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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.
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.