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ISBN 9781591391104 Published Nov. 2003
Harvard Business School Press
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Posted Sept. 2, 2011 7:41 a.m. by sally-haldorson
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
More content--expanded reviews of the Takeaway chapter books (including Thinkertoys, The First 90 Days, Beyond the Core, and The Lexus and the Olive Tree); new sidebars (including decision-making, visual thinking, and 1982, the watershed year for business books); and a new introduction and closing manifesto--means more for you to learn and enjoy. The perfect book for you to put on your Christmas list and read to inspire you for the new year!
Stay tuned for more announcements and even some giveaways as the book release date approaches!
In the Books - Off to the Printers XII
Posted Jan. 11, 2011 7:53 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
In another installment from the annual review of business books we produced last year, we have an article from friend and former president of the company, Todd Sattersten. In it, he discusses the meta-themes in business thought that he and Jack uncovered as they spent 18 months compiling, reading, choosing and writing The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
The Five Universal Themes in Business BY TODD SATTERSTEN
What happens when you spend 18 months reading the best in business literature? In our case, two things happened—one expected, the other quite unexpected.
The expected was the creation of a list of the 100 best business books of all time, which led to a book by the same name. The unexpected came as we uncovered a number of meta-themes the books share that exist beyond any predictable grouping by subject matter. For example, Michael Useem’s The Leadership Moment has surprising connections with as Taiichi Ohno’s Toyota Production System and Gary Klein’s The Power of Intuition. Ultimately, we found five persistent meta-themes across our selection of the 100 best business books. Each meta-theme appears horizontally across traditional publishing categories, bridging such divisions as sales, management, narrative, and finance. Each meta-theme also scales in a vertical sense, applying to individuals, teams and organizations equally. So profound are these meta-themes, we argue, that these five universal insights act as the foundation for a leader dealing with any aspect of business, whether starting a new job or developing the next year’s corporate strategy.
1. Clarity of Purpose
Purpose provides direction and brings clarity to all work. For the individual in pursuit of purpose, author Po Bronson asks the ultimate question in his book, What Should I Do with My Life? Organizations struggle with the same kind of question when they craft their mission statements and massage their marketing slogans.
2. Wisdom in Decision Making
The process of making decisions is often overly deliberate or completely unconscious. In both cases, we base our decisions on past experience and judge the success of those decisions only on the success rate of the outcomes. In Influence, Robert Cialdini alerts us to how we use unconscious routine to make even the smallest decision, while in The Power of Intuition, Gary Klein provides a map to some of that scripting and shows how we can improve our gut instinct.
3. Bias for Action
Tom Peters and Bob Waterman pointed out in In Search of Excellence that a quality of excellent companies was “the bias for action.” This assertion that action trumps all appears in many great books, so what keeps us from taking action? Author David Allen (Getting Things Done) would say a person’s focus is misplaced on time and priority, rather than action. Authors Jeffery Pfeffer and Bob Sutton (The Knowing-Doing Gap) would say organizations suffer from a gap between knowing and doing.
4. Openness to Change
Understanding change is essential because change affects individuals and organizations constantly. Sales is about change. Marketing is about change. Corporate strategy about is about change. Lou Gerstner says it was changing IBM’s entitlement culture that was his biggest challenge. In The First 90 Days, new job guru Michael Watkins describes the waves of change that new managers must instigate. In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffery Moore shows how products are adopted and what different constituents need to accept change.
5. Giving and Getting
Feedback Imagine throwing a baseball in a dark room. You would miss seeing the trajectory the ball took or where it landed. Our success depends on feed-back. Did we make the right choice? Did the action have the intended effect? Are things changing? Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) says self-reflection is a form of feedback and an essential piece of emotional intelligence. Engineering professor Henry Petroski, author of To Engineer is Human, says failure is a critical part of learning. And in Secrets of Closing the Sale, Zig Ziglar says listening is the most important part of selling.
