You have been waiting all year for this moment and it’s finally here! Drum roll. It’s time to announce our favorite book covers of the year.
Do you ever buy a book because of its cover?
Do you ever just admire the book cover for its artistic qualities?
Regular readers of this website know that I make a list of the best book covers each year. And, it’s not only fun, did you know that book covers also offer valuable leadership and goal setting lessons? (Click here to read more.)
If you want to compare this year’s list with previous years:
Tom is the EVP, Head of Innovation for Zenith Media. His role is to understand new technology, behaviors and platforms and ideate and implement solutions for clients that take advantage of the new opportunities these make possible. He was also voted the #1 voice in Marketing by LinkedIn with over 580,000 followers on the platform. An industry provocateur and commentator on the future of marketing and business, Tom recently wrote Digital Darwinism as a wakeup call to traditional businesses.
I recently spoke with him about his book.
““Digital isn’t a thing, it’s everything.” -Tom Goodwin
The subtitle of your book is “Survival of the Fittest in the Age of Business Disruption.” What defines the fittest?
I believe the fittest companies are those with the balance of a solid business plan for today and for the future. This can either be because they’ve established a defendable niche for now and ahead (like Amazon or Tesla) or because they have a team and culture that is able to adapt to the changing marketplace. Good examples of this are Facebook, Netflix, and Google. Fitness both in nature and business is about agility and the ability to change as the world does, but also about the quality of the business model today. There are too many companies that are widely celebrated, like Dollar Shave Club or Movie Pass, that offer hockey-stick user growth and happy customers, but don’t appear to have a semblance of a business model that can ever make money.
“The fittest companies are those with the balance of a solid business plan for today and for the future.” -Tom Goodwin
Mature companies often have a huge desire to innovate and launch various initiatives. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen them make in their pursuit of innovation?
Most innovation failures come from companies who do one of two things wrong. The main one is not going deep enough. They offer surface level improvements on the façade of a deeply troubled foundation. Retailers who need to close stores or entirely rethink distribution models or procurement flows, end up making a store in San Jose with a smart mirror, as it’s way faster and cheaper and offers distractions. Or car companies that celebrate apps where you can start engines remotely, while they are behind on electric propulsion. The issue is that most CEOs don’t have the time or thirst for risk to make proper changes.
The other issue is innovation with no sense of purpose. It’s adding a chatbot because your boss read about them one day. It’s an airline launching a mood-sensing blanket that gets press. It’s the VR experience to try to get promoted. We need to know why we are innovating and maximize against that.
“There are too many companies that are widely celebrated that offer hockey-stick user growth and happy customers, but don’t appear to have a semblance of a business model that can ever make money.” -Tom Goodwin
What do Netflix, Spotify, and Google have in common? They all learn, innovate, and continuously adapt better, faster, and cheaper than traditional companies. Moreover, they use digital technology to innovate, disrupt, and grow in radical and dynamic ways. That’s how they surge ahead of traditional companies.
SURGE is a framework that provides the tools for navigating complex adaptive challenges in large corporate businesses. The digital marketplace continues to be highly disruptive to the ways that companies engage with customers, innovate, and remain relevant. The traditional approach to navigating disruptive change has been to seek out a prescriptive formula and apply it to the whole company. The journey of transforming to a digital enterprise, however, is not a process upgrade or best practice adoption problem.
In our work with large companies, what we saw as a consistent point of failure is them seeking a paint-by-numbers formula—agile process frameworks being a classic example. Despite making significant financial and organizational investments, they’re still not producing the customer experiences we expect from digital native companies like Amazon, Netflix and Google. We saw a clear need to help leaders recognize that this is a journey, not a reboot. Digital has changed the dynamics of the marketplace forever.
“Digital has changed the dynamics of the marketplace forever.” -Brad Murphy and Carol Mase
How do traditional companies versus digital native companies differ when they view impending change?
The most profound difference is that digital native companies are designed for change. Traditional companies are not. If you are Amazon or Google, one of the fundamental principles is that the space you are seeking to deliver products and services into is subject to continuous change. Therefore, the organization itself needs to be competent in enabling this change to occur. Companies can no longer accurately predict the future. They must learn to co-create products and services with their customers by evolving rapidly with them.
