Issue # 4 - Summer Reading

by Randi Brenowitz

Issue # 4

Brenowitz Consulting is pleased to bring you this issue of Tools for Teams, our bi-monthly electronic newsletter.

Each issue will explore one of the central themes of today's challenging business environment. We will present our current thinking, relevant readings, book reviews, and other resources--all designed to give you practical tools to improve productivity through teamwork and collaboration

Feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues. To subscribe, send e-mail with "subscribe" in the subject line.  To unsubscribe, email with “unsubscribe” in the subject line.

You may quote anything herein, with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Tools for Teams, © Brenowitz Consulting (”

We welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.  Just email us at


*  *  *  *  *

Issue # 4 - Summer Reading

When I'm not busy reading books about teams and team development, you can usually find me reading a good murder mystery—the kind of stuff the Sunday Book Reviews refer to as "summer reading." Imagine my delight when I discovered The Value Effect (Berrett-Kholer, 2000)—a business book disguised as a murder mystery. Reading right at the beginning that it was the consultant who got killed during a break at an off-site meeting did temper my emotions a bit.

In the course of the investigation, author John Guaspari manages to poke fun at Human Resources, Quality, Sales, Marketing, Operations, Engineering, and Finance while also giving credence to each organization's legitimate concerns (and cynicism) about corporate change efforts. The agenda of the off-site meeting is to create the corporation's strategic initiatives (dubbed "NBT—Next Big Thing" by the participants) for the coming year. The group had already been through Total Quality, Reengineering, Empowerment, and Customer Focus. This year it was going to be Creating Value Connections (CVC), and consultant Michael Fallon was working with the executive team to figure out a way for this initiative not to be the next NBT. His view (and mine) is that the tools of all the NBT's are wonderful and could be a big help to the corporation. It's just that nobody applies them because employees haven't been given the context in which to place them, so they lack the energy to apply and sustain them. Once employees have context and energy, Fallon predicts that the corporation will see the "value effect" and will gain a huge competitive advantage.

Fallon proposes that the team work on making major changes to the organization in order to get all employees onboard with this new initiative. Each organization will be effected—which makes each VP a viable murder suspect. You can tell that Guaspari has been to a number of these off-sites as he has the police inspector wonder if this was "death by knickknack" after he sees the T-shirts, mugs, and letter openers imprinted with the new CVC logo. Further on in the investigation the Quality VP even refers to Fallon as a "six sigma performer." This was even more fun when I realized that Guaspari began his career as a Quality guy. The mystery is solved when everyone finally understands the true power of the Value Effect: it is nothing less than a surprisingly straightforward solution to a widespread and persistent problem. Guaspari shows that the Value Effect's full power is only unleashed when individuals realize that it is not a Next Big Thing after all. Rather, its power comes from its ability to provide a stable and enduring context to help people and their organizations better understand and deal with the customer and an ever-changing marketplace.

The foundation of the Value Effect rests on 4 basic principles.

1. Customers buy on value…and only on value
The Value Effect is based on the premise that "value received" is not just one of the criteria by which customers make purchase decisions—it is the only determining factor when customers hand over their money.

2. Value = GOT/COST
Value = what the customer GOT divided by what it COST the customer. In this definition GOT includes product and services plus a host of intangibles. COST includes money, time, sweat and toil, plus its own intangibles

3. Everybody has a lifetime of experiences as a customer
Employees know what it means to be a customer. They know what pleases them and causes them to go back for more. They know what displeases them and causes them to seek out alternatives. They can leverage this knowledge into a powerful force for focusing on the customer. This lever tends to be dramatically underutilized.

4. Customer means customer
This is my favorite as it speaks to one of my own pet peeves. Customers are the people who pay money for goods and/or services even though they have other options. The concept of internal customers is a useful one insofar as it can help people recognize that they are part of a larger work process and they need to keep their neighbor departments in mind when they create processes and procedures. It can get in the way, however, of collaborative efforts when each department is seen as a distinct territory with customers and clients of its own. The concept of internal customers does not keep in mind the end process, which is to get the goods and services to the outside customer. By calling everyone a customer, the actual customer can get lost.

Guaspari goes on to give some guideposts and tools for implementation of these 4 basic principles. You'll have to read the book for those—don't you just hate it when someone gives away the ending?

* * * * * * * * * *

Additional Resources on this Topic

  • For more information on Quality and the Value Effect, try the Association for Quality and Participation ( or "The Force of Value" a video tape distributed by CRM Films (800-421-0833 or
  • To get more of your business information in a fun way, try The Art of Profitability, a novel by strategy consultant Adrian Slywotzky. You can download this as a free e-book at by clicking on Our
  • If you're a mystery lover who demands historical accuracy, try books by Steven Saylor or Elizabeth Peters. Saylor is a professor of Ancient Rome at UC Berkeley and Peters has her PhD in Ancient Egyptology from University of Chicago.
  • If you'd love a good, old-fashioned, hard-boiled mystery, try anything by Walter Mosley.

* * * * * * * * * *

What’s New at Brenowitz Consulting

Randi's writing:

"How Leaders Get Buy-in"
co-authored with Marilyn Manning
published on and
reprinted by the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Institute for Supply Management


Randi's speaking schedule:

Tuesday, September 24
International Conference on Work Teams
Dallas, TX
Jumpstarting High Performance Teams: Single-Function, Cross-Functional, & Virtual

Monday, October 28
Institute for Management Consultants
Reno, NV
The Tao of Consulting

Randi on the web:

Randi's webinar on
Jumpstarting Teams in the Virtual Environment
Is now archived at

Randi was featured by
Women in Consulting
The interview is posted at



In recognition of her professional achievements, Randi was recently awarded the status of Certified Management Consultant (CMC) by the Institute of Management Consultants. CMC status represents evidence of the highest standards of consulting and adherence to the ethical canons of the profession. Less than 1% of all consultants have achieved this level of performance.


Home About Us Services Clients Publications Contact Us

© 2001, Brenowitz Consulting. All Rights Reserved