Jun 4 2008

Book Short: How, Now

Book Short: How, Now

Every once in a while, I read a book that has me jump up and down saying “Yes! That’s so right!” How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything in Business (and in Life), by Dov Seidman, was one of those books.  But beyond just agreeing with the things Seidman says, the book had some really valuable examples and two killer frameworks, one around culture, and one around leadership.

It’s a book about the way the world we now live in — a world of transparency and hyper-connectedness — is no longer about WHAT you do, but HOW you do it. It’s about how you can have a great brand and great advertising, but if your customers find out via a blog and YouTube clip that you run a low quality sweatshop in Malaysia, you are toast. It’s about you can…not outwork the competition, not outsmart the competition, but how you can out-behave the competition.

The book, which talks about principles like mutual gain, and thriving on the collaborative, reminds me a lot of a basic tenet of negotiation I learned years ago at the Harvard Program on Negotiation about finding a “third way” beyond a “me vs. you” negotiation by expanding the pie so both parties get more out of a deal.

Here are a few snippets from the book to inspire a purchase:

– How encouraging doctors to say “I’m sorry” radically reduces lawsuits

– How “micro-inequities” can subtly leech productivity from an organization

– How the majority of workers expect from their workplaces: equity, achievement, camaraderie

– How companies whose employees understand and embrace their mission, goals, and values see a 29% greater return than companies whose employees don’t

– How reputation is the new competitive advantage

– How people will do the right thing because in self-governing cultures, not doing the right thing no longer betrays just the company; it betrays individuals’ own values

– How increasing self-governance means moving values to the center of your efforts and making it clear — in how you reward, celebrate, communicate, and pursue — that those values form the guiding spirit of the enterprise

What type of organization do you run? One based on Anarchy & Lawlessness, one based on Blind Obedience, one based on Informed Acquiescence, or one of Values-Based Self-Governance? (Hint, it’s most likely the third category.) Read the book to find out more.