Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Don's Book Report

This month, Don Kardux was pointed to a fascinating book by our friend Sandy Pirwitz.  I think you will want to read it too!  Read on!

Dick and Sandy Pirwitz are two of our dearest friends. Some think that Dick and I look like ' brothers from a different mother'. In fact, a few years ago a beautiful little four year old looked up at Dick and said, 'Bubba Don, pick me up' and her mother said, "Stella, that isn't your Bubba Don.

Sandy, while a bit vertically challenged  is taller than Shaq in intellect and zest for life. She makes the energizer bunny look old and slow.  Sandy and I share a love for books. She has bookcases filled and is looking for more bookcases.  Over our quarterly coffee last week she introduced me to Daniel Coyle's book, 'The  Talent Code'.

From the title of the introduction to the last page (236 ) this book explains a lot about great talent. Coyle provides compelling evidence that "Greatness isn't born,  it's grown"

From his introduction."Every journey begins with questions, and here are three:

  • How does a penniless Russian tennis club with one indoor court create more top-twenty women players than the entire United States? 
  • How does a humble storefront music school in Dallas, Texas, produce Jessica Simpson, Demi Lovato, and a succession of pop music phenoms?

  •  How does a poor scantily educated British family in a remote village turn out three world-class writers?"

Daniel's search into what he calls "Talent hotbeds" helped him to understand the nature, the 'Code', if you will, of how exceptional talent is grown
This book is divided into three parts: 
1.     Deep practice

2.     Ignition
3.     Master Coaching

The major factor in talent growth is understanding a neural insulator called myelin. As we use neural pathway repeatedly the myelin wraps itself around the pathway "the same way rubber insulation wraps a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster by preventing the electrical impulses from leaking out".
Talent is formed says Coyle by "Deep Practice". I'm reminded of the saying, "Practice makes perfect" which is incorrect. "Perfect Practice makes Perfect and bad / flawed practice doesn't".

This first part of the book really explores in a very compelling way the elements of 'Deep Practice' and supports that exploration with fascinating stories of real people discovering this most important part of the 'code'

But what motivates people to engage in 'Deep Practice' is revealed in the second part of the book-'ignition'.  How people 'catch on fire' and are willing to spend the time and pain growing to greatness is extraordinarily interesting.
And finally, what are the people who teach others to grow their skills like?

The third part of this rich book - 'Master Coaching'- was really eye opening and significant to me.  I've met a few 'Master Coaches' over the years and this part of the book demystified many of their practices. Debby Peters, I understand you better but you still are a mystery to me.

As I continue to read I'm struck a how similar themes appear in writings by others.
In Marcus Buckingham's 'First Break all the Rules' on page 84 he echoes the Myelin reality.  "Talents are the four-lane highways in your mind, those that carve your recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior"
And Malcolm Gladwell referred to the 10,000 hour rule in "The Outliers" which is echoed in this book on page 51. "Every expert in every field is the result of about 10,000 hours of committed practice call 'deliberate practice' and which Coyle calls 'Deep Practice'.

Thanks Sandy, you make my life better.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Book Review, Good to Great!

We are back with a great new book review on a classic by another classic, Don Kardux!  Enjoy and ponder!

Shortly after Jim Collins published this book in 2001 I read it.

Since then I have used it as a guide for over fifty companies with which I've had the good fortune to work.

The lesson is simple.

If you want your company to move from merely being "A Good Company" to being "A Great Company" there are some actions and positions you should take.

First, it is important to understand that "Good" is the enemy of "Great" and that danger can be summed up in a word "complacency"

Jim created a research team of over twenty-six people who found  eleven companies who met the  qualifications of being "Great" i.e. having stock market returns on investments over 300% higher than the market average sustained over fifteen years.

The team then identified eleven other companies in comparative industries that did not meet the qualifications of 'Great'.

Walgreens is a 'Great' company but  Eckerd was not.

Circuit City was a 'Great' company but Silo was not.

Circuit City? That's right! A few of the selected companies didn't make it in the next fifteen years.

Jim's answer to that issue is in his 2009 book "How the mighty fall: and why some companies never give up."

Enough of this rabbit trail. 


Jim's team asked the question, what does the 'great' company do differently than the 'good' company in the same industry.

Then, having created that list of 'Different Behaviors' they asked ' Do the 'Great' companies have any of those 'Different Behaviors' in common?

They discovered 7 behaviors that 'Great' companies shared and they explained them in chapters 2 thru 8.

