I know, a few of the flatteners may not be intuitively obvious when you just read the title. I just need you to trust me; there are some terrific insights as to how innovative companies like Microsoft, UPS (yes, I said UPS!), Google, and Wal-Mart are redefining the world landscape and bringing the ends of the earth closer together. Following is a well-done review written by a colleague at Amazon:
Thomas L. Friedman is not so much a futurist, which he is sometimes called, as a presentist. His aim in The World Is Flat, as in his earlier, influential Lexus and the Olive Tree, is not to give you a speculative preview
of the wonders that are sure to come in your lifetime, but rather to get you caught up on the wonders that are already here. The world isn't going to be flat, it is flat, which gives Friedman's breathless narrative much of its
urgency, and which also saves it from the Epcot-style polyester sheen that futurists--the optimistic ones at least--are inevitably prey to.
What Friedman means by "flat" is "connected": the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution that have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments--when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East--is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but
especially in India and China) who can compete--and win--not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn't forget the "mutant supply chains" like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.)
Friedman has embraced this flat world in his own work, continuing to report on his story after his book's release and releasing an unprecedented hardcover update of the book a year later with 100 pages of revised and expanded material. What's changed in a year? Some of the sections that opened eyes in the first edition--on China and India, for example, and the global supply chain--are largely unaltered. Instead, Friedman has more to say about what he now calls "uploading," the direct-from-the-bottom creation of culture, knowledge, and innovation through blogging, podcasts, and open-source software. And in response to the pleas of many of his readers about how to survive the new flat world, he makes specific recommendations about the technical and creative training he thinks will be required to compete in the "New Middle" class. As before,
Friedman tells his story with the catchy slogans and globe-hopping anecdotes that readers of his earlier books and his New York Times columns know well, and he holds to a stern sort of optimism. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you're going to be trampled if you don't
keep up with it. A year later, one can sense his rising impatience that our popular culture, and our political leaders, are not helping us keep pace.
Again, a truly terrific and insightful book. Can't recommend it more highly.
1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win/Win
5. Seek First to Understand...Then to be Understood
7. Sharpen the Saw
One of the most foundational aspects of the Covey book for me was the development of a personal mission statement. It actually took me ten years to crystallize on a mission statement as I was going through Rick
Warren's The Purpose Driven Life that I could truly internalize and get energized around. The Covey book was the mustard seed which started the ball rolling for me.
The book goes into a lot of detail on each of the goose attributes and frames up each attribute with great examples to help you the reader identify where you might be falling short as a goose leader. Some of my favorites:
• Buffalo management: The people propose, the manager disposes
• Goose management: The people propose, the people dispose
• Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly, at least in the beginning
• See mistakes, fear, anger and stubbornness as great teachers for the future
• See mistakes as gems for learning and not as sins
• Coach people, not scoreboards
• Proactively insist on meeting tough standards
• Ask questions and avoid giving answers
• Reward accomplishment, not effort
• World-class rescuers are world-class losers
• The person doing the work must own the responsibility
I love this book. Though it does border a bit on being too steeped in academia, the concepts are sound and are great building blocks for enabling empowered leaders. Read Flight of the Buffalo and pull the nuggets from the book that will help you be a leader that empowers great teams.
Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment - How to Improve Quality, Productivity, and Employee Satisfaction
Probably the most salient points made about Zapping others is the following:
1.Maintain self esteem - treat others with respect
2.Listen and respond with empathy - don't be dismissive of others problems or issues, demonstrate that you care
3.Ask for help in solving problems - seek out opinions of team members and get them to put their thumbprint on solutions
4.Offer help without taking responsibility - let team members benefit from your wisdom; don't assume responsibility for their problems
For leaders to successfully foster a Zapped environment, they need to do the following:
1.Set clear direction (key result areas, goals, and measurements)
2.Ensure the team has knowledge (skills, training and information to do the job)
3.Ensure the team has the resources (tools, materials, facilities, money)
4.Provide support for the team (approval, coaching, feedback, encouragement)
I love this book. It's a very easy read, keeps the reader engaged, and has very insightful nuggets to help you understand the difference between empowering a team versus just managing the team. If you want to be a
more empowering leader, then Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment is the next book you should read.
