The lessons from the book are simple and listed below, however the book is more interesting than these notes because of the stories on which these principles were discovered.Extreme Ownership – fundamentally is about
Extreme Ownership requires leaders to look at an organisation’s problems through the objective lens of reality, without emotional attachment to agendas or plans. It mandates that a leader sets ego aside, accepts responsibility for failure, attack weaknesses and consistently works to build a better and more effective team. Such a leader does not take credit for the team’s success but bestows that honor upon its members. When a leader sets such an example and expects this from junior leaders within the team, the mindset develops into the team’s culture at every level. With Extreme Ownership, junior leaders take charge of their smaller teams and their piece of the mission. Efficiency and effectiveness increases exponentially and high-performance, winning teams are the result.
Extreme Ownership – By leading and taking responsibility
No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders – Bad leaders blame others and don’t succeed
Believe in your mission – Truly understand why the mission is important
Check the Ego – Ego stifles planning, advice, criticism… the worst ego is yours
Cover and Move – The company wins, not the team. Support and work with others
Simple – Keep things simple so everyone can understand, if its complex its forgotten
Prioritise and Execute – If you try to take on everything you’ll fail at everything
Decentralised Command – Grow leaders with teams of around four to six people
Plan – Get the lowest levels to plan then brief at high level encouraging interaction
Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command – Provide more visibility up & down
Decisiveness amid Uncertainty – You will never have all the info but decide now
Discipline Equals Freedom – Leadership is a balance, being disciplined gives space
Amazon where it is all about investing in removing barriers so that you can get products quicker triggering gratification,
Story telling -> Cheap Capital -> 100x risks (loop infinitely…)
Amazon is destroying the significance of brands
Apple which is all about people wanting to make themselves feel good
Wealthy people are surprisingly homogenous in their buying habits
Apple are premium products and price with mass production costs
Selling the products as an experience in their stores not just a product
Facebook having such a large network of people thus being so valuable as a result
An average of an hour a day is spent on Facebook’s digital “properties”
Data on billions of identities allows micro targeting
Polarised opinions are better views and click bait
It claims to be a platform, not media, abdicating responsibility for content
Google which is a god in the sense that it gives bussiness and it takes it away
Huge amounts of trust by users
A change in their algorithm can spell the end for a company (e.g. about.com)
Search -> pages -> advertising revenue can be bed for publishers
Great products break through the clutter
Don’t just think about adding, think about what you can remove/simplify
Storytelling is key
A bold vision gives you cheap capital
Own the whole experience
Attracting talent is key to succeeding
You need to be based near the tallent, they won’t come to you
It’s never been easier to be a billionaire and harder to be a millionaire
You have to be great, it’s now a global world and there are so many average people. Emotional maturity is key – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills are not optional but essential.
One thing which was quite interesting in this book was the suggestion to go to a university and transfer to the best university you can after the first year when people drop out meaning it is easier to get into than in the first year.
You can’t win without stepping on the field. Hire A people because they hire As, Bs hire Cs.
Go to a city, the network effect is key, remote working will not give the advantages co-location will. Get equity in the companies you work for a live within your means. Stay loyal to people, not organisations. Don’t follow your passion follow your talent. When you leave, leave graciously as you never know when you might meet these people again. We regress to the mean sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down – if you are up don’t expect to stay there if you are down look up. Ask for and Give Help.
The author presents a company like an alphabet, when it starts it is at A –
Entrepreneurs here you need people who have high tolerance for risk, can sell, and are too stupid to know they are going to fail.
Once the company is rolling and access to capital it is better served by a visionary individual who can scale the company.
Later in the alphabet there is the operator who keeps the company going with job security important and low risk.
After this there is the pragmatist has no romance for the glory days and helps the company through a managed decline cutting costs, selling bussiness off.
It is rare for a CEO to cover more than two stages.
For full disclosure I received a free copy of The Unicorn Project in advance of publication in exchange for a review. The content of the review are still my own independent thoughts.
