Make Some Noise: A book review by Bob Morris

Make Some Noise: The Unconventional Road to Dominance
Ken Schmidt
Simon & Schuster (November 2018)

How your organization can achieve “all-out, against-all-odds success”

Friends of mine who own a Harley-Davidson claim its unique roar differentiates it from all other motorcycles. Ken Schmidt suggests that individuals as well as organizations need to “make some beautiful noise” in order to stand out from competitors. “This is how I see it. All things considered, businesses are either dominators or also-rans. If you have to think about which yours is, I’m afraid it’s the latter.”

Schmidt goes on to point out, “Dominators know how to leverage basic drivers of human behavior for competitive advantage and do so in ways that attract and delight those they serve and hope to serve”…and that includes employees. In fact, dominators know how to create both customers and employees who are evangelists.

As Schmidt well knows, it is no coincidence that companies annually ranked among those that are most highly regarded and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable and and have the greatest cap value in their industry segment.

I agree with Schmidt that almost any organization can become a dominator. Perhaps he agrees with me that for all organizations, their most serious competitor is who they are, what they do, and how they do it today. The title of one of Marshall Goldsmith’s most recent books suggests that “what got you here won’t get you there.” Today’s business world is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time I can remember. Therefore, I am convinced that what got you here won’t even allow you stay here for very long.

These are among the passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Schmidt’s coverage:

o Harley-Davidson (Pages vii-ix, xiv-xvii, 3-6, 18-19, 24-26, 43-47, 142-145, and 250-251
o Also-rans (ix-xii and 137-138)
o Dominance/dominators (xii-xiii)
o Motorcycles and motorcyclists (1-6, 15-16,20-24, 62-67, 96-102 and 153-160)
o Noise (1-4, 14-16, and 317-324)

o Employees (27-28, 55-60, and 274-278)
o Positioning (47-61, 62-91, and 114-115)
o “Schmidt-isms”(86-91)
o Changes in market and businesses (92-116)
o Change(s) in market(s) 96-116

o Terminology and technical data (125-126, 133-135, 144-145, and 252-253)
o Banks (138-141 and 148-149)
o Road Trip Preparation (153-156, 158-159, and 192-193)
o Construction companies (163-165, 177-179, 182-184, and 190-191)
o Differentiators of competition (174-178)

o Social media and competition (174-179)
o “What Do I/We Want People to Say About Me/Us?” (189-192, 196-197, 199-200, 204-206, 218-227, and 302-303)
o Tools (198-208)
o How you see and describe yourself (200-203)
o Employees and noise (277-278, 305-306, and 312-318)

In order to create or increase demand for an offering, it is imperative to attract attention with “beautiful noise.” That is indeed a challenge. However, I presume to offer a word of caution:  The far greater challenge is to prove worthy of that attention by fulfilling (if not exceeding) expectations.

This is what Schmidt  has in mind when urging his reader, “Never Stop Pushing…celebrate each achievement, then push the ramp back a little further and try something a little harder. With every not-so-great landing, learn from what went wrong, then move on. The challenge of being challenged is its own reward and an organization that grows accustomed to being pushed [and to pushing itself] thrives on each new challenge.”

No brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the invaluable information, insights, and counsel that Ken Schmidt provides. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of him and his brilliant work. Almost all of the material in this book can be of substantial value to leaders in almost all organizations, whatever their size and nature may be.

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