Book Reviews: Business Management

The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success, by Brian Tracy. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Presents a set of one hundred principles in eight major categories: life; success; business; leadership; money; selling; negotiating; and time management. Many of the "laws" also have corollaries and the author provides guidelines about how to apply each. Written in a very simple, straightforward manner, providing some good insights. One example: the law of creativity≥every advance in human life begins with an idea in the mind of a single person.. One corollary of this is: your ability to generate constructive ideas is, for all intents and purposes, unlimited. Therefore, your potential is unlimited as well. Extreme optimism and an exuberance for success are the hallmarks of this book. 318 pp. 2000.

Balanced Scorecard Step by Step: Maximizing Performance and Maintaining Results, by Paul R. Niven. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The balanced scorecard has evolved from a method of measuring traditional financial results as well intangible dimensions (e.g., intellectual capital, innovation) to a strategic management system--a tool in aligning short-term actions with strategy, alleviating barriers to strategy implementation. Much of the book is an excellent explanation of the balanced scorecard describing, among other things, what it takes to build indicators that act as a translation of strategy, and a comprehensive review of critical compensation planning and design elements. This is an outstanding work of clarity, breadth and depth. Strongly recommended. 334 pp. 2002.

Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management: The Founding Father of American Business Solves Your Toughest Problems, by Blaine McCormick. Entrepreneur Press.
Based on material drawn from Franklin's autobiography, the book presents the core of this small business entrepreneur's thinking, summarized in 12 rules which provide the basis of the book's twelve chapters. Each chapter includes quotes, and closes with a checklist of activities. The book provides inspiring and fundamental guidelines for managers. Most of the content is the author's interpretation and application of Franklin's ideas. Interesting reading. 210 pp. 2000.

B2B: How to Build a Profitable E-commerce Strategy, by Michael J. Cunningham. Perseus Books.
A comprehensive guide to building a strategy that ensures the right position in a B2B network or supply chain. Cunningham explains how business-to-business e-commerce is becoming the main underpinning of strategy, operation, and technology systems. The book covers: innovative B2B best practices; building alliances; selecting B2B applications, services and software; essential e-commerce technologies; designing a B2B business; and organizational change. Glossary. This is highly accessible book that is both broad and sufficiently deep. An excellent value. 203 pp. 2002.

The Book of Agreement: 10 Essential Elements for Getting the Results You Want, by Stewart Levine. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Presents an approach to forming agreements based on a joint visioning process rather than a win/loose negotiation focusing on remedies. Includes 30 model agreements for business, professional and personal use including; employment; senior executive teams; suppliers; sales; team; diversity; learning; performance appraisal; board of directors. This book breaks new ground and is highly detailed and filled with solid guidance. strongly recommended. 246 pp. 2002.

Business: The Ultimate Resource, Perseus Books.
This extraordinary book consists of seven sections: 1. Best Practice: presents information, ideas and insights of world-renowned thinkers in over 150 short, highly readable, and very well organized essays, grouped into 11 major topics: people/culture; marketing; strategy/competition; finance; IT/information management; structure; leadership; renewal/growth; productivity; and personal effectiveness. 2. Management Checklists: offers practical answers to business problems. Each list includes a definition, pros and cons, thought starters to stimulate discussion, and a bibliography. Subject areas are: people management, personal effectiveness, HR training, marketing, manufacturing/operations, small business, and business planning. This section also provides Action Lists, which gives instructions for tackling tasks and problems regarding E-commerce, marketing, personal development, and accounting and finance. 3. Management Library: summarizes 70 of the most influential books of all times providing each book's main lessons, contributions to management thinking, and a short list of related works by the author. 4. Management Giants: summarizes the careers and thinking of recognized experts, leaders, entrepreneurs and writers from Adam Smith to Tom Peters and Bill Gates. 5. Dictionary: contains 5,000 entries - most impressive in scope. 6. World Business Almanac: profiles 150 countries and all states. 7. Business Information Sources: lists (with details) 3,000 sources of business information covering over 100 subjects. Includes a top-notch subject index. This monumental treasure trove of business knowledge is awesome in depth and breadth! 2172 pp. 2002

Clicks and Mortar: Passion-Driven Growth in an Internet Driven World, by David S. Pottruck and Terry Pearce, Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
Addresses two key questions: (1) how to marry technology and people to create an inspiring workplace, and (2) what it takes to continue to grow a company in today's environment. "Clicks" represent the Internet. The passion of the employees who create customer loyalty is the "mortar." Based on personal experience working at Charles Schwab, the author devotes a section each to three essential elements of organizational change: culture, leadership, and management. The text is a blend of views and advice, with a large dose of stories drawn from a variety of organizations. Written in a breezy manner, the book offers many sound, general guidelines. 314 pp. 2000.

