The CIO Insight Reading LibraryBy CIOinsight | Posted 01-28-2003
The CIO Insight Reading Library
The CIO Insight Reading Library
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.
Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle
By Matthew Symonds; commentary by Larry Ellison
Simon & Schuster, October 2003
528 pages, $28
The fascination with Larry Ellison continues. In a different attempt to try to satisfy it, Symonds, an editor at The Economist, was given unlimited access to Ellison himself—with the Oracle chairman and CEO getting a chance to make comments in the text (Ellison also wrote the forward). Not surprisingly, it is Ellison's comments that are the most intriguing. Example: "If you work in Silicon Valley long enough, you can't help noticing how much the technology industry resembles the women's clothing business. Both are fashion-driven. Fashionable ideas are hot, when others are not."
Code Name Ginger: The Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World
By Steve Kemper
Harvard Business School Press, May 2003
336 pages, $27.95
The most appealing part of this book is studying the way Dean Kamen, the inventor of the much-hyped "human transporter," goes about spurring innovation in his company. First, failures are celebrated. Second, in order to spur new thinking, people from different departments are periodically charged with solving problems outside their spheres of expertise. Third, Kamen consistently acts as a cheerleader to keep everyone's spirits up during the inevitable product delays. This approach would seem to work no matter what kind of technology you are trying to invent.
The Cure: Enterprise Medicine for Business
By Dan Paul and Jeff Cox
John Wiley & Sons Inc., February 2003
304 pages, $24.95
About the only author who's been able to pull off the concept of the business novel is Jeff Cox (The Goal, Zapp!). Other writers either get bogged down in plot—so the business issues don't resonate—or they get the business points across but can't tell a story. Here, teamed with Paul, the former head of strategic planning for Jack Welch's General Electric, Cox tells the story of how one struggling firm learned to respond quickly to changing marketing conditions by eliminating boundaries within the organization and moving to a flexible production schedule. The implicit message: This is not a fairy tale; it's a necessary strategy.
Perfect Enough: Carly Fiorina and the Reinvention of Hewlett-Packard
By George Anders
Portfolio/Penguin Putnam, January 2003
288 pages, $24.95
Anders, a senior editor at Fast Companymagazine, talks a bit about the reinvention of Hewlett-Packard in light of its acquisition of Compaq. But the real focus here is on the battle to get Hewlett-Packard shareholders to approve the deal. He provides the behind-the-scenes story of CEO Carly Fiorina's ultimately successful battle to get shareholders to go along with the plan, despite the vehement opposition of Walter Hewitt, son of one of the company's founders. The real trick now, of course, is to make the acquisition work.
21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com
By Mike Daisey
Free Press, June 2002
240 pages, $23
There are a couple of things that make this book different from all the "I worked inside the dot-com bubble" books flooding the market. First, Amazon is still in business. Second, Daisey, a self-professed slacker, is funny. Among other things, Daisey worked as an Amazon customer service rep, so he got a first-hand look at the company's technology in action. The view wasn't pretty. The infrastructure, for instance, consistently failed to keep up with the company's phenomenal growth. When the computers were down, Daisey had to jot down credit card numbers on Post-it Notes. As Daisey puts it: "Amazon is the world's most aggressively marketed beta product."
DoCoMo: Japan's Wireless Tsunami
By John Beck and Mitchell Wade
Amacom, September 2002
256 pages, $25.00
Why care about the rise of NTT DoCoMo Inc., the wireless division of Japan's Nippon Telephone and Telegraph? Because, argue these two Accenture Ltd. consultants, DoCoMo has succeeded where wireless in the U.S. and Europe has not. DoCoMo has "made commerce on the mobile Internet compelling—so compelling that it is fast becoming universal throughout Japan." The book makes clear that DoCoMo's success is also a reminder of what too many CIOs forget: Consumers don't care about the technology. They only care about what the technology can do for them. The authors spend more time talking about the marketing of DoCoMo's "i-Mode" than they do the technology itself.
Inside the Cult of Kibu and Other Tales of the Millennial Gold Rush
By Lori Gottlieb and Jesse Jacobs
Perseus Publishing, July 2002
320 pages, $26
Gottlieb, head of the long-defunct Kibu.com, a portal for teenage girls, and Jacobs, who works for ifilm.com, chronicle all the excesses of the dot-com era. They get the tone just right. Here is Gottlieb's dedication: "For my 16-year-old cousin Shira Berenson, who when I asked what she thought of Kibu ... candidly replied via e-mail: 'It sucks.'"
