The 2,000 Percent Solution

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Organizations, like people, are creatures of habit. They tend to approach problems and practices in predictable ways. This revolutionary book argues that such ingrained habits, which often masquerade as efficient procedures, actually obstruct true growth. It's not easy to unblock "stalled" thinking — we resist at every turn — but the payoff is immense. Forget 100 percent improvement; the achievable goal is accelerated, breakthrough, 2,000 percent progress.

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Organizations, like people, are creatures of habit. They tend to approach problems and practices in predictable ways. This revolutionary book argues that such ingrained habits, which often masquerade as efficient procedures, actually obstruct true growth. It's not easy to unblock "stalled" thinking — we resist at every turn — but the payoff is immense. Forget 100 percent improvement; the achievable goal is accelerated, breakthrough, 2,000 percent progress.

The 2,000 Percent Solution introduces "stallbusting," a process that shows how to recognize typical stalls and overcome them. It helps readers understand how companies habitually "think small" in order to feel comfortable and in control. However, only by learning to break certain patterns can we make great leaps forward, solve seemingly impossible problems, and arrive at the future.

Through unorthodox examples ranging from the Titanic to Leonardo da Vinci's bicycle, The 2,000 Percent Solution excavates our knee-jerk reactions, or stalls, and gets readers on the road to sustainable change. It examines such ubiquitous dodges as the Psychology-of-Disbelief Stall, the Tradition Stall, and the Bureaucratic Stall from the stallbusters' point of attack.

Packed with specific advice on performance management, process improvement, profit measurement, and best practices, it"s an outside-the-box guide to removing the blinders at every level of business.

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Editorial Reviews

Argues that ingrained habits in organizations, often masquerading as efficient procedures, actually stall growth, and shows how to recognize typical stalls and overcome them. Uses unorthodox examples, ranging from the Titanic to da Vinci's bicycles, to examine common stalls, and gives directions for dealing with these causes of organizational inertia and inefficiency.
Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Washington Times
Are you procrastinating? . The authors . . . have a handle on the issue of complacency . . . [The authors] provide a clear and concise look at the many road blocks that good ideas must overcome in most companies. By identifying and offering other directions, they show how companies can avoid these blocks and find some other roads to travel.
The authors tackle 'stalled' thinking . . .Tradition, Disbelief, Misconception, Unattractiveness, Bureaucratic, Communication and Procrastination. Any information technology manager is likely to recognize all of these. Chapters 9 through 16 identify 'stallbusters' — seven steps for overcoming these problems. Chapter 9 is an excellent source for overcoming one's own 'stalls.' The book is enlivened with brief vignettes incorporating historical examples.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780595291137
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/14/2003
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 16

Stall Busters: Assignment to Help you make the most of the Eight Step Process

Learn the Process, Teach the Process and Do this Assignment:

Make everyone aware that the process will be repeated in the same area again and again.

Set dates to start repeating the process at the time the process is begun.

Set dates to begin repeating the Eight Steps in those other important management processes.