Current Topics in Management, by Robert T. Golembiewski, Kenneth D. Mackenzie and M Afzalur Rahim. Transaction Publishers, Rutgers University.
This volume, the eighth in a series, presents 15 scholarly and insightful essays organized into five major sections: 1) organization theory, change and effectiveness; 2) behavior and attitudes in organizations; 3) international and cross-cultural management; 4) human resource management; and 5) inference and data in management research. 345 pp. 2003.

Essentials of Corporate Performance, by George T. Friedlob.Hydia L. F. Schleifer. and Franklin J. Plewa Jr.. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Primary objectives of this book are: explain the meaning, use and various forms of, and new developments in, ROI and how they are used to evaluate investment activities. Covers such concepts as return on information technology (ROIT) and return on technology investment (ROTI). Describes ways to analyze sales revenues, costs, profits, and investment centers. Examines residual performance measures such as residual income return on investment and economic value added (EVA). 2002.

False Prophets: The Gurus Who Created Modern Management and Why Their Ideas are Bad for Management Today, by James Hoopes, Perseus Books.
Management power is an American paradox, argues Hoopes, crucial to effective management and at odds with our democratic values. Gurus have developed ideas seeking to bridge this gap; Hoopes' aim is to help us get what is best from these ideas and protect us from the worst. He asserts that top-down authority and its potential abuse are here to stay, leaving us to struggle between the Jeffersonian agrarian ideal of freedom and the fact that managers do manage people. He critically examines the thinking of many who have tried to coverup this contraction, from Frederick Taylor to Peter Drucker and Tom Peters. The book is a thought-provoking, iconoclastic, and forceful critique of management thinking. 352 pp. 2003.

From Cost to Performance Management: A Blueprint for Organizational Development, by Catheine Stenzel and Joe Stenzel. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The book's purpose is to index the specific advantages and shortcomings of the most widely used cost and performance management methodologies. This in-depth and rigorous work takes the reader through five progressively advanced stages of cost management, beginning with traditional cost accounting and ending with advanced concepts applicable to self-organization. The authors introduce numerous concepts and provide challenging insights that link traditional cost accounting to paradigms relating to organizational development. The discussion moves from traditional thinking to developing skills in managing valuable resources, including processes and people. Most significant is the way the book introduces different points of view, in addition to a vast array of techniques and methods. Very highly recommended. 331 pp. 2003.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Other Don't, by James C. Collins. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperBusiness).
The authors studied 28 companies with long-term superior performance records and contrasted them to a comparison set to identify the underlying characteristics that differentiated the one group from the other. These "great" company characteristics are views by Collins as a prequel to his previous book, "Built to Last." The profile of great companies begins with a leader with qualities such as will and humility. After leadership comes hiring top-notch people. This is followed by being brutally honest—facing facts. The hedgehog concept (simplifying a complex world into one single organizing idea) is used by great companies who tie it to 1) what they can be passionate about, 2) be the best in the world at, and 3) what drives their economic engine. Great companies also exhibit a culture of discipline. They use technology wisely as an accelerator of momentum (not a creator of it). Extensive presentation of research findings and methodology. Insightful and filled with examples. One terrific book. 300 pp. 2001.

Harvard Business Review on Decision Making, Harvard Business School Press.
Outstanding articles selected from past editions of the HBR. Includes articles on making trade-offs, interpersonal barriers to effective decision-making, problem analysis, and hidden traps in thinking. Each article begins with an executive summary. Recommended. 228 pp. 2001.

The Harvard Entrepreneurs Club Guide to Starting Your Own Business, by Poonam Sharma, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Provides guidelines for starting and operating a business. Examines how undergraduates and graduates at college campuses are launching start-up companies. Covers guidelines for thinking like and entrepreneur, business strategies, finance, marketing and legal protection. Discusses a number of cases of undergraduates and recent graduates who have launched their own business ventures. A very practical book filled with to-the-point information and some additional resources. Recommended. 258 pp. 2000.

