John Spence has done a brilliant job of writing a very useful handbook titled “Awesomely Simple – Essential Business Strategies For Turning Ideas Into Action”. It is a privilege to interview John on his book. Business is complex and this book is a great attempt to simplify it through ideas and how they can be turned into action.
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[Tanmay Vora] John, it is a pleasure interviewing you. Please tell us something about how did you come up with the idea of a business book that turns essential business strategies into actions?
[John Spence] There are many fine business books, and truthfully most of them focus on the same basic ideas, but what I wanted to do with this book was to make it as easy as possible for the reader to take the key ideas in the book and put them into immediate action in their business. I have been teaching a class on strategic thinking at the Wharton school of business at the University of Pennsylvania for the past several years and I always ask the attendees of my program (typically about 100 senior executives) what the single biggest hurdle is that stands in the way of organizational success. The answer, year after year, is lack of disciplined execution. These are very smart folks, that know what it takes to be successful, but still struggle to turn their great ideas into actions. That is why my entire book focuses on excellent ideas combined with specific action steps to implement those ideas.
[Tanmay Vora] The title of the book is really interesting – ‘Awesomely Simple’. Why did you decide to focus on the simplicity aspect of business essentials?
[John Spence] Well Tanmay, I have actually based my entire career on making complex things simple to understand. Whether the topic is business excellence, leadership, teamwork, building a winning organizational culture… I try to take massive amounts of research and years and years of personal experience as a business executive – and boil it all down to the essential, fundamental things that make up the foundation of success. As an example, I have read a minimum of 100 business books a year, and listened to an additional 30 to 50 audio business books, every year since 1989. The books alone would not be enough to truly understand what I’m studying, but combined with nearly 17 years of working for some of the top companies around the world, when I put the two things together and then focus them on looking for a pattern of excellence, it allows me to try to make the complex and challenging parts of business as simple and clear as possible.
[Tanmay Vora] What does the book broadly cover?
[John Spence] The book covers what I feel are the six essential strategies for business success: 1) having a clear and well-communicated vision for the organization. 2)hiring absolutely the best people you can possibly get on your team. 3) high levels of open, honest and transparent communication. 4) a culture of urgency were people want to get the important things done right now. 5) a culture of disciplined execution where people take the great ideas in the business and turn them into positive action in the business. 6) extreme customer focus – taking the first five elements I’ve just mentioned and focusing them all on delivering consistently superior customer service that creates loyal and engaged customers.
[Tanmay Vora] If you had to summarize three key messages from the book to readers of this blog, what would those be?
[John Spence] Actually, I have boiled all the ideas in the book down to a simple equation: (T+C+ECF) x DE = Business Success.
The T stands for talent, C is culture, ECF is extreme customer focus and DE stands for disciplines execution. To me, this equation does a pretty good job of capturing the fundamental formula for business success.
[Tanmay Vora] Thank you John for your time and I am sure readers of this blog will be able to pick up some very useful insights and turn complex business strategies into simple actions.
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Have a GREAT day!