When You Say Yes, But Mean No: How Silencing Conflict Wrecks Relationships and Companies... And What You Can Do About It
By Leslie A. Perlow
Crown Business, May 2003
272 pages, $25
Repeatedly—and effectively—Harvard Business School Associate Professor Perlow makes one compelling point: Nothing good can come from keeping quiet at work. Using the example of Versity, a dot-com targeting the college market, she shows how unexpressed conflicts and questions ultimately hastened the company's demise. "When differences are kept quiet, we limit creativity, learning and effective decision-making," she writes. "Creativity and learning require novel ideas—seeing and doing things in new ways—but when differences are considered unacceptable, novel ideas are less likely to emerge." Perlow isn't particularly helpful on how to express differences, but that doesn't diminish the book's central point.
When Goliaths Clash: Managing Executive Conflict To Build a More Dynamic Organization
By Howard M. Guttman
Amacom Books, April 2003
272 pages, $27.95
Guttman, who runs a conflict-management consulting firm, recognizes one of corporate management's dirty little secrets: Conflict among senior managers is a problem. But instead of recommending that you turn the problem over to the human resources department, he treats it like any other business problem, because that's what it is. Unresolved conflict leads to unproductive activities, increased costs, poor quality and higher turnovers. The secret, he contends, is not to try to eliminate conflicts, which can help stimulate thinking about an issue, leading to better solutions and helping to build consensus. Rather, his focus here is on eliminating the destructive effect of conflict, which leads to win-lose solutions that polarize groups and reduce morale.
Creating Leaderful Organizations: How to Bring Out Leadership in Everyone
By Joseph A. Raelin
Berrett-Koehler, February 2003
288 pages, $22.95
Doing more with less is hardly a novel concept these days, but Raelin manages to put a new spin on it here. Noting that organizations are getting smaller and increasingly putting people to work in groups, the Northeastern University professor argues that it is incumbent on organizations to teach everyone how to lead: "We need to establish communities where everyone shares the experience of being a leader, not sequentially, but concurrently and collectively." Raelin establishes a framework for spreading leadership within companies, and to his credit, spends a lot of time discussing what it will take to get organizations set in their ways to accept this new thinking.
Clicks and Mortar: Passion Driven Growth in an Internet Driven World
By David S. Pottruck and Terry Pearce
352 pages, $17.95
Using their own company's move into the online world as an example, this updated version of the best seller by two Charles Schwab executives shows how to foster a culture that supports new ideas and risk-taking while remaining true to its core.
Customer Equity: Building and Managing Relationships as Valuable Assets
By Robert C. Blattberg, Gary Getz and Jacquelyn S. Thomas
Harvard Business School Press, 2001
432 pages, $29.95
Professors Blattberg and Thomas, together with consultant Getz, provide a unifying framework and a method for measuring the potential profitability of each customer to the company. The book, which is aimed at IT professionals and senior executives, outlines strategies in four areas: balancing customer acquisition, retention and add-on selling; managing the customer life cycle; exploiting the power of databases; and precisely quantifying customer value.
The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business
By Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck
Harvard Business School Press, 2001
256 pages, $29.95
Capturing the attention of employees, customers and partners is key to maintaining market share and competitive advantage. Davenport and Beck, both affiliated with the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change, outline a four-part model that includes tools for measuring the economics of attention and using attention technologies to eliminate distractions.
The Value Profit Chain: Treat Employees Like Customers and Customers Like Employees
By James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser and Leonard A. Schlesinger
Free Press, January 2003
320 pages, $35
More proof that managers make business harder that it needs to be: Three veterans of the Harvard Business School faculty (Heskett has since retired and Schlesinger is now COO of Limited Brands Inc.) offer definitive proof that if you want to keep long-term customers—the best kind to have—you need to create an environment where your employees want to take care of those customers. Employees who love their jobs treat customers better. Customers who are treated better come back for more. And because they already have a good relationship with your employees, those customers are easier to deal with, which makes your employees happier—and the cycle feeds on itself, the authors contend.
