Tag Archives: wereadforyou

We read for you: The Right Decision Every Time

The Right Decision Every Time - book coverWe take thousands of decisions each day and you actually just took another one when starting to read this review (and you took another one after reading the first line). Some of these decisions are minor, some of these are major. With thousands of decisions a day you could say it’s an important part of our live, and of your job. Still, few people can state how they exactly make or made their decisions, and few people have actually got some education about decision taking.

Did you ever had the feeling that you took an important decision, but had immediate remorse after it? Are you awake at night thinking of what to do? You probably did not decide with confidence or aren’t aware of everything. The Right Decision Every Time gets you acquainted with some of the hurdles in the decision making progress: lack of a clear objective, lack of constraints, dealing with emotions, lack of a clear perspective and difficulty in selecting options.

The author, Luda Kopeikina, proposes to use a decision map which you fill in during the process, and it’s really simple. Each of the steps will make you explicitly reflect about it.

Some important takeaways from the book:

  • If you have to make a though decision, go into what is called “the Clarity State”. Clear your head, focus on the decision, no multi-tasking. The key in making great decisions is to focus your physical, mental and emotional resources.
  • It’s ok to get emotional when you’re taking decisions. You are not a robot. Acknowledge the emotions and figure why they matter. Detach and use them.
  • The decision objective is not the decision question! Eg. “what is the best way to spread Root Cause Analysis best pratices?” –> “what is the best way to help people start with doing RCA?”
  • Think positive: formulate your constraints as objectives to overcome the concerns they are based on. Eg. “I’m concerned for the acceptance of the metrics” –> “Constraint: gain acceptance for the metrics”.
  • The clearer your decision definition, the better you can work with it and defined possible options.
  • If you’re still in doubt after deciding, you probably didn’t take everything into account.
  • Make sure it’s clear to you if you need to make the decision, or that only your advice is needed.
  • If you assume, you make an ASS  of U and ME.
  • Try to look at the decision from another perspective. Expand your view. Take a longer time frame. Turn the decision around. Why would happen if you would not take it?

So is this book a good read? Well, the main focus of The Right Decision Every Time is on getting into the Clarity State, so the major part of the book handles this state, its importance and how you can reach it. The book has many example stories so you can see how the decision map is used in practice, but after reading it I had the feeling a whitepaper could have been a better medium than a 250 page book.

Additional reading

How to Make the Right Decision Every Time

The Right Decision Every Time at Amazon.com

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Wij lezen voor u: Word optimist!

Word optimist! - Leo BormansOp een donkere, regenachtige namiddag passeerde ik langs de lokale boekenwinkel en viel mijn aandacht op de boek “Word optimist!” van Leo Bormans. De cover versierd met een ster en de leuze “Negen toetsstenen voor een positief leven” samen met de verwijzing naar het eerdere, succesvolle boek van Bormans, “Geluk. The World Book of Happiness”, overhaalden me tot een aankoop.

“Word optimist!” heeft de ambitie om de lezer van optimist naar pessimist te laten groeien. Nee wacht, dat is niet mogelijk: de theorie leert ons dat het enerzijds in onze persoonlijke natuur zit, maar anderzijds ook aangeleerd gedrag is. We gaan dus de pessimist leren om het leven meer optimistisch te bekijken. De optimisten hebben ze bij hun pietje aan de kassa, moesten die al overwogen hebben het boek te kopen.

De negen toetsstenen waar Leo naar verwijst, zijn de acht plus een hoofdstukken gelinkt aan het woord “optimist!”. De auteur neemt ons langs enerzijds de karaktereigenschappen van een optimist en anderzijds het gedrag. Tijdens de rit houdt hij mij als lezer regelmatig de spiegel voor. Er zijn verschillende testjes en voorbeeldsituaties waar ik me zelf kan testen, zodat ik in kan schatten hoe erg het is. Het boek is dan ook in beperkte mate een doe-boek.

Veel van de lessen, verhalen en conclusies komen me al bekend voor uit de meestal kleine artikels en verwijzingen in de populaire media. Andere delen ken ik dan weer uit literatuur rond de Rationele Effectiviteit Theorie (RET) en daarmee komen we tot een belangrijk inzicht: het zit allemaal in je hoofd. Iedereen reageert anders op dezelfde situatie: de ene ziet het zwarter en uitzichtlozer in dan de andere. De eerste stap naar verbetering begint bij bewustwording.

