Monday, May 25, 2009

Sam Walton - Made in America

This is a very inspirational story of a great man and evolution of a great business. Sam Walton eloquently narrates his humble beginnings to greatness in a clear, concise manner. Mr. Sam tells one story after another about how he got started in retailing to his vision for the future of Wal-Mart. His stories are sprinkled with comments from his family, friends and Wal-Mart associates.

 Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world and the second largest corporation in the world, with a 2005 income of over $11 billion. It’s the largest employer in both the United States and Mexico. Sam’s humility is manifested openly when he stated with pride that he invented very few of the ideas that made the store such a success, instead he borrowed the best ideas from every store he visited (and he visited a lot).

If you are merely interested in Sam's business philosophy, Chapter 17, is a must read. It's called, "Running a Successful Company: Ten Rules That Worked for Me." Sam shares his rules for building a business which include total commitment to the business, sharing the profits, exceeding customer expectations and swimming upstream, or as Sam explains "ignore the conventional wisdom." There are no startling revelations in this book. There are no in-depth explanations of strategic business and financial decisions that shaped the direction of Wal-Mart. There are also few, if any, in depth discussions about family relationships or the people that most influenced Sam throughout his lifetime.

The book is highly recommended for those who would like to understand the motivations behind the world’s most successful retail chain. I will be reviewing key lessons i learnet from this book in my next post. Happy reading!!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blue Occean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy is a business strategy book written by Professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne of INSEAD, a leading global business school, that promotes creating new market space or "Blue Ocean" rather than competing in an existing industry. It contains retrospective case studies of business success stories the authors claim were Blue Ocean Strategies. The book has sold more than a million copies in its first year of publication and is being published in 41 languages.

The concept

The metaphor of red and blue oceans describes the market universe. Red Oceans are all the industries in existence today—the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced.

Products become commodities or niche, and cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody. Hence, the term red oceans. Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today—the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue Ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored.  The corner-stone of Blue Ocean Strategy is 'Value Innovation'. A blue ocean is created when a company achieves value innovation that creates value simultaneously for both the buyer and the company. The innovation (in product, service, or delivery) must raise and create value for the market, while simultaneously reducing or eliminating features or services that are less valued by the current or future market.

This is one of the best business books i have ever read on strategy. Happy reading!!! 


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jack Staight from the Gut

As CEO of General Electric for the past twenty years, Jack built its market cap by over $500 billion and established himself as the most admired business leader in the world. His championing of initiatives like Six Sigma quality, globalization, and e-business helped to define the modern corporation. At the same time, he's a gutsy boss who developed a differentiated philosophy and management style that observes no boundaries, sharing of ideas, an intense focus on people, and an informal, give-and-take style clearly alienates bureaucracy. The content of the book is easily described as the chronological journey through Jack Welch's life starting with a short discussion of his upbringing and education. After his PhD, he started with General Electric and rose through the ranks until being named CEO in 1981. After his appointment as CEO, the book starts to glow: the book bares all on how Jack Welch restructured GE around the concept of being number 1 or 2 in each market, how he proactively eliminated tens of thousands of jobs to make GE more competitive, how he focused on leadership development and learning, how he acquired and sold businesses.

Key business lessons from Jack Welch’s way of doing business:

  Integrity - Jack did not have two agendas.  He only had only one way – the straightway. Setting a Tone - Jack always told our business leaders their personal intensity determined their organization’s intensity. 

  Maximizing an Organization’s Intellect - Jack took everyone’s best ideas and transferred them to others.  

  People First, Strategy second - Jack hired the right people in the right jobs. This was more important than developing a strategy. 

  Informality - Jack knew bureaucracy strangles.  Informality liberates. 

  Self-Confidence - Jack knew there is a fine line between arrogance and self-confidence.  Legitimate self-confidence is a winner.  The true test of self-confidence is the courage to be open – to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.  Self-confident people aren’t afraid to have their views challenged.  They relish the intellectual combat that enriches ideas.  They determine the ultimate openness of an organization and its ability to learn. 

