Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things (Book Review)

We know that change is good, but it’s not always clear as to how we can successfully implement it. As a result, things continue on as usual, and our businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations – and yes, that includes churches – continue to waste resources, miss grand opportunities, and struggle to build a lasting, effective community. Where do we continually go wrong?

Neil Smith, CEO of Promontory Growth and Innovation (PGI), and Patricia O'Connell, former Management Editor at Bloomberg Businessweek.com, have the answer. In the awkwardly titled How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking the 8 Hidden Barriers that Plague Even the Best Businesses (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), they identify reasons why the improvements you want to make never leave the drawing board. These barriers include your management being risk adverse, trying to avoid controversies that will inevitably rock the boat; poor prioritization of activities; and even the way your company’s departments are organized.

But all not hopeless. The “PGI Promise” can help you knock down these 8 Barriers with 12 Principles and successfully institute a change-friendly culture in your business. Smith shows how to get executives involved in a non-threatening way, managers committed to enforcing changes, and employees eager to contribute their revenue-building and cost-saving ideas. Be forewarned though: You might have to weed through some lesser-quality material to get to the helpful parts. In fact, you might just want to scan the Introduction and Chapter 9 and call it read. The book suffers from repetitive content; cheesy personal life examples that take away from the relevant real-life business examples; and a lot of PGI promotions. Worse still, the long quoted passages from clinical psychologist Richard Levak seem to indicate that Smith doesn’t feel entirely confident in his own qualifications. Working with Bank of America, Heinz, and MasterCard isn’t enough. Apparently, he has to rely on someone else to give him credibility.

So, should you read How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking the 8 Hidden Barriers that Plague Even the Best Businesses? If you’re having trouble implementing change in your business, then this book might be a great place to start. At the very least, it can help get the conversation going, and that has a lot of value in and of itself.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking the 8 Hidden Barriers that Plague Even the Best Businesses through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. I was not required to write a favorable review.

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