Meta-Capitalism at Work: Taking Revolutionary E-Business Concepts from Theory to Practice
By Grady Means and David Schneider
John Wiley & Sons, 2001
208 pages, $27.95
Two consultants from PricewaterhouseCoopers, building on management concepts for start-up companies from their previous book, Meta-Capitalism, describe how established companies can use the same techniques to transform themselves. Drawing on their experience with such companies as Ford Motor, Wal-Mart, Dell Computer, Cisco Systems, Citigroup and General Electric, the authors show managers how to revitalize companies into brand-owning, customer-focused businesses that effectively use Internet-enabled networks.
Place to Space: Migrating to eBusiness Models
By Peter Weill and Michael R. Vitale
Harvard Business School Press, 2001
464 pages, $35
Weill, director of the Center for Information Systems Research at MIT's Sloan School of Management, and Vitale, dean and director of the Australian Graduate School of Management, team up to describe how traditional companies can adapt their brick-and-mortar legacies to bolster their online ventures. Based on extensive research into dozens of e-business initiatives, this book provides systematic, practical analysis of eight workable models; an adaptable hybrid model for competing against online pure plays; and schematic tools for analyzing current business models and evaluating promising new Web initiatives. Case studies include Lonely Planet, General Electric, CDNow and Reuters.
The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
By Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor
Harvard Business School Press, September 2003
320 pages, $29.95
In his 1997 book The Innovator's Dilemma, Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, argued that by doing what they were supposed to do satisfying the needs of their best customers companies made themselves vulnerable to rapid changes in the marketplace. Here, aided by Raynor, a director at Deloitte Research, he tries to solve that dilemma. The trick? Reshaping how you develop new products and services so that they have more impact, making your company one of the firms that reshapes the marketplace. The authors then lay out a nine-step approach designed to do just that.
Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small
By Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayers
Harvard Business School Press, September 2003
256 pages, $27.50
The words "fun" and "business book" rarely go together. But this book, by two Yale University professors—Nalebuff teaches economics and Ayers teaches law—is the exception. The avowed purpose is to present ways, à la Edward de Bono (Lateral Thinking), to think more creatively. And they succeed by suggesting you ask yourself a series of questions: How would the richest man in the world solve the problem you face? Would turning an existing idea on its head help? What new product can be paired with an existing one? But the fun part is the products they create as examples: an insurance policy that protects your house from dropping in value; making telemarketers pay you to listen to their pitches; and having every ATM machine accept deposits for any financial institution.
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
By Seth Godin
Portfolio/Penguin Putnam, May 2003
160 pages, $19.95
The metaphor is as straightforward as the rest of this book. You've seen one cow, you've seen them all. But a purple cow? That's memorable. It's distinctive and it breaks through the clutter. You want your products to be purple cows. To his credit, self-described "agent of change" Godin outlines strategies and tactics you can use to make sure that happens: Think about the marketing as you create your product, not after, and target your marketing efforts only to early adopters likely to spread the word about your innovation. The overall message: Playing it safe is risky.
The Slow Pace of Fast Change: Bringing Innovations to Market in a Connected World
By Bhaskar Chakravorti
Harvard Business School Press, May 2003
240 pages, $29.95
It won't make you feel better, but this work by Monitor Group consultant Chakravorti will at least help explain why every truly innovative product or service you come up with takes so long to catch on. The problem, he argues, is that new ideas must vault two hurdles before they're accepted: First, the product must convince people (or companies) to change the way they currently do things. Second, having tried the product or service, they must continue to use it. Knowing the hurdles you are up against allows you to plan your strategy accordingly.
Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology
By Henry Chesbrough
Harvard Business School Press, March 2003
272 pages, $35
You won't get much argument at a corporate meeting when you say, "We must innovate or will die." But getting everyone to agree on how to innovate is another matter. Harvard Business School Professor Chesbrough, a former executive at Quantum Corp., the knowledge management software company, begins at the beginning and argues that the very way most companies think about technology innovation needs to be innovated. Focusing on internal sources for ideas and funding&$8212is too limiting. He contends your innovation efforts have a better chance of success if you look outside the organization as well to universities and venture capitalists, for instance and try numerous ideas all at once.
Innovation by Design: What It Takes to Keep Your Company on the Cutting Edge
By Gerard H. Gaynor
Amacom, May 2002
320 pages, $27.95
"Innovation is a management discipline. It does not come about through a random hit-or-miss approach, it requires design." So argues Gaynor, a former 3M executive and now a consultant. Gaynor outlines the four keys to systematizing innovation in any organization: competent people, managers devoted to innovation, an environment that supports experimentation and the ability to exploit the results. Then he walks readers through different ways to create the necessary variables and shows how they can work together. The book takes a step-by-step approach to implementing the four steps, and the role of personal creativity is deliberately downplayed.
