I just finished reading "Business at the Speed of Now," by John Bernard. Wow, this is a good book.
I know of John because I worked with him on a small project about a year ago, and I saw a lot of the things he writes about first-hand. Needless to say, when I heard he was writing a book, I could hardly wait to read it. Now that it's available, I recommend you pick up a copy right away.
This book is designed to help you create an environment or culture within your business that aligns people for execution, then empowers people to make a difference. There are some great stories in here comparing and contrasting "Now" cultures with much slower, more bureaucratic ones - some of those really hit the mark for me, and will stick with me.
The book also includes a number of tools to help you assess where your business's thinking is currently, as well as tools to help you take deliberate action to move toward a Now way of doing business.
According to this book, management must provide the rest of the company with 5 critical pieces of information for them to function in the now:
- Context ("Where are we going?")
- Accountability ("What role do I play?")
- Skills ("What abilities must I possess?")
- Facts ("What data must I access to make decisions?")
- Authority ("Do I have the freedom to act without fear of reprisal?")
From my experience, #'s 4 and 5 are the hardest transition for control freak organizations. Fear not, there are some good tips & tools in this book to help in all of these areas.
Guidance when you need it
I read the book all the way through, and it went quickly. Going forward, I plan to use this as a reference guide to help me focus on what I believe is the "hottest fire" in whatever situation I'm experiencing. If you scan this list, it not only helps you pinpoint specific challenges, it also guides you to the right chapters to find the help you need.
If you're anything like me, examples and stories are among the best ways to learn. Not only does John share stories he's learned through working with companies, he also uses a ficticious company known as "BearPaw" to show you how some of these ideas work in practice, as well as show you how to create a tracking and alignment system that keeps everyone in the business on the same page about what is important.
The most important thing?
Want to get something done? Use this book to create your "Breakthrough Plan."
I got a taste of this while working with John, and he tells you how to create one in this book. A breakthrough plan keeps you focused on a specific objective and provides triggers to ensure that resources & dependencies are identified and dealt with, This is one of the highest-leverage activities in this process, in my opinion (and it isn't as hard as you think).
My favorite part
Yes, I liked the part about Breakthrough Plans. But I must admit, my favorite chapter in the book was Chapter 8, in which we're exposed to the "Seven-Step Problem Solving" approach. This is a fantastic model to guide you through a data-driven process to get everyone on the same page about the problem, the desired outcomes, the approach you'll take, and how success will be measured along the way. Of course, a big part of the formula is accountability, which is well-handled.
If you want a taste of the book, they are offering a sample chapter of Business at the Speed of Now at the author's site. If you really want to jump into the Now, you can click one of the following links to order it on Amazon in either hardcover, or Kindle formats.