Dreams and Details: Book Review

Wijay000
2 min readNov 3, 2021

Dreams and Details is a book written by Jim Snabe in collaboration with Denmark’s national volleyball team coach. The book is an attempt to help companies reinvent themselves in the new era and be relevant.

Jim was the former Co-CEO of SAP and presently, the chairman of Maersk and Siemens. Jim used to be my official mentor during my WEF Global Leadership Fellows programme and he was also our boss at WEF. Jim shares various examples, mostly about Danish companies. I wont complain as Denmark is known for its work life balance and innovative work policies.

There are 3 things that I liked about the book -

  1. The story about SAP reinvention in 2010 where they wanted to double the revenue in 5 years. The company made clear bets on cloud, database tech and mobile. To achieve the revenue target, he talks about how they challenged the 11 month implementation cycle associated with SAP. Through Agile and Design thinking, they reduced this timeframe and with cloud, they were able to achieve their vision. I liked the NASA and NOMA examples which were little extreme but hit the right chords. I also liked the Formula 1 metaphor where the rules of the sport changes every year.
  2. In the long term, the most important question for an individual or a company is not what you are but what you are becoming. This is a very powerful statement and one that I will remember forever.
  3. Dream need to be ambitious but we cannot develop a plan to achieve that dream because the plan cannot be fixed. Instead, the company need to define which capabilities are required to be developed in order for the organization to find the best possible path to the dream.

I also liked the thinking on why segmentation is dead and the need to think about economies of scope instead of economies of scale.

There are 3 things that didn’t resonate with me.

  1. The sports metaphors don’t go well with the overall narrative. Most of the time it was force fitted to illustrate a point
  2. Ambition cannot be too high they say and they also say it cannot be too low. Landing in moon is high as it can get and so, what is the right level?
  3. The framework what they presented is too exhaustive and I am wondering whether this is replicable.

I recently read about Amazon and Netflix. They were an entrepreneur’s perspective to continuous reinvention whereas this book is a professional manager’s perspective on reinvention.

At the end of the day, what the authors are saying is this -

  • Create a vision & communicate the vision effectively
  • Build capabilities
  • Execute relentlessly to achieve the vision

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Wijay000

Father, Entrepreneur & Writer; Edison award winning innovation; Daytime Emmy nominated animation; Author of two books; WEF Davos, Cannes Lions, TEDx