Book – Winners Dream

Winners-Dream.pngLooking for some paper at work, I saw a line of books on the cabinet with a note “take one.”  Ah, a business book by the CEO of SAP, signed by the author?  I took two!  One for myself and one for a coworker 🙂

Yes, I can be easily tempted by a free business book (much more than a free t-shirt), but this book was a pleasure!  A very inspirational story with lively characters and colorful stories takes the reader through the life and career of Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP.

SAP.pngBill’s remarkable understanding of people, extended to understanding of customers, most likely, was one of key components of his success.  This perspective matched with constantly changing world: customers’ needs changed – so should the company’s offering. The book ended with the author’s desire to share the insight and help new generations of leaders to take their businesses further.

The most thought-provoking point of the book, I thought, was ASP’s ability to develop a deep understanding of business benefits of the product, selling it successfully based on these business benefits, and not using it internally.

The irony was that, despite knowing the value of our own CRM software, we weren’t even using it.  Seriously.  People were tracking their sales status on paper…  It would have been funny – if it weren’t so unproductive.

Hm…  What is it I am “selling” and not using?

A few more interesting points from the book:

  • “A good strategy had to be easy to understand.  Some people, I believed, confused complexity with a great strategy and equated volume with intelligence.”
  • “…I had always embraced simplicity as a leader.  Not because I feared or could not grasp complexity, but because it was so easy for other people to walk away from complexity.”
  • Bill saw the opportunities to emphasize value of his product or service instead of discounts, based on customer knowledge.  As a young person running a store, he added delivery or credit, if it helped the categories of customers he observed (even trust – by treating teenagers coming to the store with respect).  He shifted conversations “from a piece of technology to productivity” at Xerox and later recognized the need of interface design to make SAP products easier to use.
  • How a technology can improve business outcome?  Xerox first color copier could not compete on quality of the color image.  It was positioned as a copier for business needs and offered to business customers “You are an investment baker preparing a big presentation…Make your argument more enticing in color… and for a lot less than competitors’ extravagant copiers.”
  • Turning around under-performing district started from realizing that people were not lacking work ethic and energy, they lacked hope.  Giving the hope (and support) moved the lowest-performing district to the top rank. “The more powerful, lasting motivator was the idea that we were all working together toward a crazy miracle.”
  • Change management:
    • “The people in our district did not fear change.  What they feared was what most people feared, which was change without well-defined expectations, change without a plan, and change without a goal.  Ambiguous change, what’s what turned people off.”
    • “People are most likely to change their minds when the world they once knew no longer exists.  A leader’s challenge, then, is to explain why the old world went away, show people what the new world looks like, and get them excited to be a part of it.”
    • SAP challenges: “…SAP salespeople were telling a technology story when we needed to be telling a business story.”  A new team was created to evaluate the company and give recommendations on its business improvement, not the technology objectives.
    • “The world is littered with a lot of companies that, when they were strong, decided not to change.  We’re not going to be one of those companies.”
  • Communication: “Anything worth communicating is almost always under-communicated.” “As much as I loved technology, especially the mobile movement, an inescapable truth was that too many people were out of practice communicating with one anther in person.  There’s no replacement for human interaction.”

Excellent book – highly recommend!

Book – Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

multipliersVery insightful book – at almost every point, you can not stop from thinking:  “ah, yes, I had this type of a manager one time…”

The main idea of the book is the difference between different managers in influence on their team and productivity of the team.  Multipliers encourage people to give more than 100% of their abilities (stretch the abilities) to the project.  Diminishers discourage participation and people routinely report that they contribute to the company 50%-70% of what they could contribute.

summaryIn some organizations, autocratic managers is the norm, but the recommendation to those people in the book is “to be a better manager than your boss.”  The boss may not care, but the organization will benefit tremendously from the multiplier approach.

What is possible if you can access all of the intelligence in your organization? By extracting people’s full capability, Multipliers get twice the capacity from them.

Liz Wiseman

What multipliers do differently compared to diminishers?

  • They attract and optimize talent
  • They require people’s best thinking
  • They extend challenges
  • They debate decisions
  • They instill accountability

Which will you be: A genius? Or a genius maker? Your choice matters.

Liz Wiseman

Book – The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business

The-advantageOne more wonderful book by Patrick Lencioni…  I might need to check other of his books too 🙂   The main concept of the book is a value of a healthy organization.  “Healthy” organization is not a “smarter” organization; based on the author’s view, many companies are trying to become smarter in expense of their general health, what is not beneficial for their business.

Executive Book Summaries offers an excellent summary of the book.

A couple of concepts were particularly profound, from my perspective:

  • clarityImportance of Clarity.  Starting from “who does what” to the purpose of the organizational existence; from company communications to helping people leave the company if their needs do not match the company’s purpose.

Another interesting point – the company’s purpose (how does the company contributes to the better world) is not a differentiation – it can be similar to other companies of the same type; business differentiation is independent from the purpose.

  • “Most important team” – members of executive team may feel closer to their functional teams, but they need to consider the executive team itself primary and think about this team first.  This approach will reduce fiftoms and attempts to get the most resources for the team a particular executive manages in the expense of the entire organization.

summaryMain points from the summary:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team
  2. Create clarity
    1. Why do we exist?
    2. How do we behave?
    3. What do we do?
    4. How will we succeed? (creation of strategy)
    5. What is the most important right now? (Thematic goal)
    6. Who must do what?
  3. Over-communicate Clarity (cascading communication)
  4. Reinforce Clarity

The book also recommends interesting (and very reasonable) approach to meetings, including a quick 5-10 minutes administrative meeting daily to avoid emails, etc. to resolve quick questions and issues.

The Table Group website offers additional resources.

Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence

Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, by by Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, Annie McKee.

Excellent!  The book combines Emotional Intelligence and Leadership into a theory with examples and recommendations…  Wonderful explanation of leadership styles and a humble note that leadership (and certain styles) can be learned.  It was a pleasure…