  Passion - Jack knew the number one characteristic all winners share, winners care more than anyone else.  No detail is too small to sweat or too large to dream. 

  Stretch - Jack believed in stretching oneself in order to reach for more than what is thought possible. 

  Celebrations - Jack was a proponent of extramural activities. He knew business has to be fun. 

This book is laced with refreshing interludes, such as "A Short Reflection on Golf," that capture Jack's competitiveness and the importance of friendship in his life. JACK: STRAIGHT FROM THE GUT is a classic business book and a deeply personal journey filled with passion and a sheer lust for life. This is a book you must have on your book shelf. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jack Welch Author - Straight from the Gut

Jack Welsh, former CEO of General Electric, presents a rare glimpse into how to build a successful organization in his book, "Straight from the Gut." His honesty and openness is refreshing and reaffirms that success is sometimes built from failure, but more often from calculated planning and the willingness to take risks.

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Jack received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and an MS and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois.  He began his career with the General Electric Company in 1960, and in 1981 became the Company’s 8th Chairman & CEO.  During his 20+ year tenure as CEO, the Company’s market capitalization rose from $13 billion to $400 billion, while revenues grew from $27 billion to $125 billion and earnings grew tenfold to almost $14 billion.  In 2000, he was named "Manager of the Century" by Fortune magazine.

 When Jack Welsh was asked what business he was in, he simply replied “the people business.” The greatest resource for any company is their people. However, in today’s fast paced global workplace usually the people are the most under utilized resource. For those CEO’s, managers, business owners and even educators who wish to improve their outcomes, this book is a must read.

I will be reviewing his book "Straight from the Gut" in my next post. Get the book and enjoy the reading.

The 17 indesputable laws of Teamwork (Part 2)

This is a continuation from my previous review on John Maxwell’s book. In my previous post, we ended on principle 8, so today we proceed and conclude this review with principle 9 to 17.

9. The Law of Countability

Teammates must be able to count on each other when it counts. Is your integrity unquestionable? Do you perform your work with excellence? Are you dedicated to the team’s success? Can people depend on you? Do your actions bring the team together or rip it apart?

10. The Law of the Price Tag

The team fails to reach its potential when it fails to pay the price. Sacrifice, time commitment, personal development, and unselfishness are part of the price we pay for team success.

11. The Law of the Scoreboard

The team can make adjustments when it knows where it stands. The scoreboard is essential to evaluating performance at any given time, and is vital to decision-making.

12. The Law of the Bench

Great teams have great depth. Any team that wants to excel must have good substitutes as well as starters. The key to making the most of the law of the bench is to continually improve the team.

13. The Law of Identity

Shared values define the team. The type of values you choose for the team will attract the type of members you need. Values give the team a unique identity to its members, potential recruits, clients, and the public. Values must be constantly stated and restated, practiced, and institutionalized.

14. The Law of Communication

Interaction fuels action. Effective teams have teammates who are constantly talking, and listening to each other. From leader to teammates, teammates to leader, and among teammates, there should be consistency, clarity and courtesy. People should be able to disagree openly but with respect. Between the team and the public, responsiveness and openness is key.

15. The Law of the Edge

The difference between two equally talented teams is leadership. A good leader can bring a team to success, provided values, work ethic and vision are in place. The Myth of the Head Table is the belief that on a team, one person is always in charge in every situation. Understand that in particular situations, maybe another person would be best suited for leading the team. The Myth of the Round Table is the belief that everyone is equal, which is not true. The person with greater skill, experience, and productivity in a given area is more important to the team in that area. Compensate where it is due.

16. The Law of High Morale

When you’re winning, nothing hurts. When a team has high morale, it can deal with whatever circumstances are thrown at it.

17. The Law of Dividends

Investing in the team compounds over time. Make the decision to build a team, and decide who among the team are worth developing. Gather the best team possible, pay the price to develop the team, do things together, delegate responsibility and authority, and give credit for success.

