Book Reviews

/Book Reviews
Book Reviews2018-11-09T16:33:47+00:00

Book review: The Open Organization – Igniting Passion and performance, Jim Whitehurst – Chief Executive Officer or Red Hat.

By: Jim Whitehurst – Chief Executive Officer of Red Hat

As the Chief Operating Officer in Delta Airlines, Jim Whitehurst led a massive organization of men and women who grew up in a world of hierarchy and who reliably followed the chain of command. The typical chain of command is too slow; internal resources are too limited; people are already executing beyond normal expectations.

His story starts with the day he was asked to interview as the Chief Executive Officer position at Red Hat, the leading open-source software company which apply the open principles of management – based on transparency, participation and community – reinvent the organization for the fast-paced connected era.

Whitehurst gives listeners an insider’s look into why organizations should be open, agile and responsive and how the top-down decision making doesn’t work at the company like Red Hat whose business model depends on the collaboration and shared ideas, rather than control of assets. With the open organization idea, he learnt that the skills required to lead a company relies heavily on the principle of open innovation are vastly different from those needed to run business based on the hierarchical structure of a conventional organization.

In ‘The Open Organization – Igniting Passion and Performance’, Whitehurst describing the value of a passionate organization – shows how to leverage it to build community, respond quickly to opportunities, harness resources and talent both inside and outside the organization, and inspire, motivate, and empower people at all levels to act with accountability.

Employees are more likely to be engaged when they feel their ideas are listened to, respect leader who embrace disagreement, allow the best idea to win out and are likely to be more productive in an organisation. Whitehurst mentioned that in his Delta Airlines experience prove that people are willing to make substantial personal sacrifices if they believe they are part of a boarder plan for success.

‘Meritocracy, not Democracy’ is build within the Red Hat, where everyone has the right to speak and access the kinds of tools to ensure the employees voice is heard. Red Hat encourage the associates to work on what interest them and let them to watch what happens when they put their energy and talent into their work. In supporting the growth pf meritocracy, leaders need to keep ears open to not simply the loudest voices but the ones that carry the most sway.

The Open Organization – Igniting Passion and Performance is a must-read for leaders whom struggling to adapt their practices to the value of the digital era. This book provides the outline in reinventing your organization where Whitehurst personal experiences and advices for leading an open organization along with instructive examples, helps to lead in a society being redefined by expectations of transparency, authenticity, and openness.

Reviewed by Ashila Mohammad Dadi, May 2018.

Don Tapscott-Blockchain Revolution

Renowned as the early advocates of Digital Economy (DE) almost twenty years ago along with a string of award winning publications namely “Macrowikinomics” (2010), Tapscott has proven to be a household name specialising in disruptive innovations and business strategy. His recent book entitled-“Blockchain Revolution” (2016), has received good reviews from accomplished CEOs and captains of industries globally. Noting that the book is a ‘brilliant combination of history, technology and sociology that covers a comprehensive perspective of the blockchain protocol’. The book engages its readers to entirely rethink about the future and revolutionary insights of a decentralised global financial system. Tapscott described the seven design principles of the blockchain economy namely: networked integrity, distributed power or networks, value creation, cybersecurity, privacy, rights management system and economic inclusion. In each principle, the authors detailed the fundamental concepts. For example by establishing an integrated network, problems can be solved by creating a peer-to-peer networks also known as the ‘trust protocol’. Seemingly, the phenomenal bitcoin network was illustrated as a ‘proof of work’ of an integrated network.

On distributed networks, the authors opined there ought not be a single point of control which eliminates the role of intermediaries. Thereby propagating distributed models of wealth creation. However in such a laissez-faire environment, the challenges lies in mitigating cybercrime in form of spam or denial-of-service attacks. The third principle highlighted on the notion of value creation- propelled by the Internet of Thing (IOT) concept. IOT enables customers to register their devices and assigning them an identify in order to coordinate payments using bitcoin rather than currencies. Creating the trend of different financial instruments from proof of asset authenticity to proof-of-property ownership.

For the fourth, fifth and sixth principles, the Tapscotts wrote on the significance of security and privacy measures. For DE to flourish, platforms need to be hack-proof via asymmetric cryptography or encryption to enable people to control their own data and online identity especially when online transactions. Together these principles depicts that the world today is experiencing the second era of the Digital Economy which is powered by a clever combination of computer engineering, mathematics, cryptography and behavioural economics. The book is a wealth of practical and future insights of new era of economy faced by all nations and citizens worldwide. In hindsight, Tapscot draws the myriad benefits and trade-offs of the digital economy phenomenology. A must-read for enthusiast of innovation and geek entrepreneurship.

Reviewed By Dr Asleena Dato Haji Helmi, October 2017

QUIET LEADERSHIP: Winning hearts, minds and matches

By Carlo Ancelotti with Chris Brady & Mike Forde

Ancelotti came from a poor rural family background to become one of the most recognised and respected member of global football’s elite managers. He won the UEFA Champion’s League 5 times, twice as a player and thrice as a manager. His CV is one of the most enviable portfolio in the world of football. As a manager, he won the Italian Serie A, Italian Cup and UEFA Champions League with AC Milan. Real Madrid won the elusive La Decima, which is the 10th European Championship for the club under his tenure. Paris St. Germain, a club with mediocre infrastructure and stature but continue prospering into European football club giant under the leadership and management of Carlo Ancelotti with the backing of the Qatari club owner. He won the English Premier League and FA Cup double during his short 2-year stint despite working under notorious and difficult-to-please club owner.

