Mobilizing Minds: Creating Wealth From Talent in the 21st Century Organization

Mobilizing Minds: Creating Wealth From Talent in the 21st Century Organization

Based on a decade of exclusive research, Lowell Bryan and Claudia Joyce of McKinsey & Company have come up with a simple yet revolutionary conclusion: Your workforce is the key to growth in the 21st century. By tapping into their underutilized talents, knowledge, and skills you can earn tens of thousands of additional dollars per employee, and manage the interdepartmental complexities and barriers that prevent real achievements and profits. This can only be accomplished through organizational de

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3 Responses to Mobilizing Minds: Creating Wealth From Talent in the 21st Century Organization

  1. Robert D. Steele says:
    9 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Weak Five for HR Wonks, Distill to One Page for CEOs, July 2, 2008
    Robert D. Steele (Oakton, VA United States) –
    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

    I was tempted to give this book three to four stars for lack of context and for lack of a solid literature review (the entire book is a McKinsey love fest and somewhat albino in its incestuousness) but because I read a Harvard Business Review article today on how HR is the new new thing for Harvard MBAs, and the book speaks very well to HR folks I rate it a weak five for HR, four for all others. The smart HR person will find a way to distill the book to one page for the CEO. The basic premises are not new, but they are valid.

    My annoyance first (minus one star):
    - Neither ethics nor the environment appear in this book.
    - True costs and the triple bottom line do not appear in this book.
    - Customer minds do not appear in this book [see BW "The Power of Us"]
    - The authors make facile assumptions, e.g. Exxon and GlaxoSmithKline are top “performers” by their account, but the authors are–with all due respect–clueless about the fact that Exxon did not make $40 billion in profit, it externalized $12 per gallon and stole that money from the public commonwealth now and into the future; similarly, GSK is profitable because the US Government is not allowed to negotiate, 50% of the health system is waste (see PWC report), and they are allowed to charge 100 times what the same medications cost in any given Third World country (different lowest cost country for each of the top 75 medications).
    + The bibliography is marginal, a form of McKinsey pablum.
    + The authors make facile reference to “complex adaptive systems” and to Wikipedia as well as blogs, but fail to provide a proper bridge to the “wealth of networks” or to Generation 2.0/Digital Native mindsets and methods.
    + They significantly exaggerate and misrepresent the relative value of “distinctive” and proprietary knowledge in relation to giving employees access to public knowledge in the external environment as well as internal knowledge that is not secret (see images under book cover).
    + The publisher puts the lead author’s Harvard MBA right after his name, while relegating the second author’s degree to the last line of her bio. As an admirer of the book What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School: Notes From A Street-Smart Executive I found this substantially OFFENSIVE. I hate feminazis, but in this instance, if the second author would like the publisher fire-bombed, I’m there for her [metaphorically speaking].

    My irritation aside, this is a good book and I recommend it. Let me start with a few quotes that captured my respect:

    p 13 “The plagues of the modern company are hard-to-manage workforce structures, thick silo walls, confusing matrix structures, e-mail overload, and ‘undoable jobs.’”

    p 24 “Surveys confirm the symptoms of the disease, which include e-mail and voice-mail overload, task forces hat go nowhere, pointless meetings, delays in making decisions because of scheduling conflicts, too much raw data and not enough information [or sense-making aka decision-support], and challenges in getting the knowledge one needs because of organizational silos.

    p 26 “Interaction costs involve searching for information and knowledge, coordinating activities and exchanges, and monitoring and controlling the performance of others within the same firm.” [credit by the authors to Ron Course, 1937]

    p 239 “Today, the most valuable capital that companies can use in the 21st century is not financial capital but ‘intangible capital.’”

    Duh. Okay, a bit more of my irritation, but the book stays at four to five stars. Here are the books the authors did not read in reinventing the wheel:
    Organizational Intelligence (Knowledge and Policy in Government and Industry)
    The exemplar: The exemplary performer in the age of productivity
    The Knowledge Executive
    The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization
    Information Payoff: The Transformation of Work in the Electronic Age

    There are others, but I need to save four links for the close of this review. Now on to what I did find worthwhile, which is to say, at least…

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  2. Alan Fryer "" says:
    6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Not grounded but thought provoking, good read, September 2, 2007
    Alan Fryer “” (Portland) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

    I recently became interested in defining my own role and wanted to ground my ideas in what is out there in the corporate world. I was also interested in hearing what a McKinsey person had to say, as our company has hired some former McKinsey consultants.

    To me this book had three stages:
    - the sales pitch – boring but thankfully brief. I did buy the book already…
    - brief discussion of existing organization theory. – A little brief for me. I would have liked a little more introduction to conventional corporate structures and thinking. Perhaps I am also not representative here, as this may be old hat to some.
    - their ideas for how to build an organization for the 21 st century. This is the bulk of the book and where the meat is. Overall, I found it very interesting and had a hard time putting the book down. I do wish it was a little more grounded in what was in actual practice with more case studies from existing companies that have excelled in certain areas. Instead, they tried to propose a new organization but are very honest in saying no current company implements all there ideas.

    My biggest complaint is that they choose to focus on approaches that work for mega corporations and often want to focus on how their ideas scale up rather than scale down. While, the complexities of running mega-corporations may require new approaches to truly scale, it seems like innovative, radical approaches would be first adopted in smaller organizations.

    Some of the high-lights for me include:
    - Clear separation of the duties and responsibilities of the different layers of management. Empowered Line management responsible for operations and shorter term initiatives. Senior and Top – Level management responsible for shared utilities, strategic planning and putting in place a one-company culture.
    - Strong use of hierarchy for clear decision making while at the same time, providing a framework for incorporating Teams at the top. In particular, I liked the idea that teams at the top would extend beyond the C-Level board and reach down lower level people. I agree with the premise that this will not only help train and retain promising talent but will also result in better decision making and planning.
    - Top down leadership towards mutual accountability.
    - The concept of portfolio of initiatives and the need to fund them out of corporate and top level management to avoid long-term planning and improvements being starved by more immediate line management needs.
    - Formal networks and Talent Networks were interesting but some of the concepts shared in knowledge networks were particularly interesting to me. Some of the concepts of Knowledge may be the easiest for smaller organizations to start putting in place.

    Thus, for me, this was a very good book and one that has certainly wetted my appetite for further reading. Perhaps, the authors could write another book focusing on grounded, shorter term improvements with an eye to smaller companies….

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  3. Anonymous says:
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    So 20th century, December 2, 2010
    Adam J. Schorr (Teaneck, NJ United States) –

    How funny that this book which purports to offer a perspective on what companies must do to succeed in the 21st century, is not available in eBook format. So 20th century!

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