The commercial application of Greatest Hits

How Greatest Hits training can transform your business.

  • I take 15 minutes to explain what is in a book
  • We discuss the content and its implications
  • Attendees have to work out how they can apply the thinking to their business, customers, clients, or staff
  • This generates a minimum of 10 ideas per book
  • Repeat 6-10 times and you have 60-100 ideas to stimulate the business
  • Over 200 books to choose from


number of view: 0


12 2012

Business Reimagined – Dave Coplin

The one-sentence summary

The workplace is no longer fit for purpose so we need a more flexible and social approach.


  • This book is subtitled Why work isn’t working and what you can do about it.
  • The workplace is no longer fit for purpose so we need a more flexible and social approach. Businesses need to provide physical and cognitive space for employees to flourish.
  • Reimagining business involves bringing together flexible working, being social, and the management of change.
  • A recent study showed that 71% of Americans are not engaged with their work.
  • Open plan offices have turned workers into antelopes on the savannah – spending most of the time feeling vulnerable to the wide open nature of their habitat.
  • Productivity is now viewed as office-bound, process-focused and unimaginative. It’s about how much you get done, not the quality of it.
  • Being slaves to email was never part of our vision of the future.
  • The most vital question is: “Why do we do it like this?” The worst answer is: “Because we’ve always done it like that.” This is what Jonathan Margolis calls ‘the arrogance of the present.’


  • According to Tony Crabbe, creativity divides into three categories of activity: 1. Intellectual ambling. 2. Connecting brains. 3. Deep thinking.
  • It takes 15 minutes to achieve optimum ‘flow state’ thinking, but few modern executives ever get 15 minutes of uninterrupted time.
  • 70% of office workers say they get more done when away from the office.
  • 38% say they can be more creative when away from the office.
  • Multi-tasking makes us 30% less effective.
  • While social technologies are used by 70% of organisations, there is only a 10% success rate with such projects. This is because social collaboration is by its very nature disruptive, the technology is often outside of the traditional suite of corporate tools, and the risk of democratisation frightens many companies.
  • Collaboration is well demonstrated by this anecdote. When JFK visited NASA in 1962 he asked the janitor what he was doing. The reply was “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”


  • There is no index or bibliography, which is a bit frustrating.
  • The Knowledge Worker descriptor at the start is never defined.

number of view: 224

Brief – Joseph McCormack

The one-sentence summary

You can make a bigger impact by saying less – map it, tell it, talk it, and show it.


  • This book is all about making a bigger impact by saying less.
  • Most day-to-day communications are unfocused and unclear. In a world where everyone is inundated with too much information and highly inattentive, being brief isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity.
  • People who struggle with brevity suffer variously from cowardice, (over) confidence, callousness, comfort, confusion, complication, and carelessness.
  • Audiences that are mind-filled rather than mindful suffer from inundation, inattention, interruption and impatience.
  • There are four things you need to do to communicate effectively and efficiently:

1. Map it – map out the argument, then condense and trim volumes of information from it.

2. Tell it – use narrative storytelling to explain the message in a clear, concise and compelling way.

3. Talk it – the TALC system turns monologues in meetings into controlled, productive conversations: Talk, Actively Listen, Converse.

4. Show it – use visuals to attract attention and capture the imagination.


  • The Elusive 600: people speak about 150 words per minute, yet have the mental capacity to consume 5 times that number – 750. So the Elusive 600 is the other stuff they are distracted by when you are speaking to them. It’s your job to stop their attention leaking.
  • Brevity is not just about time. It doesn’t just mean being concise.
  • Light brevity is being concise without comprehension.
  • Deep brevity is being succinct with savvy. Aim for the latter.
  • All presentations should be subject to trimming.

~ Level 1 details are absolutely essential.

~ Level 2 details add a little flavour but shouldn’t take up too much time.

~ Level 3 items weigh the story down and don’t make it noticeably better.

  • Bottom line upfront is the best way to start any presentation: your message is immediately clear, and remains so even if the meeting is cut short or someone has to leave early.
  • WIFM stands for What’s In It For Me? All presenters should consider this question in relation to the person(s) they are presenting to. Know what motivates your audience, skip what doesn’t matter, and make a conclusive delivery.
  • Flagging is calling out the number of ideas you want to share. This provides an order to any presentation, and keeps the audience connected, waiting for you to deliver that number of points.
  • TLDR stands for Too Long, Didn’t Read and TLDW stands for Too Long, Didn’t Watch. Make sure your material doesn’t fall into these categories.


  • Not much. The sentiment matches precisely that of my own book Tick Achieve.

number of view: 174


09 2014

The Art of Innovation – Tom Kelley

The one-sentence summary

Successful innovation needs the right conditions and attitude – an eye for what can be improved, a rapid approach to prototyping, and a resilient problem-solving orientation.


  • This is the 2001 classic from the founder of innovation agency Ideo.
  • A number of principles are outlined, all of which contribute to the right conditions for high quality innovation:
  1. Innovation at the top: it’s no good someone tinkering in a basement – the mandate to innovate has to come from the top.
  2. Winging it in start-up mode: fast and practical problem solving is the right attitude.
  3. Innovation begins with an eye: great innovators notice things that annoy them or that can be made better – they keep a “bug list” of things that bug them and look for better alternatives.
  4. Perfect brainstorms: doing them well is an art and requires regular practice (see later). Bodystorming is acting out the customer experience.
  5. Hot groups: small, diverse teams work best. Look for visionaries, iconoclasts, troubleshooters, craftsmen, technologists, and cross-dressers (people who have had more than one type of career).
  6. Prototyping as shorthand: making them fast and early improves the process.
  7. Build a greenhouse: the office needs to be a place where these ideas can flourish.
  8. Expect the unexpected: nothing proceeds smoothly – innovators expect hitches and are good at overcoming barriers.