The Unicorn Project is the second book about Parts Unlimited set at the same time as The Phoenix Project, whereas the initial book looked more at Devops this book looks from the perspective of a developer. As with the first book it is written in a very engaging manner.
Near the start of the book we are welcomed to The Phoenix Project by Maxine with one of her first challenges of getting the project to run on her machine, having been in a place where it’s taken a week to get projects to run I immediately empathised with the challenge. From there the book presents a few concepts throughout the story. In the first part of the book it focuses on the Five Ideals :
Local and Simplicity – things should be easy to understand and pickup
Focus, Flow and Joy – people should be able to actually get on with the job
Improvement of Daily Work – always striving to remove process bottlenecks
Psychological Safety – innovation is risky so people must be safe to take risks
Customer Focus – a focus on value for the customer
The book briefly talks about the functional practice of immutability, the importance of data as “the new oil” and it makes two other points and cross functional teams.
From Zone to Win they look at ways the business can innovate by looking at “Horizon 3” projects (more speculative R&D) in addition to their core bussiness i.e. “Horizon 1” (bussiness as normal). For completeness here “Horizon 2” is the transformation where the core bussiness might need to be shaken to be able to cope with the new innovations.
The other concept which is worth mentioning is the idea of Core vs Context. “Core” is something which is core and unique to your bussiness, “Context” are things which you bussiness needs to operate but would likely be better to buy in as a service rather than run & maintain or develop in house. One tool which I found quite interesting on this was the Wardley map plotting Commodity vs Value to identify which you should develop and which just to buy.
The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, Robert M. Galford My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is quite focused on the bussiness service of being an advisor however, I feel, that in companies we are all advisors to other people and as such there are a few key points that are relevant to nearly everyone. For an advisor to be effective it means that they have to be listened to – as such this is much more about the personal relationship rather than simply technical understanding.
Build Trust and a Relationship
Advising is very personal, there needs to be a high level of trust for it to be effective. The book proposes that Trustworthiness contains
Credibility – context expertise through accuracy and completeness over time. By:
Never exaggerating, even things like “our best people”
Show you have energy and care about their topic
Network people/bring others together to talk directly
When you don’t know say so quickly
Provide some examples of your work in advance
Relax, you know more than you think you do if not then don’t be there
Do your homework
Don’t show off
Reliability – be dependable and consistent. By:
Make specific commitments on small things and deliver quick
Send materials over in advance for review to save time
Ensure meetings have clear goals, not just agendas, and complete the goal
Match the clients fit and feel over terminology, format etc will save them time
Review agendas with the client to ensure they feel their time is well spent
Reconfirm scheduled events and notify of rescheduling as soon as possible
Intimacy – with someone you can talk about difficult topic and feel they care
Take courage and show trust first
Show candor as well, don’t be afraid to debate actively
Find fun and fascination by getting to the emotions of the decisions
Take care how you push – right topic, right time, right phrasing of questions.
Practice in advance to feel how you think things will land
To reduce bussiness risk you have to take a personal risk to grow intimacy.
One of you has to move first and it’s going to be you.
and is reduced by
Self focus – there is nothing worse than feeling the advisor cares about themselves more than the customer
Have a tendency to relate our stories to ourselves A need to too quickly finish their sentences A need to fill empty spaces in conversations A need to appear clever, bright, whitty, etc An inability to provide a direct answer to a direct question An unwillingness to say I don’t know Name-dropping of other clients A recitation of qualifications A tendency to give answers too quickly A tendency to want to have the last word Closed-ended questions too early Putting forward hypothesis or problem statements before the client has had chance to Passive listening/watching the client like a TV set
Let the client fill in empty spaces Ask the client to provide what is behind issues Use open-ended questions Not giving answers until given the right to do so Focus on defining the problem not the solution Reflect, listen, summarise Say you don’t know when you don’t know Acknowledge feelings Listen without distractions Resist requests to provide solutions too early Trust in adding value after listening not during Take responsibility for failed communication
The key part with providing advice is to think from the client perspective – not just to provide advice but to provide options in a way that it is clear to them from which they can choose a direction based on your recommendation, shows a deep understanding of the bussiness and political world they are in and addresses any concerns so that the advice can be adopted.
