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 250 books to choose from

number of view: 0


12 2012

Uncommon Sense, Common Nonsense – Goddard & Eccles

The one-sentence summary

Uncommon sense can provide companies with the advantage they need to rise above common nonsense.


  • There is common nonsense behind much managerial behaviour today, particularly in the tired and cynical assumptions that underpin organisational routines, rituals and discussions.
  • Uncommon sense is what differentiates smart companies from the others.
  • Incompetence explains performance differences better than competence.
  • The important things happen at the periphery – on the edge of chaos.
  • Deutero-learning involves picking up helpful secondary habits whilst mainly learning something else (Bateson 1904-1980).
  • Too many forums rely on HIPPO (a Highly Paid Person’s Opinion).
  • Management models biased in favour of control at the expense of learning tend to involve:
  • Best practice – the recipe for formulaic sameness
  • Operational excellence – ‘doorknob polishing’ pedestrian policies
  • Competitive benchmarking – plagiarism run riot
  • Balanced scorecards – the bureaucrat’s revenge
  • Performance targets – insults for the conscientious
  • Annual budgets – the pathology of under-ambition
  • Financial incentives – bribes for loners and cynics
  • Organisational alignment- fear of diversity
  • Shared values – the extinction of individualism
  • Professional standards – box-ticking for the risk averse
  • Charismatic leadership – narcissism unbound


  • No business sets out to impoverish shareholders, irritate customers, demoralise employees, outrage governments and leave the world worse off – so why write mission statements claiming otherwise?
  • A catalytic mechanism is any managerial method that acts as a galvanising, non-bureaucratic means to translate lofty aspirations into concrete reality. (Jim Collins)
  • The cock-up theory of warfare:

1. Armies make a cock-up of everything.

2. The more they try to do, the greater the chances of a cock-up.

3. The best way to win battles is to do nothing and wait for the other lot to cock things up.

~ “Companies are rarely killed; they prefer to commit suicide.”

~ “There is nothing as useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker

~ “In a hierarchy, the top entrusts the understanding of detail to the lower levels, while the lower level credit the top with understanding of the general, and so all are mutually deceived.” Karl Marx

~ “No surprises? What, not even good ones?”


  • Nothing. This is pithy and inspirational.

number of view: 162

The Innovators – Walter Isaacson

The one-sentence summary

Innovation occurs when ripe seed falls on fertile ground.


This is all about the hackers, geniuses and geeks that created the digital revolution. It is almost impossible to summarise. Instead, here is a condensed chronology of how all the modern computing capability we take for granted came to be.

1843: Ada Lovelace publishes notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

1847: George Boole creates a system using algebra for logical reasoning.

1890: The census is tabulated using Herman Hollerith’s punch-card machines.

1931: Vannevar Bush devises the Differential Analyzer, an analogue electromechanical computer.

1935: Tommy Flowers pioneers use of vacuum tubes as on-off switches in circuits.

1937: Alan Turing publishes “On Computable Numbers”, describing a universal computer.

1938: William Hewlett and David Packard form a company in a Palo Alto garage.

John Atanasoff finishes model of electronic computer with mechanical storage drums.

1941: Konrad Zuse completes Z3, a fully functional electromechanical programmable digital computer.

1943: Colossus, a vacuum-tube computer to break German codes, is completed at Bletchley Park.

1945: John von Neumann describes a stored-program computer.

1947: The transistor is invented at bell Labs.

1954: Texas Instruments introduces silicon transistor.

1957: Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore form Fairchild semiconductor.

1958: Jack Kilby demonstrates the integrated circuit, or microchip.

1960: Paul Baran at RAND devises packet switching.

1965: Ted nelson publishes first article about hypertext.

1971: Ray Tomlinson invents email.

1973: Ethernet developed by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC.

1973; Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn complete TCP/IP protocols for the internet.

1975: Paul Allen and Bill Gates write first version of BASIC.

1983: Microsoft announces Windows.

1991: Tim Berners-Lee announces World Wide Web.

1994: Justin Hall posts first web log.

1995: IBM’s Deep Blue beats Garry Kasparov at chess.

1998: Larry Page and Sergey Brin launch Google.

2001: Jimmy Swales launches Wikipedia.

number of view: 145


02 2015

The Small Big – Martin, Goldstein & Cialdini

The one-sentence summary

Small changes can have a disproportionately big influence.


  • Persuasion science shows that, in today’s information overloaded world, it’s often the smallest changes that can have the biggest influence.
  • The book contains over 50 deceptively simple suggestions and explains the scientific research behind them.
  • There’s nothing devious about these suggestions – they are for anyone who wishes to change the behaviour of others effectively, efficiently, and ethically.
  • In many cases, the alterations cost nothing but can, for example, save governments millions.
  • The key to all of this are three simple yet powerful underlying human motivations:

1. To make accurate decisions as efficiently as possible

2. To affiliate with and gain the approval of others

3. To see oneself in a positive light

  • Small changes are additionally powerful because they ‘fly under the radar.’
  • They rarely raise suspicion or attention, and simply go quietly about their business.


