Guidance on starting a new downmarket product. Who would have thought that studying the hard drive industry could lead to so much insight. Its findings are counterintuitive. I believed the majority of the material, but skipped the last chapter on the electric car. This was my first experience reading a business related book. I was so impressed with its content that I purchased ten copies to hand out at the office. Later on when reading Jobs' autobiography, the Innovator's Dilemma is mentioned as influencing Jobs. I felt justified in my assessment that this book is great stuff.
I found this book on a reading room bookshelf of the Iberostar Grand in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. BTW, an exceptional hotel. I was impressed by Ikea's strategy and methods of operating with long time horizons. I have some direct experience working with IKEA folks that were located in Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. English is the language used internally to communicate between IKEA employees around the world. They have written down the company culture and methods to allow new employees to train anywhere in the world. After reading this book, I have more respect for the folks at IKEA. They walk a fine line between always lowering customer purchase price and high quality. Unfortunately, sometimes cost wins over quality, but they eventually, auto correct themselves.
While reading the six hundred pages in this book I kept thinking to myself that I could be learning something useful by studying three other technical books versus reading just this one. Well, my curiosity got the better of me and I did read all of it. It is interesting that after reading this collections of Jobs stories that I appreciate his abilities and employee selection more, but think substantially less of him as a person. Some nuggets include driving around in his car without a license plate, parking in handicapped spaces and no corporate charity donations of any kind.
I found the comments regarding Greece particularly fascinating. According to this book, public education in Greece sucks despite having four times the amount of teachers compared to other European countries. No one gives receipts because they don't want to pay taxes. The average Greek government job is paid, on average, three times the average of a private-sector job. Topics include Icelandic investment banking, Irish building boom and German lending practices.
An interesting aspect of innovation is the mass amnesia after an innovation becomes common knowledge. We all know what a good cell phone should look like (aka iphone like). However, asking that question in 2007 before the iphone introduction and you get a description of the Motorola Razr.
The 7 Habits. It is surprising how some of these books are connected to each other. The Forward of the 25th anniversary edition is by Jim Collins. The same author of Built to Last and Good to Great. I personally find that Stephen Covey's description of the seven habits are memorable. The inner circle of influence versus the outer circle of concern and the think Win/Win principle are priceless. Several people tell me that Covey's Seven Habits are "Obvious". This many be true, but like other good advice it does not make it any less valuable.
This book presents the balancing of short term and long term thinking manifesting itself in several concepts. Built to Last introduced to my lexicon the term BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), which along with opportunistically improving product offerings, facilitate long term growth. This concept addresses new markets while exploiting incremental growth in existing markets. The "Tyranny of the Or" versus the "Genius of the And" is similar thinking to support short term goals and long term objectives. The tyranny refers to doing one OR the other but not both. The concept of preserving the core and stimulating progress deals with the ideology of keeping a company on a successful track. After reading about the importance of a core ideology, it reinforced the notion of the "Mission Statement" from the 7 Habits.
For your convenience, an article about Built to Last from Wikipedia and book summary from WikiSummaries.
Good to Great suggests the following behaviors of great companies: Level 5 leadership, first who then what, the Stockdale paradox, the Hedgehog concept and the flywheel. What resonated the most with me was the Stockdale paradox. The name refers to James Stockdale, who was the highest-ranking Navy officer held in the "Hanoi Hilton" prisoner-of-war camp during the Vietnam War. The paradox is used as an example of the business characteristic of unwavering faith amid the brutal facts.
An introduction to TOC (Theory of Constraints), DBR (Drum-Buffer-Rope) and CCR (Capacity Constraint Resource). Dr. Goldratt provides a wonderful story to introduce his concepts. I find the scene of Alex Rogo with his son's Boy Scout troop holding a rope to manage "Herbie" the constraint memorable.
For your convenience, an article on The Goal from Wikipedia
For your convenience, an article on The Toyota Way from Wikipedia
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