Well, isn’t that embarrassing. I’ve never heard of Jason Jennings. I’ve just received an advanced review copy of The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change.
As I searched for the web site to share in this review, I learn that Jason Jennings has written four other books: Hit the Ground Running, Think Big Act Small, Less is More and It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small, It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow.
Usually, I start these reviews based on a topic, but today, I’m curious about Jason Jennings. Granted, he’s not the first person to write five business books, but when I looked at the titles as a series, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a unifying theme. Call it my nostalgia for the days of vinyl records, when you had to listen to songs in a series, and could pull together a story or a theme for the album.
It’s clear that this is the latest in what looks like a series of books about companies and what some have done to be successful and what others still have to learn to achieve that same success.
What makes Jason Jennings so special?
A-HA! I knew it! Jason Jennings (on Twitter @jasonjennings) started out as a reporter before he started his media consulting company, Jennings-McGlothlin & Company. Since I’ve been writing these book reviews, I’ve noticed that authors who have a journalism background bring a unique perspective to the topic. They have this ability to fully participate in events and be with the people that they are writing about, while still standing outside the situation and explaining it in a way that those of us who weren’t there can understand and appreciate. This is the gift that Jennings brings to this book and each previous book he’s written.
OH NO! Do I really have to reinvent myself?
Well, according to Reinventors, if you want to end up like Kmart, Blockbuster and EMI – nope. You don’t have to reinvent yourself. Feel free to take the position of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and watch what happens.
Jennings doesn’t say that reinvention is fun. He says it’s necessary. As you might expect from a journalist and media consulting expert, Jennings has done his homework. He’s researched 22,000 articles and 100 companies. Then he and his team selected the best examples of companies who have reinvented themselves and went inside and learned how they did it.
You won’t be surprised to find companies like Starbucks (you can read our review of Onward for the details on that story), Southwest and Apple on the list.
Don’t worry, Jennings has included “The Rules”
The myriad interviews and research have yielded a set of reinvention rules that you can apply in your own business. Sorry, I have to tease you here. But you’ll have to get the book for yourself to learn how to:
- Spot game changers before it’s too late
- Build and commit to a culture of change and growth
- Get your people on the same page to adapt with you
- Change frugally with the resources available
- Get rid of these eight reinvention killers – not letting go over yesterday’s breadwinners, your ego, same old same old, conventional wisdom, a sense of entitlement, greed and a short timers’ mentality
Applying the lessons in the book
Although the end of each chapter has some useful-to-do’s it isn’t a pre-digested recipe and to do list that will magically give you the holy grail and turn you into a reinventor. Instead you’ll find tips and insights that you might have to practice over the course of your business such as these:
“Let go of the fairy tale. Remind yourself that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.”
“Figure out what business you are really in or want to be in. Always be looking for a way to turn lettuce into salad.”
(You’ll have to read the bagged lettuce story to get this one.) Just notice that this book re-chewed and pre-digested for you. You will have to read it, digest it and perhaps get help from a few experts in some of these areas. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a how-to book. It’s a what-to-book. You will have to create your own how-to’s if you’re really committed to reinvention.
Who should read The Reinventors
This is a book written for business book lovers and company watchers. If you enjoy learning about what makes companies succeed and fail – you’ll appreciate The Reinventors. This is a general management book, marketing strategy book and leadership book all in one.
I’d recommend this book as an excellent “travel reader.” It’s the kind of book you’ll want to pick up for your next business trip to read on the plane or at the airport. It will inspire you for whatever meeting you’re going to and educate you on some healthy business principles. Not only that, you’ll probably finish it in one trip!
The Reinventors will be released in May and is available for pre-order.