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Value Leadership: The 7 Principles that Drive Corporate Value in Any Economy: Peter S. Cohan
Jossey-Bass | ISBN: 0787966045 | 2003-10-03 | PDF (OCR) | 320 pages | 1.19 Mb
In Value Leadership, renowned management and investment expert Peter Cohan - whose 2002 stock picks gained 81percent when the S and P 500 plunged 24 percent - provides a new and powerful concept of sustainable corporate value. Using his expertise in understanding shareholder value, Cohan offers executives seven management principles that were tested in periods of economic expansion and contraction. These principles are: valuing human relationships, fostering teamwork, experimenting frugally, fulfilling your commitments, fighting complacency, winning through multiple means, and giving to your community. Cohan illustrates these principles by drawing on examples from eight Value Leaders - Synopsys, WalMart, Goldman Sachs, MBNA, Johnson & Johnson, J. M. Smucker, Southwest Airlines, and Microsoft. Through two recessions, these companies grew 35 percent faster, were 109 percent more profitable, and generated five times more shareholder wealth than their peers.
Summary: The ROI of Integrity
I frequently read several books on the same general subject at the same time and did so again recently, reading this book as well as Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal's The Wizard and the Warrior and Wally Adamchik's No Yelling.
Here is the core concept in Peter Cohan's book: "Value leadership focuses on the essence of what makes American capitalism work, the persistent struggle to create ever higher levels of value for a company's stakeholders, in order to inspire the executives to reemerge from postboom economic gloom." Cohan identifies and then discusses with rigor and eloquence what he views as "The Seven Principles of Value Leadership": value human relationships, foster teamwork, experiment frugally, fulfill your commitments, fight complacency, win through multiple means, and give to your community.
He identifies five qualitative factors and six quantitative factors of "Value Leaders" and examines several companies that exemplify the concept and principles. They include Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, J.M. Smucker, MBNA, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Synopsys, and Wal-Mart. Agreeing that "what you cannot measure, you cannot manage," Cohan offers a way to quantify and manage "the amorphous topic of values": what he calls the Value Quotient (VQ) "which is predicated on a set of four or five activities that companies can perform within each of the seven Value Leadership principles."
It is important to note that although all of the exemplary companies are large, the same principles are directly relevant- and can be of substantial benefit - to all organizations, regardless of size or nature. Moreover, the VQ of a given company - based on four levels of analysis: concept, principles, activities, and tactics -- is determined by the VQ of those within it. Cohan devotes a separate chapter to each of the seven principles, none of which is a head-snapper...nor does he make such a claim. The great value to be derived from his book is found within the context he creates for each of the principles, and, from his brilliant analysis of correlations between and among them.
Readers will especially appreciate Cohan's skillful use of various reader-friendly devices. For example, he provides the first portion of a declarative sentence such as "To understand the customer, executives may use the following tactics:" and then completes it with a list (e.g. "Ask the customers to list and rank the criteria they use to consider purchases among competing products" and "Ask them to articulate how well the [given] company's products satisfy the customer purchase criteria relative to competitors). I need to add that Cohan does not marinate his readers with naked lists; to his credit, he comments on each of the action steps recommended.
I also want to comment briefly on the Appendix within which Cohan provides a brief but remarkably specific "Criteria Performance" analysis of each of eight exemplary companies previously discussed, followed by a brief but (also) remarkably specific "Value Quotient Analysis" of each. Although their assigned total scores may change in the future, it makes sense for a reader to review periodically the criteria for both analyses, then apply them to her or his own organization to ensure that it remains committed to treating all people with respect, getting people to work well together, harnessing accidental discoveries to create greater value for customers, meeting all commitments, weeding out complacency and arrogance, using strategy to sustain market leadership, and continuing an active and generous involvement in society.
One final point: Many of the companies on Fortune magazine's annual list of those most highly regarded consistently appear on its list of those most profitable. Does Cohan view that as a coincidence? No, and neither do I.
Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out any of Warren Bennis' books (notably Geeks & Geezers and the more recently published Leading for a Lifetime, both co-authored with Robert Thomas) as well as Bill George's Authentic Leadership and the more recently published True North, James O'Toole's Leading Change and The Executive's Compass, Martin Linsky and Ronald Heifetz'Leadership on the Line, Heifetz's Leadership Without Easy Answers, and Winning co-authored by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch.