Wat ik zeker meeneem, is dat het altijd beter kan. Optimisme kan dan wel voor een groot deel genetisch bepaald zijn, het blijft ook een instelling.
Deze boek was voor mij een snelle en luchtige ervaring, maar ik hou hem zeker in mijn boekenrek voor als het volgende keer nog eens tegen zit.

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We read for you: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

The Presentation Secrets of Steve JobsThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” is a guide to giving great presentations. The book is written by BusinessWeek.com columnist, Carmine Gallo, who is an obvious admirer of Steve Jobs.

The book(let) describes in three big chapters the lessons learned from Steve’s presentations and focuses on three topics: the story (content), the experience and the creative process.
Each topic uses extracts from Steve’s presentations to illustrate its points.

First of all: I’m not a big Apple fan. I am a late adopter of the iPod, I got an iPad for Christmas and still want an Android device, and I am still in the denial phase of all their other products. So all presentation content was new to me. After reading the extracts it became easier for me to understand why other people were so enthusiastic about Apple products. The content even triggered me to look-up speeches of Jobs, and even commercial adds Apple used during the years.
I must admit: Jobs and his team did great work.

When reading the book, I sometimes get the feeling that I’m more learning about Apple and Steve Jobs, then about giving great presentations. When I get the same presentation extract for the third time, I start getting annoyed. When processing all Job’s presentations in a short time (I read the book in two days) his typical “Apple is amazing, Apple is great” self-sufficient talk is getting on my nerves. The fact that the author takes every possible occasion for adoring Steve Jobs is not helping at all.

To conclude, I must say I learned the most from the first part and one of the chapters in the last part, which is the only one that’s not all about Steve Jobs.

Key takeaways

Some key takeaways from the booklet are listed below. The ones in bold were the most inspiring or eye-opening to me.

  • Rethink: What am I really selling?
  • Prepare your story before your PowerPoint file.
  • Offer customer testimonials, or share the stage with them.
  • Share success stories.
  • Use your customers as promoters.
  • Use Aristotle’s persuasive arguments.
  • Remember: it’s not about you, it’s about them.
  • What’s in it for your audience? Why should they care?
  • Sell dreams, sell solutions, not products.
  • Find something you love to do so much, you can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again (Steve Jobs).
  • Try to describe in ten words what you’re doing.
  • Use the power of three (parts/sections/…) in your presentations.
  • Find a shared enemy.
  • First WHY, then WHAT.
  • Use the Picture Superiority Effect.
  • People come for the presentations, not the words on your slide.
  • Give numbers meaning. Use analogies, put in context.
  • Express your excitement.
  • Avoid jargon, complexity and buzzword since they express insecurity.
  • Create a memorable moment.
  • Practice a lot.
  • Review, ask for feedback. Use yourself and others.
  • Anticipate difficult questions (the bucket method).
  • Overcome stage freight by focusing on what your service means to others instead of inward focus.
  • Don’t focus on problems during your presentation. There’s no need to pay attention to that. Keep your calm and have fun

Additional reading

Presentation Zen – A great book about giving inspiring presentations

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” in slides by Carmine Gallo

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We read for you: (re)DISCOVERing VALUE – Leading the 3-D Enterprise to Sustainable Success

Rediscovering value - Leading the 3-D Enterprise to Sustainable Success

Rediscovering value – Leading the 3-D Enterprise to Sustainable Success

(re)DISCOVERing VALUE – Leading the 3-D Enterprise to Sustainable Success” is a book by Geary A. Rummler, Alan J. Ramias and Cherie L. Wilkins which describes the need for changing to a 3-D enterprise to gain sustainable success.

With the concept of a 3-D enterprise, the book describes the need of three-dimensional management of complex organizations on the resources, value and management dimension.

The book addresses the problem with resource management in organizations: the fact that there’s only one-dimensional management in the resource dimension.

Let me explain.

Resource management vs. end-to-end ownership

Currently in many organizations the performance is measured in budget spending of the different functional silo’s and not in value delivered to the end customer.

