3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Management

BR 171: Reputation Rules by Daniel Diermeier

reputation rules, trust radar

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Reputation rules was required reading for an interesting course on Crisis Management at school and is written by a former Professor. Good book with many interesting examples. However, if I played devil’s advocate, it did feel like one of those where a long blog post would have sufficed.

Top Learnings:

1. The trust radar was a valuable crisis tool and is one I think I will remember for a long time.  See this post for more.

2. It was very interesting to learn about corporate activist groups from a crisis management point of view.

Book notes here.

2. BUY it! · Business · Management

BR 159: The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt

Priority: 2 – BUY it! (All Categories are 1) Read ASAP! 2) BUY it! 3) SHELF it 4) SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Outstanding book. The only reason it is priority 2 vs. 1 is because Operations Management may not be everyone’s forte. I read this just beforegraduate  school and I’m sure it’ll be covered in the Operations Management introduction class. I can’t wait.

The other note – it is an excellent audio book as it is produced like an audio movie. Makes for a very interesting read.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. First, understand the goal and ONLY optimize with respect to the goal. Once you understand the goal, understand the bottlenecks. Imagine a plant’s bottleneck / constrained resource can produce 400 units. Having non bottleneck machines produce more than 400 only excess inventory. In fact, if market demand is 300, we are in our interest to produce around 300. The rest is waste.

2.  “Local efficiencies” are useless. Having one part of the plant product top class equipment while everyone is below average and late is useless. The big picture is what matters. Once again, understand the goal and only optimize for it. Beware metrics that result in optimizing parts of the picture at the expense of the whole (e.g. cost cutting on R&D that messes with future pipeline)

3. When trying to understand a problem, think of the Toyota 5 Why system. Ask why 5 times so you get to the route of the problem.

Book notes here.

Add on Mar 16, 2016: This book has had a huge impact on me in retrospect. Some very powerful life analogies here. 2 lessons I’ve repeated many a time –

1. Productivity is actions that us move toward the goal.

2. You can’t optimize sub-systems (point 2).

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Entrepreneurship · Leadership · Management · Technology

BR 152: The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: If you are, even in the slightest, interested in running a company of your own someday, this book is an absolute must read. This is probably the closest any book will come to being a “CEO how-to” manual.

It is a book I will revisit from time to time.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Leadership is about 3 things – the ability to articulate an idea so people follow you (The Steve Jobs attribute), the ability to be ambitious for the team and not for yourself /to have the right kind of ambition (the Bill Campbell attribute) and the ability to achieve the results you articulate (the Andy Grove attribute) – I’ve never heard leadership spelt out as clearly.

2. The purpose of an organization chart is to facilitate communication. The closer people are on an organization chart, the more they will communicate. (Such a simple idea but one I’d never understood.)]

3. A few money quotes –

The amount of communication required in a relationship is inversely proportional to the amount of trust there is.
‘Managing by numbers is like painting by numbers. It is only for amateurs.’
‘The hero and the coward feel the same. They just do different things. People who watch you judge you on what you do not what you feel.’
‘Hire for strength, not for lack of weakness’
‘Embrace the struggle and remember – the hard things will always be hard things.’

Book notes here.

3. SHELF it · Bio/Autobiographies · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Leadership · Management · Sports

BR 147: Alex Ferguson – The Autobiography by Alex Ferguson

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: For some reason, Sir Alex Ferguson fell a bit in my opinion after reading this book. I am still in awe of the man’s ability and achievements and the relentless spirit that he possesses like many greats to keep winning. However, I felt like this book contained one too many pot-shots at ex-players, e.g. Roy Keane. While he asserts a couple of times that he doesn’t carry grudges, his actions seem to say otherwise.

No doubt an incredible manager who will go down as one of the greatest ever. I think he would have gone down as THE greatest ever if he had won another European cup.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Pay attention to the little things. Ferguson and the United staff always paid detailed attention to a potential new signing’s family background, attitude, reputation and mental make up. He believed these signs were a very useful sign of success aside from what the player did on the field.

2. Focus on the infrastructure. Fergie invested incessantly into the United infrastructure – the youth team, the training facility, the medical facility, etc. These undoubtedly set the stage for generations of success.

3. Change is the only constant. He is one of those who truly understood the meaning of “what got you here won’t get you there.” Football teams work in cycles and he ensured he was constantly and proactively bringing change about. He was relentless – both after victory or defeat.

2. BUY it! · Bio/Autobiographies · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Entrepreneurship · Leadership · Management · Technology

BR 143: The Everything Store by Brad Stone

Category: 2 – BUY it! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: A very powerful insight into the one of the greatest entrepreneurs of this generation. It is symbolic that Bezos wanted to call Amazon “Relentless.com” because that is exactly what he is – relentless. Incredibly smart, incredibly driven, incredibly well read, and incredibly determined – a one in a billion combination.

