Rethink

Rethink by Ric Merrifield is subtitled "a business manifesto for cutting costs and boosting innovation." This might make you think that the book is all about how to tweak and tune your current options to make them run more efficiently. Quite the opposite. Ric wants you to reevaluate your entire organization and come up with ways to do things DIFFERENTLY - which will save you money and help your final product reach its aims more effectively.

This mantra is repeatedly constantly in the book. Yes, start by looking at HOW you do things. You send FAXes. You answer phone calls with orders. Then step back and think about WHAT you are accomplishing. You are distributing status updates. You are bringing in orders. You could do those things far more efficiently if you just focused on those "whats" and thought up different ways of how they could be done.

The techniques he uses to help you out of your current box are similar to many other self-help books. You build a grid with four parts - high value / low performance, high value / high performance, low value / low performance and low value / high performance. The HV/LP are the ones you must actively fix. The HV/HP you can luckily just monitor. The LV/LP should be outsourced or eliminated. You're not doing them well anyway, and you don't really need to waste the time. The LV/HP is a waste of resources - people are doing really well things that don't need to be done. Sic those people on something more valuable.

There are good real-life examples in the worlds of Amazon, jet planes, online banking and other areas. You hear about specific issues they faced and how they were overcome. Cranium, the fun board game, went through numerous rethinking rounds before it reached success.

In many of the examples you hear a common theme - that company management was resistant to an idea which later proved to be quite successful. In Cranium, they thought nobody would want to play with clay. In Amazon, people resisted the idea of showing used books right alongside the new ones. The company plowed ahead with the risky idea and found success.

There are also examples of tiny changes making a big difference. For example, in one of Cranium's board games they had used a traditional hourglass as a timer. Players would nag each other during their turn, tapping the hourglass and taunting them about time running out. They made a tiny change to the game - changing the hourglass into a musical timer. Suddenly players were now encouraging each other, encouraging them to finish in time.

I've seen that some other reviewers found the writing style to be "dry". Maybe it's because I've read numerous business books at this point, but this book is NOT dry :) I can recommend several books for people to read that are highly respected and VERY dry. Yes, the tone isn't cutesy and light with examples involving puppies and kittens, but I did find the information useful.

If I had a complaint, it's that the examples all skew towards rather large businesses. Most businesses out there are small businesses, and those small business owners definitely need this assistance. However, it's hard for a small florist or a website owner to relate to a lot of these examples. I think if even a few of the examples could have been brought down to a smaller size, it would have been extremely helpful.

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