Free, Perfect, and Now

Connecting to the Three Insatiable Customer Demands: A CEO's True Story

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About The Book

In a world where knowledge is king, the Web never sleeps, and competitive challenge increases exponentially, Robert Rodin shows you how to prepare for the three insatiable demands of today's customers: they want their product or service FREE, they want it PERFECT, and they want it NOW. No matter what business you're in, you have to find a way to respond -- or risk losing your customers to competitors who are discovering new ways to sell your product or service cheaper, better, and faster than you've ever imagined.
As the dynamic CEO of electronics distributor Marshall Industries who trained with the worldfamous W. Edwards Deming, Rob Rodin engineered the astounding reinvention of his company, turning a conventionally successful $500 million business into a $2 billion competitive powerhouse, a high-speed, high-profit junction box wired to today's imperatives.
Rodin isn't a consultant, pretending change is a matter of five steps and a pep talk. He's lived inside its gut-wrenching turmoil. Six years ago Rodin and his colleagues bet their company on a radical experiment, tearing a healthy business down to bedrock. They threw out all the old tools, taking 1,100 managers off MBOs and incentives and abolishing commissions for 600 salespeople. They threw out all the old technology, too, changing every operating system in a single tense night. Then they set out to reinvent themselves, finding new ways to help people and technology work together -- creating a dynamic pioneer for our new electronic era, a company twice named as the #1 business-to-business Web site in the world by Advertising Age magazine.
Free, Perfect, and Now tells the dramatic story of that transformation from the inside. Detailing the hard lessons learned in competitive battle, it offers a compelling new perspective on the most pressing issue facing businesspeople today: how to prepare a customer-focused corporation for a future you can't predict. But Free, Perfect, and Now is a book of solutions, too, a guide to help every manager turn ideas into concrete results. Each chapter explains, step by step, how to design a different element of a company, from how to anticipate customers' shifting demands to how to make a Web site profitable. And each chapter ends with a Manager's Workbook, containing detailed advice managers can use to make their business more competitive today.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Group Questions
1. How are your customers' demands today different than they were two years ago? How will they be different two years from now? What is driving that change? How will you have to change to meet it? Will your organization and customer connection be the same? Will you have the same definition of who your customer is? (Chapters 1 and 2)
2. How many people know your mission by heart? How many think it is relevant to how they do their job each day? Is it relevant to how you do your job? (Chapter 5)
3. What do your customers want when they talk with your salespeople? Does your compensation system motivate your sales team to provide it -- every time, one customer at a time? (Chapter 7)
4. What is the difference between data, information, and knowledge? Could technology help you turn what anyone on the frontline discovers into learning everyone in your organization can use? What would you most like to learn? What would your customers like to learn? What would give you the best gauge of your company's health and prospects? (Çhapter 8)
5. What makes a Web site "successful" for your customers? Could you create a networked connection that would make your product or service cheaper, faster, or better for them? How would you measure "better"? Who would your customers measure it? (Chapter 9)

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 6, 1999)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780684871974

Raves and Reviews

Alan Webber Founding Editor, Fast Company magazine Read this book for what it takes to be a fast company.

George Gendron Editor, Inc. magazine Free, Perfect, and Now is the perfect business book for our times, one of the few authentic accounts I've read about how companies really manage to transform themselves.

Warren Bennis author of On Becoming a Leader For anyone who wants understand the 'on the ground' narrative of how entrepreneurs work, how innovation leverages intellectual capital, and how ideas -- business ideas -- can improve the quality of life, this is the book for you.

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