Review of Beyond Measure

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Beyond Measure book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Inspiring


What hasn’t Margaret Heffernan accomplished? The Financial Times’ list of the best business books of the decade included her Willful Blindness. Her book A Bigger Prize won the 2015 Transmission Prize. She blogs for The Huffington Post and for Inc. She’s an entrepreneur and a former chief executive. Her TED talk, “Why It’s Time to Forget the Pecking Order at Work,” is one of the “5 TED Talks That Will Change the Way You Think About Work.” Her combination of can-do and counterintuitive thinking emerges in full effect in Beyond Measure, a brief, punchy, plainspoken TED book – the literary equivalent of a TED Talk. Clocking in at a bit more than 100 pages, it opens as TED talks should with a compelling thesis: The most important aspect of any company is its culture, and that culture includes almost infinite aspects that are too small or ephemeral to measure. Therefore, the aspects of your culture that you can measure probably offer little insight into what makes it nourishing or dysfunctional. That’s a compelling notion, but it’s more of an attention-grabber than it is a theme running throughout this episodic book. Heffernan believes in more communication and less hierarchy. She calls for embracing mistakes to help people and companies learn and grow. Her upbeat spirit and her willingness to attack – instantly and fearlessly – ideas that block progress turn out to be the book’s true themes. As such, they’re even more inspirational and valuable than her examples of corporate cultures. getAbstract recommends her take-no-prisoners enthusiasm to executives, managers and entrepreneurs. Investors could also apply her rigorous standards for a healthy corporate culture to assess any potential investment.

About the Author

Entrepreneur and chief executive Margaret Heffernan wrote Willful Blindness, which the Financial Times selected as one of the best business books of the decade. She also wrote A Bigger Prize, which won the 2015 Transmission Prize. She blogs for The Huffington Post and Inc.

Heed these lessons:

1. Corporate culture emerges on its own, unbidden.

Companies build their cultures naturally, through “small actions, habits and choices.” Nothing linear governs culture or how it takes shape. Everyone in your company, regardless of position or status, contributes to your culture. Research into aviation disasters and other phenomena shows that being willing to trust your colleagues, sharing information and not hoarding ideas improves the health of your culture and the functioning of your business. To build and nourish an effective culture, invite everyone in the firm to participate. Your “superstars” don’t create your culture. If they do, your company will be in trouble over the long term. Culture involves not only employees, but also stakeholders, shareholders and clients.

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