These themes are likely to persist as business and business literature evolves further, because companies continually fail to absorb the simple lessons: Find a clear purpose. Be aware that past experience and a mass of information can interfere with wise decisions. Maintain a bias toward action. Be open to change. Seek feedback. These behaviors link together: Clarity of purpose provides wisdom in decision making, which informs action, which in turn, creates change, while feedback informs them all.
PREVIOUS POSTS FROM IN THE BOOKS
- I: Financial Markets: Their Promise and Failure (and Promise) BY DYLAN SCHLEICHER
- II: When Ecology and Economy Meet BY KATE MYTTY
- III: Why We Love Business Books More Than Ever BY ERIKA ANDERSEN
- IV: Odd Intersections: Fiction Captures the Complexities of Business BY REBECCA SCHLEI HARTMAN
- V: Explorations Into the Human Psyche BY ROBBIE HARTMAN
- VI: For Women Only? A Look at Trends in Business Books Written by Women BY SALLY HALDORSON
- VII: Real-World Lessons in Leadership BY ROBERT MORRIS
- VIII: We the Internet BY DYLAN SCHLEICHER
- IX: The Shifting Landscape of Moving Ideas: The Art of Publishing in a Socially Empowered World BY JON MUELLER
- X: The Information Age
- XI: Finding Opportunities: Re-examining Personal and Organizational Strength in Challenging Times BY JON MUELLER
(Only) You Can Do It!
Posted Nov. 29, 2010 12:10 p.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success, released last month by Nicholas Brealey Publishing, has come at a fortuitous time.
This book is akin to Michael Watkin's classic, The First 90 Days, offering practical steps to succeed in one of the most grueling shifts you'll ever face in professional life. The post below is an expanded version of one of Eblin's nineteen "Coachable Moment" sidebars, which are a highlight of the new edition. In it, Scott quickly reminds us that as we enter that "next level," it's not always our personal greatness that matters most to the organization, but the indispensability of the role we play and how that can free others to go great work.
What Is It That Only You Can Do? BY SCOTT EBLIN
One of the typical challenges that leaders have when they take on a bigger job is figuring out what they need to let go of and what they need to pick up in terms of where they spend their time and attention. There’s a simple question I like to ask executives to consider as they sort this out: What is it that only I can do?
When I’m coaching people through this question, I’m quick to point out what the question isn’t about. It’s not about personal indispensability. As the founder of modern France, Charles deGaulle said, “The cemeteries are full of indispensable men.” Yeah, as special and wonderful as each of us are in our own unique ways, none of us are indispensable. If we get hit by a bus, it’s likely that the bus is carrying someone who can step into our role.
But, for now, you are the only person filling your role. So, it’s important to ask that simple question in a slightly different way: What is it, given the role that I’m in and all of the unique resources and opportunities that come with it, that only I can do?
If you think about it, there’s probably a pretty short but very high impact list of things that only you can do as the person filling your role. What is it that comes with your role that enables you to get things done that others can’t? It could be any number of things including:
- Decision making authority
- Participation in leadership conversations
- Access to key people
- Ability to get the meetings you need
With characteristics like that, your list of the things that only you can might include knocking down barriers for your team, securing resources, building alliances, setting goals or energizing others around a vision. Your list probably shouldn’t include activities just because you could do them or are good at doing them. Those likely aren’t the list of things that only you can do in your role. Focus on the things that will really leverage the unique opportunities of your role.
Here’s an example of how it plays out in real life. One of my clients was the president of the Federal business unit of his company. He’s a talented guy with a lot of experience and capabilities. In a conversation with his team about the “What is it that only I can do?” question, someone said to him:
I’ll tell you what only you can do – be the president. When I’m making that final call on a deputy undersecretary of a federal agency to sell a big contract, I need you to show up as our president. I need you to show your interest, that you’re well informed and say that you’ll make sure we deliver for them. I don’t need you to work with us on the third draft of the proposal or run the numbers for the fifth time. We’ve got other people who can do that. I need you to show up as the president because you’re the only president we’ve got.
