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 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: 79

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: 219

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: 254


12 2014

The Spark – Greg Orme

The one-sentence summary

You can foster a more creative organization by adopting ten helpful habits.


  • This is all about how to ignite and lead business creativity.
  • The spark is defined as an elusive moment when a new idea strikes that has the potential to transform the way you do business.
  • Ideas big and small are the lifeblood of successful businesses because they are responsible for higher profits, quicker growth, and game-changing innovation.
  • It outlines the 10 habits of successful creative leadership:
  1. Start an electric conversation – passionate people provide the rocket fuel
  2. Break the management rules – too many of them stifle innovation
  3. Lead with creative choices – hear the weak signals and develop them
  4. Become a talent impresario – fill your company with creative talent
  5. Know why you do what you do – you need an inspiring sense of purpose
  6. Connect through shared values – this philosophy binds everyone together
  7. Build a business playground – a lively atmosphere at work yields more ideas
  8. Balance focus with freedom – learn to deal with creative tensions
  9. Demolish idea barriers – outward-facing collaborative cultures work best
  10. Encourage collisions – create space where people bump into each other unexpectedly


  • Beware the Bozo Explosion. This was Steve Jobs’ phrase for a situation where managers are so polite that mediocre people feel comfortable sticking around. Creativity drops proportionately.
  • Netflix regularly deploy the Keeper Test, in which managers are asked which of their people they would fight hard to keep if they were told they were leaving. This helps identify the really vital creative talent.
  • The Say-do Gap refers to meaningless values written on company walls that have no power whatsoever. They can be a case of straightforward deceit, or merely insufficient commitment. Look out for these.
  • Dead Stars are silos in companies where the prevailing mood is corporate, fear-driven, and too marketing focused. There’s little inspiration there so they wither and die.
  • The CLEAR model shows the steps needed to foster a more creative culture: Communicate, Learn, Energise, Act, Respond.
  • “All great artists and thinkers are great workers, indefatigable not only in inventing, but also in rejecting, sifting, transforming, ordering.” Nietzsche
  • “Only dead fish go with the flow.” Malcolm Muggeridge


  • Much of this has been mentioned before, but it’s a well-informed handbook for anyone wanting to inject more creativity into a company.

number of view: 249


11 2014

The First Mile – Scott D. Anthony

The one-sentence summary

The first mile of any innovation is fraught, but it can be successfully navigated by following a diligent process.


  • This is a launch manual for getting great ideas into the market.
  • The first mile is where an idea moves from an idea on paper to existing in a market. This stage is the one most commonly afflicted with failure. It’s where danger lurks.
  • Less than 1% of ideas launched by big companies end up working.
  • The ideas aren’t the problem – it’s the process. The author proposes one called DEFT:

Document: write down the answer to these questions: is there a need, can we deliver, do the numbers work, and does it matter?

Evaluate: multiple perspectives, and what the unknowns are.

Focus: work out the deal killers and path dependencies (uncertainties that affect subsequent strategic choices).

Test: learn and adjust, use small teams, design tests carefully, savour surprises.

  • Fill out the 4P model: population, purchase frequency, price per transaction, penetration. This piece of maths gives a feel for likely success.
  • Our confidence in new projects is usually overstated because we overstate our ability to control events and our confidence in assessing outcomes with wide ranges. Meanwhile we underestimate risks and ignore black swan events (rare but with high impact).


  • Long-winded and time-consuming business plans are a waste of time. Instead, innovators should spend just enough time capturing the essence of their idea so they can easily share it with others.
  • The spreadsheet dance is also a waste of time. This is when the innovation team draws up a revenue projection for the new venture, only to be told to increase the numbers. The minimum acceptable answer needs careful scrutiny. And many innovations are impossible to forecast.
  • “All models are wrong, but some models are useful.” George Box
  • Fool’s gold white space is an apparent gap in the market, but it’s a failure masquerading as a viable opportunity.
  • The most common traps in innovation are making a wrong turn (lured by fool’s gold white space), running out of cash (usually caused by the planning fallacy – assuming things will happen faster than they do), picking leaders who lack empathy with the target market, and seeking to increase the scale of a business that isn’t yet ready.
  • Good innovators need exceptional detail orientation, to be comfortable with micro course corrections, and an eye for the unexpected.


  • Not much. It’s a well-informed handbook.

number of view: 328


11 2014