High Tech Start Up: The Complete Handbook for Creating Successful New High Tech Companies, by John Nesheim, The Free Press.
Offers a detailed guide, with many excellent insights, for taking a company from concept to IPO. Topics covered include: initial funding; forming the company; legal issues; preparing the business plan; ownership, dilution, negotiation and valuation; personal costs and rewards; acquiring capital; and funding and exit alternatives in addition to the IPO. Over 50 detailed tables show compensation and stock ownership amounts at time of IPO for several high tech start-ups. Appendixes provide listings of resources for the entrepreneur, and profiles of three venture capital firms. This is a content-rich, insightful, well organized volume, based on research findings. A 'must' for anyone thinking about or in a start-up venture. Highly recommended. 343 pp. 2000.

It's Broken, Let's Fix It: The Zeitgeist and Modern Enterprise, by Gerard M. DeBeuckelaer. Springer-Verlag Publishers.
The author tackles many of the major challenges facing businesses today, writing from a very broad perspective in the context of history, evolution and the capitalist economy. This is an unusual book that delves into such subjects as: what is capitalism; contraction and expansion; cooperation, competition and hierarchy; leadership; selection; decisions; excellence and mediocrity; courage and bureaucracy; pleasing the stock market; incentive compensation; the cost of cost-cutting; human resources; attention span; women; and organizational changes. The final chapter, "Fixing the Enterprise," covers values, employees and leadership, compensation, decisions, culture, courage, selection and change. Fascinating reading with impressive insights, presented in a highly accessible style. (81 figures) (FYI, zeitgeist means the spirit or general climate of an era.) Very highly recommended. 284 pp. 2000.

Managing Risk in Organizations: A Guide for Managers, by J. Davidson Frame Jossey-Bass (A Wiley imprint)
A broad-ranging discussion of risk management in a business, organizational and operations setting. It treats the subject both qualitatively and quantitatively. The book establishes the context for establishing risk management and then delves into a variety of subjects such as: the practical limitations of risk management; how the risk management effort can be organized; the systematic risk management process including qualitative and quantitative approaches, techniques used, strategies to handle risk events, and monitoring and controlling. Three chapters concern the special issues and features of business, operational and project risk. The work is very comprehensive, highly accessible, and thorough. 264 pp. 2003.

Modern Project Management: Successfully Integrating Project Management Knowledge Areas and Processes, by Norman Howes, AMACOM.
A thorough explanation of today's project management theoretical and technical skills, and the types of computer tools utilized. The book provides a balance of theory, methods, psychology, and practice. It offers a new appreciation of the many components of project management and their interrelationships. Combined with its innovative Modern Project© software included with the book, it provides an understanding of the realities of project management, along with a full complement of automated project management tools. Comprehensive, technical, and well-written. Strongly recommended. 262 pp. 2001.

On Target: How to Conduct Effective Business Reviews., by Mechtell L. Bechtell. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Reveals the common causes of failed business plans and shows how to correct problems through learning how to: 1) identify priority measures as assess impact of each; 2) detect and respond to early warning signals; and 3) accelerate the change process. The focus is on review techniques, showing how to conduct periodic reviews to stay on target. Provides sample forms, tools, and graphs. This is a to-the-point book with solid guidance. Highly recommended. 150 pp. 2002.

The Origin and Evolution of New Business, by Amar V. Bhide. Oxford University Press, Inc.
The purpose of this well-researched and highly detailed book is to integrate and present the authors ideas, developed over many years of study, to help individuals start and grow their own businesses. The work brings together the experiences of several hundred entrepreneurs to examine what these people do and to understand their role in the context of markets and the economy. The author also strives to explain entrepreneurial success, concluding that profitability in small business may be more a function of tactical hustle than solid long-term strategy; persistence may outweigh detailed planning in importance. The book addresses the nature of opportunities entrepreneurs pursue, their problems and task, traits and skills they need, and social and economic contributions they make. Comparisons are made between start-ups, evolving or transitional firms, and established enterprises. An engaging, thoughtful book. Highly recommended. 412 pp. 2000.

