Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mobilizing Minds :: A Review

Great title for a book

Subtitle: Creating Wealth From Talent in the 21st Century Organization

Even better. However, as you already guessed, I was disappointed. Maybe if you are running a Fortune 500 company you will have the required five (5) years to reinvent your organization along the lines described by Bryan and Joyce. Maybe.


The concept of "rents" is given a place on the center stage, as it should. The authors define rents as "excess returns after paying for all costs including the costs of capital." My readers will recognize this as "throughput"... which I constantly refer to as, "Money in your pocket now, and more money in your pocket in the future."

My crude definition addresses a number of issues, some of which where addressed by Mobilizing Minds. They use the term "performance metrics." In the introduction a plausible course is set before us: today's companies "need to be designed so that they can mobilize mind power as well as labor and capital." Amen.

But as the authors recount years of research and game plans that will take a business five (or more!) years to adopt and integrate, they miss the mark. First, there does not seem to be any understanding of complexity and it's inherent simplicity. While Eli Goldratt is right that one does not need structural or organizational restructuring to implement simple changes that will effect huge and almost immediate benefits, he fails to appreciate (as the scientist, perhaps, given to proving theories rather creating lasting results) that his methods while brilliant (even though nine out of ten times, they are simply common sense) do not last.

Enter H. William Dettmer and his landmark book on Strategy: Strategic Navigation. And Tony Rizzo's Total-Matrix process (basically, it is engineering applied to business). But I digress...

Or do I?

Look, there is a reason that Bill Dettmer and Tony Rizzo are friends as well as clients... they have found the missing the link relative to their area of focus. When I discover someone has the answer to any problem that I am wrestling with, I fire off an email. Make a phone call. Jump on the motorcycle. And get in their face! If you hold the key to my challenge, you can expect a knock on the door.

Life is too short!

Harland David Sanders (KFC's Colonel Sanders) was the exception... we all cannot wait until we reach the age of 65 to start our empires! There is perfect balance in business as in life, or what Sir Isaac Newton called harmony. Mobilizing Minds has some great passages that shed much light on the mentality of larger corporations, but the suggested action plan is misguided (in my not so humble opinion). Few organizations have ten years to study the past, then design a plan that takes five years to implement.


Yes, I only work with privately held firms. So, my mileage must vary. But there is a better solution, and it is called Constraints Management Model (CMM). Dettmer took the best of Goldratt's Theory of Constraints (TOC) and Colonel John Boyd's work (including but not limited to the OODA Loop) and gave us the key: navigation. Bryan and Joyce talk of working the plan backwards. Great. But the framework laid out in Strategic Navigation is light years ahead of anything else to which I have been exposed. And Dettmer freely admits that he only scratched the surface.

Enter Rizzo and his Total-Matrix process that introduces one of the major missing elements: the primary system. Not to mention the true invariant of business systems: information!

Sorry, I got lost in the moment. Was Mobilizing Minds worth the cover price? Yes. It confirms a lot of challenges facing businesses in the 21st century. It talks of the importance of talent. However, there are significantly better solutions. Regardless the size of your company.

Jeff 'SKI' Kinsey, Jonah
Throughput.us LLC
(330) 432-3533

©2008 Throughput.us LLC

blog comments powered by Disqus