The book is written by Bill Walsh – San Francisco’s 49ers Football team coach who transformed the worst performing team of its era to the best performing team. The book talks about changes he brought in as well as his philosophy of leadership which is generic enough to apply outside of American Football. He is also known as the creator of West Coast Offense.
He brought in a Standards of Performance sets the expectations from everyone who was part of 49ers.
Process vs Result
- Aim for a Standard of Performance (which is absolute) vs winning (which is relative to others).
- “Process” of improvement leads to “result” of victory and not vice-versa.
- Focus on the process which produces results and not on results.
- Promotions/wins/sales quotas are results, they do not provide information about performance. And it’s important to dig into the performance to find the truth hidden behind these results.
The book Winners take all is a collection of interesting insights into how companies in the high tech sector succeed and fail. The book was written in 2006 (pre-iPhone era) so it’s interesting to see how some companies mentioned by the author (notably, Apple and Google) succeeded and how some others (notably, Symantec and Nokia) are struggling.
The book is 50% story of Jobs and 50% history of the Valley.
From the beginning of Apple to it becoming the world’s most valuable company, the book covers everything in depth (and is a bit too long)
Some of the key things in the book are Steve Job’s fruitarian diet, journey to India, love for absolute minimalism, extreme (positive as well as negative) treatment of employees, relation with Bill Gates (and Microsoft), battle with Google, battle with cancer and a strong belief that normal rules simply don’t apply to him.
The book covers a few major ideas including iTunes store (which brought music online), making of Toy Story, development of iPhone and iPad in detail.
At several points, the author clearly illustrates that Apple’s designers and NOT engineers make the rules, for example, during the iPhone 4 antenna fiasco.
Overall, it was a nice read, especially, when reading it along with In the Plex which is about Google.
An amazing book which describes Google’s journey right from its beginning in the Stanford dorm. The author interviewed several top echelons of Google and presented several interesting insider anecdotes and stories of Google.
The book provides details of major projects like Gmail, Google Desktop, Google News and Google Toolbar, Google Books and the failure of Orkut. It also describes the process of acquisition of YouTube, Blogger, Docs, GrandCentral and Double Click.
Following are the few salient points. The book has many more interesting anecdotes which I am forced to skip here.
The book presents a generalists view of post-independent India. Unlike India Unbound, this book focuses primarily on post-independent India and takes a more pragmatic approach towards understanding the problems of contemporary India. The best parts of the book are the interesting contradictions which the nation went through – love/hate relationship with the English language, fear of technology and neglected urban development.
Overall, the book is divided into four sets of ideas, that have arrived, that are in progress, that are still being debated and finally, that have yet to become part of public debate.
I have highlighted the best sections of the book in bold.