The Wal-Mart Effect - How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works -- and How It's Transforming the American Economy
1. Who Knew Shopping Was So Important?
2. Sam Walton's Ten-Pound Bass
3. Makin Bacon, a Wal-Mart Fairy Tale
4. The Squeeze
5. The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart
6. What Do We Actually Know About Wal-Mart?
7. Salmon, Shirts, and the Meaning of Low Prices
8. The Power of Pennies
9. Wal-Mart and the Decent Society
There were a few nuggets that I was able to glean from the book, as follows:
Pennies matter - as a small business owner I know that a penny saved is a penny earned. I hate wasting money on non-essential items; Wal-Mart built its empire on this fundamental tenet.
Never be satisfied - the moment a business owner becomes content with his or her business is the day they let the competition take over and steal business away.
Enforce accountability - Management is held to stringent goals and being off by even the smallest margin
is considered unacceptable
Work-life balance is up to you, not your employer - Fishman talks about mandatory Saturday sales meetings and recounts stories by Wal-Mart management of how they've given their all for the company at the
expense of family. There's nothing admirable about sacrificing your family and friends for any job; take control of your own work-life balance destiny.
All-in-all, not a bad read. Some good nuggets as well as a reminder of how we need to not let what we do professionally take over and consume our lives as professionals.
"Being considered the best speaker in the computer science department is like being known as the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs"
"Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to see how badly we really want something"
The first Penguin Award - given to the team that took the greatest gamble in trying new ideas and failed to achieve their goals.
Send out thin mints - when he asked colleagues to review research papers he would send a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints with it and say "thank you for reviewing the paper, these thin mints are your reward; but no fair eating them until the review is finished".
The $100,000 salt and pepper shaker
"Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later"
The writing is light and conversational, just as if Randy was there talking to the reader about his life. It took me about three hours to read so wasn't too terribly time-taxing.
Where I became very conflicted was in understanding the backdrop of the memoir. Here is a man with a loving wife and three young children who knows he won't live to see them grow up. Only his eldest son will
remember him; the younger siblings will have no memory of their father. Each day on earth with them is precious. Making memories that his wife will remember with them are all-important. As the family provider, he has to think about ensuring his family is provided for and that they will not struggle financially. His family
decided to move to Virginia from Pennsylvania so his wife could be closer to her family after his death.
Where my struggle began was with his decision to hold the lecture at Carnegie Mellon knowing he only had months to live. They had already moved to Virginia so doing the lecture would have meant a trip back to Pennsylvania, taking time away from the family. Also, both he and Jai knew that preparation for the lecture would have meant hours and hours of his time, with every hour of time he spent preparing for the lecture being one less hour of time he was spending with his family. To add insult to injury, the lecture date was Jai's birthday; the last birthday that he would be spending with his wife. Jai was not supportive of him holding the
lecture in any way, but he did it anyway. On the one hand, the lecture (and resultant book) has probably done more to secure his family's financial future as much or more than anything else he had done. As of
this writing, The Last Lecture is rated #52 on Amazon's Best Seller List and is still selling strong. On the other hand, he put his work before his family at the most crucial of times; when the family was about to lose him forever. I can see his perspective; to leave a legacy and to secure his family's financial future. I can also see Jai's perspective; don't do anything which means time away from the family.
I found myself reading the book not so much that I would get any helpful nuggets out of it or be entertained by it, but because I wanted to honor a man who, with only months to live, wanted to ensure his story got out about him, his love for his family, and the lessons he has learned in his shortened life. I recommend you readThe Last Lecture and draw your own conclusions.