To Start 2014, Pick Three People and Three Books

three booksAs I thought about what to write about in my first blog of 2014 I kept coming back to something that the insightful Seth Godin wrote about last month.

In a December 20th post, he suggested that if there is “one thing you could do that would transform how 2014 goes for you,” it would be to choose three “colleagues, bosses, investors, employees, co-conspirators or family members that have an influence over how you do your work.” These should be people who “care about you and what you produce.” Then, identify three books that challenge you or your organization’s status quo, “business books that outline a new attitude/approach or strategy, or perhaps fiction or non-fiction that challenges you.”

In other words: “Books you’ve read that you need them to read.”

Dell and GENCO actually did just that and the rest, as they say, is history.

The second edition of Vested Outsourcing: Five Rules That Will Transform Outsourcing, which is celebrating its five-year publication anniversary this year, contains a new chapter that describes the Dell-GENCO journey to Vested. Interestingly, an important part of that journey involved an idea similar to Godin’s recommendation.

As the two companies struggled with how to align themselves and implement a transformative Vested approach for their relationship, Dell organized a “book club” to learn more about Vested. Over a three-month period people were assigned as “chapter champions” and small groups digested the first edition of Vested Outsourcing.

The book club meetings were important, noted Robert McIntosh, executive director of Dell’s global reverse supply chain, because “they really helped us realize that we needed to try a different approach and that the Vested approach provided a solid option. Dell’s innovative culture allowed us to challenge the status quo, and the internal team felt we should approach GENCO with the thought of converting our contract to a Vested agreement.”

The approach worked. John Coleman, GENCO general manager, said the experience of coming to grips with Vested’s Five Rules, especially Rule No. 2—Focus on the What, not the How—was “like we broke open a new innovation piñata. GENCO employees now know that we will share in the reward for good ideas. Now, every quarter we make new priorities that align with our defined mutual outcomes.”

The move to Vested opened the door for a total transformation of the Dell-GENCO relationship that has resulted in bottom line improvements that are well beyond what anyone expected when they first started passing a slim volume, Vested Outsourcing, around.

That’s a great and telling example of the transformative power of ideas and books, especially when they enter people’s heads and are in their hands, rather than sitting on the shelf.

And, ahem, there are the four other Vested books that obviously are must-reads.

So, if each of the three people and books in Godin’s challenge went through the same exercise, well, you can see that a groundswell for transformative thought and action might truly begin.

A great Vested way to start the new year.

Image: Three Books by Liis Klammer via Flickr CC

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