Review: Bryce G. Hoffman – Red Teaming (S)

Red Teaming
Bryce G. Hoffman

“THE GAME-CHANGING APPROACH TO STRATEGY AND PLANNING THAT WILL KEEP YOUR BUSINESS AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION. Developed by the military and intelligence agencies, red teaming is a revolutionary way to stress-test strategies, flush out unseen threats and missed opportunities, and execute more successfully in an increasingly uncertain world.”

I was pretty pumped when I first saw this book because, well, it’s red! I had high hopes for an exciting read, but boy, was I let down.ย The beginning of the book dragged on with long-winded chapters all about military stuff. It was like the words were just sliding off the page instead of getting into my head. Sure, we needed some background info, but that was way too much. I get that the principles are based on military history, but a little less history and a little more about applications of those principles would be usefu.

It seemed like the author was more interested in telling their life story about how they got into red teaming. I kept waiting to get to the good stuff about what red teaming actually is, but instead, it was all about setting up for it with no real substance.ย Finally, toward the end, we kinda sorta got to the point, and it turns out that red teaming is just a mishmash of thinking techniques you’ve probably heard of before. The author basically said, “Use the one that works for you, in your current scenario.” So, not exactly groundbreaking.

Don’t even get me started on the company examples they threw in there besides all the military based stuff. McDonald’s, Uber, Google โ€“ we’ve heard it all before, and they barely scratched the surface.ย Honestly, skip this one and go read “Thinking in New Boxes” instead. I’m giving “Red Teaming” a solid one-star rating – I gave up and couldn’t bring myself to read the final chapters.

Review: Sarah Kessler – Gigged (S)

Gigged
The End of the Job and the Future of Work
Sarah Kessler

“In Gigged, Sarah Kessler meets the people forging this new world of unorthodox employment: from the computer programmer who chooses exactly which hours he works each week, via the Uber driver who is trying to convince his peers to unionise, to the charity worker who thinks freelance gigs might just transform the fortunes of a declining rural town. Their stories raise crucial questions about the future of work. What happens when job security, holidays and benefits become a thing of the past? How can freelancers find meaningful, well-paid employment? And could the gig economy really change the world of work for ever?”

The book titled “Gigged” introduces the author’s concept of freelancing and the autonomy it offers in choosing one’s own jobs. Despite its publication a few years ago, the book is still relevant. The author frequently references Uber as an illustrative example, highlighting the freelance contractors of Uber drivers. Various anecdotes from other companies are included creating a comprehensive narrative.
I found the examples to be quite enjoyable. Initially, the author seems to diverge from the main topic, giving the impression of going off on tangents. However, as one progresses through the book, a rhythmic pattern emerges, allowing for a better understanding of the author’s style. The book manages to deliver a wealth of information in an easily digestible manner.

One aspect that detracted from my overall experience was the book’s heavy emphasis on American contexts, including examples and specific currency amounts. This limited scope is irrelevant to readers from other parts of the world and hampers the ability to connect with the provided examples.

Overall 4 stars. What will the future look like?

Review: Baba Prasad – Nimble (S)

Nimble
Make Yourself and Your Company Resilient in the Age of Constant Change
Baba Prasad

“Today’s world is best described by one word: turbulence. Every leader today knows they need to be nimble, agile and resilient–but how? In this engaging and insightful new book, management strategist and Wharton Fellow Baba Prasad sheds new light on the subject, and offers practical advice for executives, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who’ll need the skills to face the unpredictability, risk, and deep uncertainty that lies ahead.ย Filled with vivid examples and insights from around the world and throughout history – from the Brazilian rainforest and the “frugal innovation” of 19th century Indian engineers to Ericsson, Lego, Burt’s Bees, and Zara–Nimble reveals what sets the most nimble leaders and organizations apart from the competition, presenting five types of agility that help individuals and companies not just survive but thrive in times of great change”

This book gives readers a guide to becoming more agile in today’s fast-paced business environment. The 5 agilities discussed in the book are:

  1. Analytical agility โ€“ allows a company to change the means and methods of analysis.
  2. Operational agility โ€“ helps the company gain dynamism through its operational resources.
  3. Inventive agility โ€“ enables the generation of new ideas, creative solutions, and alternate uses of resources to solve problems the company has not seen before or to take advantage of new opportunities the company faces.
  4. Communicative agility โ€“ is the skill a company has to persuade its audiences and to convey the value of its ideas through words and speech.
  5. Visionary agility โ€“ allows the company to recognize the long-term impact of the decisions it is making.

