Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Other Kind of Smart

I read an awesome book last night by Harvey Deutschendorf "The Other Kind of Smart - Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success".

I loved the book because:

1 - It was packed with lots of quotes which I love. Like "Do not protect yourselves with a fence rather by your friends" Czech Proverb

2 - It had a series of action steps that could be taken to help in the various areas of EQ. The areas he touched on were things like emotional control, flexibility, stress management and optimism. For example, the section on controlling stress included learn meditation, go for walks in nature, go to a funny play or movie. Obvious and simple stuff that we need to be reminded of.

3 - It covers most of the important areas of self development and gives practical suggestions for each area. This is a classic self development book and I like self development books.

4 - There is an underlying optimism in the book that we can all change. We choose to be who we are.

5 - EQ (emotional intelligence) determines success much more than IQ and we can change EQ.

6 - It reinforced what I already know about setting goals.

So it sounds like mostly a repeat of the basics and it is. But it is a good repeat.

One area that would serve me to make changes in is celebration. I am often so driven and feel a sense of urgency that I do not pause. I would like to celebrate my wins more. The book had suggestions like keeping a book of accomplishments, celebrate any win - large or small.

It is well written, simple, easy to understand, fast to read and just about right on in most of its suggestions and ideas.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reinvent Your Enterprise Through Better Knowledge Work

I recently read Jack Bergstrand's book "Reinvent Your Enterprise Through Better Knowledge Work". Berstrand is a Peter Drucker student and continues on Druckers path. Drucker is one of my favorite management thinkers.

Bergstand proposes a 4 step framework:

1 - Envision (This is the key to most things in life. Start with the vision)
2 - Design (much of the book advocates getting the organizational design right)
3 - Operate
4 - Build

Things I liked about the book:

Bergstrand take a holistic approach recognizing that it is the whole system that needs to work and everything is interconnected.

He preaches simplification. (see In Praise of Brevity)

He re-emphasizes the need for speed and responsiveness. He points out how a small lack of responsiveness can mushroom quickly to create high inefficiencies. One of my key values i responsiveness.

Identify bottlenecks (sometimes even the obvious is worth saying)

He talked about the formal and the informal organization. Often it is the informal one that needs to be managed.

Good lines from the book:

"We must do more than improve our enterprises incrementally". I like this concept. One reason to ask a big how question like how do I sell 50% more is it challenges us to do things differently. If we just asked how could we increase sales by 6%, we would think - just do more of the same - work a bit harder, make one more call etc.

"Increasing from 2 people to 3 people on a project does not increase the complexity by 50% but it increases it by 200%". So true.

"Knowledge work is less visible and difficult to manage because it resides in people's heads"

It is a good book. Inspired thought (and that is what makes a good book for me).

There is a good related article on changing corporate culture in Harvard Business Review.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Everything You Wanted to Know About Social Media But Were Afraid to Ask.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Social Media But Were Afraid to Ask. Yes, that's a book written by Hilary JM Topper.

I am a bit of a social media expert being an early adopter on this blog and being active on Twitter, Linkedin and to a lesser extent Facebook. I think like many areas, I have deep knowledge of some of it but little knowledge of other aspects.

I found the book to be very entry level to begin with. But as I got into it more, I did find I was learning (and any book that helps me to learn gets high marks from me).

I learned about social networking sites that I had never even heard of like BxExchange,, IncBizNet, Spoke and Tumblr. I was familiar with many of the others like Flickr even though I am not active on them.

Topper covers what each site does, what they are intended for then in a comment box notes her personal views (called her 2 cents). I liked her comments.

I learned about - a yellow pages type search of Twitter.

Topper gives success examples of what people have done with Social Networking like get a book contract etc. I worry that some people will have such success and many more will not.

The big question for me is the value return on my time from social media. And that ties into goals. Knowing what your goals are is key as with almost anything in life. Then determine how much time will need to be invested to get the desired result.

I wrote about how to control the time spent on social media because it can be a big time waste. Of course being a time guy, I would have appreciated a chapter on time use and social media.

Enough for now. Cannot really write an article "In Praise of Brevity" then run on...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why Your World is About to get a Whole Lot Smaller

On the weekend a read a book by Jeff Rubin titled Why Your World is About to get a Whole Lot Smaller.

Unlike the many books published on how oil will run out and how we need to stop emitting carbon now, this book takes the approach of "it is happening so what is the impact of it". I like books that help me see the future (regardless of how good or bad that may be). It inspires thought.