  • There are some persuasive examples here:
  • People proof: In 2009 the UK government was able to collect £200m extra tax simply by truthfully stating on the correspondence that “most UK citizens pay their tax on time.” This played to peoples’ inherent desire to follow others, and make an accurate decision as efficiently as possible.
  • Head start: People tend to be more motivated to undertake a task they have already started, rather than start from scratch. So, customers told they would get a free car wash after eight washes are twice as likely to complete the purchases if given a loyalty card with ten spaces and two stamps already affixed. They feel they are underway.
  • Online reviews: Contrary to normal belief, negative reviews are viewed as more helpful and persuasive than positive ones. Positive reviews are at their best when written the same day, so restaurants for example should include a suggestion to do this on their bills.


  • The chapters are somewhat annoyingly titled with rhetorical questions. Each chapter does of course answer them, but you have to rummage for every answer. The format would have been easier to reference if each chapter had a one-sentence answer at the end, or if the answer were the chapter heading.
  • There are 52 examples here – arguably too many to absorb in detail and enact regularly.

number of view: 175

Management Tips – Harvard Business Review

• This is a pocket book with 150 tips on how to manage yourself, your team and your business. My favourites are:

1. Pretend you have what you want: it might be fantasy, but so might the thing you are worrying about.
2. Manage your energy: take brief but regular breaks, say thank you, reduce interruptions, and do what you love.
3. Combine creativity and results: ask a lot of questions, but don’t let them impede movement.
4. Be confident, but not really sure: act on your convictions, even if only temporarily, and be prepared to change your mind.
5. Create a diagram of your preferred job: indicate more, less and new tasks.
6. Avoid bad boss tendencies: self-delusion, heedlessness, and insulation.
7. Support your people: show up on time, stop the intrusions, and let them have good fights.
8. Avoid the unilateral thinking trap: make sure people are free to voice their opinions, and go out of your way to seek alternative views.
9. Give the right directions: don’t assume everyone knows the strategy, confirm shared understanding, and connect the dots.
10. Don’t cry wolf: if you say everything is critical, employees will soon ignore your sense of urgency.
11. Don’t assume people won’t understand: find a way to explain even complex detail clearly so people are happier and more productive.
12. Kill more good ideas: too many ideas spread resources too thinly.
13. Avoid certain types of failure: knowingly doing the wrong thing, failing to gather the right data, and prioritizing research over experience.
14. Don’t shy away from a temporary solution: nothing lasts forever anyway.
15. Fail cheaply: make your experiments cheaper, test strategic assumptions before logistical ones, and make decisions faster.
16. Innovate with less: forget the big budget, test in the real market, skip the business plan, make decisions and move on.
17. Find your company’s inner self: forget spreadsheets and data – find a purpose, and don’t (necessarily) mess with the model.
18. Handle customer complaints thoughtfully: understand the full context, propose a resolution, and show respect.

number of view: 283

Business Genius – James Bannerman

The one-sentence summary

Sharpen your skills and have an immediate effect on your business by making a series of small changes to your approach in a range of situations.


  • You can be really good at business and sharpen your thinking by using a series of deceptively simple approaches.The author looks at three main areas:

1. Yourself: boost your focus, confidence, resilience and time management

2. Your business: drive, grow and hone your competitive advantage, innovation and collaboration

3. Your impact: develop your influence, creativity, negotiation and leadership skills

  • Perry’s Confidence Spectrum covers five states of mind: arrogance (“I always win”), supreme confidence (“I will win”), confidence (“I’ll probably win”), self-doubt (“I’ll probably lose”), and low self-esteem (“I always lose, so what’s the point?”).
  • Event + Response = Outcome. We can’t always change the events in our lives, but we can change our response to them.
  • For time management, try the 4Ds: do now, do later, drop, delegate.
  • If you want someone to agree with you, work out what type of person they are and make your case accordingly:

Results (orientated): don’t bore them with details. Make snappy points.

Emotions: show genuine interest in feelings. Give help & support.

Abracadabra: give it some magic. Make it interesting and sparky.

Data: make research, facts, and figures perfectly precise.

  • If you want to sell a service, move away from features by using the phrase “…which means that…” and then add the benefit.
  • Excessive amounts of all these are undesirable: efficiency, enrichment, ego, enthusiasm, encroachment, elasticity, envy.


  • To focus properly, try the NEMO technique: Nothing Else Matters except the O, where you picture the archery target you are going for.
  • When a plane is in trouble, plots are encouraged to ‘fly the plane’. That means concentrating calmly on the matter in hand, not flapping around shouting Mayday. Calm businesspeople need to fly the plane.
  • The biggest contributor to stress is spillage – when you take your work home in your head and can’t switch off.
  • If you want to be assertive, talk in paragraphs. Aggressive people are terse, and vague people ramble. Try somewhere in the middle.
  • ISA stands for: Identify what you are not happy about; State the effect it has had: Ask for the change you would like. This is a calm, dispassionate way to sort things out without having a flaming row.
  • Innovations are specific cases of invention, whereas innovativeness is a permanent state of mind or company culture.


  • Not much, but as always you have to want to make all of this work.

number of view: 313


12 2014