 To your success!!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The 17 Indisputable Laws Of Teamwork (Part 1)

As promised, today i am reviewing an interesting book by John C. Maxwell called ' The 17 Indisputable Laws ofTeamwork'. For the sake of clarity, i will break the 17 principles into two parts. I will start with the first eight principles in this article and finish off tomorrow with the other 9 principles.  

I learnt that in order to achieve great things, you need a team. Building a winning team requires understanding of these principles. Whatever your goal or project, you need to add value and invest in your team so the end product benefits from more ideas, energy, resources, and perspectives.

1. The Law of Significance
People try to achieve great things by themselves mainly because of the size of their ego, their level of insecurity, or simple naiveté and temperament. One is too small a number to achieve greatness. Critical lesson for everyone who is in pursuit of excellence.

2.The Law of the Big Picture
The goal is more important than the role. Members must be willing to subordinate their roles and personal agendas to support the team vision. By seeing the big picture, effectively communicating the vision to the team, providing the needed resources, and hiring the right players, leaders can create a more unified team.

3. The Law of the Niche
All players have a place where they add the most value. Essentially, when the right team member is in the right place, everyone benefits. To be able to put people in their proper places and fully utilize their talents and maximize potential, you need to know your players and the team situation. Evaluate each person’s skills, discipline, strengths, emotions, and potential.

4. The Law of Mount Everest
As the challenge escalates, the need for teamwork elevates. Focus on the team and the dream should take care of itself. The type of challenge determines the type of team you require: A new challenge requires a creative team. An ever-changing challenge requires a 
fast, flexible team. An Everest-sized challenge requires an experienced team. See who needs direction, support, coaching, or more responsibility. Add members, change leaders to suit the challenge of the moment, and remove ineffective members.

5. The Law of the Chain
The strength of the team is impacted by its weakest link. When a weak link remains on the team the stronger members identify the weak one, end up having to help him, come to resent him, become less effective, and ultimately question their leader’s ability.

6. The Law of the Catalyst
Winning teams have players who make things happen. These are the catalysts, or the get-it-done-and-then-some people who are naturally intuitive, communicative, passionate, talented, creative people who take the initiative, are responsible, generous, and influential.

7. The Law of the Compass
A team that embraces a vision becomes focused, energized, and confident. It knows where it’s headed and why it’s going there. A team should examine its Moral, Intuitive, Historical, Directional, Strategic, and Visionary Compasses. Does the business practice with 
integrity? Do members stay? Does the team make positive use of anything contributed by previous teams in the organization? Does the strategy serve the vision? Is there a long-range vision to keep the team from being frustrated by short-range failures?

8. The Law of The Bad Apple
Rotten attitudes ruin a team. The first place to start is with your self. Do you think the team wouldn’t be able to get along without you? Do you secretly believe that recent team successes are attributable to your personal efforts, not the work of the whole team? Do you keep score when it comes to the praise and perks handed out to other team members? Do you have a hard time admitting you made a mistake? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to keep your attitude in check.

Happy reading!!

Dr. John C. Maxwell

Dr John C Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 13 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of INJOY, Maximum Impact, ISS and EQUIP, an international leadership development organization working to help leaders. EQUIP is involved with leaders from more than 80 nations. Its mission is “to see effective Christian leaders fulfill the Great Commission in every nation.”

Every year Maxwell speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and organizations as diverse as the US Military Academy at West Point and The National Football League. A new York times, wall street Journal, Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was one of the 25 authors and artists named to’s 10th anniversary Hall of Fame. Three of his books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold over a million copies. Maxwell serves on the Board of Trustees at Indiana Wesley University and has a building named after him there, the Maxwell Center for Business and Leadership. I will be reviewing his leadership books which have greatly influenced my professional life. 

Happy Reading

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Business Books Review

With a view to improving content on this blog, from henceforth, i will be focusing on business books review. I will be reviewing one of John C. Maxwell's books. For those who are not familiar with this author, John C. Maxwell is a renowned leadership guru. He is a pastor, businessman and accomplished author. He is considered one of the world's most destinguished leadership gurus.

Happy reading