Discover the 7 readings that helped me take up the challenges of the entrepreneurial adventure!
However, there is no substitute for a trial by fire: I made many mistakes as a first-time entrepreneur. I would have spared myself some of them if I had benefited from the following readings earlier.
To meet all the challenges of a startup, it is repeated constantly, the key success factor n ° 1 is to succeed in surrounding yourself well. I made many mistakes, which were probably inevitable given the low maturity of our recruitment process. To recruit, you must not innovate, at least not innovate with each recruitment. A rigorous process must be put in place which allows:
Who describes how to professionalize the recruitment process around these 4 pillars in order to successfully surround yourself with A players. An A player is not a capricious superstar, they are the candidate who matches your scorecard the most.
Link to the book: https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/0345504194
To find out more on this subject, discover another essential book: First, break all the rules .
It is an illuminating book that allows you to understand what a good manager is and therefore how to become a good manager. The book is extremely rich and offers very concrete actions. A few lines is just not enough to explain everything we learn from this book. Instead I'll draw out a few points that really stood out to me.
The manager's role consists of selecting the right talents, offering them the conditions for achieving optimal performance, leading them to optimal performance and retaining them. The leader has a more inspirational role and is outward facing while the manager is inward facing.
A talent is a pattern of recurring feelings or behaviors. You don't teach someone attention to detail, patience, or the desire to accomplish: these are talents.
On the contrary, someone can acquire or be taught knowledge and skills which together with talents constitute the set of skills.
An extraordinary corollary is that everyone has talent: everyone has recurring behaviors or feelings.
Everyone also has weaknesses and we can compensate for them by acquiring knowledge or know-how, or in the case of non-talents, by relying on a process or a partner. People don’t change that much.
Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out.
Try to draw out what was left in.
That is hard enough.
Talented people are distinguished from others in that they specifically expect 12 things and respond positively to the following 12 questions when their work environment is optimal:
The corporate world is such that we push talented people (who express their talents in a role that suits them wonderfully) to change roles and we drag them inexorably towards non-performance.
To avoid this, it is necessary to define levels of progression which allow to be accomplished without necessarily changing roles and to celebrate champions in all roles (in particular by allowing for example the best salesperson or the best individual contributing developer to earn more than their manager).
It is also necessary to maintain a significant proximity with its teams. You have to know what each person's talents are, help them become aware of them and challenge them in the search for their optimal performance.
Case in point is dedicated to the preparation of interviews in the field of strategy consulting. These interviews almost always consist of solving a problem, through a case-interview.
Understanding and assimilating Case In Point is therefore learning to solve problems.
The work presents the typologies of the most recurring problems in the field of strategy consulting and formalizes decision trees. In the background, one learns to pose hypotheses, confirm or deny these hypotheses by asking questions of the interlocutor, and deep-diving in the direction that seems to have the best ROI.
Someone who understands the method will be able to avoid certain behaviors that limit performance, among which I count:
Link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/First-Break-All-Rules-Differently/dp/1595621113
The book is written by the former Head of Sales at Salesforce .
After a quick inventory of the different acquisition levers, he explains in detail how to set up an outbound marketing strategy i.e. how to ensure that prospects who are not aware of your business become your customers.
He distinguishes a first paradoxical phase of cold calling 2.0 which does not require that we harass prospects at random but rather that we set up an automatic mail process requiring a referral to the best possible contact from a relevant target. With a response rate of 10% and a next stage of qualification against the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to be defined, we manage to generate in a predictable and recurring way enough qualified leads that we transmit to the sales team.
In a second step, the sales team seizes qualified leads and develops an authentic and non artificial sales pitch to convert them into paying customers. The specialization of teams increases their efficiency. The marketing team qualifies and is interested in the number of qualified and converted leads while the sales team is interested in the converted leads.
The author disseminates many points on the organization of the CRM, the manner of writing emails, the conduct of a call, the organization of the teams, their profitability and the measurement of the results.
The Gold Mine illustrates the principles of lean and just in time à la Toyota through the turnaround of a high voltage electrical box manufacturing plant. The book is not the most accessible but allows you to grasp the fundamentals of lean and ensure that it truly lives in you.
Despite the chosen sector, almost everything that is mentioned can be used in your industry, in particular to the development of digital tools.
It is also a difficult book to synthesize given its richness and I will therefore only mention a few interesting principles.
It is tempting to keep a large stock of spare parts to deal with failures in one part of the chain, just as it is tempting to put the tickets of a sprint into production every 2 or 4 weeks (these tickets constitute a stock of added value).
If, on the contrary, we operate just in time, we risk encountering problems. Productivity gaps, bugs and regressions, etc. The lack of stock highlights the real problems that must be corrected.
Anything that looks like inventory hides shortcomings. All the stored elements on which we have worked correspond to added value not sold to the customer.
Rather than seeing the quality process as a way to make up for mistakes, we build quality in the product: we clearly define the specifications to which the product must meet and we reject downstream what comes upstream and is faulty. If what comes from upstream is defective, since we have no buffer stock, we stop working.
The inactivity of employees seems unbearable but it reveals a problem of process, load, design, etc. Buffer stock and leniency on upstream work from one stage to another in the development process disguises mediocrity which is paid for later and then much more complex to identify.
Example: don't prepare more tickets than necessary for the next sprint. Your PO will not store any added value and will have to prioritize and specify what is planned with much more quality.
Another example: I will publish this article very quickly after writing it because otherwise it would become an element with added value stored and therefore not exploited when I could have concentrated my efforts elsewhere in a pure lean spirit .
Link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/Gold-Mine-Novel-Lean-Turnaround/dp/0974322563
Scrum in Action reports in a fictionalized way (like The Gold Mine) of a software development company entangled with a large client to whom it presents a new version of its software every 3 months.
Every three months the company is behind on its schedule, the customer's needs change and the presentation that is not a delivery is a failure, we leave with new imprecise specifications and we sink into a circle infernal.
The CTO meets an Agile coach who introduces him to the scrum methodology: develop over short iterations of 1 to 4 weeks and continually deliver a new version of the software to the client. Stop making specifications.
Melba went through the same story and came out very grown up. Discover our adventures in the following two articles:
Link to the book: https://www.amazon.fr/Scrum-en-action-Guillaume-Bodet/dp/2744066656
The Pyramid Principle is the work of a former McKinsey consultant on how to structure your communication.
It is often the case that someone who has to present their work does not go straight to the point but presents all the steps that led to the result: this is ineffective, especially if the audience has little time and analyzes quickly.
Getting straight to the point will maximize your time with your audience and get them interested in you much faster. It is very frustrating to receive so many arguments in defense of an unknown cause.
Question: “What should we do?”. Answer: “We have to do X. Because…”
Arguments that support a belief, result or hypothesis should be grouped in an order that is easy to remember.
“Ideas in writing should always form a pyramid under a single thought”. This single thought denotes the answer to the audience's question. Each main argument that comes to defend the answer can be broken down again into lower level arguments.
The groups mentioned above must have the same level of importance and the ideas which decline them must obey a logical structure easy to identify. For example, these ideas can:
The notion of MECE alone is worth dwelling on for a few hours. It allows a subject to be cut out exhaustively without repetition. It is a great analytical tool.
I draw many important lessons from these readings. Here are some examples to anchor them in reality: