Practically Radical by William C. Taylor

This book is a guide for leaders interested in change.

Paul Romer: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

Warren Buffet: “People always should know better. People don’t get – they don’t get smarter about things that get as basic as greed. And you can’t stand to see your neighbor getting rich. You know you’re smarter than he is and he’s doing these things and he’s getting rich. And your spouse is getting unhappy with you because you aren’t doing. Pretty soon, you start doing it. And so you get what I call the natural progression, the three Is – the innovators, the imitators and the idiots. Everybody just kind of goes along and you look kind of silly if you disagree.”

George Akerlof and Robert Shiller: “To understand how economies work and how we can manage them and prosper, we must pay attention to the thought patterns that animate people’s ideas and feelings, their animal spirits. We will never really understand important economic events unless we confront the fact that their causes are largely mental in nature.”

Severe recession and The Airline Deregulation Act prompted American Airlines to launch the Aadvantage frequent flier program that changed the face of the industry.

James Surowiecki: “(during the Depression) Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the thirties.) By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost thirty per cent and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.”

James Surowiecki: “during the 1990-91 recession, according to a Bain & Company study, twice as many companies leaped from the bottom of their industries to the top as did so in the years before and after.”

James Surowiecki:  “The academics Peter Dickson and Joseph Giglierano have argued that companies have to worry about two kinds of failure: “sinking the boat” (wrecking the company by making a bad bet) or “missing the boat” (letting a great opportunity pass). Today, most companies are far more worried about sinking the boat than about missing it.”

“The challenge for leaders in every field is to emerge from turbulent times with closer connections to their customers, with more energy and creativity from their people, and with greater distance between them and their rivals.”

Samuel Johnson: “A second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”

Startups that reshape an industry: FedEx, Google, Teach for America. Challenger brand that redefines a market: Nike, Apple, Oprah.

Vuja de: “the ability to see the same things others see but in a different way.”

Bill Clinton: “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

Nicolas G. Hayek’s turnaround of the Swiss Corporation for Microelectronics and Watchmaking (SMH)

Old mission statement: “The Girl Scout organization is dedicated to helping girls develop as happy, resourceful individuals willing to share their abilities as citizens in their homes, their communities, their country and the world.” New mission statement: “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.”

Change agents responsible for major transformation projects at Swatch and Girl Scouts looked to the past for their inspiration.

IHI’s 100,000 Lives Campaign

Companies that learnt from companies in other industries: Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children learnt from Ferrari’s F1 racing teams’ pit crews. Build-A-Bear learning from Container Store and vice-versa. Virginia Mason Medical Centre learnt from Toyota.

John Dewey: “Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.”

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital: CEO, Gerard van Grinsven, was from Ritz Carlton.

Cynthia Barton Rabe: What we know limits what we can imagine.

“…TBWA uses what it calls the “CEO Hat” exercise to encourage organizations with tunnel vision to develop a new line of sight. Participants search for out-of-the-box answers to big strategic questions by reaching into boxes filled with hats, shirts, and other paraphernalia from breakthrough organizations such as Apple, Virgin, Target, Southwest Airlines—and then adopt the mindset of those free-thinking companies as they think about the questions with their clients. “We define possible strategies for companies through the eyes and values and under the leadership of a different CEO,” explains Laurie Coots, TBWA’s chief marketing officer. “The sheer act of being free to think like somebody else gives you permission to generate ideas that you might not get to otherwise.”

Benchmarking the competition: ‘Competitor Rules and Practices’ also known as CRAP.

John Kotter: “It…occurred to me how often I was being asked, “What is the single biggest error people make when they try to change?” After reflection, I decided the answer was that they did not create a high enough sense of urgency among people to set the stage for making a challenging leap into some new direction.”

Companies like no other – Umqua Holdings “the world’s greatest bank” host communities activities at the bank, “stich and bitch” sessions; Ryanair; 37singals; LifeUSA, insurance, Robert MacDonald; Magazine Luiza meeting the needs of Brazil’s poorest, Encontrao (“Big Meeting” ) – grassroot dialogue; Humana’s Crumple It Up; DaVita Inc. – dialysis

“Idea brands share three characteristics… they offer something that is hard to come by; they reflect a commitment to a big idea; and they are intensely human.”

Robert Stephens (founder, Geek Squad) – “Marketing is a tax you pay for being unremarkable.”

Orpheus, chamber orchestra, does not have a conductor.

The Fluevog Shoe

Harriet Rubin: “Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash.”

Marcel Proust: “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”

Jerome Bruner: “True learning involves figuring out how to use what you already know in order to go beyond what you already think.”

Aristotle: “Teaching is the highest form of understanding.”


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