Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes In an Era of Scarcity isn't really a science, tech or business book. It's written for non-profit organizations. So what's it doing on the Great Lakes Geek's shelves?
While geared toward non-profits, Leap of Reason has a lot of good ideas for any business - especially "in an era of scarcity."
This is not surprising considering who the author is. Mario Morino was born and raised in Cleveland. In the early 1970s, he co-founded and helped build the Legent Corporation, a software and services firm that became a market leader and one of the industry's 10 largest firms by the early 1990s. The company was sold to Computer Associates and Mario got into philanthropy and the social sector. Read more about Mario Morino at http://www.morino.org/about_mario.htm
Morino states early in the book that "The simple question that has served me best throughout my business and nonprofit careers is "To what end?" It has helped keep him focused and avoid drifting away from the really important stuff.
Morino credits his "Uncle Bill" (Morino Associates Inc. co-founder Bill Witzel) for his disciplined management style of asking 'why' before diving into the details of 'what' or 'how.'
He writes how it took him a while to discover that "community building" may not be such a "soft" outcome for nonprofit programs after all. "I'm kicking myself for not having seen this earlier," he writes "because I lived this as a kid in the 1950's." His Cleveland neighborhood "was actually a truly connective and supportive community" with the parents, friends, teachers and coaches all preventing kids from falling through the cracks.
At the end of each chapter is a summary called Take-Homes in Tweets that give the key ideas in tweet-sized bits. For example, "We must focus on why measure and on what to measure - not just on how to measure."
Morino has seen the non-profit world, along with the business world, hurt by the recent economic troubles. In fact, funding has changed forever from this "profound structural shift." In response, he quotes Machiavelli's "Never waste the opportunities offered by a good crisis."
It won't be easy but Marino's philosophy is exemplified by a story told by Melinda Gates in which her daughter struggled to tie her shoes but says "This is difficult. But I like difficult." That sounds like a Geek's motto.
About half-way through the 150 page book is a series of "Top Readings for Mission Effectiveness" followed by Essay by Experts and Practitioners who are 'Walking the Talk.' Locals will note the examples from the Cleveland Clinic, Lawrence School, St Edward HS and others.
If you are in the non-profit world, this book describes the new paradigm and is a must-read. For regular business people, there are some key ideas and strategies strewn throughout the pages. When you get a chance to learn from a successful visionary such as Mario Morino, you should take the time and check it out.
Great Lakes Geek Rating:3.5 out of 5 pocket protectors.
Reviewed by Entreprenerd Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek (10/12)
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