Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Human Capital

Time, Talent and Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power – Michael C. Mankins and Eric Garton (Harvard Business Review Press)

You’ve probably seen it posted on an office wall or on the back of a tractor trailer or some other highly visible location; the reads something like, “Our people are our biggest/most important/best/strongest asset. That line has been used in some variation of the form by any number of businesses in a wide array of industries – to the point where it has moved beyond cliché to become utterly meaningless.

For many of the companies posting this phrase it raises the question – who are they trying to convince? Their customers, their employees or themselves? The striking thing that many businesses are slow to realize, is that, that simple statement is absolutely true and the companies that live up to that statement are at an immediate strategic advantage over those who don’t grasp that reality.

Recently I have spent time working through a series of books dealing with employee engagement and the advantages companies that recognize this most important business tenant have in a competitive market place. During a break in a group session with an executive coach I asked the coach what the best book he had encountered on the subject and without hesitation he recommended Time, Talent and Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power, by a pair of Bain and Company business consultants Michael C. Mankins and Eric Garton.

While most recognize the value of employee engagement to the businesses bottom line, I think that Mankins and Garton separate from the pack by demonstrating how a company can effectively engage their teams and move beyond doing for the sake of doing. They make the clear cut case that for most companies the scarcest of resources across the board are time talent and energy.

The pair spell out strategies for tracking things like meetings and communications strategies on eliminating wasted time and draining energy so that the team can focus on execution. They spell out how to strike a balance between autonomy and eliminating back and spirit breaking bureaucracy and micromanagement. Nothing will drive your best people to the exit faster.

I found the section of the book that focused on operational models and how nothing can stop execution dead in its tracks faster than the operational decision making process. Decision making can cause operational inertia that can be difficult if not impossible to overcome. Mankins and Garton make the case that leaders have to closely monitor and streamline the approval process to keep the execution train moving forward.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hard Work

Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life – Daymond John and Daniel Paisner (Currency)

Shark Tank investor and FUBU founder Daymond John, along with co-author Daniel Paisner, is out with his latest book, Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life, in which they interview a diverse mix of successful entrepreneurs and celebrities to get their take on how they scratch out success.

Call it grit, determination, hustle or just plain old fashioned hard work it is the level of determination that you bring to business that is more often than not the determining factor when it comes to success or failure. It reminds me of one of my favorite business quotes that goes something like; “an entrepreneur is someone who will give up a 40 hour a week job to work an 80 hour a week one.”

As I worked my way through Rise and Grind, I found that it was the parts of the book where John detailed his hard work and grind to make FUBU into an $6 billion in sales, empire that were the most interesting and beneficial. With chapter heads like, Embrace the Grind, Grind All Night, and All Rise, you pretty much get what you expect.

The parts I had the most difficulty gravitating to, were the “celebrity” bits with Catherine Zeta Jones, Wendy Williams and Carlos Santana, which came off as either spiritual mumbo jumbo or generally not helpful to the average stiff looking to grind their way to success. While I like the concept, I think you will get more out of Tim Ferris’s Tools for Titans or Tribe of Mentors which run in a similar vein and are easy to pick and choose the content that best suits your needs.