The result is a yearly battle for getting the most resources (money, human capital and other) for the specific silo’s in the organization. In this process, each manager does it best to acquire the best and most resources to optimize its own functional pool. Further, there are also no end-to-end value stream owners assigned with end responsibility for the process and it’s results.

The end result is that hard problems which affect the end customers are not solved because of silo politics and no end-to-end ownership.

When each silo get’s its budget to optimize, there could be continuous improvement in progress, but it could be done at the wrong places. Compare it with optimizing the chain of your bike while the rear tire is flat.

Pick up end-to-end ownership

So how could you as an organization grow out of this non-productive situation? By identifying the core value streams, laying organizational focus on them (top down) and assign resources to the places that need it.

If you have the process mapped, the RACI defined, the end-to-end owner assigned, critiques found, etc, you can optimize the process by assigning resources (yes, resources, not only money) to the areas which need it the most.

This implies that one year department X will get more of the resources, and maybe the other year department Y will get the most.

Key takeaways

Creating the value creation system:

  • Start with mapping the current state.
  • Assign end-to-end value stream owners.
  • Work top down with mapping the value stream, planning, budget rounds, performance measurements, …
  • Management involvement is important: let’s get your hands dirty.

Details of the value creation system:

  • Add possible errors, trends and corrective actions to your KPI explanation.
  • Add the reason WHY you are monitoring the KPI + what do you want to learn from it to your KPI explanation.
  • Divide budget by priority in value stream, not by bottom-up silo requests.

Working with the value creation system:

  • Avoid suboptimizing.
  • Technology changes only on specific request of the business.
  • Don’t make linear cost cuts, but look at the value stream and its priorities.
  • Cross-functional reporting per value streams and find solutions together. Overcome the “it’s not my problem” attitude.
  • Create an early detection system for problems so lagging actions are avoided.

Launching the new way of working:

  • Change will not happen overnight: this shift to value implies a culture change.
  • Use incremental changes to switch from the old system to the new. Wait with the next step until each step has proven itself.
  • If you start too many initiatives, you will lose overview and work floor engagement.

What will I do with the book?

I read the book but remain with an empty feeling. I have some key takeaways, but lack more information about bringing it to the next level. The book describes three generic processes, but remains at a high level. How would you switch from an old system which is in use for years to a new value based system?

The book uses a lot of charts and many details about the generic systems, but for me they are not adding value. There’s no use in studying a generic process like “product developed” because each step is so common, you could use it in any organization.

How would you bring a modern organization with many value creation systems of many kinds which are intertwined to the new way of working? The challenge remains and I guess it’s up to us to find our way and apply the key takeaways where possible.

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A cheesy story

Who Moved My CheeseThey asked us to discuss the “Who Moved My Cheese” management fable during a forum. I already read the book and decided to dive in the big load of information about it on the Internet.

I’m not going to be the 1002nd blog that describes the contents of the book here, but will give some insights.

What i did find on the Internet was somehow surprising.

First, the book is a big success. I found testimonials from companies like Xerox, Kodak and CBS praising it into heaven. Business executives are proud to mention that this book changed their personal and professional live….

I grabbed the book back again. Am i missing something? No, i got the conclusion. The lessons learned seem ok. Strange.

Further, there is also a lot of criticism on the book: it’s too shallow, it’s childish, it’s only a big article, …  On some websites you find statements of the readers that interpret the book as an insult. I found one blog that is almost praising it into oblivion.

I can find some logic in both opinions, but to compare it with a pendulum, I’m somewhere in the middle, perhaps more to the positive side.

What can you expect from the book?

A simple story about dealing with change. The book is written from the perspective of the one that can cope with change. The perspective of the one which has more difficulties with is, doesn’t get the attention it earns.

Essential concepts like the change management curve, dealing with resistance and organizational impact are not discussed.

Organizational change

Would organizational change go easier with this book? Well, I’m not sure. Just buying and distributing the books inside the organization will not help people through the change curve. On the other hand, it can be used for creating awareness about the challenges change can bring.

How would you sell the book?

Try to emphasize the morals, the lessons learned. How are these applicable to your organization?

Address the criticism. It is a short book, it is a simple story and it is printed in font size 18 with pictures on a whole page. But it contains some powerful and to-the-point lessons.

Did you read the book? Please share your findings with me!

PS: target reached: “cheese” and “mouse” are not mentioned once in this blog entry!

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