The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success by Rich Karlgaard

The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success by Rich Karlgaard

Rich Karlgaard makes a strong point for business to shift their energy and resources on the employees, which would ultimately lead to more creativity at work. So what is a soft edge referred to? In contrast, what is a hard edge referred to? If we look at businesses today, we would associate hard edge businesses as those who are concerned about capital efficiency, supply chain, logistics, speed, and cost. This is very standardized and the hard edge is what a lot of executives are comfortable with. As we turn tables, and focus more on soft edge businesses, Karlgaard informs us that excelling at the soft edge is not easy and that is why only the excellent companies are capable of implementing soft edge practices.

Burning out the soft edge resources, such as the employees, it can cause huge problems to a company. For example, Karlgaard brings up the case of Hewlett-Packard (HP) and how they kept neglecting the cultural values of the company, which ultimately led to fall of HP when competing with other companies. In today’s world, our computers have become a part of commodity, therefore it’s important that companies have culture that is associated with their computers. Soft-edge business leads to a greater brand recognition, thus having a direct impact on the number of sales. Karlgaard breaks down soft-edge business into five major components: trust, smarts, teams, taste, and story.

Trust is one of the components that builds up over time with customers. Karlgaard brings up the case of Northwestern Mutual and the fact that they’ve been around since 1857 and how Robert Espinoza, Northwestern employee, illustrated the soft-edge of their business during the funeral that Espinoza was assigned to participate in. The smarts revolve around the idea that individuals are capable of learning and developing over time. It isn’t necessarily all about the grades and academic credentials that make you different, it’s the fact that you are willing to learn and develop overtime to benefit your organization that matters.

Overall, the book was very informative and has given me a greater view on how important soft-edge business is in regard to productivity, trust, teams, and achieving goals.


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