Where there ideas worth talking about and an advisor worth talking to
Engagement is not a one time thing but regular to check in with old clients
Listening for what is said and unsaid to fully understand the client and problem
The advisor helps the client crystalise the problem and clarifying the many problems
Consists of formulating problem statements, hypothesis and points of view built around what is valuable for the client
Understanding what are we really aiming for?
What will it look like when we get there?
How will we know when we are there?
To understand what it will take to get to the vision
The fundamental point from the book is really to think about things from the other person’s perspective – for you to think about what they want or what is in it for them rather than coming from the perspective of you pushing you ideas and approached, which does tend to be the perspective which most people attack problems.
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
Don’t criticise, condemn, or complain.
Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Ways to Make People Like You
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Be a good listener.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Win People to Your Way of Thinking
The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Show respect for the other person’s opinions.
If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Begin in a friendly way.
Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Appeal to the nobler motives.
Dramatise your ideas.
Throw down a challenge.
Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offence or Arousing Resentment
Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.
Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
Let the other person save face.
Praise every improvement.
Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.
Fundamentally the book is highlighting that the people who can achieve more do so by focussing on developing skills through deliberate practice which is at odd to the more standard approach of teaching knowledge. This is because it is easier to teach and examine knowledge, however knowledge itself is not useful – the mental model so that you can perform skills are what you actually need. The book presents that the best way we know to build these mental models are through practice.
Deliberate practice is different to just doing something – just doing something longer does not automatically make you better at it. Just repeating something does not make you better and more junior people will likely have more up advanced teaching which they could be ahead of you.
Deliberate Practice is the best way to develop skills. Identifying areas you want to improve and focussing on actively getting better using measurable goals & data to provide feedback and committing regular dedicated time to the practicing pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Ideally working with the best to understand their approaches will speed up your acceleration. When you hit plateaus try various techniques to try to find new mental models to go further.
Natural talent does not exist. There is no link between IQ and ability in e.g. Chess. The only places where there is a link between IQ and the result is where IQ is used as an initial filter – meaning we are missing out on people who could be very successful.
This book is specifically about the way their start up is run, which is great but if you have external shareholders etc then some of the tips may be harder to do. If you are trying to carve out your own corner of calm there are still items in the list of tips can still be useful.
Your company is a product. Yes, the things you make are products (or services), but your company is the thing that makes those things. That’s why your company should be your best product.
Curb Your Ambition
Bury the hustle – busy should not be the badge of honor you have to enjoy life
Happy pacifists – work is not about big fights, be content with your own world
Our goal: No goals -you don’t need fake goals to achieve something great
Don’t change the world – set out to do good work in a fair way
Make it up as you go – don’t try to plan out too much, let things evolve
Comfy’s cool – discomforts not the aim, delivering productively is
Defend Your Time
8’s enough, 40’s plenty – cut out what’s unnecessary then you have time
Protectionism – protect what matters, your employees time and attention
The quality of an hour – make quality time, like long 3-4 hours of concentration
Effective > Productive – when you’ve finished stop, don’t fill time unnecessarily
The outwork myth – don’t try to out work others by working longer its a myth
Work doesn’t happen at work – make a way to let work happen at work
Office hours – set aside time to help people on a schedule, not 24/7
Calendar Tetris – make booking meeting tough so only key meetings happen
The presence prison – stop keeping people updates where you are just work
I’ll get back to you whenever – don’t expect immediate responses
Fomo? Jomo! – keep informed in a condensed form not continuously
Feed Your Culture
We’re not family – the best companies support your time with your family
They’ll do as you do – workaholism is a contagious disease, lead by example
The trust battery – build the trust battery it’s key to work relations
Don’t be the last to know – be proactive finding small issues before they grow
The owner’s word weighs a ton – realise the weight of your words on people
Low-hanging fruit can still be out of reach – thing appearing easy might not be
Don’t cheat sleep – nearly everything can wait until morning
Out of whack – allow people to balance, as in give and take not just give
Hire the work, not the résumé – see what people have done not just their CV
Nobody hits the ground running – everyone takes time, there are no quick wins
Ignore the talent war – grow and nurture your own tallent
Don’t negotiate salaries – pay the same for the same work, pay market rate
Benefits who? – give benefits to get people out the office not stuck in it
Library rules – around working areas treat them like libraries to get things done
No fakecations – actual disconnection to revitalise
Calm goodbyes – explain why people leave so people don’t fear they are next
Dissect Your Process
The wrong time for real-time – real-time sometimes, asynchronous most times
Dreadlines – dates are fine but allow scope to be cut rather than over working
Don’t be a knee-jerk – don’t meet, write. Don’t react, consider.
