Results: A Book Review

I recently finished reading Results, written by a couple of guys at Booz Allen Hamilton, and based on some research that eventually led to the website Before I go into the review, I want to announce that several Booz consultants will be blogging here later today. I invited them to do so when they sent me the book, and the seem pretty interested in it so I hope we get some good stuff from them.

Results is about corporate personality. Every company has one, and every corporate personality has good and bad things about it. This book is to help you identify your corporate personality, and embrace the good while you fix the bad things that it perpetuates. Below is a list of the different corporate personalities, along with a very short description.

-Passive-Aggressive ("everyone agrees, smiles, and nods, but nothing changes"): entrenched underground resistance makes getting anything done like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall

-Fits-and-Starts ("let 1,000 flowers bloom"): filled with smart people pulling in different directions

-Outgrown ("the good old days meet a brave new world"): reacts slowly to market developments, since it's too hard to run new ideas up the flagpole

-Overmanaged ("we're from corporate and we're here to help"): more reporting than working, as managers check on their subordinates' work so they can in turn report to their bosses

-Just-in-Time ("succeeding, but by the skin of our teeth"): can turn on a dime and create real breakthroughs but also tends to burn out its best and brightest

-Military Precision ("flying in formation"): executes brilliant strategies but usually does not deal well with events not in the playbook

-Resilient ("as good as it gets"): flexible, forward-looking, and fun; bounces back when it hits a bump in the road and never, ever rests on its laurels

I'm not going to go into these different types in detail, but most of the book discusses them and how to fix the problems associated with each organization type.

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The resilient organization is what you want your own company to be. Why? Here are some quotes about that type of corporation.

When it does hit a bump in the road – as all companies do – the Resilient organization distinguishes itself in its response, which is immediate, thorough, and constructive.

Resilience is not an end-state, it is a never ending journey.

Resilient companies do not follow fashion. They do not succumb to the latest business fads, nor do they court the fancy of Wall Street.

Resilient companies do not accept the status quo as an article of faith simply because "that's the way it's always been done."

The book ends with a case study on Caterpillar, and a look at the research behind the book. So who should read this one? I think this is a great book for middle managers. It's a hard position from which to affect change, and some of the ideas in this book can help. This would also be a good read for anyone transitioning from the startup or small company phase to a larger more structured organization. Small companies can be chaotic with an ad-hoc structure, and when expanding they risk growing into one of the unhealthy organization types. This book can help prevent that.

The single review of this book on Amazon isn't very positive, but I disagree with the reviewer's perspective on this one. Having worked for several different organizations of different sizes and in different industries (including my own small business), this research matches my anecdotal experiences.

Stay tuned to see what the BoozAllen folks have to say later today.