Partnering for Performance: Unleashing the Power of Finance in the 21St-Century Organization, by Martin G. Mand and William Whipple III, AMACOM.
The book's title refers to a new type of partnering between the CEO and the CFO to drive the creation of shareholder value. It shows how to improve organizational communication and teamwork between finance and management. The authors' argue that business people have been reluctant to have finance participate in their strategic affairs, seeing finance as backward looking, risk averse, and out of touch with the future. But finance must change to take on a shareholder value enabler (SVE) role. This involves changing perceptions, approaches, and work procedures. It involves finance people becoming: business people first and specialists second; equal contributors; customer-focused; unique contributors to decision-making; focused on what is competitively urgent; innovative; and champions of high ethical standards. Examples, checklists, and succinct summarizations make this a highly useful work. Recommended. 220 pp. 2000.

Partners.com How to Profit from the New DNA of Business, by Michael J. Cunningham. Perseus Books.
Shows how to forge Internet partnerships with competitors, customers, employees, and others. Reveals ways of working together, analyzes trends, and presents case studies of companies that are utilizing technology-driven partnerships. Recommended. 236 pp. 2001.

The Phoenix Effect: 9 Revitalizing Strategies No Business Can Do Without, by Carter Pate and Harlan Platt. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The authors, specialists in restructuring under-performing companies, present a nine-step program to guide companies in need of renewal, ranging from minor changes to a total overhaul. The steps are: identify the most serious issues; determine if the company should stay the same, withdraw or expand in scope; clarify the orientation of the business and if the company lives up to its mission; decide if the company should grow or contract; determine the best way to handle debt; discern how to optimize resources; get the most from the workforce; maximize profit from products and customers; and pinpoint the best alternatives to producing products. A final step is to optimize process efficiency. Using numerous cases, the authors present clear, to-the-point guidelines for turning around a company. Highly recommended. 244 pp. 2002.

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, by Jim Loehr, Jim and Tony Schwartz. The Free Press.
Full engagment is achieved when four sources of energy (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) are supported by positive habits (strength, vigor, confidence, challenge, joy and connectedness). The book shows how to reach a zone of full engagement (physically energized, mentally focused, emotionally connected, and spiritually aligned). The Power of Full Engagement can be used as a guide for self-development and coaching, as it presents a useful and engaging paradigm of organizations as reservoirs of energy that can be tapped. This is an excellent book in content and scope. 245 pp. 2005.

Profit Building: Cutting Costs Without Cutting People, by Perry J. Ludy. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
A to-the-point book on how to improve profits, focusing on cost reduction. Provides a system of step-by-step activities designed to produce quick results. Shows how to take a team or a total organization through a profit improvement process consisting of developing people, analyzing the situation, and coming up with solutions. Team preparation and employee participation are key to the process. The author stress that downsizing is ineffective in the long-term. Most of the book presents a model process. Considerable detail is provided, down to such items as questions to jump-start brainstorming. The primary aim is to get employees to make cost reduction a core competency. Closing chapters provide a list of over 100 specific ideas and action steps to implement the process. Content-rich. 162 pp. 2000.

Quest for Balance: The Human Element in Performance Management Systems, by Andre A. de Waal. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
This book examines the role of the human element in the successful implementation and use of performance management systems, which raise productivity and organizational quality. Systems are formal, information-based routines and procedures used to maintain and alter patterns in organizational activities. They provide financial and nonfinancial information to guide decision making. Based on research, the author found 18 specific behaviors that are important for use of the system and correlations with management styles. The book identifies and describes behavioral factors important for successful system use, and reveals the results of research into how to develop a better balanced performance management system by taking human behavior into account. Extremely in-depth and filled with research findings and important insights. A highly impressive work. 238 pp. 2002.

Radicals & Visionaries: Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the 20th Century, by Thaddeus Wawro, Entrepreneur Press.
Brief, highly informative biographical portraits of about 75 well known and lesser known entrepreneurs who have influenced the shape of today's business and markets. Includes such names as: Richard Branson, Henry Ford, Estee Lauder, Bill Gates, Ross Perot, David Sarnoff, Martha Stewart, Ted Turner, Sam Walton, Jeff Bezos, Andy Grove, Gordon Moore, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Howard Hughes, to mention a few. Interesting. Recommended. 444 pp. 2000.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager's Guide to Applying Systems Thinking, by Sherwood, Dennis. Nicholas Brealey Publishing (London).
The book is about applying systems thinking in the real world to solve complex problems of business and organizational life. The author provides tools and techniques to apply in daily decision making. Causal loop and computer simulation are key subjects covered in depth. The discussion of topics, made highly accessible with excellent diagrams, is rich in detail. The range of topics is impressive; the book presents a great learning resource. For those seeking to know how to apply systems thinking, this is a first-rate book of substance and quality. Highly recommended. 346 pp. 2002.

