Brilliantly executed; a definitive work on business transformation.

TRANSFORMATION IN TIMES OF CRISIS

EIGHT PRINCIPLES FOR CREATING OPPORTUNITIES AND VALUE IN THE POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

A business book explores future-oriented strategies.

Rakesh, CEO of an Indian IT services firm, and Wind, Lauder professor emeritus and professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, have teamed up to craft an essential, timely work focused on business transformation. Using the Covid-19 pandemic as a springboard, the authors suggest that the virus disaster spawns opportunities, while lessons can be learned for responding to future crises. Positing eight principles “to defend against disruptors or become one,” the authors offer a framework for implementing the tenets and 10 specific tools to facilitate execution. This already comprehensive package will be further enhanced by the subsequent addition of an online dashboard and app. Rakesh and Wind are insistent that becoming adept at transformation means embracing all of the principles, which can be customized regardless of an organization’s size or business type. They begin with an intriguing discussion of the core theme of disruption in business, consumer behavior, and society, pointing out that unruly influences already existed but were exacerbated by the pandemic. They highlight examples of disruption in several industry segments with text and illustrative charts, demonstrating how successful companies have constantly reinvented themselves.

The primary content of the visionary book is divided into eight chapters, one for each of the principles. The chapters explain in detail the associated principles. Embedded in every chapter are many highly engaging and relevant stories of innovative companies from around the globe that are fruitfully applying the tenets. The tales are vividly told and seamlessly integrated with the authors’ salient observations. At the end of each chapter is a series of strategic questions to help “assess how aligned you and your organization are with the principle and the ideas and examples discussed.” This approach exposes readers to numerous exceptional examples that not only perfectly illustrate the principles, but could spark innovation in any organization as well. For example, the second principle involves reinventing an approach to consumers and stakeholders through “customer-centric digital transformation.” Here, Rakesh and Wind ponder the particularly daunting challenge for legacy companies to replace their core systems with new, digital ones, a virtually impossible task. The authors arrive at an ingenious alternate solution— “create an intermediary layer that connects the front-end with the back-end. This can be done faster and cheaper than replacing the entire core systems.” The authors demonstrate in technical but comprehensible detail exactly how such a task can be accomplished. Similarly, the sixth principle, which discusses the need for “adaptive experimentation,” identifies the specific benefits of this practice while citing numerous state-of-the-art examples. Useful cases, illustrative charts and graphics, a consultative text, and thoughtful questions combine to make every principle-related chapter pertinent and actionable. The book closes with an extremely valuable section that includes a 10-step implementation model for applying the eight principles as well as 10 tools (worksheets) to assist in establishing the tenets. The tools themselves are carefully constructed and scrupulously described.

Brilliantly executed; a definitive work on business transformation.    

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63-714755-9

Page Count: 554

Publisher: Notion Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.

A WILD IDEA

Investigative reporter Franklin recounts the life of the free-spirited millionaire entrepreneur who used his fabulous wealth in the fight to save nature.

One constant in the epic life of North Face founder Doug Tompkins (1943-2015) was his enduring love of the outdoors. The son of a successful antiques dealer, he grew up in the countryside of Millbrook, New York (Timothy Leary was a neighbor), where he cultivated his love of the natural world. His contrarian ways eventually led to his expulsion from high school just weeks before graduation. Tompkins headed West, where he baled hay in Montana, raced Olympic skiers in the Rockies, and took up rock climbing in California. He also “hitchhiked by airplane throughout South America.” Tompkins ended up in San Francisco, where, by the mid-1960s, the skiing and climbing supplies business he started with the help of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard suddenly began to boom. He was a charismatic businessman, and every one of his ventures after that—from his wife’s Plain Jane dress company to his own Esprit clothing brand—was successful. But his Midas touch never changed his passion for travel and adventure—e.g., flying his Cessna, sometimes with his family, but often, to the detriment of his marriage, solo. In the early 1990s, Tompkins bought property in southern Chile and fell in love with its pristine beauty. His outrage over the resource extraction–based nature of the Chilean government’s policies fueled his desire to protect the land. In the years that followed, he became an outspoken, sometimes reviled conservationist dedicated to using his fortune to transform thousands of acres of Patagonia into national parks. The great strengths of this timely, well-researched book lie not just in the author’s detailed characterization of Tompkins’ complex personality, but also in the celebration of his singularly dynamic crusade to save the environment.

A satisfyingly heartfelt tribute to a thoroughly remarkable man.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-296412-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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