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

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

The one-sentence summary

Successful teams need to trust each other, engage in constructive conflict, commit, hold each other accountable, and remove ego to concentrate on results.


  • There are five dysfunctions that can ruin the effectiveness and cohesion of any team, particularly leadership teams. They are:
  1. Absence of trust. This stems from an unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Those who are not open about mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build trust.
  2. Fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered debate. Instead they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.
  3. Lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in or commit to decisions, though they may feign it in meetings.
  4. Avoidance of accountability. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused people fail to call their peers on counterproductive actions and behaviours.
  5. Inattention to results. Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where team members put their individual needs, or those of their departments, above those of the leadership team.
  • Trust comes from overcoming invulnerability and admitting to weaknesses.
  • Constructive conflict needs to replace artificial harmony.
  • Creating commitment means removing ambiguity.
  • Accountability involves raising low standards.
  • Inattention to results can be addressed by removing status and ego issues.


  • The model can be used effectively in any management team awayday.
  • There are a series of questionnaires that can be used as a method to flush out opinions and character types.
  • Wasting time in unproductive meetings can be avoided by setting up 4 types: 1. Daily check-in (10 mins); 2. Weekly staff (45-90 mins); 3. Adhoc topical (2-4 hrs); 4. Quarterly offsite (1-2 days). These will only take 13% of your time.


  • The main part of the book is a fable, which may not be everybody’s preferred way of understanding a method.
  • The book should probably be read in conjunction with another of the author’s books, The Advantage, so that the behaviour of the senior team can be properly aligned to what the company is trying to achieve.

number of view: 110

The Advantage – Patrick Lencioni

The one-sentence summary

Organizational health is more important than everything else in business.


  • Companies usually look to the same old stuff to gain competitive advantage – marketing, strategy, and technology.
  • But the untapped goldmine they often fail to exploit is making sure the business works properly – something the author calls Organizational Health.
  • The four components of this are:

1. Build a cohesive leadership team

2. Create clarity

3. Overcommunicate clarity (CEOs need to be Chief Reminding Officers)

4. Reinforce clarity (Starting True Rumours spreads information effectively)

  • Building a decent team involves building trust, allowing and mastering conflict, achieving commitment, embracing accountability, and focusing on results.
  • There are six critical questions that need answering to create clarity:

1. Why do we exist?

2. How do we behave?

3. What do we do?

4. How will we succeed?

5. What is most important, right now?

6. Who must do what?

  • Once these are properly answered, they need to be repeated again and again to staff, and reinforced with appropriate behaviour.


  • There has been a values stampede in companies, but generating charts with adjectives on them doesn’t get you very far. There are many types of values, and it is important to distinguish between them:
  • Core values: just two or three inherent behaviour traits.
  • Aspirational values: characteristics the organization wishes to have, but doesn’t yet.
  • Permission-to-play values: minimum behavioural standards required in order to be competitive.
  • Accidental values: unintentional traits that have come about but don’t necessarily serve the organization well. These can have unintended consequences.
  • A Thematic Goal is a rallying cry designed to defeat silos, politics and turf wars. It needs to be singular, qualitative and temporary, so that everyone in the company knows what to do right now.
  • Meeting Stew can be avoided by setting up 4 types: 1. Daily check-in (10 mins); 2. Weekly staff (45-90 mins); 3. Adhoc topical (2-4 hrs); 4. Quarterly offsite (1-2 days). These will only take 13% of your time.


  • Nothing. This is valuable stuff, and very useful as an awayday method.

number of view: 230

How To Kill A Unicorn – Mark Payne

The one-sentence summary

Innovation must build ideas at the crossroads of creativity and commerce, solving a big customer problem and a big business problem in one bold move.


  • The failure rates of most innovations are absurdly high, culminating in ‘unicorns’ – visions that are lovely to think about, but only doable and profitable in some imaginary world.
  • What is needed is a Money and Magic approach, sometimes called How and Wow. That’s where the ideas people and the commercial people work together from the off to solve both a customer and a business problem in one move.
  • What goes in to an innovation process is always dozens of initiatives competing for resources. By the midpoint, nearly all solve a customer need. But they should only be implemented if they also solve a business need for the company.
  • The moral is: don’t suspend commercial questions early in the process.
  • This two-sided thinking (customer and company need) must start from day one. The best results come at the crossroads of the two requirements.
  • Another crossroads comes at the intersection of near-term ROI, low risk tolerance, big growth goals, and tight resource constraints. Big doesn’t always mean risky, slow and expensive.
  • The aim of marketplace disruption needs to be offset by the amount of company disruption in achieving it. A high effect on the market with low company upheaval is of course the Promised Land.


