businessThink Book Summary



How do you make more effective strategic business decisions?  How can you build more effective business cases? 

How can you more effectively analyze business decisions?  How do you figure out what the impact of your decisions will be?

In businessThink: Rules for Getting It Right–Now, and No Matter What!, Dave Marcum, Steve Smith, and Mahan Khalsa have eight rules for more effectively building and analyzing business cases.

Why businessThink ?

The authors claims that applying businessThink will help you:

  • Make winning strategic business decisions.
  • Have colleagues trust your judgement and leadership.
  • Leverage and utilize your talents.
  • Become highly influential and relevant.
  • Create business value.

The Eight Rules of businessThink

According to Marcum, Smith, and Khalsa, the eight rules of businessThink are:

  • Rule 1: Check Your Ego at the Door. Check your ego at the door. Work delicately with the egos of others to keep dialogue open. Change yourself to lead to a change in the business.
  • Rule 2: Create Curiosity. Ask questions and gather perspectives from your company’s collective intellectual diversity.
  • Rule 3: Move Off the Solution. Get to the underlying business issues. Make sure you’re not guessing. Focus your attention on the vital few issues.
  • Rule 4: Get Evidence. Collect the soft evidence to prove that the business problem or opportunity exists. Turn the soft evidence into hard evidence that the business can measure.
  • Rule 5: Calculate the Impact. Convert the hard evidence into a financial equivalent to make sure that there is a worthwhile impact or payoff.
  • Rule 6: Explore the Ripple Effect. Carefully consider who or what else in the company is affected by the problem or opportunity. Consider the relative weight of the importance of the issue compared to other initiatives in the company.
  • Rule 7: Slow Down for Yellow Lights. Know what has stopped the company from successfully doing something about this before now, or what might stop you in the future. If the impact of a problem or opportunity is big, ask “What has stopped you (or the company as a whole) from successfully resolving these issues before now?” If this is a new opportunity with no history, the yellow-light question is “What, if anything, might prevent the successful implementation of this solution from going forward?”
  • Rule 8: Find the Cause. Identify the cause producing the symptoms that are showing up. Treat the cause of the problem rather than the effects.

Key Takeaways

Here are my key takeaways:

  • Use businessThink to improve your business decisions and judgment.    busssessThink is a thought framework you can use to improve your business thinking.
  • Use businessThink to improve your business cases.  I think creating compelling business cases is a key to effectiveness. Whether you’re competing for resources, time, and budget, or simply trying to convince others that your idea has merit, the business case is key. I see some of the best ideas never get put into action because the owner never created a compelling business case. If there’s one skill to master for today’s competitive landscape, I think it’s creating business cases and businessThink is the tool to help you do it.

What I like about businessThink is that it’s a distillation of what the authors have put into practice. What I also like about the approach is that it’s something you can put into practice yourself (i.e. I don’t have any bottlenecks to start using businessThink on the job). The more I apply it, the better I’ll get.

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