Posts Tagged Management

Book Review: Accelerate

Posted by on Sunday, 16 February, 2014

AccelerateAccelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World is the latest business book by John P Kotter. Like his previous books, it’s short (200 pages), sweet and written to change the world. Due for release in April 2014.

I never did read Kotter’s famous Our Iceberg Is Melting when it was popular. However, when I finished Accelerate I was curious and checked the GoodReads reviews to see if it’s the same style. It is, and it is a distinct style.

Accelerate describes a model of running a traditional hierarchical corporate structure along side a more nimble, network-like structure similar to start-ups. He correctly states that companies using a traditional corporate structure are too slow to respond to market influences, much to their detriment, and sometimes downfall. Kotter calls this mix a “dual operating system”. Yes, it makes me think of running Windows on a Mac, too. He explains how volunteers need to be recruited to run the additional structure, which runs concurrent with the traditional one.

The book runs through how the dual systems can work with case studies that either have so many details removed to preserve anonymity or are fictitious. OK, I don’t meant to be nasty with this. It was just a surprise. Openness and disclosure is now the norm; this approach was just very old-school and comes across as theory only. It’s not all … theory. I love the table showing the difference between managers and leaders.

Who is Accelerate for?

If you’re in a senior executive in a large, traditional company, or an MBA candidate wanting a career in an above mentioned company, then this is for you. You’ll find lots of idealistic strategies to implement or reference. All from one evening’s reading and a known author you can name drop, and spout ideas to your colleagues.

However, if you’re looking for tactics and proven models, read something else. Like Guy Kawasaki or Scott Berkun’s books. Berkun’s reasoning that you need real management experience to write on the topic came to mind often while reading this. Especially chapter eight, the Q and A. Some of the answers are borderline delusional. Instructions like that employee management programs won’t be required because employees will want to do the tasks perfectly, and that budget isn’t needed because the employees will happily work up to 150% capacity, are very naive. They’re strangely reminiscent of Australia’s Natural Law Party of the 1990s.

Therefore my word of warning is to not depend on John P Kotter’s reputation when deciding on this book, but look to see if your aims and goals are the same. If so, then I thoroughly recommend Accelerate for you.

What’s your Passion?

Posted by on Tuesday, 7 January, 2014

What's Your PassionBeing a generalist digital marketer, I get told frequently that I need to specialize. I consider it, but my passions include learning, helping others, and discovering new things. Not conducive to a narrow-focused marketing career. I can say this because I know and understand my passions, but how can you discover what’s your passion?

Luckily, Jag Randhawa has written the Bright Idea Box. It’s a book about employee engagement and innovation that’s being released later this month, and I thoroughly recommend it for anyone leading a team or organization. As well as some great ideas and examples for engagement, Randhawa includes a brilliant exercise for discovering your passions and ambitions. It’s not central to his book, so I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing it here.

Step One – Take a piece of paper and divide the paper into three equal parts using two lines.
Step Two – Name three individuals, dead or alive, whom you admire the most. These individuals do not have to be related to your work. Write down these names in three separate columns on the paper.
Step Three – For each name, in each column, write three or more qualities you admire in these individuals. These should be qualities, not attributes like money, fame, or title.
Step Four – Analyze the overlaps in qualities among these people. Highlight the similarities, including those that might influence or cultivate the related qualities.

The overlapping qualities you highlights are also your own personal qualities. To recognize readily traits in others, you must share a deep interest in those traits. These qualities may not be as developed in you, but recognizing your interest in these qualities is the first step toward developing them.

Right now, you may not be recognized for those qualities or may not have accomplished as much as your idols, but if you follow your passion and develop these qualities, there is no limit to the amazing feats you can accomplish.