Book review – The Connected Company by Dave Gray – O’Reilly

November 2, 2012

One of the biggest challenges any organization faces these days – especially in an age of social networks and broad content creation – is keeping up with their customers. In fact, The Connected Company focuses specifically on how any company can keep pace in a connected world…especially when their primary audience of customers is more connected than they are.

Author Dave Gray, who also wrote Gamestorming, balances the feat of introducing the reader to new principles and effective techniques with a writing style that’s conversational and easy to cruise through. The editor, Julie Steele, also did her job by creating a roadmap for this business book that’s intuitive and helpful…well worth the $25 cover price and the time I spent reading it.

From the moment you crack the spine – or download it to your tablet – you’re led politely into the most useful part of the book…the executive summary. No, it’s not called that, but the table of contents is laid out nicely with succinct chapter descriptions. If you have no time to sit back and enjoy all 266 pages, you can almost get by reading the contents.

I love this style and it’s something I think O’Reilly should use for all its books. It also shows that the publisher knows their audience…coincidentally, something that’s key to connecting your company. So let’s look a little deeper inside Gray’s book.

This tome is delivered in five chapters and in a logical sequence. In my words, these are the Background, Definition of Terms, How to Connect and Succeed, How to Lead a Connected Company, and Steps to Follow Once You’re Connected. It’s that simple. Gray tells you the situation most companies face, he puts the path in front of them, he shows how they can connect and succeed and then he gives the tips to make it possible.

It seems so logical, yet the biggest struggle companies face today is trying to keep pace with their clientele. For every company that’s having a productive conversation with a customer, there are hundreds that don’t even know the best way to engage. Again in my terms, this book teaches management how to be agile in an environment where agility wins business.

A few highlights that really help include: the importance of open systems and of sharing data; the ways companies can (and need to) adapt to change; how collaboration helps businesses succeed; why freedom to experiment is important; what role communities and networks play; and how far anyone can take connections in search of success.

I’m a writer who gets excited about well-written and thought-out books. This book excites me because it’s actually helpful AND a fun read. Ultimately, seeing this book today makes me sorry I learned so many of the lessons in the book through trial and error. I wish it had come out sooner.

So, if you’re struggling with ways to move your company forward and get better connected, I believe this book can help.