The Embezzler

The Embezzler comes from a time when Americans still remembered the great depression and the old-money blue-bloods hadn’t entirely released their hold on New York. Auchincloss captures their views of themselves more realistically than a lot of writers probably have done. That, if no other reason, probably makes this book a worthy expenditure of time.
However, Embezzler is also a study in the tension between honor … [ Read more ]

Gain

In Gain, Powers puts our modernity through the wringer once again. This time, though, he points the finger at one villain in particular: rampant, American-style capitalism, as exemplified by a conglomerate called Clare International. His novel, it should be said, is no piece of agitprop, but an intricate lamination of two separate stories. On one hand, Powers describes the rise (and fall and rise) of … [ Read more ]

Management and Myths: Challenging Business Fads, Fallacies, and Fashions

This slim (172 pages) volume is a fun collection of short essays by a much-published professor of psychology at University College London. Nothing is sacred to Furnham, neither “Expensive Experts: The Consultant, the Trainer, and the Facilitator” (the subject of one essay) nor “Strategic Planning: Who Needs it?” (of another). Not that he is wholly a management skeptic; Furnham is, after all, a consultant to … [ Read more ]

How Do You Compare? 12 Simple Tests to Discover Hidden Truths About Your Personality

How clever are you? Is your relationship sexy enough? Are you living up to your creative potential?

You can find out in How Do You Compare?, which features twelve of the most interesting, scientifically devised personality tests used by professionals. With these fun quizzes and the thoughtful analysis and self-improvement hints accompanying each one, you will discover more about yourself in a short time than … [ Read more ]

The Call of the Mall

In his new book, Call of the Mall, Paco Underhill explains that the reason the rest rooms in America’s shopping malls are typically located at the end of a long, gloomy corridor is because malls are built by real estate developers, not merchants. Real estate developers, says Underhill, so resent having to dedicate any space to a non-revenue producing amenity, that they tuck it out … [ Read more ]

The Mission Statement Book: 301 Corporate Mission Statements from America’s Top Companies

America’s most successful companies, from Ben & Jerry’s to Federal Express to General Motors, rely on their mission statements for essential vision and guidance. In what the Washington Post has hailed as a “landmark” volume, Jeffrey Abrahams offers a selection of over 300 mission statements from America’s top companies and provides detailed advice on how to craft one to suit the needs of your organization. … [ Read more ]

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager’s Guide to Applying Systems Thinking

This practical handbook explains the basics of systems thinking and shows how to construct causal loop diagrams and computerized dynamics modeling. UK consultant Sherwood explores how these tools are used to analyze common business issues, such as stimulating growth and establishing policy and strategy.

Soldier of Fortune 500: A Management Survival Guide for the Consulting Wars

A must read for any consultant or more importantly any one who works with or hires consultants. Perhaps most importantly from a financial perspective, Romaine lays out a new conflict within the nexus of contracts: the shareholder vs. the consultant. While not necessarily against each other, the consultant has a much shorter time frame and hence differing incentives and we know that incentive … [ Read more ]

Moral Hazard: A Novel

This short, self-assured novel by Australian-born Jennings (Snake) brilliantly depicts the complicated life of a working woman on Wall Street during the dot-com boom. Cath, a freelance writer in her 40s, is married to Bailey, who’s 25 years her senior. When he develops Alzheimer’s, she takes a speech-writing job at an investment bank to pay for his expensive medical care. Wry but realistic, and realizing … [ Read more ]

Global Communications Since 1844: Geopolitics and Technology

Need an antidote to the gloom and doom surrounding the high-tech market? Read Peter J. Hugill’s Global Communications Since 1844 and share its long-term perspective with your team. Contrary to the popular view that wireless is a late 20th century phenomenon, Hugill points out that wireless is 100 years young this year (happy birthday), and that global digital communications have been around for 150 years. … [ Read more ]

The Age of Unreason

Handy, a British specialist in organizational management, predicts that the 21st century will be the Age of Unreason. In an era when changes in business and society will be “discontinuous” or patternless, he suggests that our thinking must become discontinuous or “unreasonable” in order to use such changes to our advantage. While his thesis is generally in line with strategists like Tom Peters ( In … [ Read more ]

The Future of Success: Working and Living in the New Economy

If you think it’s getting harder to both make a living and make a life, economist and former secretary of labor Robert Reich agrees with you. Americans may be earning more than ever before, but we’re paying a steep price: we’re working longer, seeing our families less, and our communities are fragmenting.

With the clarity and insight that are his hallmarks, Reich delineates what success has … [ Read more ]

Company Man: The Rise and Fall of Corporate Life

In this provocative and incisive social history of the corporation, British journalist Sampson observes that the “organization man” of the 1950s and ’60s – a loyal worker confident of annual raises and a growing pension – is virtually extinct. Today’s company men and company women face insecurity in offices that seem placeless networks of telecommuters and data banks, with short-term specialists and consultants increasingly replacing … [ Read more ]

The Silent Takeover : Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy

Cambridge University economist Hertz asserts that Reagan’s and Thatcher’s brand of free market capitalism has had dire social and political repercussions, although it has triumphed as the dominant world ideology and brought prosperity to many. She sensibly argues that with government in retreat from its traditional rule-setter role, multinational corporations have grown so powerful (51 of the hundred biggest economies in the world are corporations) … [ Read more ]

The Deviant’s Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets

Consultants (and “futurists”) Mathews and Wacker present a book about cashing in on weird ideas. Defining deviance as “something or someone operating in a defined measure away from the norm,” the authors examine the transformation that takes fringe ideas-such as jazz, holistic medicine, and even personal computing-into mass markets. They use examples such as Virgin mogul Richard Branson (whom they call a “poster boy” for … [ Read more ]

Linked: The New Science of Networks

How is the human brain like the AIDS epidemic? Ask physicist Albert-László Barabási and he’ll explain them both in terms of networks of individual nodes connected via complex but understandable relationships. Linked: The New Science of Networks is his bright, accessible guide to the fundamentals underlying neurology, epidemiology, Internet traffic, and many other fields united by complexity.

Barabási’s gift for concrete, non-mathematical explanations and penchant for … [ Read more ]

“The Times” Book of Quotations

“It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations,” wrote Winston Churchill in 1930. “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently.” Unlike Bartlett’s, The Times Book of Quotations cuts Sir Winston off before he can deliver the plug for its competitor. That act of self-interest notwithstanding, the Times volume is a better choice for business … [ Read more ]

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Why do otherwise intelligent individuals form seething masses of idiocy when they engage in collective action? Why do financially sensible people jump lemming-like into hare-brained speculative frenzies–only to jump broker-like out of windows when their fantasies dissolve? We may think that the Great Crash of 1929, junk bonds of the ’80s, and over-valued high-tech stocks of the ’90s are peculiarly 20th century aberrations, but Mackay’s … [ Read more ]

The Sum of Our Discontent: Why Numbers Make Us Irrational

The obsession with quantification, especially in the business world, makes it all the more difficult to discern the measures that matter and the ones we can trust. Boyle argues that our trouble in understanding complex economic and sociological problems is linked to our over reliance on simple statistical explanations.

Invisible Advantage: How Intangibles Are Driving Business Performance

Invisible Advantage, by Jonathan Low and Pam Cohen Kalafut, is a thoughtful analysis of the value of intangible assets in today’s corporate world with solid recommendations for turning them into a competitive edge. Low and Kalafut, who have undertaken several major research projects on this topic and presented their results at forums worldwide, say a dozen nonmaterial resources in particular have played a significant role … [ Read more ]