Looking for a book to help get your IT shop better aligned with the business? Or maybe you want to brush up on your management skills? Here's a list of books that can help.
Connecting the Dots: Aligning Projects with Objectives in Unpredictable Times
By Cathleen Benko and F. Warren McFarlan
Harvard Business School Press, February 2003
272 pages, $35
Want a sure-fire way to lose money? Authorize projects willy-nilly, without regard to how they will either work together or deliver against the company's overall agenda. Certainly no organization sets out to do either of those things, but this is frequently the result, argue Benko of Braxton Consulting Group and Harvard Business School Professor McFarlan. To avoid this problem, they set up a methodology you can follow so that: your project portfolio is aligned with corporate objectives, individual projects are aligned with each other and your projects have enough flexibility built in to respond to changing market conditions.
Aligning the Stars: How to Succeed When Professionals Drive Results
By Jay W. Lorsch and Thomas J. Tierney
Harvard Business School Press, April 2002
240 pages, $30
If your people are indeed your firm's most important asset—and that's not just something you say because you are supposed to—how do you create an environment where they will want to do their best work? The answer according to Lorsch, a Harvard Business School professor, and Tierney, the former chief executive of consulting firm Bain & Company Inc., is to align your firm's strategy, career paths, culture and leadership. Their focus is on life inside professional services companies such as consulting firms, but the message and steps to be taken should work inside traditional organizations as well.
Less is More: How Great Companies Use Productivity as a Competitive Tool in Business
By Jason Jennings
Portfolio/Penguin Putnam, November 2002
288 pages, $24.95
Consultant Jennings, who popularized the phrase, "It's not the big that eat the small, it's the fast that eat the slow," is back preaching the gospel of productivity. Where most productivity proponents work from the bottom up—"How can we make this or that function more efficient?" for example—Jennings takes a top-down approach. If the company is focused on a unifying vision and employees have bought into the vision, then it is easy to identify the key drivers that will allow the organization to operate efficiently, he contends. How will you know? Ask the following question: What is the good business reason for doing this?
The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism
By Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin
Viking, October 2002
288 pages, $27.95
The solution to the problem posed by Zuboff (a Harvard Business School professor) and Maxmin (her husband and the former CEO of Volvo U.K. and Laura Ashley) in the subtitle of their new book is relatively simple: "People have changed more than the business organizations on which they depend." In other words, traditional capitalism has outlived its usefulness. To take its place, they issue nothing less than a full-blown, passionately argued manifesto, with technology at the center, which they called "distributed capitalism." The concept is designed to bring people and the companies they work for back into alignment, in large part by ensuring that corporations satisfy the deepest needs of consumers.