More than two hundred CEOs reveal their candid insights on how to build and foster a corporate culture that encourages innovation and drives results
In Quick and Nimble, Adam Bryant draws on interviews with more than two hundred CEOs to offer business leaders the wisdom and guidance to move an organization faster, to be quick and nimble, and to rekindle the whatever-it-takes collective spark of a start-up, all with the goal of innovating and thriving in a relentlessly challenging global economy. By analyzing the lessons that these leaders have shared in his regular "Corner Office" feature in The New York Times, Bryant has identified the biggest drivers of corporate culture, bringing them to life with real-world examples that reflect this hard-earned wisdom.
These men and women—whose ranks include Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Angie Hicks of Angie's List, Steve Case of Revolution (and formerly AOL), and Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania—offer useful insights and strategies for creating a corporate culture of innovation and building a high-performing organization that unleashes the passion and energy of its employees.
As the world shifts to more of a knowledge economy, the winners will be companies that can attract and retain the best and brightest employees by creating an environment where they can grow, contribute, and feel rewarded. Through the wisdom of these leading chief executives, Quick and Nimble offers a keen understanding of the forces that shape corporate culture and a clear road map to bring success and energy to any organization.
“Adam Bryant gives us yet another welcome opportunity to listen in on his living laboratory of leadership conversations. In Quick and Nimble, he orchestrates discussion on the idea—and its practical application—that culture is not in ‘support’ of strategy; it is strategy. Bryant’s gift for asking incisive questions of remarkable people, and translating their insights into crisp and lucid prose, makes for joyful reading indeed—smart, provocative, and immensely useful!”
author of Good to Great and coauthor of Great by Choice
“Quick and Nimble is the definitive book on organizational culture. Adam Bryant offers an expert guided tour through the minds of the world’s most innovative CEOs, sharing insights that are both enlightening and immensely practical. This is a book that every leader needs to read—and reread.”
professor of management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and bestselling author of Give and Take
“Adam Bryant identifies the most important challenge facing business leaders today: how to achieve innovation at scale by building a culture that will marry the energy of a startup with the discipline of a veteran organization. In Quick and Nimble, he has assembled an all-star team of CEOs to share—in their own words—how they have taken their companies to the next level.”
bestselling author of The Lean Startup
“In today’s nonstop turbulence, innovation is critical to success. In Quick and Nimble, Adam Bryant distills important lessons from a range of leading CEOs about how to create and sustain a productive culture that nurtures not only innovation but also respect, engagement, and teamwork for everyone involved. And he does so in a lively, grounded voice that resonates with experience and perspective. A ‘must read’ for any leader serious about the company he or she is building and the difference it makes in the world.”
—Nancy F. Koehn,
James Robison Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
“In Quick and Nimble, Adam Bryant unlocks the secret to creating and sustaining a culture of innovation: Leadership. Bryant has translated his in-depth interviews with innovation leaders into lessons on how to build a creative, open, and ultimately innovative culture that will enable every organization to thrive and grow.”
professor, Harvard Business School, and former chair and CEO, Medtronic
“In an increasingly competitive and dynamic economy, every organization is charged with building a culture that supports innovation... Bryant offers an expert guided tour through the minds of the world’s most innovative CEOs, sharing insights that are both enlightening and immensely practical.”
—The Huffington Post
“Reams of practical advice for and from business leaders most—thankfully—with a human, caring touch.”
“Leaders such as the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, the CEO of JetBlue, chef Mario Batali... provide thoughts on leadership, management, and innovation... The big names lend the book a certain flair... [Bryant] breaks down the important elements of a successful corporate culture, and then describes the leadership strategies to build on it.”
Listen to an excerpt from the Audiobook
We aspire to be the largest small company in our space.
When Dominic Orr, the CEO of the wireless technology company Aruba Networks, said those words, he crystallized a goal I had heard many leaders express during the more than two hundred interviews I've conducted for the "Corner Office" feature in the New York Times. And that idea ultimately helped frame the question that drives this book: How can a company foster a quick and nimble culture—with the enviable qualities of many start-ups—even as it grows?
All leaders and managers face this challenge, regardless of the size of their companies. Even the founders of Google have worried about losing the start-up magic that helped propel the search engine's phenomenal growth. When Larry Page announced in January 2011 that he was taking over the CEO role from Eric Schmidt, he explained to reporters that the company needed to move faster and recapture the agility of its early days, before it grew into a colossus.
"One of the primary goals I have," Page said at the time, "is to get Google to be a big company that has the nimbleness and soul and passion and speed of a start-up."
Discussions of corporate culture can easily fall into platitudes, theories, truisms, and generalities. Cookie-cutter approaches don't work, either, for the simple reason that the culture of every organization is unique, just as every country is different. With those caveats in mind, I set out in search of practical tips and insights that would be useful and relevant for any organization—the kinds of approaches that would help cultivate the culture that Jenny Ming described at Old Navy, where she built the brand into a retailing powerhouse.
"I was there from the very beginning," said Ming, who is now the CEO of Charlotte Russe, the clothing chain. "But later, I still considered it a start-up. I think when we were a three-billion-dollar company, someone said to me, 'Jenny, we're not a start-up.' And I said to them, 'I think we have to have that mentality of a start-up, because I think it's very healthy to think that way—"Resources are scarce, so what should we do?" ' I have learned that you always have to have a little bit of that. It's a state of mind. I think it makes you hungry. It makes you the underdog. You want to prove that you can do it."
Adam Bryant is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed. He writes the popular "Corner Office" feature in The New York Times's business section and has served as the newspaper's senior editor for features, deputy national editor, and deputy business editor. He was previously a senior writer and business editor at Newsweek. He and his family live in New York City.
Linda Lausell Bryant
Richard R. Buery Jr.
Richard D. Fain
William D. Green
F. Mark Gumz
Daniel T. Hendrix
Robert L. Johnson
Barbara J. Krumsiek
Sir Terry Leahy
Gregory B. Maffei
Sheila Lirio Marcelo
Chauncey C. Mayfield
Robert J. Murray
Christopher J. Nassetta
David C. Novak
Dinesh C. Paliwal
Laurel J. Richie
Stephen I. Sadove
Martha S. Samuelson
Ronald M. Shaich
Irwin D. Simon
Caryl M. Stern
Shivan S. Subramaniam
Mark B. Templeton
Andrew M. Thompson
Shawn H. Wilson