Add to your ability as an organization to use the eight step process through improved capabilities like:
More measurement capabilities to spot more ways to improve
Better ability to identify cause and effect
Better access to organizations with best practices in sub-processes
Faster ability to capture learning from other organizations
Better forecasting of the likely rate of process improvement in the future
Improved conceptualization of the theoretical best practice
Better planning to approach the theoretical best practice rapidly with contained costs, while obtaining an ability to expand rapidly into new opportunities as a result of having approached the theoretical best practice.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Free Your Organization From Mind-Forged Manacles 7
Ch. 1 Like a Mosquito in Amber, Suspended in Time: The Stall Mind-Set 11
Ch. 2 Knucklebusters and Sawdust: The Tradition Stall 33
Ch. 3 You've Got to Be Kidding! The Disbelief Stall 49
Ch. 4 Misused Cliches: The Misconception Stall 63
Ch. 5 Ugly Ducklings: The Unattractiveness Stall 83
Ch. 6 Words Fail Me: The Communications Stall 93
Ch. 7 Molasses in the Works: The Bureaucratic Stall 103
Ch. 8 Manana: The Procrastination Stall 114
Pt. 2 A Stallbuster's Guide in Eight Steps 129
Ch. 9 Measuring Caverns Measureless to Man: Step One: Understand the Importance of Measuring Performance 131
Ch. 10 Too Many Trees: Step Two: Decide What to Measure 149
Ch. 11 Where Many Cooks Improve the Broth: Step Three: Identify the Future Best Practice and Measure It 163
Ch. 12 All Aboard for Best-Practice City: Step Four: Implement Beyond the Future Best Practice 178
Ch. 13 Perfection as Only You Can Imagine It: Step Five: Identify the Theoretical Best Practice 187
Ch. 14 On the Trail of the Holy Grail: Step Six: Pursue the Theoretical Best Practice 203
Ch. 15 The Square-Peg-in-the-Square-Hole Opportunity: Step Seven: Identify the Right People and Provide the Right Motivation 217
Ch. 16 Mustard Repeats! Step Eight: Repeat the First Seven Steps 231
Epilogue: The Route to Your 2,000 Percent Solution: An Evolution Revolution of Continuing Challenge 241
Afterword 249
Index 250
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How to Get the Most Value From This Book

Unlike most business books, The 2,000 Percent Solution is primarily about what to do differently rather than how to do something better than you do it today. Its purpose is to focus your attention on important tasks that your organization should be, but probably is not, working on now.

The book's fundamental premise is that no matter how successful your organization is, it is performing way below its easily achievable potential. If your organization is like most, it is probably functioning below average in many important activities. For example, if yours is a public company, the price of your stock may have grown more slowly than the Standard & Poor's 500 stock average in the last five years--an average that you can easily exceed by adopting actions that stockholders strongly prefer and that make sense for your company.

Complacency is the primary reason for this frequent, significant gap between potential and achievement. Here are three reasons why:

1. At best, complacency causes you to be satisfied with far less than your personal and organizational best. If your company is not accelerating its rate of improvement, you are probably resting on your laurels--something that often occurs when compensation and promotion are associated with easy-to-beat budgets.

2. Complacency also keeps you from seeing and acting on your organization's best opportunities. You may achieve gains by measuring costs that involve spending money, but if you neglect to measure what happens when you do not pursue certain large, excellent opportunities, the reduced results may offset the former gains. For example, Walt Disney's accounting records indicate how much it costs to operate its theme parks, but they say nothing about lost profits as a result of not opening more parks or by having allowed another company to develop the Japanese version of Disneyland.

3. At worst, complacency fools you into falling behind others, triggering predictable crises. However, those crises may cause you to act to restore your organization's effectiveness and vitality to a portion of its former competitive level. For example, IBM once dominated the market for all kinds of computers. That dominance slipped, and for years little effective action was taken until profits, cash flow, and the balance sheet were really in trouble. Then the company began to take meaningful action to improve itself under Lou Gerstner's leadership.

The 2,000 Percent Solution is easy and fun to read, with many more anecdotes than most books. Hopefully, you will see yourself in the examples. But don't let the anecdotes tempt you to read it as a discussion about how successful companies got that way. Use them as examples of new things you must do, and be encouraged as you see the types of results that can follow from asking the right questions.

This book has a serious and important purpose: to make you and your organization vastly more successful by having you ask and answer new questions. The authors are trying to shock you out of your complacency--to get you to think and to act effectively on the basis of these new thoughts--and we ask you four new questions that are critical to your organization's future:

1. Of all the things you do now, how do you know what works for you?

2. Where is complacency costing you the most in light of what you could accomplish?

3. What do you need to know and do that is different from and more successful than what you know and do now?

4. No matter how successful you are in what you do, how can you improve a lot where it will be worth a great deal?

Ernest Hemingway's famous novel The Old Man and the Sea (Scribner 1952) can be read from several different perspectives. For some it is merely an adventure story about catching a fish. For others it is also about "mankind versus nature." For still others, the novel is about mankind's indomitable spirit.

