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Riding the Blue Train: A Leadership Plan for Explosive Growth.

Riding the Blue Train: A Leadership Plan for Explosive Growth. By Bart Sayle and Surinder Kumar. Portfolio, 228 pages. $24.95.

At the heart of this book is a powerful but more than slightly simplistic concept: companies that want to grow need to climb on a "blue train" of empowerment, enthusiasm and teamwork, and reject a "red train" of defensiveness, defeatism and stagnation.


What company wouldn't want that? It turns out that authors Sayle, CEO of a London-based consultancy, the Breakthrough Group, and Kumar, chief innovation officer at the William Wrigley Co. and a longtime leader at consumer products companies, are really arguing that companies need to build people. They have to unleash creativity from the bottom up, and get people excited about a common goal, listen to ideas and focus their energy on achieving that goal.

Nothing terribly novel there. And in examining the transformation at Warner-Lambert Co. before its acquisition by Pfizer Corp., the authors write extensively about how "Empowering Beliefs" triumphed over "Limiting Beliefs." It doesn't sound that different from popular mantras about the power of positive thinking.

And in another example, the building of Home Depot to a national colossus, the authors talk about how founders Bernard Marcus and Arthur Blank rode the blue train to success. However, they note that the pair had been fired from an earlier company after its acquisition by a corporate raider, and equate their plight with a red train experience. But is the red train about individuals, or companies? Surely, it must be the latter.

There's a lot of jargon in the book about "gossiping success," "full-on mode," "guess-so" companies and the like. It's as though the authors believe that coining new phrases confers blinding insights. Riding the Blue Train offers an uneasy mix of pragmatic company case studies and fanciful concepts that never quite delivers on its promise.
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Title Annotation:bookSHELF
Author:Marshall, Jeffrey
Publication:Financial Executive
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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