Here's how to spot folks putting sand in your company's gas tanks; and the simple math behind accelerated growth. Also: the book that started the empathy revolution in business.

 

Simple Sabotage: A Modern Field Manual for Detecting and Rooting Out Everyday Behaviors That Undermine Your Workplace
Robert Galford, Bob Frisch, and Cary Greene
Harper One

At the height of World War II the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA) published "The Simple Sabotage Field Manual," a classified document to help resistance movements in Europe destroy the Axis powers from within.

Now comparable acts of sabotage-ones related to blowing up decision-making, not clogging lubrication systems-take place in companies every day. And while largely unintentional, those acts are just as destructive as they were in 1944.

Three business authors (Galford is from the Center for Leading Organizations; Frisch and Greene from the Strategic Offsites Group) revisit eight of those tactics, which include insisting that everything be done through channels; making long and frequent speeches; referring all matters to committees; and advocating caution (because we know what haste makes).

The authors suggest a four-stage process (identify, calibrate, remediate, and inoculate) to prevent "hundreds or even thousands of small, barely perceptible irritants-the 'sand' that clogs the machinery." But just learning history doesn't guarantee organizations won't repeat it.

"Where there are people working together, and where new organizational forms emerge, and technology advances, there will always be accidental, unwitting sabotage," write the authors. "Be vigilant!"

 

Rocket: Eight Lessons to Secure Infinite Growth
Michael Silverstein, Dylan Bolden, Rune Jacobsen, and Rohan Sajdeh
McGraw-Hill Education

"Infinite growth" is a hyperbolic promise. (A ridiculous one, I would have said, in pre-Amazon days.) But the authors of Rocket, all of whom hail from Boston Consulting Group, explain how to become a propulsive brand that shoots past its competitors, which is almost as good.

The message of this case-based book is customer-centric: companies must seek to become "apostle brands" that convert customers into zealous fans. Those fans "spread the word about you, and they will propel your growth."

The math works like this: "2 percent of your customers directly contribute 20 percent of your sales and drive 80 percent of the total volume by their recommendations." So reward converts with experiences worth sharing. (Keep in mind: People are far more inclined to share memorable experiences-especially bad ones-than anything else.)

And don't forget that the way to a customer's heart is through your employees. Happy workers create happy customers, and fun at work makes the difference in attitude and morale. Here's how Kip Tindell, co-founder and CEO of The Container Store, sees the goal: to make his people "solution-based" rather than "items-based."

That means he expects them to solve each customer's entire problem rather than just address an immediate need. A man in the desert needs more than a glass of water, says Tindell. He also needs "a hat, an umbrella, some lotion, some slippers, a chair, an ice machine--and maybe even a margarita!"

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And from the backlist, the classic source on the power of emotional intelligence...

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Daniel Goleman
Bantam Books (1995)

In business today we demand empathic leaders, collegial teams, and patient customer-service reps. Those things depend upon emotional intelligence: the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.

Neither the term nor the concept originated with Goleman, a psychologist, who discovered both while working as a science reporter at The New York Times. But it was Goleman who popularized the concept, synthesizing a broad range of scientific findings, including information on the first fruits of the nascent field of affective neuroscience, which explores how emotions are regulated in the brain.

Published on: Jan 12, 2016