DRH Group Reviews “Connection Culture” Book

DRH Group
August 9, 2016

Doug Hensch, president of DRH Group, recently reviewed my book Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy, and Understanding at Work.

In his review, Hensch writes: “There are still some lonely people out there who think the sole purpose of a business to produce a profit. Unfortunately, profits are just like oxygen. Oxygen makes life possible but not necessarily worth living. And, Stallard writes, ‘Connection is what transforms a dog-eat-dog environment into a sled dog team that pulls together.'”

Read the full review.

The Flawed “Customer First” Focus (and Other Management Practices to Question)

Under New Management Book Cover

“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” – Will Rogers

In his latest book, Under New Management, David Burkus challenges a number of conventional business practices. These practices include, but are not limited to: the “customer first” mentality, non-compete agreements, email, standard vacation policy, office design, annual performance appraisals, and even the need for managers.

Under New Management is well worth reading. Below, I zero in on three practices Burkus addresses.

“Connection Culture” Selected as “Top 3 Reads”

Thank you getAbstract for recommending Connection Culture as a “Top 3 Reads” for November out of 11,000 business books published each year. Here’s what getAbstract wrote about the book:

“Packed with rock-solid evidence, disturbing statistics and moving stories, this short but passionate plea for connectedness at work and in life delivers a wake-up call. How connected you feel to other people at work turns out to be the primary driver of your sense of engagement as an employee, but Americans in particular have let relationships and community suffer. Experts Michael Lee Stallard, Jason Pankau and Katharine P. Stallard explain why people need to connect. They find that record numbers of U.S. workers are stressed, unhealthy and addicted as a result of ignoring the benefits of close, caring relationships in favor of more work, solo entertainment and a casual approach to marriage. The few organizations that include employees in decisions, respect them and encourage relationship building and bonding ultimately outpace their competitors. getAbstract recommends this quick read to leaders who want to build places where the best people want to work and connect.”

4 Ways Millennials Can Boost Productivity and Fulfillment at Work

Kate Otto Speaking

Kate Otto Speaking

Kate Otto has a message for fellow Millennials. Her work experience at an HIV/AIDS clinic in Indonesia inspired her to research the power of personal relationships. She saw that practicing certain attitudes contributed to developing meaningful relationships at work. These relationships made her more productive and increased her feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Why You May Not Be Connecting with Others

5 Gears Book Cover

We connect with some people and not with others. Great leaders master how to connect with just about everyone and that’s one reason why people want to follow them.

There are many facets to connection. Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram have written an excellent book titled 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time that provides insight into an important aspect of connection.

New Approach to Reduce Dysfunctional Behavior at Work

Untangling the Mind Book CoverAs seen on Fox Business and SmartBlog on Leadership.

Is your boss or a co-worker increasingly irritable, angry, withdrawn or acting in a predatory manner?  Or are you noticing that behavior in yourself? With rising demands in today’s workplace, emotional and behavioral disorders have soared.  In Untangling the Mind: Why We Behave the Way We Do, Ted George, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at George Washington School of Medicine and neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health, helps us understand America’s surge in emotional and behavioral disorders, including those we see in the workplace.  Grasping “why” we instinctively react in certain ways is the first step in affecting change. 

3 Ways Pixar Gains Competitive Advantage from Its Culture

As seen on Fox Business.

To infinity and beyond: That’s where Pixar Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios are headed, provided they maintain the type of leaders that have gotten them this far. Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios, describes what he’s learned about leadership and corporate culture in his excellent new book, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.

Pixar has been phenomenally successful with the likes of Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Up, to name but a few of its films. In 2006, Disney bought Pixar to boost its struggling Walt Disney Animation Studios unit. Catmull and John Lasseter, Pixar’s CEO, were appointed to lead the unit as president and CEO, respectively.  With the leadership change, Disney began to produce hits such as Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph.  If any doubt existed that Disney’s magic was back, it was put to rest with the 2013 release of the blockbuster movie Frozen.  Having earned well over a billion dollars in revenue at the box office in its first six months, Frozen became the highest-grossing animated feature ever and moved into the top-10 worldwide highest grossing movies of all time.

The success of Pixar and Disney Animation begs the question: what’s the secret sauce? In a word, it’s “culture,” i.e. the shared attitudes, language and behavior that consistently produce excellence in a given endeavor.  With 70 percent of American workers disengaged today, Pixar and Disney Animation provide a model for engaging and energizing employees by making culture a competitive advantage.

Here are three ways Catmull and his leadership team create a culture that consistently makes great films.

Practical Advice for the New World of Business

Age of The Customer Book CoverJim Blasingame’s new book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance, provides a practical guide to help business leaders prepare for the shift from the age of the seller to the age of the customer. What makes this book stand out from others is the thoroughness with which Blasingame has thought through this shift and what businesses need to do to survive and thrive.

Blasingame is well positioned for this task. He is the host of the nationally syndicated “Small Business Advocate” radio program where he interviews a wide-variety of experts. (I’m a regular guest on the show as an expert on employee engagement.)

This is a book you will want to read with a pad of paper and pen handy to write down the ideas and actions you learn. The sheer breadth of topics Blasingame covers – branding, communications, globalization, marketing, organization culture, outsourcing, processes, quality, sales, social media, etc. – is impressive. He effectively connects the dots of what he’s learned from an army of experts, makes sense of it and explains it in clear, concise language.

I could not recommend this book more highly. For a business owner, it’s not one to be missed.

Great Resource for Personal Strategic Thinking and Planning

Create Your Future Book Cover At the beginning of each year, I take time to step away from day-to-day activities and assess the big picture. In other words, I reflect on where I want to go over the next 5-7 years, the progress I’ve made over the prior year and what I would like to prioritize in the year ahead.

Peter Drucker’s writings have always stimulated my thoughts during times of reflection and strategic thinking. He was a master at studying current trends and predicting where the world was headed.

This year, rather than reading Drucker, I read Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way: Developing and Applying a Forward Focused Mindset by Bruce Rosenstein. The author is an expert on Drucker and author of Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life. He is also managing editor of Leader to Leader, the well-respected, award-winning leadership periodical.

Rosenstein’s book includes a variety of Drucker’s ideas that are especially applicable to personal strategic thinking and planning.  Throughout the book, Rosenstein elaborates on Drucker’s ideas and insights and suggests complementary resources.  In reading Rosenstein’s book, I was introduced to new ways of thinking.  I also discovered new books and websites that I’ve found valuable.

Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way is a helpful resource that I highly recommend.

A “Must-Read” on Innovation

Myths of Creativity Cover

David Burkus’ new book, The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas, is among the best business books I’ve read this year.  It provides a valuable review of research and practices related to the process of innovation. It’s impossible to read The Myths of Creativity and not come away with new, useful practices that will improve your ability to innovate.   I highly recommend it.

Readers of this book will gain a newfound appreciation for just how difficult innovation is.  Fortunately, Burkus equips readers with practices to help individuals and organizations overcome the biases and potential pitfalls that frequently derail innovation.  For example, Burkus shows how conflict is a necessary part of the process and represents a risk to innovation if it gets personal.  He then goes on to provide a solution by describing the practice Pixar developed that employs conflict in a constructive way while keeping it from escalating into internal combat.

I liked the way Burkus organized the book into ten myths about creativity including the Eureka Myth, the Lone Creator Myth and the Constraints Myth. I also appreciated that the book is under 200 pages in length, and is easy to dip in and out of.  Today’s readers of business books, many of whom suffer from time poverty, will enjoy Burkus’ straight forward, cut-to-the-chase, high value-added writing style.