1.        Level  5 Leadership

2.        First Who...Then What

3.        Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)

4.        The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles)

5.        A Culture of Discipline

6.        Technology Accelerators

7.        The Flywheel and the Doom Loop

It's funny that I'm reviewing 'Good to Great' now after focusing on thirty other books in this book review blog for Debby's wonderful Connext Nation group.  It's funny that it took me over two years and six months to review the book I use the most.

There hasn't been a week in the past fourteen years that I haven't mentioned to a client or seminar participants or strangers in an elevator an 'Aha' that an idea in this book generated.

In fact, chapter 3, behavior 2 'First Who...Then What' radically changed my approach to working with strategic planning and other operational challenges.

Like many 'Great Truths' which are painfully obvious after someone writes it down and clarifies it's people first not strategies.

Get the right people on the bus and they can figure where to go!

Please read this book....it's great!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Linked Off

So about a  year ago I had an appointment with a gentleman that was referred to me by another person who I don't know well.  We'll call my appointment guy Jake.  Jake was interested in what I had to offer him and 
asked for me to provide some specific information.  I sent the information the very next day.  I followed up with a phone call......three times.  I also texted and emailed to make sure that Jake received the information.  I did not hear one word from this man.  Rude.

Now just the other day, I received a LinkedIn message from him asking me to help him recruit new people to his company.  Ruder.

I figure I was one of hundreds of people that he contacted in the same manner, mining his LinkedIn position.  This is what I really dislike about LinkedIn and the way it is being used by some.  But really it is not this social media platform that is at fault.  Really the responsibility lies right with the user.  One who is so rude that I would NEVER refer a person to work for him.

What are your thoughts on this?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July Book From Don!

Vacations do get in the way of schedules. With that being said, this book report from our resident reviewer is slightly late due to Don's well-deserved vacation in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  Also, I delayed in getting in published because of pressing deadlines at my end. But this book looks like it should be a must read for everyone, so jump in!

Here is Don's report:

Roy Hauser is a good friend and a client of Business Navigators for a little more than two years. Roy and his son Josh have created a culture for Hauser Air in Westchester, Ohio that is outstanding and one of many reasons they were chosen to receive the Consumers Choice award for 2014 as the best HVAC company in Cincinnati.
So, when Roy recommended I read "It's My Company Too!" I didn't hesitate.
I'm glad I did.

Currently, we use five books to help management teams improve their skills.
"The Managers Coaching Handbook" reviewed in February of 2013.
"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" reviewed  in April of 2014.
"First Break All The Rules " reviewed in April of 2015.
"Now, Discover Your Strengths" reviewed in May 2015.
"Good To Great" not reviewed.
I'm strongly considering adding "It's My Company Too!" as the sixth tool to help managers and companies become better.
It's that good.
The authors, Kenneth R. Thompson, Ramon L. Benedetto , Thomas J. Walter and Molly Meyer have created a capstone for many of the ideas identified in the preceding  five books.
Like Jim Collins, who wrote, "Good To Great" the authors selected eight companies to analyze.
Each company represents  an approach to  culture which results not only in employees (Team Members) to be 'engaged'  but the next step wonderfully 'entangled' in the company  culture.
The following diagram is a great summary of the divisions of the book but also of the approach. The eight pieces of the puzzle which comprise the perimeter are held together by the center piece which is the final chapter in this excellent book 

It's my habit when I read a great book to put asterisks at the top corners of pages that have underlined or circled content.
Those are my "AHA'S" , moments of intense revelations.
In "It's My Company Too!"  I've identified 57 pages, many with multiple AHA'S.
There are too many to summarize.
Your really need to read this book.
The following is from the introduction.
Steven caught the mistake, then turned to the offender and yelled, "Hey, stupid, I told you to put that in the Indiana truck. What is the matter with you? How dumb can you be?" An immediate hush fell over the warehouse . Hugo Rios-Tellez a young, full-time culinary worker, overheard the outburst. Silently, he left what he was doing and approached the supervisor. "Hey, Steven, number two,"  was all he said as he pointed to a poster on the wall and directed the supervisor's attention to the list of company values. Steven turned and looked at the placard hanging just above the freezers, where he would find "Number Two: Treat all with respect."
Staring at Hugo, Steven took a second to regain his composure, realizing he had just violated the company values, something he knows was wrong. In response, he sought out the novice and immediately apologized for his outburst. What those present didn't know was that Tom Walter, Tasty Catering's CEO was in the rear of the warehouse and had witnessed the entire episode. He silently caught up to Hugo and shook his hand placing a $20 bill in it as he said, "Thank you, Hugo." Hugo looked down at his hand then back at Tom. He handed the bill back and said, "Thomas, it's my company too."