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10 Powerful Management Insights from Apple, P&G, Yum Brands and Gilt Groupe

Tips to Keep Your Online Social Network SafeMy book pile has begun to bulge with new "how we did it" books by managers from established, brand-name corporations -- and one newer disruptive startup, the luxury-fashion, flash-sale ecommerce hit Gilt Groupe. So often these tomes are overflowing with self-aggrandizing blather, but, to my surprise, this crop has some useful tips on how to start and grow a successful business.

Here's a rundown on the management traits these solid-gold brands used to get their startups off the ground, and to keep driving their companies forward.

From When Core Values Are Strategic: How the Business Values of Procter & Gamble Transformed Leadership at Fortune 500 Companies, by Rick Tocquigny, who chairs the P&G Alumni Network, a high-powered former P&G execs who went on to lead other top companies:

  • Instead of hiring people with fancy resumes, hire people who fit your culture and are teachable.
  • Build a strong brand and don't change it.
  • Focus all your products on the consumer by studying and listening to customers and innovating accordingly.

From Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired -- And Secretive -- Company Really Works by longtime Fortune editor Adam Lashinsky:

  • Appoint a DRI, or Directly Responsible Individual, for every task. 
  • Create a confrontational workplace culture where workers feel free to challenge others' opinions.
  • Have a system of secrecy that builds excitement and a sense of ownership -- from launching projects in an outbuilding that flies a pirate flag to erecting walls around off-limits "lockdown rooms."

From Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen by David Novak, chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut:

  • Create a recognition culture. Novak was once horrified to find a 30-year company executive who only heard how great people thought his contributions were a few weeks before his retirement. Now, Yum! managers all over the world give out unique recognition awards, from miniature Taj Mahal statues to rubber chickens.
  • To lead people and achieve big goals, ask three questions: What's the single biggest thing you can imagine that will grow your business or change your life? Who do you need to affect, influence or take with you to be successful? What prescriptions, habits or beliefs of this target audience do you need to build, change or reinforce to reach your goal?

From By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed How Millions of People Shop by two of the co-founders, Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson:

  • When you build strong relationships with your management team before you launch, it makes it easier to execute on your vision.
  • Execution is more important than the idea.

What's your best management insight? Share it with us in the comments.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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