Summary: Value Leadership
Mr. Cohan's work offers something for everyone, but will be especially appealing to change-minded readers who are looking to make a real difference in their professions. One of those books where the reader will want to throttle his or her reading speed to absorb the author's wisdom and thought provoking details. Plenty of excellent examples of how real world practicioners; Goldman Sachs and Southwest Airlines just to name a few, are utilizing the full breadth and depth of value creation and delivery to sustain industry leadership. Mr. Cohan introduces the "Value Quotient", a comprehenive tool for tracking value leadership initiatives. Value Leadership is a necessary prerequisite to building a culture that truly binds and motivates stakeholders to value creation.
Summary: Common sense comes to business leadership. A great and a pra
It has been my experience that most business leaders are smart, thoughtful, competent and ethical people. I have also met those who `live and die by the numbers' or conversely see their major responsibility as building a `culture where the business can thrive'. Both sides of this leadership spectrum have great value but when a leader chooses to focus on one side it is at the expense of the other.Peter Cohan, in his book Value Leadership, brings together the numbers people and the culture people with a rationale and clear treatise. He then offers an effective tool to measure the results of this balanced and effective leadership stance. He takes the traditional business analyst's quantitative factors (market share, revenues and profit, balance sheet strength and more) and combines them with critical qualitative factors (quality of communications, employee satisfaction, customer service and more) to create a numeric score which can be used to assess current business functioning and to plan for strategic and tactical improvements. This measure alone is a great tool for business leaders and their managers, but it is what is measured that defines this books common sense standard. Mr. Cohan has created a way for business leaders to understand and measure their business' value. For anyone who has bought, sold or merged a business, or who invests in stocks, knows that the most elusive question is "what is the value of this business?" Mr. Cohan's "Value Quotient" is the most complete answer to the value question that I have seen. It works well for active business managers and for investors.It is my belief that "value' will emerge over the next ten years as the most important factor in determining a business leader's success. Value encompasses the quantitative and qualitative factors that often appear to be at war with each other. How do you run a highly profitable business while also maintaining an effective culture? Short-sighted business leaders who are under performance pressures often boost their numbers at the expense of their people, while the great business leaders can effectively manage both their numbers and their people. In my new book Corporate MVPs I had the opportunity to talk with many great business people who spoke of the importance of building and conserving their most valuable performers. These business leaders focus on building value as their prime responsibility. Peter Cohan's Value Leadership is the book that will help all business leaders build the value of their businesses and of themselves.
Summary: Very practical and high impact tools for general managers
Often, CEOs feel their executives do not share the same understanding of the critical drivers of their business's performance. Cohan's book is a useful tool for getting a management team "on the same page" and enabling them to clearly define the key levers that contribute to their business's success.Cohan's framework makes it easy for managers in even the most complex companies to identify where their weaknesses are and address them. The book lays out a detailed, step-by-step guide that walks managers though all the activities and tactics that need to be considered in order to noticeably impact their company's bottom line. As a former general manager in a software company, I feel that sections of this book, such as "experimenting frugally," can really inspire a company to be more creative in identifying profitable paths to growth which it might not otherwise consider.The book is invaluable as it enables managers to rise beyond the daily responsibilities of their jobs to identify levers that can have a truly significant impact on their companies.
Summary: Very practical and high impact tools for general managers
Often, CEOs feel their executives do not share the same understanding of the critical drivers of their business's performance. Cohan's book is a useful tool for getting a management team "on the same page" and enabling them to clearly define the key levers that contribute to their business's success.Cohan's framework makes it easy for managers in even the most complex companies to identify where their weaknesses are and address them. The book lays out a detailed, step-by-step guide that walks managers though all the activities and tactics that need to be considered in order to noticeably impact their company's bottom line. As a former general manager in a software company, I feel that sections of this book, such as "experimenting frugally," can really inspire a company to be more creative in identifying profitable paths to growth which it might not otherwise consider. The book is invaluable as it enables managers to rise beyond the daily responsibilities of their jobs to identify levers that can have a truly significant impact on their companies.