The author of “The Soft Edge” (Karlgaard, 2014), Rich Karlgaard, focuses his writing in the book on the human elements of business which he calls “the soft edge”. He makes the argument that the most successful companies in history have not only excelled at shrewd business strategy and superb execution, “the hard edge”, but also focused equally on these “soft edge” elements which made their success sustainable.
Karlgaard details five variables that make up “the soft edge”. First is Trust – He states that a company must not only develop trust among its employees but outside the company as well so that customers trust and believe in the company. Second is Smarts – Companies must recognize the need for continued education as well as the fact that not all knowledge is taught. Some must be learned the hard way through failed experiences. Third is Teamwork – The idea that no one person can know and do it all and teams produce quicker and better results if managed properly. Fourth is Taste – No matter what the company produces, if employees and customers do not emotionally connect with it, it will fade away. Finally is Story – The practice of a company telling the history of their company in an enduring and emotionally appealing way that generates customer interest and loyalty.
These five human elements are all based on human communication, are not easily defined and will probably be different for every company. The value of this book to me is that companies need to recognize that no matter what business they are in – happy people work harder, produce more and better products/services and tell a better story about their company to everyone they meet. This in turn produces happy return customers which, at the end of the day, provides sustainability.
The Soft Edge is available on Amazon.com for as little as $15.19 for the electronic version.
Karlgaard, R. (2014). The Soft Edge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.