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KEVIN EXPLAINS HOW IT WORKS

HOW GREATEST HITS TRAINING CAN TRANSFORM YOUR BUSINESS

  • I take 15 minutes to explain what is in a book and discuss the content
  • Attendees 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
  • 300 books to choose from

KEVIN’S BEST 15 BOOKS FROM 2015

Connect – John Browne

The one sentence summary

Companies can succeed better by radically engaging with society

WHAT THE BOOK SAYS CONNECT

  • Companies can succeed better by radically engaging with society
  • There are four tenets that can be adopted to achieve connected leadership:
  1. Map your world: understand the trends that are shaping your context
  2. Define your contribution: quantify the value your company can contribute
  3. Apply world class management: connect the business to society at the highest level
  4. Engage radically: earn trust and credibility by engaging the external world on the front foot and being completely open
  • We have a finite pool of worry, and turn off when we hear trigger words such as ‘carbon dioxide’. A compelling vision of the future is more effective than a shaming strategy.
  • Companies that build a reservoir of goodwill are more robust when it comes to withstanding bad publicity, not always self-generated, such as when Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol painkiller was sabotaged with cyanide in 1982.
  • CSR is defective: executives see it as a fluffy, irrelevant cost centre, and civil society groups see it as meaningless propaganda that fails to achieve anything. If it doesn’t build the business, it’s unsustainable.
  • Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan successfully placed society at the heart of the business model and increased revenues by 10bn Euros.
  • A strategy can be enacted with 3 Cs:

Contest: correcting misperceptions and pushing back against unfair and illogical legislation

Concede and lead: admit when the industry has got things wrong and lead change to improve things

Collaborate: companies that act alone can rarely achieve major change

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT

  • There are three areas that will determine company success and society’s ability to solve ecological challenges:
  1. Be better at exploiting easier win-win solutions
  2. Address long-term threats posed by unsustainable behaviour
  3. Innovation that makes a greener economy attractive and exciting
  • Lee Scott, then CEO of Walmart, only started to think carefully about sustainability after meeting river guide turned consultant Jeb Ellison. As the world’s biggest retailer, size is an advantage. Between 2005 and 2010, they sold 460m energy efficient light bulbs – the equivalent impact on greenhouse gas emissions as taking 25m cars off the road.
  • The life expectancy of US companies has shrunk from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today.
  • Enron’s principles were respect, integrity, communication and excellence

WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH

  • The chapter headings are unhelpfully enigmatic – it would be much easier to navigate the book if the sub-headings of each had been used on the contents page

 

 

Why Should Anyone Work Here? – Goffee & Jones

The one sentence summary

Successful company cultures need honesty and meaning, allowing people to be themselves and do work that makes sense.

WHAT THE BOOK SAYS WHY SHOULD ANYONE WORK HERE?

  • In the past, businesses made people conform to the organization’s needs. That doesn’t work any more.
  • Leaders need to attract the right people, keep them and inspire them to do their best work.
  • The authors propose six attributes of a healthy company culture:

Difference: Let people be themselves

Radical honesty: Let people know what’s really going on

Extra value: Magnify people’s strengths

Authenticity: Stand for something more than just shareholder value

Meaning: Make the work make sense

Simple rules: Make the rules clear and apply equally to everyone

  • What makes work meaningless?
  1. Scale (companies too big)
  2. Division of labour (silos and lack of connection between people and tasks)
  3. Time lags (big gaps between doing things and their eventual outcome)
  • Connection, community, and cause lead to good morale and effort.
  • Rule creep and complexity in companies actually lead to value loss. Trusting people to do the right thing works best.
  • The best leaders are almost invisible:

“A leader whose existence is unknown to his subordinates is really the most brilliant one.” Zhang Ruimin, CEO of Chinese company Haier

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT

  • There are a set of diagnostic tools and questions to work out whether the culture is healthy.
  • Don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
  • Don’t try too much.
  • Ipartheid is the dominance of white, male, well-educated technology managers in Silicon Valley
  • HiPos are high potential employees
  • NEETs are young people Not in employment, education or training
  • The average length of share ownership is now just 22 seconds, so most shareholder value is taken on the fly by those not properly involved.

WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH

  • The DREAMS acronym is a bit hit and miss, and is inconsistently applied from flyleaf, to chapter heading, to body copy.

 

 

 

The No Asshole Rule – Robert Sutton

The one sentence summary

Assholes should not be tolerated – at work or anywhere else.

WHAT THE BOOK SAYSTHE NO ASSHOLE RULE

  • This is all about building a civilized workplace and surviving one that isn’t.
  • A temporary asshole is anyone having a bad day or bad moment. We can all be like this.
  • A certified asshole is a persistently nasty and destructive jerk.
  • There are two tests for spotting them:
  1. After talking to the alleged asshole, does the target feel oppressed, humiliated, or belittled?
  2. Does the alleged asshole aim his or her venom at people who are less powerful than them?
  • Common everyday actions that assholes use include: personal insults, invading one’s personal territory, uninvited physical contact, threats and intimidation (verbal and non-verbal), sarcastic jokes and teasing used as insult delivery systems, withering email flames, status slaps intended to humiliate, public shaming or status degradation rituals, rude interruptions, two-faced attacks, dirty looks, and treating people as though they are invisible.
  • TCA is the Total Cost of Assholes to an organization, via retention and recruitment costs, lost clients, and wasted time fixing their issues.
  • A few demeaning creeps can overwhelm the warm feelings generated by hoards of civilized people.
  • The rule lives or dies in the little moments. Enforcing it isn’t just management’s job.

