Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy’s Now…Build a Great Business! A book review by Bob Morris
Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy focus almost entirely on the most important “what” and the most effective “how” with regard to “building” both a great business and a great career in business, doing so one step at a time. There are no head-snapping revelations among the seven “ways” to which the book’s subtitle refers, nor do Thompson and Tracy make any such claim. It is important to remember Thomas Edison’s observation, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” A separate chapter is devoted to each of the seven, explaining HOW to
• Become a great leader
• Develop a great business plan
• Surround yourself with great people
• Offer a great product or service
• Design a great marketing plan
• Perfect a great sales force
• Create a great customer experience
With all due respect to becoming “great” and achieving “greatness,” there is much to be said for the value of information, insights, and advice that will help business leaders and their companies to become better. In fact, as the Japanese word kaizen correctly suggests, improvement is a process, not a destination, and should be continuous.
Granted, all of the exemplars cited are huge global corporations but the lessons to be learned from them are relevant to any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. For example, Cuadra Boots in central Mexico that Thompson and Tracy include among exemplars because of “four essential lessons in product quality and innovation” that the Cuadra brothers and others have had to learn before mega-success [a relative term, to be sure] was possible.” They are:
1. Don’t follow the leader.
2. Create exclusivity.
3. Keep in continuous customer contact.
4. Testing takes you from good to great (or at least to better)
Thompson and Tracy make excellent use of questions throughout their narrative, offering a “checklist” at the conclusion of most chapters that challenges their reader to think about what must be done and how to get it done. They also include excellent questions posed by others, such as Peter Drucker (Pages 49-5) and Fred Reichheld (Pages 108-110) that also focus on what is most important as opposed to what is merely urgent. All effective leaders ask the right questions and they tend to remain the same. Here are five from Drucker: What is your mission? Who is your customer? What does your customer value? What results are you trying to accomplish? What is your plan?
It is easy to ask such questions but sometimes very difficult to know what the right questions to ask are. Drucker would be the first to point that seeking an answer to the wrong question is at least as foolish as “doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Thompson and Tracy help the business leaders who read this book to ask the right questions and then, better yet, they help them to obtain the right answers and understand how to respond effectively to them.
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