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Business Book Looks at How Companies Can Improve Themselves

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Fixing What Already Works by John F. Dullea and Alvaro E. Espinosa combines entertainment and information for readers seeking to improve their businesses, receive valuable information, and learn what to do in an engaging and insightful format.

Written as an info-novel, the storyline takes readers through the processes that one dedicated employee, Mike Preston, develops and utilizes when he takes on a new position at his company, Sanders Electronics, as the new IOT Business Unit Manager. Mike is a devoted and likeable employee who wants to do what is best for the company, but he finds himself up against several obstacles as he tries to improve the company's bottom line. Those obstacles include: unhappy customers, coworkers who feel threatened by him and do not want to cooperate with his requests for help, employees who want to help but can not because their bosses are being uncooperative, poor organization and planning in the factory, equipment that frequently malfunctions and destroys profit, some poor employee morale, and financial analytics that are not reporting the information Mike needs to determine whether the company is really making a profit.

All of these issues Mike manages to work through, and as he does so, the reader learns how to turn-around a business and overcome obstacles to create teamwork and a desirable company product. The book's advantage in being an info-novel is that the reader comes to see the characters / employees as real people and to understand their relationships with one another and how those relationships also affect the business. For example, Mike is dating Kathy, who works in Human Resources, so she's very willing to help him. Other employees are only there to collect a paycheck, or they have egos, yet a few also have visions for the company or they have dreams of their own that moving up in the company can help them achieve. One of my favorite characters in the story was Erica, a smart young woman who works nights in the factory so she can care for her disabled mother during the day. When Erica speaks up at a meeting, Mike is impressed by her and soon she is promoted. Another character, Andy, starts out as Mike's biggest adverse, but as the book progresses, the two learn how to work together, respect each other's opinions and skills, and literally, "bury the hatchet."

It never hurts to include a little romance, which develops between Mike and Kathy as the book goes along. It also does not hurt to create real people with lives outside the office, so we see Mike and Kathy go out on dates, Mike play golf with friends, and Mike meeting a stranger in the golf clubhouse who ends up being a major resource for him in making much needed changes at Sanders Electronics. These scenes add flavor and entertainment to the book, but more importantly, they also show the value of networking-everyone Mike talks to outside the workplace gives him ideas or assists him in some way, which also shows how being open to receiving new ideas and information can lead to success.

Authors Dullea and Espinosa have written a meaningful story to illustrate how to take a business from good to great, but they also include all the hardcore information we'd expect from a nonfiction business book. We are shown the charts and statistics Mike and his team work with, and after the story itself, the authors devote half-a-dozen chapters to discussing the key concepts and methods explored in the book. These chapter topics include being a leader, embracing change, the importance of valuing people as your greatest resource, becoming a reaper, selecting the right tools, and building a roadmap to success. The reaper discussion is key because Espinosa and Dullea are the owners of Golden Reaper Consulting. They define a reaper as someone like their character Mike: "The reaper is a mercenary focused on specific areas of a business with the sole intent of understanding why it is the way it is and how to change it for the company's financial benefit." In these later chapters, they also provide more charts and tools to explain the concepts and assist readers in becoming reapers in their own organizations.

Altogether, Fixing What Already Works will make readers think about their own processes as entrepreneurs or business owners or managers.

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