Starting a new job is always challenging so mea culpa for my absence! Making the move to Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning was made easy by the welcoming faculty and staff and I’m loving it! So, look for some good things to be coming out of Sheridan soon. The Faculty of Business is on the move.
Now back to book reviews. I am delighted to be able to feature “Business Model You”, a great little addition to anyone’s library. Written by Tim Clark, in collaboration with Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur AND 328 work-life wizards from 43 countries. And yes, I am one of the work-life wizards–a small contribution to the process. Following on the success of Business Model Generation, this little gem is full of ways to reinvent your career. Its a fun read. Enjoy!
If you are looking for an interesting book to start off 2012, the Digital Innovation Playbook might be for you. Author and Innovator Nicholas Webb has provided his unique perspective on the use of digital and social media to drive customer value. Rules of successful innovation management have changed drastically. Topical questions such as:
o How does the digital universe is driving the most innovative organizations?
o and for all you number crunchers out there, How do you build sales while reducing costs?
will be explored and answered. Do you need a digital culture? Yes, most certainly. Corporate culture is the foundation on which you build your organization and your ability to innovate. Webb speaks to the need for active listening – a novel concept to many organizations who pay lip service to ‘customer feedback’ but do not actually listen to what their customers want. Digital technologies can provide a listening platform that will drive profitability and develop an authentic relationship with your customer. Why pay attention? As Peter Drucker so wisely stated “there will be two kinds of managers – those who think in terms of a world economy and those who are unemployed.” Webb gives insights into reaching and listening to that world economy. You choose which manager you wish to be.
10 years after the success of ‘Good to Great‘, author Jim Collins returns with some interesting findings. Top contenders are findings such as the ability to scale innovation and to blend creativity and discipline. I have long argued that creativity is not ‘flakey’ but the most disciplined that you will ever be (Collins = hedgehog). That creative discipline delivers on performance goals and is consistent with values-in-action. The ability to marry relentless discipline with focused creativity is more important now that ever before. What also hasn’t changed is the leadership mandate of serving a cause bigger than personal ego. The rest is new findings, not a rehash of old results. Emphasis is on long-term strategy – a 20 mile march. Hopefully we have learned by now that a focus on short-term results leads to trouble if not extinction. I love the concept of ‘zoom-out then zoom-in’ – holding both a mega and micro view builds on what we know of complexity theory that is driving business results, SMaC (specific, methodical and consistent) and the genius of the ‘and’. A worthwhile read.
Douglas Holt brought us the classic “How Brands Become Icons” and he and partner Douglas Cameron have given us another soon to be classic, Cultural Strategy. We are offered some great tidbits such as : how do you find the next market opportunity or how to design a product to meet the new market? Finally utilizing the power of corporate culture and how you harness it, Holt and Cameron emphasize that innovation is as much about culture as it is about product or market development. Do you have a culture capable of not only withstanding ‘being different’ but supporting that difference to drive economic growth? If you are wondering what you need to succeed, this book is for you.
Every so often I purchase a book as soon as it hits the bookstores. Every so often, I sit and read a book cover to cover. This book is worth that level of commitment. Walter Isaacson has written a masterful account of the life of Steve Jobs.
This book was a revelation as to the unwavering determination of Jobs in delivering on his vision. Isaacson doesn’t pull his punches as to how difficult Jobs could be professionally or personally. Jobs was determined from the outset to connect creativity with technology and managed to revolutionize six industries: personal computers, animation, music, phones, tablet computing and digital publishing. Rebel, genius, sometimes a jerk – Jobs epitomized the force needed to sustainably drive ideas to action. If you haven’t seen his Stanford graduation address, it’s a great place to start before opening the book.
In Job’s own words:
“I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they are trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That’s how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before. You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now.”
For all that follow or are curious of the ‘cult of apple’, this is a great read. For all those who choose to stand on the shoulders of giants, who are determined to innovate, to “think different”, this book provides both instruction and inspiration. A joy to add to my book collection. A loss of a great mind. My hope is that his dream lives on.
For anyone interested in branding, David Aaker is a must read. Most strategists know that brand awareness, quality, customer loyalty and brand associations are necessary to compete in today’s market. Aaker provides many examples and methods to drive brand equity. Emphasis is on relationship not transactions – as it should be. Having this book in your arsenal as you face the challenges of social media, explosion of amount and complexity of data, a growing proliferation of channels and devices and shifting customer demographics and psychographics will allow you to sleep at night.
Robert Wolcoot and Michael Lippitz are both from the Kellogg School of Management and have written an interesting guidebook for breathing new life into organizations. Taking innovation to a new level, corporate entrepreneurship is building new businesse within the framework of the old business. One of the most important issues addressed by Grow from Within, is how to link your innovation program with corporate strategy. Designing a new business enterprise is largely about defining and more importantly, implementing a new business model. As Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft likes to point out: All products and businesses go through three distinct phases – vision, patience and execution. This book will give you some valuable insight into those phases and how you can import them into your current organization. Check out the website as well.
Peter Guber has had a very interesting career – studio chief at Columbia Pictures; co-chairman of Casablanca Records and Filmworks; CEO of Polygram Entertainment; chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures – to name a few. His current occupation includes storyteller and that perhaps is his best gig yet. In Tell to Win, Guber draws upon his extensive experience as a thought leader in multiple industries to deliver an easy-to-read and easy-to-follow book on how success is driven by creating a compelling story that moves people to action.
Moving beyond ‘death by powerpoint’, he brings to life the power of story in what he calls the ’emotional transportation business’ and states “if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it”. Short, sweet and right to the point. If you are looking for a good reference book for the use of storytelling in business to achieve your goals, this is one of the better ones I have found.
Among his techniques:
1. capturing audience attention
2. motivating listeners by demonstrating authenticity
3. building your tell around ‘what’s in it for them’
4. changing passive listeners into active participants; and
5. using state-of-the-art technologies online to make sure audience commitment remains strong.