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT

  • Negative interactions have a fivefold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions.
  • In medical school, units with the best leaders reporting making as many as ten times more errors than those with the worst leaders. That’s because people are too scared to report them in teams ruled by fear.
  • The power performance paradox is when intelligent leaders recognise that their company does need to have some sort of pecking order, but they do everything they can to downplay status and power differences between individuals.
  • The only thing worse than too much confrontation is no confrontation at all. Staff need to ‘Fight as if you are right; listen as if you’re wrong.’
  • “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” Leonardo da Vinci. Avoid getting involved in work with assholes if at all possible.

WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH

  • Talking about the rule is nice, but following up on it is what really matters.

 

 

The Culture Map – Erin Meyer

The one sentence summary
Global business is a great deal easier if you pay attention to how other cultures work.


WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
THE CULTURE MAP
• This is all about decoding how cultural differences affect international business. It includes a series of scales plotting the attitudes and approaches of different nationalities.
• There are eight parameters:
1. Communicating (low to high context)
2. Evaluating (direct to indirect negative feedback)
3. Persuading (principles-first to applications-first)
4. Leading (egalitarian to hierarchical)
5. Deciding (consensual to top-down)
6. Trusting (task-based to relationship-based)
7. Disagreeing (confrontational to avoids confrontation)
8. Scheduling (linear-time to flexible-time)
• You can plot nationalities on the axes and work out how to interact more effectively.
• Views of meeting success are fascinating. In a good meeting:
A. A decision is made (USA)
B. Various viewpoints are discussed and debated (France)
C. A formal stamp is put on a decision that has been made before the meeting (Japan, China)

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
• When dealing with negative feedback, upgrader and downgrader adjectives are important. Direct cultures use upgraders such as absolutely, totally, or strongly, as in “This is totally unprofessional.” This is humiliating for indirect cultures. Downgraders include kind of, a bit, and maybe.
• Principles-first cultures go from macro to micro (Germans, French) while applications-first do the opposite (US, UK).
• Power distance is important in countries that value and respect hierarchy. They regard level hopping with disdain.
• Is this a Decision with a capital D or a small d? In consensual cultures, decisions involve lengthy discussion, followed by a fixed Decision (capital D). In top-down cultures, the decision (small d) comes early, but may be subject to frequent change.
• The Japanese ringi system is hierarchical, consensual and bottom-up: proposal documents start in the lower echelons, and only rise up when everyone has chipped in and approved them.
• Cognitive trust is based on the confidence you feel in another person’s skills. Affective trust is emotional.
• A peach culture is soft on the outside and tough in the middle (USA, Brazil)
• A coconut culture is the other way round (Poland, France, Germany, Russia).
• Wasta in Arabic translates roughly as “connections that create preference”: going direct and cold doesn’t work; going via a contact does.

WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
• Nothing. It’s fascinating stuff.

PARAMETERS

EMOTION:CONFRONTATION

Applied Imagination – Alex Osborn

The one sentence summary

Brainstorming is the best way to generate lots of fertile ideas.

WHAT THE BOOK SAYS APPLIED IMAGINATION

  • This is the classic 1953 book about the principles and procedures of creative problem solving, written by one of the founders of the BBDO advertising agency (Batten Barton Durstine Osborn).
  • Here he coins the concepts of brainstorming and group ideation for the first time. (He recommends 12 people as the optimum number).
  • The system is based on four principles:
  1. Criticism is ruled out. Adverse judgement of ideas must be withheld till later.
  2. Freewheeling is welcomed. The wilder the idea, the better.
  3. Quantity is wanted. The greater the number of ideas, the more the likelihood of winners.
  4. Combination and improvement are sought. Build on the ideas of others.
  • Our thinking mind is mainly twofold:
  1. A judicial mind analyses, compares and chooses
  2. A creative mind visualises, foresees, and generates ideas
  • When judgement is served too early, it stifles creativity, so groups adopting the second approach generate 10 times as many ideas.
  • Creative imagination hunts out interesting stuff, and works out how to change what is found. The process needs to run from orientation, preparation, and analysis to ideation, incubation, synthesis and
  • The brief or subject of each brainstorm needs to be specific, thus preventing vague ideas that won’t work.

 WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT

  • When you participate in a brainstorm, don’t drive with the brakes on.
  • Useful questions to ask include:
  • “This is next to what?”
  • “What does this go with?”
  • “What happens before or after?”
  • “Smaller or larger?”
  • “What’s this like?”
  • Adapt? Modify? Magnify? Minify? Substitute? Rearrange? Reverse? Combine?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

“A problem well stated is half solved.” John Dewey

WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH

  • It’s 65 years old, so you need to aim off for that. There are some hilarious anachronisms such as “Several organizations have found it helpful to include females on each brainstorm panel.”
  • Subsequent academic studies have claimed that brainstorming generates fewer ideas than individuals working on their own and then pooling their ideas. The author himself admits that only 10% of the ideas will be usable.