Contrast that with most traditional companies that have built a legacy based on a physical experience. Banks have branches, car companies have manufacturing plants, retail stores have buildings. Physical things take a long time to plan, build, and establish. As consumer preferences have increasingly shifted to adopting digital platforms, these companies have bolted on the veneer of a digital experience. Their preference is to avoid change. So you have a conflict between consumers who have gone digital and the fundamental structure of the business, which was built for a physical world.
“The ability to role shift is essential to a successful business in a digital world.” -Brad Murphy and Carol Mase
I’m pleased to say that the book took off right away, soaring in its first week to the top 25 list of all nonfiction in the United States. Week three saw it hit the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Over 100 five-star reviews hit Amazon in week one and many others on Goodreads. It has also hit local lists across the country.
Foreign rights requests started immediately with deals reached quickly in languages ranging from Korean to Spanish and even Ukrainian.
Near to my heart is libraries, and the book is in over 200 libraries across the country.
Thank you for your support of the book and its positive message. Only you have the power to determine if your future mimics your past.
“Only you have the power to determine if your future mimics your past.” -Skip Prichard #TheBookofMistakes
It was gratifying to have so many early endorsements from amazingly talented authors, friends, and personal heroes. They are on the cover of the book and on the book’s website. But it is even more gratifying to receive notes from individuals around the world sharing the book’s impact. That’s why I wrote the book. For you!
Here are just a few comments to show you why I’m so encouraged (from people I had not met previously):
“Your Book of Mistakes was absolutely the most interesting and thought-provoking book I have ever read.”
“I have asked my assistant to order 100 copies of the book for my team and expect great conversation on the subject once they enjoy your book. Thanks again for writing a book that will appeal to everyone in every walk of life with lessons of a lifetime!”
“I could not put your book down. My whole life is now going to change!”
“One of the best motivational books I have come across.”
These notes are completely unexpected and just amaze me. They are humbling to say the least.
I also want to thank my amazing Book Launch team. They took the book’s message to places I never dreamed of.
“Readiness is when your desire is stronger than your distraction.” -Skip Prichard #TheBookofMistakes
In more posts than I can count, I have written, discussed, and interviewed authors on the importance of organizational culture. A powerful culture fuels an organization to achieve greatness. When a new book by Chris Dyer titled The Power of Company Culture: How any business can build a culture that improves productivity, performance and profits hit my desk, I was interested to see the author’s view of culture and his interpretation of the latest research. Chris didn’t disappoint. The book takes the reader on a thoughtful overview of culture and shows the practical steps to take to improve yours in record time.
I recently spoke with Chris about his work on company culture.
“Culture is the bedrock of business success.” -Mark Goulston
Transparency. You share some great ways to increase transparency. Is it ever possible to be too transparent?
Of course! Take any example, and a case can be made that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Each company needs to decide how transparent they should be with employees, customers, and vendors. InThe Power of Company Culture, I present evidence that more transparency is usually better. Regulations, privacy concerns, and competitive advantages aside, transparency is really about writing—and playing by—the rules of the game.
When companies take charge and share information about their financial health, successes, failures, goals, and dreams, they then control their own narrative. As humans, we can only use the information we already have to explain something new we don’t understand. By providing more information to those impacting our companies, we help them arrive at the correct conclusions and outcomes.
Any company looking to improve their transparency should start in a few key areas. First, ask: Does everyone in the company know what goals have been set by senior management? Overall company goals, department goals, and even team goals should not be a secret.
Second: Does everyone know and understand the financial health status of the organization? For public companies, this information is available to everyone. But most companies are not public. Decide how far you are willing to go, and share the numbers that you can.
Third: Do teams, departments, and employees understand what is expected of them by senior leadership? Nine times out of ten, when a department or person is not measuring up to what is expected, there is a disconnect as to what they believe is expected.
“Transparency is both a business ethic and a cultural element in the workplace.” -Chris Dyer
There are lots of ways to infuse positivity into an organization. I suggest a deep dive into the Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Leadership working models, via books and interactive workshops.
Before you do that, consider where your business falls on the positivity scale. Do your people ask, “What went right?” or, “What did we do well?” Or do they just focus on solving “problems”? Often, we forget to ask and identify what is working, and consider that the place for us to do more.
Positivity also entails identifying who does what, well. In a team, it is common for some people to excel in one area, and others somewhere else. Aligning tasks and goals around strengths, and minimizing weaknesses, is more positive than working on what’s not working.
Additionally, look at the language used by people in your company to find potential tweaks for positivity. Instead of addressing troublesome issues as “problem solving,” which is a negative concept, start calling them “opportunities to improve.”