Four Questions – My Takeaways from the book What Matters Now by Gary Hamel

I have now presented my 15 minute version of Gary Hamel’s new book, What Matters Now:  How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation at yesterday morning’s First Friday book Synopsis.  I look forward to one of my longer sessions with this book, where I can spend quite a bit more time on some of the points.

(explanation:  at the First Friday Book Synopsis, we present our synopses in 15 minutes.  It is very fast paced.  And then, frequently, companies or organizations hire us to present our synopses in longer sessions, which is where we have time to give the content a more complete “treatment.”  These presentations are useful in many ways:  leadership training and interaction; issues identification; strategy development sessions…)

For example, on Friday, I simply did not have time to talk about this great point:

Great design is less about genius than empathy—and it’s often the tiniest things that make the biggest difference to consumers.

I think empathy may be one of the traits most needed for business success.  With empathy, we listen better, we solve problems better…  we can meet the needs of our customers and our co-workers when we come from a place of genuine empathy.

The book What Matters Now covers little that is  “new.”  I’m not sure that I “learned” much that was new.  But the book does a terrific job reminding us of what is important, and then leading us to ask the right questions.  In fact, here are my four takeaways from the book, all in the form of questions. Have a go at these…  it will be worth your time.

(And, after you read the book, you might add your own takeaway questions).

#1.  What are your actual values?
Your organization is – and you; yes, you! are – values driven.  So, what are those values?  Answer that question honestly. The values you claim to follow may not be your actual values (i.e., the values that reveal themselves in your decision making and your actions).  What are your values – for you, and for your organization?
#2.  Where are you on the hierarchy of the human capabilities at work?  How can you, how do you help people move toward the summit – that top level, the level of passion?
#3.  Are you actually practicing continual innovation and adaptability?  Throughout your organization?  And in all aspects of your life, especially including your work life?  Have you actually embraced innovation and change?  How have you done so — what is your proof that you practice continual innovation?
#4.  Are you passionate about your work?
If passion matters (which it does), would your customers describe your employees as passionate employees – passionate about serving the needs of the customer with a product and/or service that makes a difference for the better?  And, would your customers, and your coworkers, describe you as passionate about the work you do?

I always try to figure out “just what should we do” after reading a good book.  One thing we can always do is to ask “what are the questions that we need to deal with regarding the issues addressed in this book?”.  Coming up with the questions is difficult work.  It’s even more challenging to answer them.


You can purchase my synopsis of What Matters Now, with audio + a comprehensive handout, soon on our companion web site,  We have hundreds of book synopses available.  You really can sit down with handout in hand, listen to the audio, and learn significant content from the best business books of our era.  Nearly all of these are recorded at our First Friday Book Synopsis events.

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