Ancelotti’s main management style is to promote a “quiet way” to lead which is a cool, empathetic style centred on the belief that “players do their best when they are comfortable, not when they are uncomfortable”. Ancelotti’s reputation was made in a trophy-laden eight-year stint as AC Milan manager. There, he was ensconced within the club’s “family” culture, surrounded by support staff who had been at the club for years, while he played father figure to young men needing direction on the pitch. Don Carlo reputation as the “diva whisperer” was due to his unique ability to cultivate strong bonds with players of extremely high reputation notably with Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovich.  Ancelotti described as the ultimate diplomate because of the way he handles authoritarian club presidents like Silvio Berlusconi and Roman Abramovich, in AC Milan and Chelsea respectively.

In this great read, Ancelotti gives exclusive insight on his quiet style of management, how he is able to nurture and forged great friendship with all the players he managed no matter how famous or inferior they are. This book shows us how a simple, straightforward and exciting Ancelotti is as a manager. His very own book helps readers to see the personality of Don Carlo which leads to him building a relaxed yet determined, solid and driven team in every team he coached.

Reviewed by: McWilkins Benadik, September 2017


by John W Boudreau, Ravin Jesuthasan & David Creelman

Written in three parts, this book offers a real-insights and examples which describes the current dynamic work structures and elements. In Part One, the authors described the new eco-system of work in organizations. Therein that the ‘organization’ itself has been evolving and require a strong sense of purpose and shared beliefs to arrive at good decisions. The concept of teams through talented people will engage in ways that thrive on processes and tools (e.g. cloud-based applications) and work will be based on tasks, projects and assignments. At times, the best talents may be offered by freelancers rather than full-time employees.

The authors prescribed that a CEO’s leadership future paradigm ought to be of one leading through the work. Creative leaders may need to lead differently by deconstructing and dispersing work, creating rewards and adopt an engagement model which is the right-fit between the niche of workers and using the cloud to function as a nimble organization. In Part Two, the authors elaborated on The “Lead the Work” Map.  For leaders, the map is a decision framework that can be used to locate the work on three fundamental decisions: assignment, organization and rewards. In this context, leaders at times decide on the extent to which the organization boundaries are to be either- permeable, interlinked or collaborative. The critical finding cited of case studies in this book suggests that a successful organization is flexible enough to reshape itself to fit the most profitable niches in an on-demand market environment. Lawler and Worley (2006), opined that being “built to change” becomes the key to sustainable performance.

In Part Three, the authors went on to describe the future of HR outcomes which emphasized on the notions of diversity, inclusion and high performance. Work in organizations will be based on “agile cocreativity”– whereby collaboration and innovation merge. Such changing structures will dictate the likely future statehood of governance and stakeholders principles. Nations would need to alter notions on intellectual property to one of a common value proposition. Therefore access to good data and being inventive are imperatives in leading the work in an era of digitalization.

Reviewed by Dr. Asleena Hj. Helmi, June 2017


by Bharat Anand

With digital transformation in trending on business and social media, certainly books written about it are aplenty. And Bharat Anand’s The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change is one to pay attention to.

Written in four parts, the first three discusses user, product and functional connections whilst the last is simply entitled “Everyone’s a Media Company”. The author initiated the discussion in his book with the study on The Yellowstone Fires in 1988-  arguing that the three errors that caused the fire, are prevalent in nearly every digital domain, were overlooked and caused us to see things discretely, in isolation, rather than as connected parts of a whole, and to miss what is actually important- “connections”.

The author deliberates on three types of connections central to any information- based enterprise; connections between users, connections between products and connections across an organization’s activities. Through cogent and diverse case studies from multiple businesses, all these infrastructures combined is known as the Connections Triad. This Connections Triad can lead companies out from the Content Trap mindset.

The first part of the triad, which is also the focus of Part I of the book, is devoted to “networking” towards the sale of information goods. How Tencent, a Chinese internet giant grew to become one of the world’s most valuable internet firm and how a Scandinavian digital trail- blazer, Schibsted, became the most successful newspaper company in Europe are the focus of Part I, explaining how these organizations succeeded in their businesses not by trying to predict triggers, but by predicting how and when those fires will spread.

Part II focuses on the concept of product complements. The iPods and iTunes are a major complement to one other and this part explains how Apple had transitioned from one that erected propriety barriers everywhere to one that knew when to let them fall. In other words, Apple’s “insanely great” products are no guarantee of corporate success, but the success of one is the result of having great complements, and these two i.e. the iPod and iTunes, are complements if a user’s value from consuming both is greater than the sum of their value from consuming each alone.

The final quadrant of the Connections Triad discusses on functional connections. One point to note, the author encourages businesses to go back to the basis of strategy- know your customers, know what they want and align your business to deliver it your way. That is the winning strategy behind firms like Walmart and Amazon, which stood the test of time, for nearly none of the competitor can match.

Bharat identifies the conditions under which digital fires spread and become like The Yellowstone Fires in 1988.  And how businesses shouldn’t fight every change that comes about but adapt it into their own strategy. As the author concludes in his book: “Create to connect. Expand to preserve. Dare to not mimic. But yet so often we fall into the trap of doing exactly the opposite”. A must read for all who wants to connect digitally.

Reviewed by Azeeza Binti Bujang, July 2017