Making Six Sigma Last: Managing Cultural and Technical Change
By George Eckes
John Wiley & Sons, 2001
304 pages, $29.95
Eckes helped implement the Six Sigma methodology at GE, which Jack Welch calls the "most important initiative we have ever undertaken." Building on his earlier book, The Six Sigma Revolution, Eckes addresses how to implement Six Sigma while overcoming resistance. In particular, the book focuses on tactics and tools to discern the relationship between product defects and yields, reliability, costs, cycle time and schedules.
Now or Never: How Companies Must Change Today to Win the Battle for Internet Consumers
By Mary Modahl
272 pages, $16
A vice president of research at Forrester Research, Modahl describes how companies can create Internet strategies that make sense for them. The book also features insights from interviews with thousands of Americans on their attitudes toward the Internet.
The Change Monster: The Human Forces That Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation & Change
By Jeanie Daniel Duck
Crown Business, 2001
320 pages, $27.50
A senior vice president of Boston Consulting Group, as well as a psychologist, Duck focuses on the reactions of people involved in corporate change, including mergers, reorganizations and executive turnovers. The book describes the five stages of change (stagnation, anticipation, implementation, determination and fruition) and how to manage them.
The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution is Changing Our Lives
By Frances Cairncross
Harvard Business School Press, 2001
320 pages, $16.95
A substantially revised edition of Cairncross' 1997 best-seller, this book underscores the fact that communications technologies are rapidly obliterating distance as a relevant factor in how we conduct business.
The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets
By Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker
Crown, September 2002
336 pages, $25.95
Robert Frost should have been a management consultant. In "The Road Not Taken," he wrote: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—/I took the one less traveled by,/And that has made all the difference." Futurists Mathews and Wacker of consulting firm FirstMatter argue, in essence, that you should do the same thing when it comes to innovation. Incremental improvements are not a sustainable course of competitive advantage, they contend. If you truly want to stay ahead, look for the "deviant," which they use in the traditional sense of the word: "something or someone operating in a defined measure away from the norm." Back in 1984, it was easy to reject sci-fi writer William Gibson's notion of "cyberspace." But suppose you had considered how to make money from the idea? Frost would be proud.
The Strategy Machine: Building Your Business One Idea at a Time
By Larry Downes
HarperBusiness, June 2002
256 pages, $26.96
In his follow up to Unleashing the Killer App, Downes spends relatively little time on technology per se. He starts with the premise that pervasive computing—having a computer in virtually everything—will soon become commonplace. When that happens, he argues, better computing power won't matter. Instead, business success will be predicated on how well you handle financing, government regulations, and conflicts inside and outside your organization. "Change, even beneficial change, is hard," he writes. "It is human nature to resist it, and there is only one technology that can overcome human nature; that technology is called leadership." This is where he devotes his time.
The Leadership Pill: The Missing Ingredient in Motivating People Today
By Ken Blanchard and Marc Muchnick
Free Press, September 2003
128 pages, $19.95
Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, is back with another parable, this time assisted by Muchnick, a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology. Here, a leadership pill is invented that can turn the most incompetent manager into someone who can get results. The problem, as we discover at the end of the book, which you'll be able to finish in the time it takes to get airborne after your plane pushes back from the gate, is that the pill is only a short fix, one that creates leaders who are obsessed with short-term results and who exhaust their people in an effort to achieve those results. The moral, as exemplified by a manager referred to throughout as "Effective Leader," is to inspire and support your team.
Generating Buy-In: Mastering the Language of Leadership
By Mark S. Walton
Amacom, September 2003
128 pages. $19.95
If you want to get anything done with the help of the people you manage, they need to "buy in" to your agenda—not only agree to do what you want them to but actually want to. How do you make that happen? Walton, the former CNN chief White House correspondent who now teaches in the U.S. Navy's Advanced Management program, argues that the most compelling way is to tell "strategic stories" that "project a positive future." Then you have to ask your people to commit to taking action, based on what they have heard. He lays out several examples you can follow in step-by-step fashion.
Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value
By Bill George
Jossey-Bass, July 2003
240 pages, $27.95
In light of the scandals du jour on Wall Street and elsewhere, the timing of this book, by the former head of Medtronic Inc., the medical technology company, could not be better. The solution to all the scandals is not new laws, George contends, but new leaders—people who feel their true corporate mission is to solve a problem or provide a service. This, he contends, is the primary reason his company has been so successful. (During George's dozen years at the top, Medtronic's market cap climbed from $1.1 billion to more than $60 billion.) When asked for career advice, senior managers invariably reply, "Do what you love; the money will follow." Somewhere along the way, too many of them have forgotten that.
Put the Moose on the Table: Lessons in Leadership from a CEO's Journey through Business and Life
By Randall Tobias with Todd Tobias
Indiana University Press May 2003
288 pages, $24.95
The title's metaphor is as direct as the rest of this book, from the former chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly and Co., Randall Tobias, who was vice chairman of AT&T before taking the job at the pharmaceutical giant in 1993. Like a moose in the living room, some problems are hard to ignore. Managers who don't openly and honestly confront the moose are destined to fail. Implicit in that metaphor is the idea that dealing with the moose will cause change. Instead of worrying about that, welcome it, says Tobias, because embracing change is the only path to corporate and personal growth.
Why Smart Executives Fail and What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes
By Sydney Finkelstein
Portfolio/Penguin Putnam, June 2003
288 pages, $26.95
Finkelstein, a professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, isn't talking about crooks here, although the executives at Adelphia, Enron and WorldCom do come under scrutiny. The major focus of his book, based on a six-year study, is why companies like AT&T, Conseco and Wang Labs fell on hard times. According to Finkelstein, the causes are remarkably few: Senior managers chose not to cope with innovation and change; they clung to an inaccurate view of reality (including a misreading of the competition); and/or they brilliantly fulfilled the wrong vision. The moral is clear: The higher you rise on the organization chart, the harder you have to work to find out what is really going on.
The Blind Men and the Elephant: Mastering Project Work
By David A. Schmaltz
Berrett-Koehler May 2003
160 pages, $18.95
You remember the story: Several blind men are presented with an elephant and asked to identify what it is after touching one part of its body. Not surprisingly, not one gets it right. Project management is a lot like that, argues consultant Schmaltz, because project teams ordinarily can't find common meaning in the work they are doing together. Schmaltz describes this problem as "incoherence," and lays out a simple set of techniques—such as creating a common terminology—anyone leading a project can use to create "coherence."
Why Pride Matters More than Money: The Power of the World's Greatest Motivational Force
By Jon R. Katzenbach
Crown Business, April 2003
224 pages, $18.95
If you are the kind of executive who dismisses all those compelling surveys that say pay is never the most important thing to employees, you are going to have problems with this book, from renowned consultant Katzenbach. "Money by itself," he writes, "is likely to produce self-serving behavior and skin-deep organizational commitment rather than the type of institution-building behavior that is characteristic of organizations like the Marines, Home Depot and Southwest Airlines." He explains how you can instill pride in any organization by linking corporate and personal goals and values, and by celebrating success.
The Success Case Method: Find Out Quickly What's Working and What's Not
By Robert O. Brinkerhoff
Berrett-Koehler, February 2003
192 pages, $24.95
As generations of executives have learned the hard way, managing change is one of the most difficult tasks they face. Consultant Brinkerhoff tries to make the process a bit easier by providing four key questions to ask during any project: What is really happening? What results are being achieved? What is the value of those results? How can they be improved? He then provides tools that allow managers to keep their projects on track and to make sure the answers they are getting to those four questions are accurate. As any experienced manager knows, anything that can help your initiatives stay on course is welcome.
Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship with Those Above You
By Rosanne Badowski with Roger Gittines
Currency/Doubleday, March 2003
240 pages, $23.95
Don't read this book, written by Jack Welch's former executive assistant, for its meek analysis ("at times we are all managers and we are all support staff"). Read it for Welch's introduction, which concisely and brilliantly lays out what CEOs should look for in an employee—all employees, including CIOs. And read it to learn how to be more efficient. Badowski's skill at getting the most out of any workday can help any executive, even the ones who think they have a black belt in multitasking.