  • Innovators understand customer needs by imagining themselves to be “left-handed”, or by seeing things through a child’s eyes.
  • It helps to view products as verbs – then you can properly envisage them in action and design them more appropriately.
  • Good brainstorms involve a sharp (non-fuzzy) focus; playful rules; numbering your ideas; building and jump from idea to idea; using the physical space (usually the walls) to capture everything; stretching your mental muscles; and getting physical.
  • Abolish the word “they” in the office: “we” are responsible for everything.
  • Cross-pollination can be achieved by surfing widely different information sources, taking on the perspective of a film director, holding an open house, talking to advocates, hiring outsiders, changing hats, and being trained in a new skill.
  • Watch customers incessantly, play with your physical workspace, break rules, and “fail forward” so that change is part of the culture.


  • Not much. This is a classic handbook for anyone wishing to innovate.

number of view: 278

Creative Confidence – Kelley & Kelley

The one-sentence summary

We all have creative potential that can be unleashed and there are many techniques that can help.


  • This book is from the founders of Ideo, the innovation agency. It argues that we can all be creative, and offers a range of techniques for doing so.
  • The basic steps are:

Flip: moving from design thinking to creative confidence.

Dare: moving from fear to courage; being prepared to have a go.

Spark: think like a traveller, empathise with the end user, and make field observations to inform improvements.

Leap: from planning to action – do something. Don’t get stuck in the planning phase. Keep a bug list – things that annoy you and should be improved. Then work out how to fix them; bridge the knowing/doing gap.

Seek: from duty to passion. The looks good, feels bad trap keeps people doing things they don’t care about just for the money or security.

Team: work in creatively confident groups by keeping your sense of humour, minimizing hierarchy, building on the energy of others, trusting camaraderie, and deferring judgement – at least temporarily.

Move: have the confidence to go and get on with it.

  • There are usually three factors to balance in any innovation programme:

Business: is it viable?

Technical: is it feasible?

People: is it desirable?


  • There is no word in the Tibetan language for creativity or being creative – it merely translates as being natural, more like when we were young and not afraid to experiment.
  • People with self-efficacy set their sights higher, try harder and persevere longer (Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mindset’).
  • Design-driven innovation involves inspiration, synthesis, ideation and experimentation, and implementation.
  • Guided mastery is a series of small successes leading to much greater creative confidence. The counterpoint to this is an anti-portfolio – a failure resume from which lessons can be learned.
  • Many people carry a creativity scar – an incident from their youth where they were embarrassed when experimenting with something. This makes them scared to try new things as adults.
  • Add constraints to spur action: less time, budget, or fewer people or resources.
  • For easier buy-in by colleagues and bosses, recast changes as experiments.
  • “Everything in modern society is the result of a collection of decisions made by someone. Why shouldn’t that someone be you?”


  • Not much. It’s a comprehensive toolkit and call to arms for innovative thinking.

number of view: 237


07 2014

Consiglieri – Richard Hytner

The one-sentence summary

Being a successful no.2 can be just as rewarding as being No.1.


  • This book is all about leading from the shadows, and it celebrates the role of the right-hand man, or consigliere (the name given to the closest adviser to mafia heads).
  • Much business writing emphasises that the key to success lies in getting to the top, but not everybody can be number one and, perhaps more importantly, not everyone wants to be.
  • Although it is easy to disparage the role of those who are ‘No.2’, these people often determine the fate of companies and countries.
  • “He’s a great no.2” is often regarded as synonymous with “He’ll never make no.1”, leading to what the author calls Second Syndrome.
  • In fact, As (top leaders) and Cs (consiglieri) share similar qualities founded on trust, credibility, confidence and emotional intelligence.
  • This can be expressed as an equation: LQ = TQ(C+C) x EQ, where:
  • LQ = Leadership Quotient
  • TQ = a multiple of your credibility times your confidence score
  • EQ = Emotional Quotient
  • Those with leadership aspirations should try both roles if possible before settling into one or the other.


  • The central message of the book is that the best leadership teams beat to a reciprocal drum. The A and C need to find out what makes each other tick.
  • Although leaders are often derided and regarded as selfish, they do in fact take many of the tasks and responsibilities that lesser mortals would not enjoy, nor possibly even be able to do.
  • Consiglieri enjoy spending a lifetime learning, bringing other people on, and from time to time making crucial interventions that have a deep bearing on what the A is doing.
  • To get the most out of everybody, consiglieri need to be at ease, reliable in their actions, driving new ideas, and brave enough at all times to tell the A what’s what. They are content, constant, catalytic and courageous.
  • There are many different types of consiglieri, including the lodestone (frees the A from management burdens), educators (inform and nurture), anchors (centres of authenticity), and deliverers (decisive influencers).
  • Helpful qualities for the C include knowing when to give counsel, knowing how to deliver bad news (well), and knowing when to stop.


  • Many of the examples are from politics, sport, and literature. It is pot luck what type you find stimulating.
  • Juggling large numbers of As and Cs can make some sentences hard to read at first until you get into a rhythm and familiar with the typologies.

number of view: 199


07 2014