Monday, April 28, 2008

Book Review: The Game-Changer

I've been reading, and enjoying, The Game-Changer by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan.

Lafley is the chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble, home of Tide detergent, Crest toothpaste, and a host of memorable products. Charan is the noted management consultant who seems to write a book every three weeks. They've written a fascinating and substantive analysis of the approaches and danger zones of innovation. Naturally, there are many P&G stories, but they are good ones because they aren't puffery nor are they wildly unrealistic. Here's an excerpt on the importance of killing some projects:

People hesitate to kill projects for two reasons. First, anxiety. Am I killing something that might be big? There are abundant examples of how someone persisted for years in his quest, and finally succeeded. But persistence alone does not explain the success. In almost all cases, the project was reframed, or there was an external technological breakthrough that facilitated the project, or the timing became propitious. Second, the leader does not want to challenge or say "no" to a person with a great track record, who is passionate about a project.

Lafley and Charan are well-versed in the internal politics of organizations and that knowledge takes their work beyond the confines of innovation. This is an indirect but highly revealing look at how organizations work. Some reviewers may take a cheap shot or two at the glowing chapter about Jeff Immelt at GE - bad timing! - but the central lessons remain.

The Game-Changer is well worth your time for its insights into innovation and management.

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