  • Don’t buy into the myth that creativity is most effective when it’s unencumbered by practical imperatives.
  • Transformational questions can be powerful in opening up bigger answers. You need to assume transformation is necessary, cultivate a healthy disrespect for present reality, and temporarily forget what you know.
  • Learn to hear the thundering sound of the thing that isn’t being said.
  • A company’s incompetencies can often provide the clue to how to innovate.
  • “The details aren’t the details, they make the design.”
  • In business-to-business markets, it is usually necessary to solve several different business models at once. Many initiatives fail because they concentrate just on the end user, failing to satisfy the demands of all the intermediaries and other companies involved in the process.
  • Innovation needs tracking metrics: project success rates, in-market hit rates, and aggregate pipeline impact. Monitor all these, and you can prove that your innovations are indeed doing the right thing for the company.


  • The author is founder of the innovation company Fahrenheit 212, and in large part this reads like a company brochure.

number of view: 577


03 2015

Thinking In New Boxes – Brabandere & Iny

The one-sentence summary

If you want to think in new boxes, doubt everything, probe the possible, diverge, converge, and then re-evaluate relentlessly.


  • Thinking ‘outside the box’ isn’t the answer. True ingenuity needs structure, hard analysis, and bold brainstorming.
  • That means thinking in new boxes. A box is a mental model –a construction that exists purely within you, and which dictates how you view the world.
  • Inductive thinking involves moving from observed fragmented details to a connected view, a binding principle, hypothesis, or box.
  • Deductive thinking involves applying such a framework to observed details to see if the box has the capacity to interpret them. Logic is the science of deduction.
  • A Eureka moment is when you suddenly realise how to shift your perception.
  • A Caramba moment is when you realise one or more of your boxes (set of assumptions) are out of date. (A Spanish expression of surprise).
  • Re-examine your approach to business creativity in five steps:

1. Doubt everything: Challenge your current perspectives.

2. Probe the possible: Explore the options around you.

3. Diverge: Generate many new and exciting ideas, even if they seem absurd.

4. Converge: Evaluate and select ideas that will drive breakthrough results.

5. Re-evaluate: relentlessly. No idea is good forever.


  • To get the process rolling you need to create a climate of doubt, list and then challenge your current boxes, and set out a new set of boxes to investigate. Conduct a beliefs audit:
  • What are the inherent assumptions in your day-to-day work?
  • What has your organisation never feared that could destroy it?
  • If your company didn’t exist, what difference would it make?
  • Prospective thinking asks: What might or could happen? What should I do about it?
  • Boiling frogs are evolving situations that are slow and subtle (named after the spurious notion that a frog will fail to leap out of a boiling pot if the temperature is raised very gradually).
  • Describe your company or product using 5 words. Now try doing it without those words. You may create a new box.
  • “Yes and…” is productive. “Yes but…” is not.
  • “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” Linus Pauling


  • There is a recurring and somewhat annoying mythical company called Ultragames that keeps being used as a working example.
  • The authors are from Boston Consulting Group, so there is an element of ‘brochure’ here.

number of view: 676


  1. Linchpin, Seth Godin, 58,900 hits
  2. Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 23,900
  3. Creative Disruption, Simon Waldman, 23,000
  4. Marketing Judo, Barnes & Richardson, 10,000
  5. Little Black Book of Innovation, Scott Anthony, 9,500
  6. The Brand Innovation Manifesto, John Grant, 9,500
  7. Adaptability, Max McKeown, 8,500
  8. The Use of Lateral Thinking, Edward de Bono, 7,900
  9. When Cultures Collide, Richard Lewis, 7,200
  10. Sticky Wisdom, Matt Kingdon, 6,100
  11. How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp, 5,000
  12. Talk Lean, Alan Palmer, 5,000
  13. Rigorous Magic, Taylor & Hatch, 4,900
  14. Drinking From The Fire Hose, Frank & Magnone, 4,800
  15. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely, 4,800
  16. Tell The Truth, Unerman & Salem Baskin, 4,300
  17. The Little Big Things, Tom Peters, 4,000
  18. The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 4,000
  19. Organisations Don’t Tweet, Euan Semple, 4,000
  20. The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin, 4,000
  21. The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry, 3,700
  22. Contagious, Jonah Lehrer, 3,000
  23. The Language of Leaders, Kevin Murray, 3,000
  24. Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2,900
  25. David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, 2,800
  26. Makers, Chris Anderson, 2,700
  27. The Age of Unreason, Charles Handy, 2,500
  28. Business Is Beautiful, Danet et al., 2,000
  29. Obliquity, John Kay, 1,900
  30. The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, 1,800
number of view: 718


03 2015