Through a series of simple questions, readers will create a living document that communicates their values, passions, goals and standards to others, maximizing their leadership potential.

Don’t forget, each of these summaries are available in multiple digital formats. To learn more and to get your copy, visit Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com.



Book Review: Topgrading

by Bradford Smart, Ph.D.

The challenge of making a good hire continues to prove difficult for a number of organizations. According to author Bradford D. Smart, statistics show that three out of every four hiring decisions result in a situation in which the wrong person ends up in the wrong job. Smart, an acclaimed management psychologist, conducted more than 6,000 interviews over a span of three decades to strike at the heart of why companies make so many hiring mistakes. The result is his book Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People. Soundview Executive Book Summaries is now offering a summary of the revised edition of Topgrading in multiple digital formats.

Executives know that a company performs at its peak when it is staffed with top talent. Smart labels this group “A players.” In Topgrading, he guides readers through the process of finding and hiring more A players. Topgrading has a distinct advantage over similar books on human resources management. Smart balances the process of finding A players with rewarding existing A players on staff. He also is unafraid to answer the question about the remaining portion of a company’s work force: B and C players. In the summary, Smart provides an alternative that emphasizes the positive rather than putting more employees through a revolving door.

Readers will appreciate Smart’s level of honesty and the practicality of his solutions. The methods described in Topgrading will prove valuable to a business regardless of its size. The current economic climate creates a zero margin for hiring and handling talent. Smart provides the tools necessary to keep costs at the bottom while pushing your company to the top.

To get your copy of the summary of the revised edition of Topgrading visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.



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.



The Decision to Trust

I ran across a 2010 article by the Pew Research Center entitled Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor. Some of the numbers were surprising and discouraging. We are currently at our lowest level of trust in government since before 1978. Barack Obama has the lowest trust rating of any president over the past eight administrations, including Richard Nixon.

And this isn’t just a trend in our view of the government. The Pew research also shows a low rating of trust in banks, large corporations, national news media, the entertainment industry and labor unions. Those organizations in which we have high trust include colleges & universities, churches, small businesses, and technology companies.

I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised then that there is a new trend in business books around the topic of trust. Stephen M.R. Covey just released his second book on trust called SmartTrust. Other recent books include Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith, and The Decision to Trust by Robert Hurley.

Hurley’s book is especially interesting in that he not only makes a strong case for the importance of trust in organizations, he also provides the steps to building trust at all levels. Here is what Hurley promises that we can learn and do about trust:

•Make better decisions concerning who to trust, to avoid harm and increase pressure on untrustworthy agents to reform themselves.

• Allocate your trust building energy better by appreciating how different people approach the trust decision.

• Identify the root cause of trust issues based on 10 trust factors.

• Offer concrete interventions and reforms that can enhance trust in each of the 10 trust

factors.

• Clarify in which situations building and repairing trust can work and those where it

may not work.

• Provide a method for enhancing trust at different levels: with a person, within teams,

across teams, across national cultures, within organizations, and in leadership.

If you found yourself nodding with agreement at the lack of trust in your organization, then you might benefit from our upcoming Soundview Live webinar with Robert Hurley, How to Create a High-Trust Organization. Hurley will discuss the trust crisis in detail and, more importantly, tell us how to turn things around.



Is Your Leadership Credible?

“In the end, leaders don’t decide who leads. Followers do.” Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner

This statement is at the core of Kouzes & Posner’s new book Credibility, a complete revision of their 1993 best-seller The Leadership Challenge.

The authors continue, “The old organizational hierarchy just can’t generate the kind of commitment that’s required in our global society. This isn’t a call for open elections inside organizations. But managers should not kid themselves. People do vote—with their energy, with their dedication, with their loyalty, with their talent, with their actions. Don’t you put forth higher-quality effort when you believe that the people leading you are there to serve your needs and not just their own interests?”

Based on this premise, Kouzes and Posner developed a survey to collect a list of the top characteristics that a leader must have. From the 225 factors they defined, the authors produced a list of 20 traits followers admire and that will inspire them to follow.

The top three categories are:

1. Integrity (is truthful, is trustworthy, has character, has convictions)

2. Competence (is capable, is productive, is efficient)

3. Leadership (is inspiring, is decisive, provides direction)

And perhaps not surprisingly, the top characteristic by far was honesty with 85% of people putting it at the top in the 2010 survey, 88% in 2002 and 83% in 1987.

If you would like to learn more about the top characteristics of a good leader, join us on January 10th, when we’ll have Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner as our guests for our Soundview Live webinar Leading with Credibility. If you want to strengthen your leadership skills, this is the place to be next Tuesday at 12:00 noon. And since the registration is per site, you can fill the room with colleagues.



Operating with High-Trust in a Low-Trust World

In January of 2012, Stephen M.R. Covey will publish a follow-up to his best-seller The Speed of Trust. This is his introduction to the book:

“Following one of our presentations on The Speed of Trust, a man made his way backstage to ask a question that was obviously troubling him deeply. “Are you really serious about this?” he asked incredulously. “Are there really more than just a few people out there who operate with the kind of trust you’re talking about?” This man lived and worked in a country that was ripe with corruption, deception, and massive distrust. He was clearly feeling deeply torn. He sincerely wanted to believe what we’d said but was finding it almost impossible in the context of his environment.”

I don’t think you need to leave the U.S. to find similar concerns and doubts about trusting others in the workplace. We see evidence of business people who can’t be trusted ever day in the news.

So how do we take advantage of the “speed of trust” that Covey introduced in his earlier book? Covey and his partner at Covey-Link, Greg Link, propose a “smart trust” that can work even in the midst of our low-trust environment. They describe the five actions trust companies have in common, that allow them to exercise smart trust:

  1. Choose to believe in trust.
  2. Start with self.
  3. Declare your intent . . . and assume positive intents in others.
  4. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  5. Lead out in extending trust to others.

Perhaps you have similar questions and doubts about trust in your company and business field. If so then you’ll want to join us on January 5th to hear Covey explain the details of this concept and take questions from participants. The Five Key Actions to Creating Smart Trust webinar is free for Soundview subscribers, and is Covey’s first engagement around the publication of the book.