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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book recommendation

As I have done occasionally in the past, in the year ahead I will try to include some book recommendations for those of us in the book business. I will admit in advance that many of these are going to deal with innovation or competing changing markets.

My first book recommendation is Practically Radical by William C. Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine. The book is about fixing what is wrong with our organizations -- and if you are in an established, mature business where you are still doing things the way you have always done them -- odds are pretty good that there are few things ripe for fixing. There is an old Japanese saying I always liked that goes something like, "There is nothing so good that it can't be improved." The book is about thinking ahead, renewal, and inspiring creativity. In an article about his book Taylor writes about 10 questions every game changer must answer. (And who in our business cannot afford to be a game changer at some level these days?) I will list the 10 questions here, as I think they are good ones to think about, and will encourage you to read the article to learn more. I have created some additions/edits to the questions in brackets.

1. Do you see opportunities the competition doesn't see? [And what opportunities does your competition see that you don't?]

2. Do you have new ideas about where to look for new ideas?

3. Are you the most of anything? [Sort of the "Good-to-Great question -- have you settled for mediocrity or do you strive for excellence?]

4. If your company went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?

5. Have you figured out how your organization's history can help to shape its future? [Reminds me of the question -- do you know what business you are really in? Hint: It is not selling books.]

6. Do you have customers who can't live without you? [He notes: if they can, they probably will.]

7. Do your people care more than the competition?

8. Are you getting the best contributions from the most people?

9. Are you consistent in your commitment to change?

10. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

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