Similarly, The 2,000 Percent Solution can be read in many different ways, each of them rewarding. There are six ways you can and should read this book to benefit you and your organization. The book offers:

1. Stories of problems that many have found difficult to overcome

2. Stories of solutions to these same problems, located later in the same chapter, called stall erasers

3. "How to" steps to implement solutions for these problems in your organization, at the ends of the chapters, called stallbusters

4. A call to set objectives and plans to achieve well beyond the best of what someone will soon implement as tomorrow's best practice for your key activities

5. A call to go for the maximum result that can be achieved in your most important activities with reasonable risk and resources--always much greater than merely exceeding tomorrow's best practice

6. A way to create economic relations between your organization and your customers, employees, suppliers, partners, shareholders, and the communities in which the organization operates that will create much more effective and affluent results for all these stakeholders

To make it easier for you to appreciate and see all the perspectives, you will find a few sentences at the beginning of each chapter that put the material you are about to read into one or more of these perspectives. This material is printed in italics to remind you that they serve as road signs to the meaning of the material that follows.

The 2,000 Percent Solution has another important meaning for you and your organization. It contains a new thought process to help you achieve large benefits that can be applied to a broad range of issues, both organizational and personal. In essence, you have an opportunity to adopt a way of thinking that can help you in everything you do. Instead of adding specialized thinking that fragments your organization, The 2,000 Percent Solution will add valuable thinking that will unify and direct your organization into new and more effective ways of operating.

Be sure to read the Afterword. In it, you will find a call to action that will focus you on what you must do now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2008

    A reviewer

    In 'The 2000 Percent Solution', Professor Donald Mitchell explains the various habits or stalls that impede or delay organisational progress. The book carefully traces the sources of failure, inertia and under-performance by organisations. He also explains how one can reveal and capture new opportunities by asking new questions. Ways to overcome some of the deep rooted stalls are explained. Step-by-step, the author teaches the different thinking skills needed for sound stall busting. The book is fun and easy to read and follow. It is an excellent reference when I need to have new perspectives on any issue. It is an excellent reference when I need assistance on how I can breathe new life into my organisation. I strongly recommend anyone wishing to 'bust' their stalls to read this book, and keep reading it to prevent the stalls coming back.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2005

    Freeing Your Organisation From Stalled Thinking

    This book argues that ingrained habits, which often masquerade as efficient procedures (stalls) actually obstruct growth. In this book, you will learn to go beyond today's best practices into the uncharted realm of what needs to be imagined and accomplished (stallbusters). This is a remarkable claim, and it goes beyond the tradition al 'competitive advantage' proposition. It is the 2000 percent solution. The revolutioray nature of this book can be seen from the fact that it is primarily about what to do differently, rather than how to do something better than you do it today. The book is a form of coupures epistemologigues (see especially part 2). The 2000 Percent Solution is in a sense a projective test, not unlike the Rorschach test. It is also a book on applied psychology, specifically, it extrapolates the basic tenets of 'peak peformance Technology' for corporate uses. It also makes use of very useful but somewhat unfamilar terms duch as 'stalls' and 'stallbusters'. In fact, the book espouses a 'stall' theory. Because of this, the best way to read this book is by first reading it thoroughly from beginning to end, noting the important passages. In say, 6 weeks time, read the book the second time. You will be surprised of the new insights the book has generated. In fact, this book tends to grow on you. It works at your subconscious mind. It has understanding and emotional impact. This book is easy and fun to read. You will find a few sentences at the beginning of each chapter that put the material you are going to read in context. There are action guides at the end of each chapter. The book is made doubly useful by the many questions it asks. Questions are the best teacher. Also, each chapter is self-contaained and can be read individually. Every management book is in a sense a book on 'competitive advantage'. But, this book goes beyond the traditional notion of 'competitive advantage'. Instead of using the terms 'strategy' and 'strategic management' for which there is no general assent the book uses the term 'best practices' (see especially chapter 11-14). This book can be seen as a book on 'competitive advantage' par excellence but, it is vastly superior than Michael Porter's Competitive Advantage: Ceating and Sustaining Superior Performance.

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