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Recommended Reads – Week 48

Leap: How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied by Howard Yu

Every business faces the existential threat of competitors producing cheaper copies. Even patent filings, market dominance and financial resources can’t shield them from copycats. So what can we do–and, what can we learn from companies that have endured and even prospered for centuries despite copycat competition?

In a book of narrative history and practical strategy, IMD professor of management and innovation Howard Yu shows that succeeding in today’s marketplace is no longer just a matter of mastering copycat tactics, companies also need to leap across knowledge disciplines, and to reimagine how a product is made or a service is delivered. This proven tactic can protect a company from being overtaken by new (and often foreign) copycat competitors.

Using riveting case studies of successful leaps and tragic falls, Yu illustrates five principles to success that span a wide range of industries, countries, and eras. Learn about how P&G in the 19th century made the leap from handcrafted soaps and candles to mass production of its signature brand Ivory, leaped into the new fields of consumer psychology and advertising, then leaped again, at the risk of cannibalizing its core product, into synthetic detergents and won with Tide in 1946. Learn about how Novartis and other pharma pioneers stayed ahead by making leaps from chemistry to microbiology to genomics in drug discovery; and how forward-thinking companies, including China’s largest social media app–WeChat, Tokyo-based Internet service provider Recruit Holdings, and Illinois-headquartered John Deere are leaping ahead by leveraging the emergence of ubiquitous connectivity, the inexorable rise of intelligent machines, and the rising importance of managerial creativity.

Outlasting competition is difficult; doing so over decades or a century is nearly impossible–unless one leaps. Ultimately, Leap is a manifesto for how pioneering companies can endure and prosper in a world of constant change and inevitable copycats.

Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking Is Your Best Short-Term Strategy by Dennis Carey, Brian Dumaine, Michael Useem and Rodney Zemmell

The lifespans of companies are growing shorter each day. Why do some companies thrive and grow, while others fail?

Inspired by the CEO Academy, the annual off-the-record gathering of chief executive officers organized by the authors, Go Long reveals how some of the world’s most prominent business leaders resisted short-term pressures to successfully manage their organizations for the long term, and in turn, aim to create more jobs, more satisfied customers, and more shareholder wealth.
In Go Long, authors Dennis Carey, Brian Dumaine, Michael Useem, and Rodney Zemmel take you behind-the-scenes to witness the business decisions that are enabling leading organizations to outsmart and outlast the competition.

  • Why did CEO Larry Merlo allow CVS to take a $2 billion hit—on purpose?
  • How did CEO Alan Mulally maneuver Ford’s $48 billion turnaround?
  • How did director Maggie Wilderotter and her fellow board members engage top management to embark on an unusual exercise to help Hewlett Packard Enterprise build a long-term strategy?
  • Why did CEO Paul Polman’s turn back to Unilever’s original mission of leading with a purpose to fuel profits?
  • How did CEO Ivan Seidenberg convince his investors and board to allow him to make a $150 billion bet?
  • How did CEO George Buckley find a way to address investor calls for 3M to spend less on research and development while still finding a way to innovate?

These leaders argue that a short-term mindset might satisfy investors for this quarter or next, but there’s a heavy price to be paid. Instead, they argue, long-term thinking is your best short-term strategy.

Called a “mandatory read” by David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group, Go Long is a critical resource for leaders who want their organizations to survive over the long-term and for anyone who cares about the global economy.

Digital Transformation to the Agile Enterprise by Jacek Golebiewski

In “Digital Transformation to the Agile Enterprise,” I shared the lessons learned during the digital transformations I experienced in my consulting engagements.

Many books have been written on the topic of agile revolutions. However, most of them are focused on the specific aspects of the delivery methodology, or improvements in tools and processes. Thus, my goal was to maximize the value added for the readers, by complementing the great work of many writers and by sharing the publication focused on the topics which are not thoroughly explored by other authors.

This publication addresses the holistic impact of the agile thinking on the operating model, business capabilities, value streams, organizational structures, cross-organizational sub-optimization, service management, metrics, business and IT collaboration, budgeting, financing, strategy, coordination between the service teams, and the role of the Transformation Office.
I organized the book into 20 chapters, each tackling a specific topic which needs to be addressed by experienced executives, managers, and leaders during the transition to the agile enterprise business.

The material provided in the book is offered in an easy-to-consume, concise format, which I believe, is useful for the busy practitioners who might not have time to read “just another book” at the high level. Still, whenever it is necessary, I also provided the links to concepts which might require additional explanations.

I aimed to avoid the high-level, introductory subjects like, “why agile thinking makes sense,” or “what are the differences between the agile and waterfall delivery methodologies.” Such topics usually fill more than a half the content of other books. Thus I assumed that readers interested in this area already knew answers to such questions. Therefore, this book focuses on the details of implementing these concepts in practice.

Facing an option of writing long essays or providing extensive examples, which have been repeated many times in other books, I went for the more practical arrangement of short examples and tips, presented in the form of bullet points and checklists, that convey the core messages.
As a result, in the first three chapters, I introduced the essential topics and trends impacting modern companies. In the following eight sections, I provided more examples and specific strategies regarding the digital transformations. In the last nine chapters, I listed detailed recommendations related to operating models, organizational structures, methodologies, and processes and I offered over 50 tips and lessons learned organized by the core agile themes.

Topple: The End of the Firm-Based Strategy and the Rise of New Models for Explosive Growth by Ralph Welborn

What made businesses successful yesterday is not what will make them effective tomorrow.
The most successful, and explosive growth leaders of today—and tomorrow—reflect a new competitive reality: the new competitive landscape will be shaped less by firm-specific strategies than by business ecosystems.

The objective of Ralph and Sajan’s book is straight-forward: to help organizations understand what business ecosystems are, what makes them different, and how to take advantage of them so that they can identify and capture new sources of value in new ways.

Packed with examples and models, Topple is a pragmatic field guide that allows businesses to make sense of and take action in our changed competitive landscape and the ecosystem-centric business models that underlie it.

Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart by Shane Snow

Award-winning entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow reveals the counterintuitive reasons why so many partnerships and groups break down–and why some break through.

The best teams are more than the sum of their parts, but why does collaboration so often fail to fulfill this promise? In Dream Teams, Snow takes us on an adventure through history, neuroscience, psychology, and business, exploring what separates groups that simply get by together from those that get better together.

You’ll learn:

  • How ragtag teams–from soccer clubs to startups to gangs of pirates–beat the odds throughout history.
  • Why DaimlerChrysler flopped while the Wu-Tang Clan succeeded, and the surprising factor behind most failed mergers, marriages, and partnerships.
  • What the Wright Brothers’ daily arguments can teach us about group problem solving.
  • Pioneering women in law enforcement, unlikely civil rights collaborators, and underdog armies that did the incredible together.
  • The team players behind great social movements in history, and the science of becoming open-minded.

Provocative and entertaining, Dream Teams is a landmark work that will change the way we think about people, progress, and collaboration.

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