Seize the American Dream: 10 Entrepreneurial Success Strategies, by Jim H. Houtz. JaGrande Ventures (Quality Books, Inc.).
This book promotes ten disciplines or strategies that are essential to business success. They have been proven in a real-life software company the author founded in 1967 and sold in 1998. From that experience comes the insights that fill this work. The ten strategies encompass: the business plan; a differential marketing plan; an integrity-driven sales process; results-oriented management system; motivational human resources system; zero-defects product development system; empowered customer service department; employee-based strategic planning; customer-oriented quality control; and a constantly improving operations performance. This is a fast-paced tour-de-force intended to given broad guidance to organizational leaders in entrepreneurial or start-up enterprises. The thrust is creating a company built to grow, go public, and, possibly, sell. 192 pp. 2002.

The Success Case Method: Find Out Quickly What's Working and What's Not, by Robert O. Brinkerhoff. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Presents an approach, The Success Case Method, to testing innovations and modifications. The Method relies on detailed interviews with the people carrying out the change initiative. It can ferret out good ideas from a major change effort that is, on the whole, unsuccessful, so these gems can be salvaged. 220 pp. 2003.

Thin on Top: Why Corporate Governance Matters and How to Measure and Improve Board Performance, by Bob Garratt Nicholas Brealey Publishing (London).
This enlightening, to-the-point, and highly absorbing probe pulls no punches as it explores the rising power of CEOs and why boards fail. The book reveals how many recent business disasters are due to ignorance, strategic incompetence, and personal cowardice at the board level, along with the rise of the celebrity CEO. Garratt shows how boards can re-establish their governance role through: assessing board performance, developing a learning board, and professionalizing the board. Distinctions between UK and US boards are made, but boards in both countries face the same root issues. The author's views are carefully argued and gutsy, and his conclusions are strategic, forward-looking, and challenging to those at the top. The book is thick with insights and ideas. Must reading for directors, top executives, and other stakeholders. 246 pp. 2003.

The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer , by Jeffrey K. Liker. McGraw-Hill.
This book explains the Toyota Way and its production system-a new paradigm of manufacturing. The principles are divided into four sections: 1) long-term philosophy; 2) the right process for the right results; 3) adding value to the organization by developing people partners; and 4) driving organizational learning by continuously solving root problems. Liker shows how to apply the Toyota way and actions to achieve a lean, learning organization. The book provides deep insights into practices, techniques, and the way people are joined with technology into a successful sociotechnical system. Provides a rich understanding of manufacturing in Toyota. 330 pp. 2004.

Why Decisions Fail: Avoiding the Blunders and Traps That Lead to Debacles, by Paul C. Nutt. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Fifteen debacles are drawn to illustrate the book's key points from a database of 400 decisions. These cases illustrate what went wrong and what could have been done to turn things around. The author dispels myths about decision-making. The book examines best practice approaches and how tactics that stress logical and ethical rationality can be added to this mix, as well as how to include political considerations, and avoid ways that economics can be misleading. Each chapter is devoted to traps that lead to disasters and provides practices to avoid these blunders. A final chapter summarizes lessons and offers eight steps to increase the probability of decision-making success. Extremely informative, practical and well-organized. Highly recommended. 350 pp. 2002.

Winning, by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperBusiness).
The book's theme is simple: what it takes to win in business today. Topics covered include: the importance of mission and values; how candor leads to winning; eight rules of leadership; guidelines for effective hiring; eight practices for managing people; parting ways; change; and crisis management. A section is devoted to basic topics of business management: strategy; budgeting; organic growth; mergers and acquisitions; and six sigma. Welch devotes a section to landing the right job, getting promoted, what to do when you encounter a bad boss, and work-life balance. The book wraps up with a chapter on a variety of left-over. This fast read focuses on a host of generic topics and no great insights. The reader gets a breezy overview of things to know to be successful sprinkled with Jack Welch's favorite themes. 372 pp. 2005.