Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Better, Simpler Strategy: A Value-Based Guide to Exceptional Performance (Felix Oberholzer-Gee)

Businesses often succeed when they can create and effectively execute a strategy and plan. Felix Oberholzer-Gee’s Better, Simpler Strategy: A Value-Based Guide to Exceptional Performance establishes a framework to help businesses rethink and rework how they operate.

Oberholzer-Gee’s method to madness centers around value-based strategy. The author advocates two metrics: The first being the most someone would pay for a product or service; the second is the minimum compensation that employees and suppliers (in manufacturing) would require. The difference in these two metrics is the value that a business creates and, according to the author, where businesses should focus their efforts. The author talks at length about this being represented by a “value stick” and then provides examples where either of the metrics (willingness to pay or willingness to sell) is changed and how those changes transformed the performance of the company.

Better, Simpler Strategy is a valuable resource for any business executive who is thinking about how their organization’s performance can be transformed. Given the fast change of pace in today’s world, keeping the strategy simple and focused on value will help not only the business but also the employees.


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society (Minouche Shafik)

Minouche Shafik's What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society advocates for a rethinking of how societies can support each other to help improve economic and societal conditions for all. The book is written with an eye to thinking about how tweaking (and improving) parts of the social contract between government and citizens can result in better outcomes for all.

Shafik covers all stages of life - raising children, education, health, and retirement - and talks about how improving conditions for all through providing stronger social safety nets will yield improved economic, health, and educational performances in countries. While her audience is directed globally, the author is adept at utilizing examples from Europe and “Western” societies and those from elsewhere around the globe to show various models that work and how these models can be adapted in other places if necessary. Shafik spends a relatively short amount of time talking about how those improvements to the safety net can be properly financed - this is an area that could have used additional focus. 

What We Owe Each Other is organized and thoughtful and offers a fresh perspective on how governments should organize social contracts with its citizens. While some of the ideas proposed may be very difficult to see implemented and get financed, the discussion of how to improve benefits and support systems for people is worth having.


Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Hidden History of Coined Words (Ralph Keyes)

Examples of coined words include "blog", "quark", and "buttonhole"; all of which were created either in jest or through misprints (in the case of "quark"). Those who are responsible for coining some of English’s more unique words come from diverse backgrounds - a humorist, a botanist, a cartoonist, and even politicians have all contributed words that have had staying power to our discourse over centuries.

Ralph Keyes’s The Hidden History of Coined Words dives head-first into a treasure trove of word origins, outlining in great detail how terms came into existence, whether those terms had staying power or were mere fads, and how they may have evolved over the years. Did you know that "hipster" is not a recent word invention, despite the current term identifying many craft beer aficionados and fans of indie rock? Or that "spread’s" meaning today is not necessarily the same as it was in an earlier time? Keyes closes with a tutorial on how to coin words and what letters coined words should start with. He also expresses hope that a number of expressions that we struggle with can find better meaning.

The Hidden History of Coined Words an enjoyable book, one well-suited for linguists and wordsmiths who are curious to gain further insight into ever-evolving language.