Tag Archives: Book Review
Trust Inc. - Strategies for Building Your Company's Most Valuable Asset by Barbara Brooks Kimmel
The rise and fall of Aaron Beam, the former CFO of healthcare giant HealthSouth who served prison time for accounting fraud, might not be as well known as the legendary wrongdoing of Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling or WorldCom’s Bernard Ebbers.
Yet his story — helping company co-founder Richard Scrushy build it up into a multi-million dollar corporation, then “cooking the books” so that he and Scrushy, whose wealth was based on the stock value of the company, could continue raking in the millions — is typical of the ongoing scandals of the past two decades that have destroyed much of the public’s trust in business. Today, corporations are refocused on regaining the trust of stakeholders and the general public, with the help of corporate organizational trust consultants and thought leaders such as Barbara Brooks Kimmel, the editor of Trust Inc.: Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset. Kimmel is Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World (TAA-TAW).
In Trust Inc., Kimmel has gathered more than 30 other consultants, authors and academics to explore the many facets of this subject. The contributing chapters cover a wide variety of topics, from how a village in Africa exemplifies the power and potential of economic trust, to the emotional components of trust, to the importance of moving from corporate social responsibility to a more strategic and committed corporate social innovation.
There are a number of to-do lists and guidelines that reinforce the messages of the contributors.
Leveraging the Power of Connection: Not too many years ago, the idea of a hotel chain that didn’t own a single building or an international taxi service that didn’t own any cars might have seemed ludicrous. Today, of course, we know there are international companies worth billions of dollars in market value whose business model depends on customers connecting with independent suppliers of the service — not on the ownership of physical assets. InThe Network Imperative, authors Barry Libert, Megan Beck and Jerry Wind describe the scalable, networking-based business model that is revolutionizing industries. Ebay, Uber, TripAdvisor and even Visa are examples of companies built on a network business model.
One could argue that network firms are specific to certain industries. The authors disagree. “Be aware,” they write. “Investor capital, customer revenue and affinity, top talent and market buzz are shifting away from established firms toward network organizations.” According to their research, “digital networks are entering almost every industry, even some of the most mundane.”
High Performance: A quick comparison by the authors of market values between traditional and what they call “network firms” is revealing. For example, Hertz boasts a $7 billion market capitalization; Uber’s valuation is listed at more than $70 billion. (more…)
The Third Wave - An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future by Steve Case
Surfing the Next Third Wave: If the title of AOL founder Steve Case’s book, The Third Wave, sounds eerily familiar, it is no accident. Case remembers reading futurist Alvin Toffler’s book of the same name in college and wanted to be part of Toffler’s “electronic global village.” And he was. The term AOL seems very old-school today — and Case explains what happened further in the book — but there was a time when the company he founded, based on the concept of provided services via the Internet, was a pillar of the information age — or more specifically what he calls the “First Wave” of the information age.
The First Wave of the Internet, writes Case, “was about building the infrastructure and foundation for an online world.” It was led by companies such as Cisco, Sprint, HP, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Apple, IBM and AOL, who created the hardware, software and networks that connected people to the Internet and to each other.
Once everyone was online, the Second Wave kicked in. We are still in this Second Wave, the era of the information age, when companies, Case explains, built “on top” of the Internet. Think Google, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and even the iPhone.
The Power of Noticing - What the Best Leaders See by Max Bazerman
Take Off Those Blinders and See the Truth: In many ways, The Power of Noticing, the latest book from the prolific Max Bazerman, will somewhat dishearten his readers - if not enrage them. In sometimes horrific and often damning detail, Bazerman exposes the disastrous consequences of having leaders with blinders on who fail to notice - or pretend not to notice - what is truly happening around them.
From Cheating to Tragedies: The litany of cases described by Bazerman involves many incidents barely known by the public, such as the story of a medicine whose price grew in a few years from $50 per vial to $28,000 - yes three zeroes- per vial; the Harvard professor who was faking his data; and the egregious misdirection used by politicians and marketers (and magicians) to fool the public. There are also some well-known cases:
- Morton Thiokol and NASA scientists failed to notice the pattern of low-temperature failures of its O-rings and, as a result, went forward with a low-temperature launch of the Shuttle Challenger. Seven astronauts lost their lives in the ensuing mid-air explosion. (more…)
The Power of Strategic Sacrifice in a Complex World - by John Bell
Opting To Cut the Company Down To Save It: John Bell begins his book Do Less Better with the scenario of a troubled company — a regional player in 10 different categories, suffering through four consecutive years of losses, carrying higher than average payroll and inventory costs (the latter exacerbated by more than 1,000 SKUs), and starting to lose the support of impatient shareholders tired of pouring money into a losing cause.
What're the next steps for a new CEO hired to turn around this sinking ship? If you’re like most new CEOs, Bell writes, you will do exactly what your predecessors tried to do: generate more revenues and cut costs. The difference is that you will do these things better. “You are kidding yourself,” Bell writes. “Strategically, doing more of the same… better is a pathway to incremental improvement, at best. Incremental improvement is never enough to fix strategically weak companies like the one I have described.”
The Greater Sacrifice: Instead of trying to do the same better, Bell believes a much more potent strategy is to make the tough decisions and cut the company down to a more efficient and focused size. Many companies are straining under the weight of their complexity and dispersion of resources, he writes.
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The Way of the Seal - Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed By Mark Devine
“Let’s face it. When the stakes include your own mortality, you tend to be very clear about what’s important.” As a former member of one of the fiercest fighting forces in the world, Mark Divine, who writes these words in his new book, The Way of the SEAL, is all too familiar with mortality. The SEALS are the elite group of fighters who take on missions that would seem suicidal to men less trained and less dedicated. Divine spent 20 years in the SEALS, retiring as commander. In The Way of the SEAL, he applies the mental and emotional training of the SEALs to success in the world of business and life through eight core principles.
The mix of Divine’s early background in business (including an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a job with a big eight accounting firm), years as a combat soldier, and subsequent challenges as an entrepreneur makes him uniquely qualified to help people overcome hurdles and push themselves and others to success. For Divine, who has started and led six multimillion-dollar ventures since leaving the military, most leadership and management books make the mistake of offering techniques and strategies without first building the personal foundation required for success. It all begins with you, what you have inside, he writes. (more…)