Attitude and preparation determine altitude…and also depth
There are business situations in which the goal is to ascend (e.g. to reach a higher level of productivity, efficiency, profitability) and other situations in which the goal is to descend (e.g. to drill down past symptoms to the root causes of a problem) and successfully achieving either goal depends almost entirely on one’s attitude. Long ago, Henry Ford observed, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Attitude is even more decisive when there are severe challenges to overcome. Years later, Jack Dempsey had this in mind when suggesting that “champions get up when they can’t.”
I mention all this because, in Deep Dive, Rich Horvath makes brilliant use of extended metaphors for both ascension and descent. He provides a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective program by which to prepare to achieve success at either great heights or great depths. More specifically, he explains
• The four types of strategic thinkers
• The strategic thinking assessment
• The three disciplines of strategic thinking
Note: It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of an appropriate strategy. I presume to suggest that you think of a strategy as a “hammer” that drives “nails,” or tactics. It guide and informs initiatives to achieve the given goal or objective. Horwath also explains
• The most common obstacles to strategic thinking and how to avoid or overcome them
• Why competitive advantage is strategy’s “Holy Grail”
• How and why value discipline “spells success”
All this and more is covered in the first two chapters. Then in Chapters 3-5, he introduces and explains three disciplines: #1: Acumen (the deep dive for insight), #2: Allocation (using tangible, intangible, and human resources wisely), and #3: Action (there must be no gap between knowing and doing). The last three chapters focus on teamwork (collaboration determined by mission, vision, and values), “Deep Dive Dangers” (e.g. “anchors” such as pre-judgments or prejudices, erroneous assumptions, false premises), and “The Confidence to Dive” based on appropriate strategy design and coordinated application of the three disciplines). Credit Horwath with skillful use of several reader-friendly devices through his narrative, notably “Drive Master Practice” and “Pearls of Insight” sections that serve two separate but related functions: they suggest action steps and highlight key points.
I also appreciate the insertion of boxed comments and insights relevant to the given context. For example, on Page 30 in Chapter 2: “Johnny Cash and the Mini Cooper have both been remarkably successful because they were different from their competition in ways their core customers valued.” Do not be misled by this book’s title. It is not about diving in deep water. Rather, it is about what can be learned from that activity while “building business strategy, focusing your resources, and taking smart action” to achieve business objectives.
I conclude with two of my favorite quotations. Both are compellingly relevant to the material that Rich Horwath shares in this book. First, from Michael Porter: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Now the second from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Know where not to pursue business objectives before formulating a strategy and then, know what not to do when executing that strategy.
Others have their reasons for praising this book. Here are three of mine. First, Sam Carpenter describes and recommends a mind-set that is “different from the mental posture most people carry around with them from day to day.” He duly notes that much as he wants to have himself and his life under control, the most important benefits of that mindset, he doesn’t always fully adhere (“every minute”) to the principles and guidelines that guide and inform it. “I fall down on the job now and then.” However consistent and predictable the “Work the System” methodology may be, those who adopt it will execute it inconsistently, at least for a while. Nonetheless, he seems certain that the methodology he proposes, with its “hyperefficient systems, ” can enable almost anyone to increase the efficiency and productivity of their own systems, “one by one.” With all due respect to human inadequacies of various kinds, Carpenter helps his reader to achieve several important improvements…over time. For example, “an elementary and yet fundamental shift in perspective” on “life’s mechanical workings.”
I also admire how candid Carpenter is about what his reader must do. “At the beginning of the process [of personal transformation] there is some heavy lifting as you create documentation. That’s okay. It’s a superb investment because the end product will be freedom [`from' as well as `to'], a relaxed persona, and plenty of money. It will probably be the best investment of time and effort you will ever make.” Make no mistake, each of the three steps of the method involves (indeed requires) “heavy lifting.” The nature and extent of the “R” will depend almost entirely on the “I.”
Finally, I greatly appreciate the resources in the five appendices that supplement Carpenter’s thorough explanation of the “Work the System” methodology. The reader is provided with an article that Carpenter wrote, “Ockham’s Razor and the TSR”; Centratel’s “Strategic Objective”; Centratel’s “30 Principles”; Centratel’s Procedure for Procedures”; and Centratel’s “System for Communication.”
Caveat: I urge readers NOT to check out the appendices until after all of the documentation has been created and then fine-tuned, especially the Strategic Objective, the Operating Principles, and Working Procedures. Carpenter invites his readers to check out his company’s “Work the System Template”(tm) here for details.
Near the conclusion of the final chapter, as he has throughout the book, Carpenter speaks directly to his reader and offers still another valuable suggestion: “Focus on the mechanical systems that produce the results, not the other way around, and never doubt that the superb collection of systems will produce a superb primary system.”
Let the process begin. Visit his website, purchase the book, and obtain a note book in which you can log you’re your daily initiatives, including the completion of exercises. Meanwhile, keep in mind that Carpenter is only an email away.
Others have their reasons for holding this book in such high regard. Here are three of mine. First, in collaboration with Michelle R. Donovan, Ivan Misner has devised a 52-week framework within which to launch and then develop a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective (i.e. time-effective) construction program by which to build a network of mutually beneficial relationships. A primary strategic objective is assigned to each week and all are located within a logical sequence. For example, in Section One: Create Your Future,
Week1: Set Networking Goals
Week 2: Block Out Time to Network
Week 3: Profile Your Preferred Client
Week 4: Recruit Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Team
Week 5: Give to Others First
Week 6: Create a Network Relationship Database
Week 7: Master the Top Ten Traits (See Pages 45-48)
Section Two: Expand the Network (Weeks 8-14)
Section Three: Go the Extra Mile (Weeks 15-20)
Section Four: Get Value for Your Time (Weeks 21-28)
Section Fuve: Control Your Communication (Weeks 29-33)
Section Six: Become the Expert (Weeks 34-41)
Section Seven: Capture Your Success Stories (Weeks 38-41)
Section Eight: Do What Others Don’t (Weeks 42-52)
This program requires a substantial commitment of time and effort to achieve the specific goals (whatever they are) and, meanwhile, to establish a sound foundation of current (constantly updated) contact information and vigorous (constantly nourished) relationships. The framework is sound. It remains for each reader to provide the specifics within it.
I also admire how skillfully Misner integrates what are frequently separate and disconnected functions: customer relations and prospecting. True, salespersons for years have constructed and updated segmented databases and scheduled meetings with past and current as well as prospectuve clients. Computer software improves each year and online resoures create almost unlimited oppirtunities to obtain, evaluate, refine, and modify information. What Misner offers is a mindset that is relevant both customer relations and prospecting but only after certain modifications, of course. He offers an abundance of information, insights, and suggestions that will help almost anyone to maximize the success of both customer service and prospecting, and by “success” I mean strengthening the relationship with each.
Finally, I admire the direct and personal rapport that Misner immediately establishes and then sustains through the entire 52-chapter narrative. Each of those who read this book will feel that he wrote specifically for her or him. As readers flesh out the framework with various specifics (e.g. goals, tactics, contact information, appointment schedule, sales and marketing collateral), they will create a one-of-a-kind operations manual for netWORKing succecss, in collabortation with Misner and Donovan.