Tooling up for the bruising battles of the e-wars

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The Independent Culture

Seven hours is the journey time from London to New York. It took me this long to absorb Riding the Revolution. After just two chapters I was furiously scribbling notes containing not only checks I had to make on my return, but new directions for my own company.

Seven hours is the journey time from London to New York. It took me this long to absorb Riding the Revolution. After just two chapters I was furiously scribbling notes containing not only checks I had to make on my return, but new directions for my own company.

This book, subtitled How Businesses Can and Must Transform Themselves to Win the E-Wars, will take any leader outside his or her comfort zone. It will buck, unsettle and throw you. The commercial truths you were afraid of, the things you already knew, are all here. The top and bottom-line principles from the best (and worst) performers for automation, management, competitive thinking and action are laid naked before you.

Heller and Spenley provide stimulating lessons on how to plot a pathway through the information commotion. They unseat every aspect of creating and sustaining a business in the new millennium. This is a book for leaders who do, and do it quickly.

When we examine the proficiencies of our organisations, we may know the top-line objectives but we ultimately seek to ensure the challenges on which our managers are focused are clearly identified and there are multiple pathways to success.

This book provides a wealth of reasoning, backed up by great examples to support analysis and definition of new strategies to create such pathways.

The first two chapters give you the reasons to win and how to plan the vision. The real results come from developing and following through to implementation. The book provides a holistic view of developing and nurturing the people, cultural, organisational and process elements of the challenge. Read Chapter 11 - titled Speedy, Sociable, Single-Minded and Shallow - to have your management instincts torn apart and reconstituted.

The payoff from sustained execution and the perils of not following through on personalising the way you and your managers manage will glare at you like possessed demons. As the book rightly points out, managing is one science that doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with leadership skills.

So many areas of any business now need bold and skilled leadership. Today's managers may not be the best leaders but the symptoms and their underlying causes are identified in this book, providing great reasoning strategies to identify the real problems. Why they are happening and what to do is delivered with the accuracy of the surgeon's knife.

Through the book you will find clues and in some cases obvious ways to turn the knowledge capital into competitive weapons for the sales, marketing and education teams. How the leaders solve the problems is in the book - why they failed is also here.

Chapter 15 - Visionaries, Pragmatists and Conservatives - is a knockout. Here we learn how to rewrite the commandments for our business to maximise the returns from smart people, smart strategies and smart execution. Use this book, use your intuition, but pay attention to the tone of voice that sounds like a klaxon. Today's dot com could be tomorrow's dot gone. Be warned, revolutionaries often get executed if they do not execute themselves.

The online world is here to stay. But are you ? Talent, action at speed and quality of execution are the guiding principles a business needs in this new world. But some companies will just be too slow.

One final point. Change has become more painful not just for you, but for the people around you. You are going to have to work harder to not only please customers and shareholders but, in this new millennium, also the employee.

Hire new champions but remember all champions need reward, recognition, regular work-outs and nourishment of their skills and knowledge.

But most of all you need to instil in them the total value of being first and better than the rest. In this book you will find the lessons on every page. Do not compromise on technology - it doesn't pay. This is a lesson that comes across loud and clear. We all try to ensure we get the best bang for buck on this stuff, but a company must seriously take stock of where it is, what works and what doesn't. For how to do this, I urge you to read this book. Turn its lessons out to your managers and ride with them into the revolution.

The reviewer is chief executive of Entranet, a firm which creates online commerce for global financial services companies

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