When I read the descriptions of this book I was expecting the standard “CEO imparts wisdom” approach. You know the book where the CEO recounts their unbroken chain of successes and how you the reader should learn from their experience and do what they did. There is some of that in AMP it UP, but not as much as one would expect. More importantly, there is a lot of clear, concise, and actionable takeaways that you can put into practice right now.
Overall the book is contains Frank Slootman’s views and maxims for success, the things that he found helped him and his organizations be successful. Read the book to find those nuggets and you will get the most value out of it. Those nuggets include:
Having a clear mission that is oriented around the company’s true purpose and the good it brings to the world. Focus on that mission, incorporate it directly into how you see the world, make decisions, evaluate options. Keep the mission front and center and urgent — every day should see some progress toward the mission. Execute against it, you know what you call a mission statement hanging on the wall? Corporate Art, ok it’s a bad joke but it makes the point — a mission that is not executed is not a mission at all.
Work to win, ok Slootman says declare war, against competitors, incrementalism, and general complacency in the organization and in your teams. Don’t accept good enough from yourself or your people. Keep a sense of competition and the hunger for the rewards of winning in the teams. As Slootman points out, ‘Only the government can print money; the rest of us have to take it from somebody else.’
Execution is more important than strategy, kind of like the mission points, but keep the connections between your work and the customer value always at the forefront, regardless of you or your teams position in the organization. Strategies are good, but too often they are disconnected from the people executing them. In this case build strategies from the bottom up. If you are interested in that then read “Open Strategy” by Christian Standler, et. al.
Hire drivers and get the wrong people off the bus. Slootman brings a fresh perspective to this well-worn organization and leadership point. Drivers own situations and own the solution. Passengers more often admire the situation or problem and talk about what others must to do address it. People who are not committed to the company, their team and their own success are those that should consider leaving the bus. That can mean getting good people into the right roles. But if they are the wrong person now, then they are the wrong person.
Build a strong culture — this chapter is like other discussions about culture.
Teach people to go direct and build trust, a great point that if you have people who own the mission and their situation then let them work with similar minded people to get results. Slootman points out that competition etc is too complex and moves too fast to support bureaucracy and CYA. Let good people go to work.
These are just some of the insights gleaned from the book. insights that are illustrated by Slootman’s own experiences — some good others not so good. This makes the book very approachable by any professional who is looking to raise and sustain their and their team’s game.
You will have to wade through Slootman retelling his past tales of success at Data Domain, ServiceNow and other places. Fortunately at 182 pages, the discussions are focused and bearable. Overall recommended.
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