Each chapter of the book focuses on one of these agilities, offering a detailed explanation of what it is and why it matters, as well as real-world examples of companies that have successfully developed and leveraged that agility. The author’s use of business examples helps bring these concepts to life, making them more tangible and easier to understand.

The author also includes exercises and activities that readers can use to help them develop their own agility in each of the five areas. These practical exercises help readers apply the concepts to their own lives and businesses.

I recommend this book to anyone looking to succeed in a world that is constantly changing, this book is sure to be a valuable resource for leaders and professionals across all industries. If anything, it’s a great reminder to be agile in business. 3.5 stars

Quick Reviews of Non-Fiction Business Books #1 (S)

The Resilient Leader
Life Changing Strategies to Overcome Today’s Turmoil and Tomorrow’s Uncertainty
Christine Perakis

This book is designed as a quick read that presents a good storyline, but falls short in delivering specific tips on leadership. While the book contains some generic advice, it offers nothing new or groundbreaking. However, it does have action points at the end of each section, making it a practical guide for those seeking to apply the advice presented. Overall, while the book is a fast read, it is not suitable for readers seeking in-depth knowledge on leadership or looking to learn new and innovative strategies.

Great Quotes for Great Businesses
Words That Leaders Live By
Bud Carter

This book presents a collection of quotes from successful business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, and sports stars. While the book has a range of quotes, it is an average read. The book covers different chapters, but there is not much variance in the content. I’m not a huge fan of quotes in general, as there seems to be a quote for everything, even contradictory.ย  While the book provides some inspiration, the content can be repetitive, and some quotes may not be relevant to all readers. Overall, it is an average read but it is what it says it is.

Engineer Your Business
The 6 Proven Steps to Evolve
Mike Dowsett

The book does not delve deeply into any particular concept, but instead offers a diverse range of perspectives on business systems, process, cost savings and more. While some of the sections may be familiar to readers who are already well-versed in this area, there are also some fresh insights and unique strategies that will be useful to readers seeking new ideas. It’s a nice quick read and is easy to flick through to sections you’re interested in. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick and easy read that offers a diverse array of ideas and perspectives on business.

Review: Kirstin Ferguson – Head and Heart (S)

Head and Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership
Kirstin Ferguson

“Leadership is simply a series of moments and every moment gives you the opportunity to leave a positive legacy for those you lead. In this ground-breaking book, award-winning leadership expert and business leader Kirstin Ferguson has written a much needed practical guide for every modern leader. Whether you are the head of one of the largest companies in the world, supervising a small team or guiding your family, it will be your ability to integrate your head and heart that will influence your success in leading others and navigating our complex world.”

This book is very slow. It spends a good chunk of the start of the book “rethinking leadership” in a modern way. Although I agree that some leaders do need to rethink how they lead, the people that have picked up this book would already agree with the title and modern leadership and do not need to be convinced.

The author’s writing of convincing the reader of modern leadership isn’t really convincing. It makes references to all people who can be leaders even in small ways or as parents. I don’t disagree with this, but I don’t think that it needs to be repeated throughout the book. Each of the eight trait chapters doesn’t explain anything tangible a leader could do to improve that area of themselves.

The examples provided have no depth. They are generic and basically say this person uses their head or heart, with no depth of exactly what they did and how they did it. I also did the test and did not find it helpful at all. It is hard enough to judge yourself but it’s particularly hard when the questions are direct and not in any context such as “Am I very aware of my limitations”. I also feel that the trait “perspective” should be a heart trait as it relates to empathy, but the author has it as a head trait.