First Among Equals: How to Manage A Group of Professionals
By Patrick J. McKenna and David H. Maister
Free Press, April 2002
288 Pages, $26
Once you've aligned your corporate stars (see above), use this book to figure out exactly how to organize your professionals into groups. What consultants McKenna and Maister understand well is that most talented people hate to be managed. The authors break the task of leading groups of professionals into three parts: What you have to do as the leader, how you should interact with individual group members and how you should deal with the group as a whole. Then they offer suggestions for succeeding at each step in the process.
How to Become a Great Boss: The Rules for Getting and Keeping the Best Employees
By Jeffrey J. Fox
Hyperion Books, May 2002
176 pages, $16.95
Part inspiration ("what you say to someone in 60 seconds can stick with them for 60 years"), part advice ("hire slowly, fire quickly"), Fox, a consultant, has created a valentine to managers everywhere. Picture Chicken Soup for the Manager's Soul. The prose can get cloying at times (the chapter heading for a brief discussion on delegating is "Don't Hire a Dog and Bark Yourself"), but the overarching message is motivation, and the point made over and over again, for both you and your employees, is to strive for a slightly higher goal. There is worse airplane reading.
Making Horses Drink: How to Lead and Succeed in Business
By Alex Hiam
Entrepreneur Press, June 2002
288 pages, $19.95
At the best companies—GE, Wal-Mart—people really are the most important asset. And yet most employees don't feel that way. Enter consultant Hiam and his allegory that brings to life the adage "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Hiam contends that while you can't make employees drink, you can let them. And if you provide that opportunity, giving them a say in what needs to be done, it is far easier to get employees to do what you want.
Managing in the Next Society
By Peter F. Drucker
Truman Talley Books/St. Martin's Press, July 2002
352 pages, $24.95
Given his track record, it is always a good idea to pay attention to what Peter Drucker is thinking. Two themes dominate this collection of pieces, all of them previously published in business and public affairs magazines in the U.S and the U.K: What does a declining number of young workers mean to the future health of corporations? And what is the long-term effect of the decline of manufacturing? These "social changes," Drucker writes, "may be more important for the success or failure of an organization and its executives than economic events." Drucker has been wrestling with these issues for a while; it might be a good idea if you started.
Minds at Work: Leveraging the Power of Organizational Intelligence
By Karl Albrecht
Amacom, September 2002
240 pages, $24.95
You knew your organization was dysfunctional when it came to harnessing its internal knowledge, but did you know it might be suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder ("senior management cannot seem to focus on primary goals") or plagued by general depression (employees "have nothing to believe in")? Or perhaps it is hindered by testosterone poisoning ("In male-dominated industries or organizational cultures. . . the rewards for aggressive behavior far outweigh the awards for collaboration"). The diagnoses, along with potential cures, come from consultant and author Albrecht, who correctly contends that it is hard to capture everything your organization knows when such syndromes are standing in the way.
Momentum: How Companies Become Unstoppable Market Forces
By Ron Ricci and John Volkmann
Harvard Business School Press, October 2002
224 pages, $24.95
When two vice presidents of marketing—Ricci of Cisco Systems Inc. and Volkmann of Advanced Micro Devices Inc.—get together to write a book, you might think the importance of the latest and greatest technology would be at the forefront. While technology is certainly the backdrop, the focus here is on the well-established idea of positioning—and specifically, how companies can leverage their product strategy, brand and value chain to become the dominant brand in a customer's mind. The key, they contend, is to link those forces together to differentiate your product offerings from your competitors'. If you do, they argue—and they have a prescription for doing so—you will gain brand momentum, which will lead to your product achieving "must-have" status.
The GE Work-Out: How to Implement GE's Revolutionary Method for Busting Bureaucracy and Attacking Organization Problems—Fast!
By Dave Ulrich, Steve Kerr and Ron Ashkenas
McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, April 2002
400 pages, $29.95
While a cottage industry has sprung up around writing about GE—former Chairman Jack Welch's secretary has been signed to do a book (honest!)—this one is worth your time. Ulrich, Kerr and Ashkenas were there at the beginning, more than a decade ago, when GE decided to streamline its bureaucracy. The trio outline in detail the process GE used: senior management makes a commitment to change; small teams make sure the company is focused on changing the right things; and senior management decides instantly whether or not to accept the recommendations generated by those teams.