The gist of the message is when the price of oil rises sharply (which the book suggests it will), we will become less global since the cost to travel and transport products will make it prohibitive to ship long distances. The price of oil will create an "oil tariff".

I believe that economics is the main driver of purchasing behavior. Some people will pay more to feel good but most will only change if the price is lower. So when oil prices soar, it will be cheaper to buy local produce, vacation locally, drive less etc. So in a sense, we go back to the old days. We may even see a resurgence of manufacturing in North America.

My brother, Glen, who loaned me the book, had commented that he wanted more data like how much more will an apple from New Zealand cost when the price of oil is X. Glen is a data person. I would have liked this too.

My other brother, Lyle, wrote a book "Small is Possible" that touts the benefits of the live local lifestyle. The two books mesh nicely in that Lyle says it is the way to go to feels good and be more sustainable and Ruben says economics will force us to act that way.

So this sort of says we might get back to the good old days and there will be a resurgence of local economies. What we do need to realize is that comes with a cost - we will pay more for goods. The reason the world went global was because it was cheaper and the reason it will return to local is for the same reason.

Monday, July 13, 2009

TIme Tactics of Very Successful People

I recently read "Time Tactics of Very Successful People" by P. Eugene Griessman. Catchy title - especially for me since I devour time management stuff. Even though I wrote a book on time management I still cannot get enough of it.

The basis of all time management books is the same. Know what you want to do (Have goals), list what you have to do (the to do list) and Prioritize it.

Time Tactics of Very Successful People covers not only time management tips but has quite a focus on how to be successful.

Some gems from the book:

- The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is how they use thier time.

- Value your time more. It is worth more than you think so expect more.

- Neatness is more than a neurotic compulsion. It leads to efficiency and better time use.

- Make a game of saving time.

- "You may not be able to control the situation but you can control your reaction" Austin McConigle

- Planning pays huge rewards.

- Don't think it has to be broken to improve it. This is a great approach to life and to the systems we use. Always polish and improve.

Time Tactics is the same format size that most business books seem to be these days - 225 pages. One of my friends commented that he liked my time management book - "Time Leadership - Using the Secrets of Leadership for Management" because it was short (80 pages)

And right now I am practising time management. Writing this blog while waiting for an appointment. The beauty of time is you can always do something. Perhaps being an A type person, looking at time like this reduces my frustration where in the past I would have been frustrated by waiting or "wasted time".

I am also posting my motivational business quotes in the resources section of my website for those who don't follow me on twitter, linkedin or facebook. (and of course I automated the posting of it)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Seeing What's Next

I am back in reading mode and am many blog entries behind on my book reviews. I love reading (thanks mom) and am inspired by good business books. They help me to grow. As I face business challenges, I often find a book gives me the needed ideas to shake me lose.

I read an awesome book by one of the leading thinkers of our time - Clay Christensen called "Seeing What's Next - Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change".

Christensen is great. He come up with the theory of disruptive innovation in his previous book - Innovators Dilemma.

From Don Mitchell's review on Amazon (note the time management technique - why re-invent the wheel):

In Seeing What's Next, the authors take on the challenge of helping executives and managers consider the likelihood of disruptive technology changes occurring and how they should evaluate their potential responses in light of current information.

The analysis looks at both the perspective of the companies that will be disrupted and displaced as well as those who are leading the disruptions. The book is a remarkable combination of theory, process suggestions and detailed case histories to explain the suggested process. As a result, this book will be the most practical guide available for technology executives until Professor Christensen brings out the next installment of his thinking in a future book.

In Part I, the authors use existing theories about disruptive innovations to suggest which signals to pay attention to as suggesting that opportunities exist, how to determine if competitors will be a factor in disruption, choosing an appropriate response and considering how government and other nonmarket influences can affect the result.

In Part II, the process of applying the Part I theories are exemplified in higher education, commercial aviation, semiconductor customer benefits, health care productivity, non-U.S.-based innovations and strategies, and the telecommunications industry.

Back to me.

I found the book to be insightful and practical. That said, there was an academic complexity to it that makes the application somewhat more difficult. I think is is partly because Christensen is such high intellect and partly because he is a university professor.

My sense, for me, is I often rely on intuition or gut feel on trends. The book might be able to help me put more substance to these. And the book is also great for causing me not to just look at what I "want" to happen but what might really happen.

Good book - read it.

And publicity on me:

I published an article on how to use turbulence to galvanize rather than paralyse at CMA Blog. The gist of the message is we choose to let circumstance drive us harder or scare us into not acting. The choice is ours.