San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) April 23, 2014
We’re in the midst of the most uneven, unforgiving recovery of all time. The companies that are doing well—the FedExes and Apples of the world—are doing very, very well. But far too many companies are either struggling mightily to survive or are picking their way through a marketplace so treacherous that one misstep can take them out of the game forever.
So what separates the thrivers from the strugglers? Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, has the answer. His new book, The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-118-82942-4, $28.00, http://www.richkarlgaard.com), delves into the “innovation response”—a perpetual, built-in, automatic reaction to challenges and changes—that lets some companies survive the disruptive waves that knock others off their feet.
The specific set of “soft” factors that make up this response—which together comprise its deepest values, its heart and soul—are now its only remaining competitive edge. Why? Because unlike shrewd strategy and superb execution, long required for high performance, the “soft edge” can’t be analyzed and copied. Yet the soft edge is often neglected, misunderstood, and underfunded.
“When the stakes are higher and more dramatic, and when change happens at great speed, unstable companies crash and burn,” says Karlgaard. “Companies that excel at strategy, execution, and the soft edge can keep their wits about them and respond intelligently. These are the ones that seize opportunities and come out on top.”
Karlgaard examined a variety of enduring companies and found that they have one thing in common; all have leveraged their deepest values alongside strategy and execution, allowing them to fuel growth as well as weather hard times. In The Soft Edge, Karlgaard shares these stories and identifies the five key variables that make up every organization’s “soft edge”:
- Trust: Northwestern Mutual has built a $25 million revenue juggernaut on trust, the foundation of lasting success. Learn how to create an environment that engenders trust and propels high performance.
- Smarts: In most technical fields, your formal education quickly becomes out of date. How do you keep up? Learn how the Mayo Clinic, Stanford University’s women’s basketball team, and others stay on top by relentlessly pursuing an advantage through smarts.
- Teamwork: Since collaboration and innovation are a must in the global economy, effective teamwork is vital. Learn how global giant FedEx stays focused and how nimble Nest Labs relies on lean teams with cognitive diversity.
- Taste: Clever product design and integration are proxies for intelligence because they make customers feel smart. But taste goes further into deep emotional engagement. Specialized Bicycles calls it “the elusive spot between data truth and human truth.” How can you consistently make products or services that trigger these emotional touch points?
- Story: Companies that achieve lasting success have an enduring and emotionally appealing story. What’s your company’s story? How do you tell it your way? Gain the ability to create a powerful narrative in a world where outsiders often exercise the louder voice.
“Too many leaders today, pressured by a tough economy and badgered by shareholders, find it tempting to neglect their companies’ deeper values,” says Karlgaard. “Yes, we are all operating in a turbulent, unforgiving marketplace. But to create healthy companies, we must put aside the numbers, facts, figures, statistics, and analytics that keep us up at night, and instead focus on nurturing our cultures.
“Healthy cultures overcome hardships,” he adds. “Healthy cultures innovate. Healthy cultures will survive.”
About the Author:
Rich Karlgaard is author of The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-118-82942-4, $28.00, http://www.richkarlgaard.com). He is also the publisher of Forbes magazine, where he writes a column, Innovation Rules, known for its witty assessment of business and leadership issues. He has been a regular panelist on television’s Forbes on FOX since the show’s inception in 2001. Karlgaard is also a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded Upside magazine, Garage Technology Partners, and Silicon Valley’s premier public business forum, the 7,500-member Churchill Club. He is a past winner of Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award. Karlgaard’s 2004 book, Life 2.0, was a Wall Street Journal business bestseller. A graduate of Stanford University, Karlgaard and his family live in Silicon Valley.