Watch out for 12-day weeks – watch for weekend working
The new normal – things become the norm quickly, don’t “just this time”
Bad habits beat good intentions – start as you want the culture to be
Independencies – don’t wait for web & iOS.. to be ready release independently
Commitment, not consensus – “disagree & commit”. Decide, explain, go
Compromise on quality – not everything need to be “airworthy” but “fine”
Narrow as you go – as you progress narrow the scope of what you are doing
Why not nothing? – doing nothing can be the hardest choice but worth it
It’s enough – don’t flog yourself, what is good enough that people are happy
Worst practices – there is no single best way so don’t just adopt best practice
Whatever it doesn’t take – “what will it take?” not “whatever it takes”
Have less to do – if it does not add value then stop doing it
Three’s company – three is the perfect number for meetings, not more or less
Stick with it – get things finished or take a break but don’t move on till it done
Know no – you can change your mind, but if you say yes then you can’t
Mind Your Business
Risk without putting yourself at risk – measure risk and gamble with care
Season’s greetings – work with the seasons, shorter in summer etc
Calm’s in the black – don’t push too hard, enjoy the calm and grow with it
Priced to lose – don’t become dependent on a key account think product
Launch and learn – don’t use focus groups get your product in use
Promise not to promise – it ties your hands and reduces your options
Copycats – that’s life move on, your direction not a snapshot in time is key
Change control – don’t force everyone to upgrade, they can stay comfy
Startups are easy, stayups are hard – don’t burn out, slow and steady wins
“No big deal” or “the end of the world”? – one for you one for the customer
The good old days – you don’t have to grow, if you happy stay there
This is a really brief but neat book, although it goes into the Kanban board/cards etc the piece which I felt was a very nice and useful summary was its values, principles etc.
Transparency – The belief that sharing information improves the generation of business value.
Balance – The understanding that different aspects, viewpoints, and capabilities all must be balanced for effectiveness.
Collaboration – The focus on the way people work together.
Customer Focus – Knowing the value which the system brings to its users.
Flow – The realisation that work is a flow of work leading to value generation, whether continuous or episodic. Improving the flow improves generation of value.
Leadership – In Kanban leadership is needed at all levels to achieve value delivery and improvement.
Understanding – Kanban is an improvement method, and knowing the starting point is foundation.
Agreement – The commitment to move together toward goals, respecting differences of opinion or approach. It is key to note that this is not management by consensus, but a dynamic co-commitment to improvement.
Respect – Valuing, understanding, and showing consideration for people.
The Sustainability Agenda looks inward to the organisation. Its goal is to balance demand with capability thus improving the performance. Where demand outstrips capability making work visible and limiting WiP will have a positive impact on the amount of work completed, the time needed to complete work items, and staff morale.
The Service Orientation Agenda focuses attention external to the organisation on performance and customer satisfaction that meet and exceed customers’ needs and expectations.
The Survivability Agenda looks into the future and is concerned with staying competitive and adaptive.
Change Management Principles
Start with what you are doing now
Agree to purse improvement through evolutionary change
Encourage acts of leadership at all levels
Service Delivery Principles
Understand and focus on customer needs and expectations
Manage the work let people self organise around it