The Soft Edge; where great companies find success

January 19th, 2015

The Soft Edge

Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success

This week’s blog is a book review, The Soft Edge by Rich Karlgaard, published by Jossey-Bass.

This is an excellent management book for any level in any company, I recommend to my clients that they need to read a minimum of two business books a year and this book makes my 2015 list!

In the first chapter the author discusses the 3-sided triangle of business; the bottom is the Strategic Base, the left side is the Hard Edge and the right side becomes the Soft Edge. The hard edge is the traditional operations, ratios, measurements and systems of running any effective organization.   He spends just a few pages describing the importance of the Hard Edge and the 5 components that make up that side of the triangle.

Rich then moves on to describing what he means is the Soft Edge; “The Expression of Your Deepest Values”, it is made of 5 components as well.

  • Trust
  • Smarts
  • Teams
  • Taste
  • Story


Immediately he begins to build his case for the power of the Soft Edge management and then each of the following chapters takes the five components and breaks them into greater details and explanations.

Trust:  Trust begins with culture and values, as with many management focused books, the author quotes business leaders on the topic to reinforce his points. One quote: Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.  He described both internal and external levels of trust and makes his point by quoting a survey: “For the first time in in history, impressions of openness, sincerity and authenticity are more important to a corporation’s reputation than the quality of products and services”.

The amazing story was, I was reading this book on my way to Las Vegas to speak at a conference, one section of my program was on “building trust”.  During my speech I picked up the book, quoted from it to help me drive home my points!  When I packed my book, I did not know the contents of the chapters of this book, it was a total coincidence.

Smarts: There are two components: 1) the ability to learn new things and solve novel problems, 2) the ability to apply outcomes of learning-call this intelligence as –knowledge.

Teams: This chapter rings the bell, when he described the two pizza rule!  A team should never be larger than what 2 pizzas could feed.  He writes on the need to improve speed and execution, a great chapter on a topic that many others have tried to cover without Rich’s insights and story.

Taste: In this chapter Rich identifies key organizations that have focused on the “experience” of going beyond the aesthetic of the product, but creating the emotional connection.

Story: The point the author makes in this chapter is the power of having a corporate story (s), and the need to craft, share and create stories for both employees, customers and prospects. Building belief is critical in creating a sustaining business model.

In the Conclusion chapter he summaries the prior chapters by using a case study of a situation where companies have focused on the Soft Edges and where they have not-and the results. If you are not by the end of this book a believer in the power of the Soft Edge, this chapter will convince you.

Buy this book for each member of your management team and weekly, discuss one chapter at your management team meetings. It will make a difference in your success.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.



This entry was posted on Monday, January 19th, 2015 at 9:22 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “The Soft Edge; where great companies find success”

  1. Wojciech Przekop Says:

    This book is great – great advice written in simple language.

  2. Alma Babione Says:

    Considering you have read books, that others have not read and probably few other individuals have actually heard of, what is significant, is that you have entered them and come from that experience enriched because of it. Growing as you become more emboldened through the experience of participating in a different mindset for a while, that’s the authentic power of a great book!