The New Law of Demand and Supply: The Revolutionary New Demand Strategy for Faster Growth and Higher Profits
By Rick Kash
Doubleday/Currency, September 2002
272 pages, $27.50
If you've ever taken an economics course, you were taught to answer three questions: How much of what should we produce? How will we produce it? And for whom? Consultant Kash says that approach is backward. His argument: Figure out what the current and emerging demand is and then produce to fill it.
The Phoenix Effect: 9 Revitalizing Strategies No Business Can Do Without
By Carter Pate and Harlan Platt
John Wiley and Sons Inc., February 2002
256 pages, $27.95
The key word in this book's title is not "phoenix," but "revitalizing." But while it is true that the nine strategies could help a company rise from the ashes, it is always more effective to fix problems before they drive you into bankruptcy. The steps outlined by Pate, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Financial Advisory Services, and Platt, a professor at Northeastern University, can be reduced to this: Determine the scope of the problem, focus on it, and fix it. Using the nine steps to keep checking how you are doing could keep small problems from becoming big ones.
The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome: How Good Managers Cause Great People to Fail
By Jean-François Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux
Harvard Business School Press, August 2002
304 pages, $26.95
In an intriguing book based on a 10-year study, the authors argue that bosses are responsible for the underperformance of many of their employees. Manzoni, an associate professor of management at INSEAD, the French business school, and Barsoux, a senior research fellow at INSEAD, contend that while supervisors tend to empower and encourage star performers, they often micromanage and control employees who are less productive. As a result, this group tends to live down to expectations, which fosters even poorer performance. If you buy the compelling premise, the authors spell out in detail what you can do to correct the problems—both your employees' and your own.
What Management Is: How it Works, and Why it's Everyone's Business
By Joan Magretta with Nan Stone
Free Press, May 2002
256 pages, $25
Congratulations, you've hired a new manager. He has no training—heck, the majority of business schools require two to three years of work experience before they'll admit someone—and he has only the vaguest idea what to do. If this describes your latest hire, Magretta and Stone, both former editors of Harvard Business Review, have created a guide to help your new charge through the management jungle. They spend virtually no time on tactics, such as preparing budgets or even managing people. They are after the bigger picture: What managers should be trying to do is contribute to the corporate mission. This book can help put their job in context.
The Naked Employee: How Technology is Compromising Workplace Privacy By Frederick S. Lane III
Amacom Books, April 2003
304 pages, $24.95
No one doubts that technology is being used more and more to keep an eye on employees, from monitoring their phone calls and e-mails to timing how long it takes them to go to the bathroom. And there's even less doubt about attorney and author Lane's position on this: He's against it. But the real value of this book is twofold. Unintentionally, it provides a detailed list of ways you can keep an eye on your employees. Perhaps more important, it raises this issue: If you feel the need to watch your employees this closely, maybe you shouldn't have hired them in the first place. This book might get you to rethink your hiring practices.
The E-Privacy Imperative: Protect Your Customers' Internet Privacy and Ensure Your Company's Survival in the Electronic Age
By Mark S. Merkow and James Breithaupt
320 pages, $34.95
Merkow, a well-known e-commerce security specialist, and his collaborator offer advice on how to protect your Web site and your customers through careful technology practices and responsible handling of information. CIOs will be especially interested in sections identifying the major threats to privacy, and on how to communicate security and privacy policies to employees and customers.
Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers Deceive You
By Gerd Gigerenzer
Simon & Schuster Inc., June 2002
320 pages, $25
It is no longer news that many people don't understand numbers. Weathermen really do say "there is a 50 percent of rain on Saturday and a 50 percent chance of rain on Sunday, so it is guaranteed to rain this weekend." So the real contribution that Gigerenzer, a German scientist, makes here is how to deal with the problem, whether you are interacting with the people who report to you or with top management. His message: Forget percentages and "regressions to the mean," and put the numbers in simple language that even a CEO can understand.
Linked: The New Science of Networks
By Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
Perseus Publishing, May 2002
256 pages, $26
What do a cocktail party, a Little League baseball team, a terrorist cell and an international conglomerate have in common? They are all networks, argues Barabasi, a professor of physics at Notre Dame. Barabasi contends they all act and interact in consistent ways. Understanding how networks work, he insists, helps explain everything from the best way to organize an IT department to rooting out cures for disease. Barabasi does not try to predict exactly how all this will play out. His goal is "to get you to think networks," and in that, he succeeds.