If This is Your Difficulty…, Here is a Specific Book Recommendation to Help You Find Workable Solutions


What keeps you up at night? (regarding your business?)

I have a friend who is a top-notch business consultant. In demand, great clients, measurable results. He once told me that he is hired when there is a problem that the leader of the company can’t quite solve – and it is a problem big enough that it is causing pain.

I get that.

Which areas do you excel at?  Where do you need improvement? - (click ion image for full view)
Which areas do you excel at? Where do you need improvement? – (click on image for full view)

So, I was thinking about this insight again recently as I thought about what issues most organizations have the most trouble with. I frequently hand out my 12 Vital Signs of Organizational Health “bubbles,” (see image) and ask leadership team members to simply put a check mark on the circles that their organization excels at, and an “x” on the circles that cause them difficulty. (I have written about this “exercise” more than once. It is a really helpful “centering” tool for a group of leaders).

In addition to other speaking/training, I present business book briefings/synopses to groups of leaders — especially executive teams — within mid-size to large organizations. Here’s what I’ve discovered. A book briefing/synopsis – where I deliver the key content of a best-selling, useful business book, followed by facilitated conversation — can help create those needed “crucial” conversations, and thus, lead to needed change.

In other words, good books really can help you work through, and solve, your difficulties.

So, what are the issues you are dealing with? What difficulty causes you pain?

Here is a suggestion. Once you clearly identify your difficulty, then have a session based on learning the key content of a good book that could help you address that difficulty. This input, this content, can then inform your thinking as you map out a next-step “let’s tackle this difficulty” plan.

Here’s a list of suggested books.  (Sorry about alignment issues on page — having trouble with “table” transfer…  My apology).

If this is your issue Then these books could be useful
If you are having difficulty with innovation What Matters Now by Gary Hamel and Accelerate (XLR8) by John Kotter
If you are having difficulty designing your strategy Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rummelt
If you are having difficulty developing your leaders (There are so many good books to recommend) – Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson; Woodon on Leadership by John Wooden; Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner
If you are having difficulty building cohesion in your teams Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, and The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
If you are having difficulty finding/hiring the right talent The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else by George Anders
If you are having difficulty getting everybody aligned/keeping people aligned All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
If you are having difficulty with communication Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath; Words that Work by Frank Luntz
If you are having difficulty with execution (executing your strategy) Execution by Ram Charan & Larry Bossidy (Note: this kind of “began” the execution conversation; other books have followed that are also quite helpful)
If you are having difficulty with measurement (Start with) The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawanda
If you are having difficulty with bottlenecks (and, you do!) The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

And, then, if you look at the left side of the image, these are the true business essentials – the “givens” of a business. Here are some recommended books for a couple of these areas:

If this is your issue Then these books could be useful
If you are having difficulty with customer acquisition (marketing, sales) To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink, and Contagious by Jonah Berger, and Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne
If you are having difficulty with customer retention (customer service; the customer experience) Prescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System by Joseph Michelli

Yes, there are other fine books to consider. And, other issues not covered in my “bubbles” image, like:

If this is your issue Then this book could be useful
If you are having difficulty making good decisions Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Whatever your difficulty, this approach can give you something to do to help you. Choose a book, discuss its key content with your team, and then tackle the issue. The content of the book might very will help you take a much better, and better informed, needed next step.

——————-

A slight “commercial” – I have presented briefings/synopses of all of these books but one (my colleague at the First Friday Book Synopsis, Karl Krayer, has presented the one I did not present. In addition, Karl has other good titles to recommend for each of these areas). We can present these briefings/synopses to your leadership team, and lead that follow-up facilitated discussion that can be so helpful. Send me a direct e-mail, and let’s talk about the possibility. (Note: we are based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area — but we can travel).

15minadAnd/or, consider checking out our synopses at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. Each synopsis comes with our multi-page, comprehensive handouts, plus the audio recordings of our presentations at the First Friday Book Synopsis. (Note: when we present these live, we take a deeper dive into these books. The time constraints of our monthly event require shorter presentations).

One thought on “If This is Your Difficulty…, Here is a Specific Book Recommendation to Help You Find Workable Solutions

  1. Thanks for sharing Randy. This approach of thinking about each book in terms of the situational business challenge it addresses, although subtle, is a powerful and applicable one.

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