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Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review: Strategic Acceleration "Succeed at the Speed of Life" by Tony Jeary

We're absolutely flooded with book reviews of late, all so articulate, we hardly have a choice but to publish them in our little corner of the cyberspace. The book in question is "Strategic Acceleration" by Tony Jeary, coach to the world's biggest CEOs. In an era of information anxiety and cut-throat competition, this is a must-read. While the world deals with the debt crisis and stock market losses as best they can, one can learn how to strategize their way to success with focus and clarity by following the tenets of this book. 

The word “strategy” is a tricky one.

On the one hand, we all know its importance. We know that great things can’t happen without one, and bad things happen when there’s not one. “Strategic thinkers” are assumed to be the best kind of thinkers, at the pinnacle of success.

On the other hand, we use the word “strategy” typically more as part of an excuse than anything else. “Why would we build that website when we don’t even have a web strategy?” “We can’t decide to move into that market until we have a market strategy.” “We shouldn’t even consider moving in that direction because it doesn’t sync up with our strategy.”

It’s as if adding “strategy” to the end of any kind of initiative automatically makes it heavier, more important, and oftentimes now too complicated and serious to even consider.

Which is one of the reasons I enjoy Tony Jeary’s Strategic Acceleration so much. It demystifies “strategy” and turns it into the action-rooted idea that it’s meant to be. And I’ll confess: much of what’s in it is stuff I already know. But it’s also stuff I’m not doing. Jeary simplifies it and makes you not only get, but also want to do it.

Here are five key takeaways for me:
1.    The three enemies of speed and results are a) absence of clarity, b) lack of focus and c) poor execution. Jeary centers his book around this three principles, and it makes for an extremely logical process. Get clear, get focused and then get to work.

2.    I’ve underrated the importance of clarity. Of all the great takeaways I personally had, I definitely come back to the importance of clarity. It seems I simply skip this step in my mind and want to get right into planning and execution. But you have to be sure of what you’re planning for, and you have to be sure everyone else knows what you’re planning for. You can’t assume they get it. And you definitely can’t assume they are as passionate and sold out to it as you are. So spending time clarifying the vision is never worthless exercise. In Jeary’s words, “Clarity is achieved when ideas and concepts are clearly explained and presented internally and externally.”

3.    Critical Success Factors are... critical. Jeary coined the term “Critical Success Factors” for those things that have the most influence in gaining success toward the end goal. We too easily spend valuable resources on not-so-critical factors. Meetings come to mind, as does email management. When you’re clear on the objectives, then clarifying your Critical Success Factors becomes markedly easier. Then you simply have to focus on them. As Jeary explains, “As simple as it sounds, focus is the ability to keep those main things the main thing as we go.”

4.    You need a system for success. As fun as it is to just react, and as boring as it is to do the same ol’ stuff all the time, systems are critical to achieve success. Even if you’re clear on where you’re going, and you’re focused on the best ways to get there, it still won’t happen if you don’t execute those things that must happen with excellence. So how do you communicate for better execution? What defines success (that you can measure)? What are the benchmarks? Get systematic about your success so you can clearly determine when and if it’s successful.

5.    Speed matters. We may like to gripe about the pace of life, and how nice it would be to slow down, but the fact is that our lives are only going to get faster. Which means businesses must be fast. And successful. And strategic. What worked 20 years ago from those strategic giants we so admire won’t work today. Sure, the principles can still be applied, but in the heart of the action, the pace of business changes how we actually make all this stuff happen. Find ways to get faster without sacrificing value or excellence.

 Brett Duncan is Vice President of Global Marketing at Mannatech, located in Coppell, Texas. He also shares his marketing ideas regularly at his blog, Follow him on Twitter: @bdunc1. 


  1. It sure is. Do give it a read if you get your hands on it.
    Thanks for commenting on the blog :)