It has been almost two years since I read this book. On a recent trip to New York, I realized that I had the audio cassettes, but had never listened to them. So I did. What a wonderful surprise this was.
There are four cassettes and each is read by the authors who alternate. Both have good speaking voices, and use a good pace. It is easy to listen to them and follow their voices.
Unlike many cassette series which are overly edited, this one is just the right length. You get a good overview of all of the points on the first side and a half, then go into each one in more detail in the remaining three tapes.
As much as I liked the book, I liked the cassettes better. The authors are obviously used to speaking and teaching, and I felt like I was having them speak directly to me in a one-on-one session. I turned the tapes off whenever I had an assignment from them, and did the assignment. Clearly, this advanced my thinking much more than reading the book did. I was not as deeply into the concepts from reading as I was from listening, and did the assignments from a much more fundamental perspective.
Their first principle is to focus. The idea is to find what your most profitable customers find most valuable to them that you do best. This caused me to see our firm's relationship to our clients in a totally new perspective that is very valuable to me.
The second principle is to hard-wire listening to the customer. Although I remembered this advice from before, I was struck by realizing how few of the companies I know well take this advice. Customer listening is usually continuous, but is usually not well integrated into focusing the firm's attention. This is usually because most people don't see the information, or don't know how to interpret it.
The advice on how to create cooperation routinely throughout the organization is very good. I especially liked the variation on the internal customer concept espoused here whereby you are encouraged to both stay focused also on what the external customer needs.
Not only should you buy this resource, but you should then take a driving trip so you'll have a chance to listen to it. I suggest that you do as I did, and switch the tapes on and off so you can do the exercises in your mind (and later write down what you learned).
When you are done with this, I suggest that you also consider how this kind of approach could help your personal life. What should you be focusing on? How can you hard-wire listening to those around you? How can you all become more cooperative?