Overall, don’t waste your time on this book. It should be titled “anyone can be a leader” as that’s the only point the author has and doesn’t get further than that.The test is like reading a horoscope. You can read whatever you want out of it. I finished it out of duty, but this is only one star from me.

Penguin | 31st January 2023 | AU$34.99 | paperback

Review: Mary Walton – The Deming Management Method (S)

The Deming Management Method
Mary Walton

“Whether you are the owner of your own small business, a middle manager in a mid-sized company, or the CEO of a multinational, this book aims to show you how to improve your profits and productivity, following the principles of the Deming management method.”

This book is an interesting read, but not for everyone. It is clearly an older book that is written in an older manner, but it is still applicable and not completely outdated. It’s a little dense and takes a while to get into it. I felt that the long introduction / background on Dr Deming was very interesting.

It does go through The 14 Management Methods and 7 Deadly Diseases. However the points are very brief and don’t go into much detail. I thought it was interesting reading about the history and the key takeaway is to focus on quality.Unfortunately it doesn’t explain this in a lot of detail. Along with most other business books, their examples are always product based. I would love to see some service industry examples.

The methods all really common sense and I can’t believe there are still companies out there that do not run like this today. They need this book and the right attitude. Overall a nice story, but not enough depth. 3.5 stars.

Review: Patrick Lencioni – The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive (S)

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive:
The Four Disciplines at the Heart of Making Any Organization World Class
Patrick Lencioni

“In this stunning follow-up to his best-selling book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni offers up another leadership fable that’s every bit as compelling and illuminating as its predecessor. This time, Lencioni’s focus is on a leader’s crucial role in building a healthy organization–an often overlooked but essential element of business life that is the linchpin of sustained success. Readers are treated to a story of corporate intrigue as the frustrated head of one consulting firm faces a leadership challenge so great that it threatens to topple his company, his career, and everything he holds true about leadership itself. In the story’s telling, Lencioni helps his readers understand the disarming simplicity and power of creating organizational health, and reveals four key disciplines that they can follow to achieve it.”

This is a pretty good book but not as riveting as his others. Like Lencioni’s other books, the majority of the book is told as a fable. You get invested in the characters and it’s realistic and relatable. For this particular book we see two CEOs at competing firms. You can’t help but feel sorry for them both and want them both to succeed despite them being direct competitors.

The author also explains the 4 disciples (the theory) in a short, succinct chapter at the end. The fable makes you remember and relate to the theory and having the direct theory chapter is helpful if you want to refer to it later.

I personally didn’t gain heaps from this book, as I think I’m applying a lot of this already. It also touched on some points which are in his other books, so it was a little repetitive in that respect. I recommend this book for anyone who is a leader in some way – it’s not just for CEOs. 4 stars

Review: Tim Duggan – Killer Thinking (S)

Killer Thinking
How to Turn Good Ideas into Brilliant Ones
Tim Duggan

“Killer Thinking is the ultimate guide to creating, developing and recognising incredible ideas that will revolutionise the way you work, from the bestselling author of Cult Status. We need better ideas right now. Everywhere you look, there are growing problems that require fresh, creative thinking to help us solve. The good news is that anyone can learn to master the art of creativity to turn good ideas into brilliant ones.”

This book is exactly as it says, a step by step guide on how to turn good ideas into not just great but killer ideas! The author breaks down the steps into each chapter and gives you lots of business examples to relate to the steps. It’s very well written and kept me wanting to read more! There are also in real life practical questions to ask yourself at the end of each chapter to help get you started on coming up with your ideas. I always love great take-aways from books such as this, as well as a dot point summary at the end of each chapter that you can refer back to without needing to re-read the whole thing.

It’s refreshing to have some new and modern business examples that are not the mainstream, large corporations that are always referred to (Google, Apple etc). Some of the great examples discussed were Canva and Bumble. The author also wrote those stories in a way where you didn’t know what the company was or what their product was at the start. It made you follow their journey of coming up with the ideas and you can see how the process evolved (as well as trying to guess the company as you read on).

