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ISBN 9780066620992 Published Oct. 2001
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Posted April 30, 2008 10:13 a.m. by kate
In General Management - 800 CEO Read Blog
A technology pundit told Collins that, "'We live in an era when nothing can be built to last. Everything is in flux; nothing can sustain.'"
When looking at the Fortune 500 facts presented in the piece, that seems to be true:
* Of the 500 companies that appeared on the first list, in 1955, only 71 have a place on the list today. (The 1955 list included industrial companies only, whereas today's list also includes service companies.)
* Some of the most powerful companies on today's list--businesses like Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Dell, and Google--grew from zero to great upon entirely new technologies, bumping venerable old companies off the list. Robert Noyce invented the integrated circuit in 1958, three years after the first Fortune 500. Dozens of companies on this year's list did not even exist in 1955.
* Some of the most celebrated companies in history no longer even appear on the 500, having fallen from great to good to gone from the list--companies like Scott Paper, Zenith, Rubbermaid, Chrysler, Teledyne, Warner Lambert, and Bethlehem Steel--most often because they gave up their independence, and sometimes because they outright died.
Jim counters those points with proof of endurance: P&G, started before the American Civil War, continues to succeed; as does Johnson & Johnson whose roots were planted back in 1886 and GE which has been around for over 100 years. Then there's Nucor Steel who rose from near bankruptcy to the 151 spot on the Fortune 500 list (its story can be found in the out-of-print book, American Steel). Or Xerox which turned over profits of over $1 billion in 2007, a mere seven years after suffering losses of over $300 million.
Jim's underlying message is that the environment is not responsible for a company's success or failure. He points out that success or failure "depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you."
The full article is available here.
"The Modern Era's Second Worst Promulgator of Intelligence Reduction"
Posted March 21, 2008 5:00 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In The Company - 800 CEO Read Blog
The following is my letter to the editors of Fast Company Magazine on Elizabeth Spiers recent column in their publication. You can read Spiers column here. Kate wrote about it earlier in the week, and I couldn't let it pass either.
I write to provide a needed counterpoint to Elizabeth Spiers April 2008 Not So Fast column titled "Library of The Living Dead."
I will start where she ends, agreeing in fact with Spiers' ultimate conclusion: Business books are self-help, by their very definition. The implication that business books fall strictly into the "I'm OK, You're OK" segment of self-help is where Spiers and I diverge. A book publisher recently shared research with me that showed the number one reason people buy business books is to find a solution to a problem. Sitting at the educational crossroads between "I know nothing about this," and "Let's hire a consultant," business books contain a high value proposition for the twenty dollars and two hours spent. Not, as Spiers says, to abdicate responsibility for the choices they make. Instead, it takes a great deal of personal awareness to look for answers from those who offer experiential lessons in books.
The packaging of those lessons receives the majority of criticism in Ms. Spiers column and I am always dismayed by the problems pundits have with this aspect of the industry. Human civilization is built upon stories and when an author chooses a fable as the delivery device, the writer is making the lessons more accessible to a wider audience.
The "12-step-ification" is a crutch that bloggers, business magazines, and book publishers certainly use alike, in the same way celebrity authors are used to garner attention and sell product. This is simply product marketing through concreteness and social proof.
The bestseller list as a guide to the "best" in the category is just another form of social proof. My optimism for the category would bring me to highlight Gallup's research-based StrengthsFinder 2.0 or Jim Collins' insightful and wonderful written Good to Great as evidence that some books that make the bestseller list really deserve the title.
In the case of John Kotter, we have the benefit of choosing either his current top-selling fable, or his 1996 book "Leading Change," which has sold over a million copies. Both books tackle the same content, but offer options for the reader to choose his method of consumption.
Ms. Spiers overall indictment of the entire business book category is an easy mark and one that could be applied to any genre of media. Her elitism about what constitutes good reading compounds the problem further. While I can appreciate her hyperbole as a method to communicate some criticism about the genre, a more subtle treatment of the subject would, I believe, be more effective.
Beyond that, Fast Company is a magazine that has always supported business ideas. A simplistic column like Spiers' goes against the very DNA of your publication. The mantra "WORK IS PERSONAL" matches well with Thoreau's or Emerson's definition of self-help. The publication of this column leaves me wondering just how that mission has been served.
Five Books from 2007: Wikinomics, Halo Effect, Firing Back, one on Starbucks and a Fable.
Posted Dec. 26, 2007 5:42 a.m. by kate
In Lists - 800 CEO Read Blog
Carol Hymowitz over at the WSJ shared her list of business books for holiday reading (you may need to log in). On it, were these books:
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams.
This is what we've all been talking about in the past few years and even more so since the rise of Wikipedia. What's the future of mass collaboration and how is it changing what we do? Here's an introduction to our new wiki-ed world. For more, join Don, Anthony and friends over at their blog.
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The Halo Effect ... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers by Phil Rosenzweig.
One controversial title of the year as Phil debates the merits of many well-known business titles: Good to Great and In Search of Excellence. As Carol explains, "The Halo Effect is for executives who aren't looking for a quick-fix prescription and who understand that winning depends on knowing one's own company and on executing smart decisions well -- with a little
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The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni.
Here's a good airplane read and another of the Lencioni fables. The three signs of a miserable job: irrelevance, immeasurability, and anonymity. Even if you're not a friend of fables, check out the back portion for the guts of the book.
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Firing Back -- How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward.
The title is self-explanatory. How do you get back up and revamp your career? By the way, Jeffrey was recently in a Fortune article.
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How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill
This past fall, Michael visited us in Milwaukee. Jon had a chance to interview him. This is Michael's story of how he went from having everything to working at Starbucks -- quite a humbling experience.
Best Books To Make Best Workplaces
Posted Oct. 8, 2007 2:36 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In Lists - 800 CEO Read Blog
Last week, The Wall Street Journal announced their Top Small Workplaces 2007 winners.
The Journal asked the folks who run those places what books they would recommend to others trying to create first-class workplaces. Here the alphabetical list of their selections. Click through on the link above to read the winners' comments:
- "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu
- "The Best of Jack Falvey on Management" by Jack Falvey (out of print)
- "The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It" by Michael E. Gerber
- "Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done" by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burck
- "First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
- "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable" by Patrick Lencioni
- "Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise" by Peter Block
- "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don't" by Jim Collins
- "Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great" by Jim Collins
- "The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America" by David Whyte
- "The New Pay: Linking Employee and Organizational Performance" by Jay R. Schuster and Patricia K. Zingheim (out of print)
- "Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future" by Joel Arthur Barker
- "Strategic Planning: What Every Manager Must Know" by George A. Steiner (out of print)
- "Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life" by Spencer Johnson
- "A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age" by Daniel H. Pink
Financial Times Asks "What Is Best Business Book of All Time?"
Posted Sept. 28, 2007 9:53 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In Publishing Industry - 800 CEO Read Blog
In conjunction with their Business Book of The Year Award, The Financial Times is asking the question: "What is the best book of all time?" They solicited suggestions from a wide variety of business executives, including GE's Jeff Immelt and Ebay's Meg Whitman. The editorial staff then created a short list using the same criterea as their yearly awards. The finalists are:
- Barbarians at the Gate, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar (1990)
- The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker (1966)
- Good to Great, by Jim Collins (2001)
- The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clay Christensen (1997)
- The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith (1776)
You can cast your vote and leave comments if you think they missed the mark with their selections.