“We take good care of our people, they take good care of our customers, and our customers take good care of our shareholders.”
Former chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, provided the title for this review and Bill Schley fully agrees with him about having an employee-centric organization within which everyone is customer-centric. It is no coincidence that many of the same companies that are annually ranked among the most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable with the greatest cap value in their respective industry segments.
The thesis of this book is that the Accelerated Proficiency system creates employee evangelists who are UnStoppable entrepreneurs. What is especially interesting about this system is that it can be successful in any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Moreover, those whom I characterize as “evangelists” can be developed at all levels and in all areas. As I read the first chapter, I was reminded of Jack Welch’s comments during one of GE’s annual meetings when he then served as its chairman and CEO. He responded to this question: Why do you admire small companies so much?
“For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy.”
Presumably Schley would agree with Welch while emphasizing, also, the shared faith these people have in themselves, in each other, and in the organization within which almost all limits on personal growth and professional development are self-imposed. He would also stress the importance of persistence, perhaps even tenacity, citing a distinction made by Eric Jacobsen, a successful entrepreneur: “The difference betweens and everybody else is: the entrepreneurs are simply the ones who step up to the plate; successful entrepreneurs keep swinging.” I would add courage, what Jack Dempsey had in mind when suggesting that “champions get up when they can’t.”
These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to indicate the scope of Schley’s coverage.
o The Four Steps for Accelerated Proficiency (Page 34)
o Three Master Principles of Accelerated Proficiency (36-38)
o “Fear’s Unwelcome Cousins”: Risks, Failures, and Obstacles (46-52)
o True Team: The Number One Fear Tamer (58-59)
o The Optimizers Versus the Entrepreneurs (73-75)
o Everything You Need to Know about Ideas (80-91)
o The Law of the Laser (100-103)
o The UnStoppable Six (111-115)
o Business Planning: Make the UnStoppable Six Your Template (116-117)
o Your Dominant Selling Idea (124-130)
o The Roots of Small, Super-Powered Teams, and, True Teams (137-141)
o Big, Simple Cultural Symbols (143-145)
o True Teams at Rackspace: The Untold Story (145-148)
o Succeeding with Customers, and, Customer Psychology (152-157)
o What’s Measured Is What Matters: The Net Promoter Score® (158-160)
o The Five Universal Steps to Selling (184-195)
The Accelerated Proficiency system is best explained in context, within the narrative, but I feel comfortable pointing out that (a) almost anyone in almost any organization can develop this proficiency that includes completing a four-step sequence; (b) it is usually triggered by a major crisis, challenge, or opportunity; (c) it can help to achieve almost any objective and, more often than not, it proves to be the decisive factor for success; and (d) it requires mastery of certain “emotional mechanics.” (Be sure to check out Schley’s presentation of the “Emotional Mechanics Crash Course” in Chapter 4.) As he notes, “Accelerated Proficiency provides you with a Skill Set, a Rules Set, and a Power Set. These will enable you to visualize the whole process, get yourself to do it one time on your own, and repeat it at will.”
Better yet, as Bill Schley points out, supervisors can also use the system, within an accelerated time frame, to help direct reports as well as others for whom they are responsible to become Minimally Functionally Qualified (MFQ): to “get in motion, start doing, and effectively teach themselves.” If you are look for a comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective way to increase the percentage of workers who are positively and productively engaged in your organization, look no further. Here in a single volume could be, perhaps, all the information and counsel you need to achieve that strategic objective. I urge you to check it out.