I love that the author is an Australian author and also referred to some good Australian businesses as well. The author also didn’t try to sell me their other book Cult Status, which a lot of authors do. But now I am keen to read his other book as well, as this was a great read. I’d recommend this book for anyone that is in the business industry or aspiring entrepreneurs. I’m not sure that it’s quite a re-read because I got what I needed from it from its summaries. 4.5 stars from me.

Pantera Press | 3 May 2022 | AU$29.99 | paperback

Review: David McRaney – How Minds Change (S)

How Minds Change
Making People Listen in an Argumentative World
David McRaney

“Genes create brains, brains create beliefs, beliefs create attitudes, attitudes create group-identities, group identities create norms, norms create values, and values create cultures. The most effective persuasion techniques work backwards. Ideas sweep across cultures in waves, beginning with early adopters who reduce uncertainty for the rest of the population. It’s rarely because the innovation is amazing in and of itself, but because early adopters signal to the group that it’s safe to think again. This book explains how minds change โ€“ and how to change them โ€“ not over hundreds of years, but in less than a generation, in less than a decade, or sometimes in a single conversation.”

The book I reviewed is the new version that includes references to COVID-19 and the thinking of some people around that (so this cover isn’t quite right).

This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. It started out with a very long introduction with the author asking the question: “How do minds change?” Then, I realised that the book was just going to be that. For most of it, the reader was just following along with the author’s journey of asking how minds change. The problem with this was that there were never exactly any specific answers.

There is a bit of what I would call WHY minds change, in examples that it has happened to some people. There wasn’t anything specific however such as helpful sentence starters or persuasion techniques or what actually happened. It just said that the person’s values and beliefs had changed… but not how that happened. I also expected it to be a little more scientifically proven. There was a small section about getting one of the techniques scientifically proven but it was a lot of his journey on doing so and not results or explanations.

There is a step by step method on street epistemology towards the end. This is a particular method and for a particular reason. It’s specific and something that could be used in everyday persuasion conversations. Some parts of it are more basic techniques as well which I have heard of before, but the author didn’t go into any details. The author also said at some point that when someone changes their mind, then the effects tend to last. I don’t see how this could happen though and the person’s mind stays “flipped”. Really how long do the effects last for? Especially when you see a lot of controversial topics and a lot of people changing their mind. Or is everyone always being “flipped” one way and then back now?

There were definitely some parts where I was interested in the little sub story, but it really took a while to get into and wasn’t as detailed and informative as I was expecting. It just seemed to be lacking so overall I give it 3 stars. I recommend Never Split the Difference instead, as it has a lot more handy tips and tricks. I do want to read more about cults now! So I’ll read Do As I Sayย next.

Oneworld | 21 June 2022 | AU$29.99 | paperback

Review: Robert Iger – The Ride of a Lifetime (S)

The Ride of a Lifetime
Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
Robert Iger

“In 2005, Robert Iger became CEO of The Walt Disney Company during a difficult time. Morale had deteriorated, competition was more intense, and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. “I knew there was nothing to be gained from arguing over the past,” Iger writes. “The only thing that mattered was the future, and I believed I had a clear idea of the direction Disney needed to go.” It came down to three clear ideas: 1) Create the highest quality content Disney could produce. 2) Embrace and adopt technology instead of fighting it. And 3) Think bigger–think global–and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets.”

I picked up this book as an audiobook to listen to in the car. I didn’t get to it for a while as I had some other books to listen to first. By the time I got up to it I didn’t remember the synopsis of what it was about and had no expectations. As soon as I started listening, I loved it straight away and couldn’t stop listening! The whole book is structured like a memoir of the story of the authors life. I don’t normally like memoirs but this book was amazing. The story was told really well and kept you listening for more.

I’m glad I didn’t have any expectations going into the book as that would have given away a lot of the story. The insights and knowledge gained from this book was through the one long story. It’s not a theory based book, it just lists all the theories and little stories here and there. The business lessons and journey were fascinating and had me wanting more.

I’d recommend it to anyone who wants some detailed insights of the journey of being a CEO or just to leave you inspired. Overall, this book is amazing! I might even read it again! 5 Stars.