January 12, 2012
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Running the Gauntlet
Running the Gauntlet: Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change, and Grow Profits by Jeffrey Hayzlett with Jim Eber, McGraw-Hill, 256 pages, $26.00, Hardcover, December 2011, ISBN 9780071784092
Change often isn’t pretty and Jeffrey Hayzlett should know. In his second book, Running the Gauntlet, written in collaboration with business writer Jim Eber (as was his first, the best-selling The Mirror Test), he provides vivid detail of his adventures as a corporate change agent. Hayzlett isn’t prone to holding back, either. He lays it all out, warts and all: the resistance, the corporate infighting, the messy clean-up.
Hayzlett sets the tone of the book, and the attitude needed to change your corporate direction and/or culture, early with this dedication: “To all the naysayers, opportunists, and obstructionists who do their best to stop the progress of change in an organization. Note: We will beat you.”
Not too much farther in the book, he tells an anecdote about how he had been meeting regularly with a group in a conference room that had a wall clock that perpetually displayed the wrong time:
This time, after one too many discussions about why the clock was off, how to approach it, and how to go about requisitioning a change from Building Services, I had had enough. I challenged them. “Who has the guts to change it? Why doesn’t one of you just get up there and change the clock and get it done rather than talking and waiting for someone else in the company to fix it?”Hayzlett shares plenty of ideas on how to change attitudes and create momentum. One of his most important ideas has become his business mantra: “Repeat after me: no one is ever going to die from the changes you make in business. Say it: “No. One. Is. Going. To. Die.” He also advises you to Make It Personal! Get as Close To Your Customers as You Possibly Can, and Then Get Closer Still So You Can Give Them A Squeeze; and warns that Stampedes Lead to Fast Results, But They’re Expensive and Exhausting, so Create Scalable Plans That Unfold As You Grow. Hayzlett closes the book with twenty questions to ask yourself before you begin and four social media essentials for getting the word out.
Finally, one of them said, “You’re right.” She pulled a chair over, climbed up, and moved the hands. Done.
That’s how change in business gets started: someone sees a need, takes the challenge personally, and acts.
It’s this kind of realism and action-oriented material that makes Running the Gauntlet so refreshing and motivating. His writing is high-energy, entertaining and insightful, and this is a great read to get you thinking about and implementing change in the New Year.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.