The same is true for you. Whatever role you’re filling for your team and organization, approach it like you’re the only they’ve got. What is it, given your role, that only you can do?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Scott Eblin is the co-founder and president of The Eblin Group, Inc., a leadership development and strategy firm that supports organizations in ensuring the success of their executive level leaders. Featured on ABC News and in Investor’s Business Daily, the Washington Post and Harvard Management Update, Scott is a former Fortune 500 executive, with a leadership development client list that runs the gamut from Astra Zeneca to the U.S. Navy. Scott is a graduate of Davidson College and holds a masters degree in public administration from Harvard University. Scott has a certificate in leadership coaching from Georgetown University and is a member of the faculty for that program. He blogs regularly on leadership at the Next Level Blog at www.scotteblin.com.
What's Your Next Move?
Posted Oct. 7, 2009 5:05 a.m. by jon
In Leadership - 800 CEO Read Blog
Whether you're going for that promotion, looking to jump ship, or change careers entirely, Michael Watkins' Your Next Move is a book you'll want to read. Any career change is a major event, and this is the kind of book that will prepare you for any kind of move, from dealing with exiting techniques, to international moves, to turnarounds, to working with new groups of people (who may, in fact, be ex-peers you are now supervising). This is a well-written, personal, and to-the-point guide that covers a lot of ground in a short time. Here's part of the intro that describes what the book addresses:
"Dissect the CV of any successful executive, and you'll see a series of high-stakes transitions into ever-more-challenging roles: from individual contributor all the way to general management. Through hard-won experience, the best and brightest get promoted and learn to lead others. They seek out greener pastures (and greater challenges) at new companies or business units--and learn to adapt to unfamiliar cultures. The path to still-greater corporate heights often leads them through international assignments or different functional areas of the business--and likely both. If all goes well, they win responsibility for whole businesses--and all that entails."
It's not just about 'moving' but about what happens when those actions are taken. Success or failure are the two options, and which option you emerge with will determine what happens going forward. Watkins' book definitely has the research and insight to equip you for the better of the two paths. Another testimony to the author worth mentioning is that his previous book The First 90 Days, was included in Jack and Todd's The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. That endorsement alone drew my attention to picking this one up, and after reading it, it's clear that Watkins has another hit.
Jack Covert Selects - Hit the Ground Running
Posted March 13, 2009 4:00 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
Hit the Ground Running: A Manual for New Leaders by Jason Jennings, Portfolio, 256 Pages, $25.95 Hardcover, March 2009, ISBN 9781591842477
Jason Jennings has been a favorite of mine for a long time. He writes the kind of books I like. They are research based, with interesting examples to support that research. I found his first book, It's Not the Big That Eats the Small... It's the Fast That Eats the Slow, especially fun to read because, like he does with this book, the people and companies represented are new and interesting--not the usual business-book fodder of Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs or FedEx.
What Jennings and his researchers did for this book was study the Fortune 1000 companies, looking for new CEOs who created the most shareholder value in the first years of their time on the job. Jennings then interviewed the ten best performing CEOs. What Jennings' team found was that these CEOs, on average, doubled revenue, doubled profit margins and more than tripled earning per share during the past decade. Some of the companies represented are Smuckers, Staples, Humana and Goodrich.
During the interviews, Jennings discovered that what these leaders have in common is their ability to quickly size up the situation when they arrived, stop the bleeding, assemble the right people and achieve remarkable results. Jennings also identified ten rules that new leaders need to apply in a new position. Rules like: Ask for Help; Gain Belief; Be Accountable and; Find, Keep and Grow the Right People. Each one of the ten rules is the basis of a chapter, and he has a corresponding company history to support every rule. Now, I understand that, chances are, you're not going to be a CEO. But, most likely, you are going to start a new job, or get transferred to a different position, sometime in your life. Just as Michael Watkins does in his classic, The First 90 Days, Jennings shows you how to best make that transition.
Jason Jennings' books are always very narrative-driven. Jennings is, in the truest sense of the word, a storyteller. All his books start with solid research base to support a premise and Jennings uses stories and connective tissue to support the team's findings. It is a great way to learn.