A very inspiring story – there is a lot to learn from this book and from Bezos’ studied and researched style. I loved it. Must read for anybody interested in technology.

Top 3 Learnings
1. Bezos banned PowerPoint in Amazon’s meetings. Instead, he uses 1-6 page memos called narratives. He believes people can hide behind bullet points but it is impossible to not have clarity of thought if you are forced to write full sentences. He is absolutely right, of course. I’ve been using narratives in various projects and it means more thorough preparation than ever before.

2. As Bezos’ grandfather once taught him, it is harder to be kind than clever.

3. This learning isn’t so much from the book as much as it is as a synthesis on the man. The description that comes to mind when I think of is Bezos is “driven learning machine.” Bill Gates, Sergey Brin and Larry Page are examples. What’s amazing about these people is, aside from their penchant for learning, they are not afraid to take very big swings. It’s an awe inspiring combination and is a reminder that success isn’t a flash in the pan. As they illustrate, it’s a habit.

Book notes here

3. SHELF it · Bio/Autobiographies · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Entrepreneurship · Management · Relationships · Technology

BR 142: Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: If you love technology, you will find this book very interesting. It felt a bit gossip-y in that it focused a lot more on the dynamics of a handful of people who were responsible in building Twitter. You come to learn how Twitter nearly imploded multiple times but, against the odds, survived to change the world.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. A strong board of directors is a key in every company as in life. It is very important to have people who have a long term interest in you who are then willing to call bullshit on your decisions and occasionally, guide you to move to a better place.

2. Complexity, conflict, clash of egos, etc., are not the words that come to mind when you think of the glory of a start-up’s journey to success. They’re part and parcel of the journey, however. And, it is worth remembering that no good comes without significant pain and learning. The book explores the path of these multi millionaires who all learnt some very tough life lessons in the process.

3. Twitter was founded by a bunch of geeks who saw it as a way of connecting with people. These weren’t people with strong social bonds or relationships. They understood the power of technology in helping people like themselves find connection. I thought it interesting that Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in the process of getting back at the girlfriend who dumped him. Scratching your own itch is a very powerful reason to build a company that changes the world.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Management · Technology

BR 108: Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: I read this thanks to many favorable reviews and I walked away feeling a bit let down. I really couldn’t see what the fuss was about.

It’s definitely a very interesting book and describes the inside workings of Apple very well. Just didn’t think it was amazing.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Integrity. And here, I refer to Apple, the company. There is a certain ‘wholeness’ to everything Apple does. And their approach to communication, design showcases this from time to time. It’s one message and it’s always well delivered. That’s very hard to do in a big company.

2. Organizing the company around functional lines wherein you don’t need to ‘move up’ to management if you want to do better.

3. Maybe the whole purpose of the status quo is to change it. Change is the only constant in nature. Apple broke all traditional management beliefs and practices and became wildly successful. The nice thing here is that they lived their mission – to change the status quo.

And, of course, it will fascinating to see how Apple fare without Steve Jobs at the helm..

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Management · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Self Improvement

BR 85: First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Thorough and well researched piece of work. This books beautifully synthesizes 25 years of research into what it takes to be a ‘Great Manager’ and puts it in front of our eyes.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. The Greatest managers focus squarely on strengths

2. We gravely misunderstand the importance of ‘talent’. Conventional management tells us anything is possible and that if we set our mind to it, we can do whatever we want. Great managers understand that an attribute such as ‘calm under pressure’ is a talent and no amount of training can help hone it in people who don’t have that talent.

This ties right back to the 1st point. The simple idea is that we all have our own specific sweet spots – we need to find them and hone them!

3. Great managers build very close personal relationships with their top performers. How else can you get under their skin and push them? :)

And one last learning (this was a great book!), do check out the 12 questions.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Leadership · Management

BR 84: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni


Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: This was the story of how a man-manager turned around an under-performing but team. This parable has a lot of truth in it and there is definitely something to learn from the approach.

Like all “good” books, the framework didn’t stand out. :)

2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Management · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Psychology

BR 76: Drive by Daniel H Pink

Category: 2 – BUY it! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Dan Pink shares a new wave to look at ‘drive’ and ‘motivation’. In essence, he begins the book by illustrating old ideas behind motivating people (eg: throw money at them) and then proceeds to discuss the theory behind motivation 2.0 i.e. that people are motivated by a) autonomy b) mastery and c) purpose..

This book is well summarized in this popular video by RSA Animate.

Add on Mar 16 2016: What I love about Dan Pink is that he takes a complex topic like “Drive” and motivating people and boils it down to 3 things – autonomy, mastery and purpose. This is incredibly hard to do and he does it really well.