CIO Bookshelf: Business at the Speed of Stupid

From Stupid to Smart

Business @ the Speed of Stupid: Building Smart Companies After the Technology Shakeout

By Dan Burke and Alan Morrison

Perseus Publishing, 2001, $26

Everyone loves a good failure story. A book full of them is even better. The consultant authors of Business @ the Speed of Stupid base their chapters on real-life technology endeavors that failed?though names are changed to protect the stupid. Burke and Morrison adeptly cover the major issues surrounding a good idea gone bad, focusing primarily on the myth that technology can solve every problem. Also highlighted are cases in which the people involved in implementation completely failed to communicate?which Burke and Morrison point to as one of the key factors in technology venture failures. Misalignment as a factor in failure isn’t revolutionary thinking, but the authors manage to make their tales amusing and educational.

However, their own endeavor slides toward failure with the inclusion of their "always/never" tables, which offer hard and fast dos and don’ts that make the reader wonder why, if the rules for attaining success are that black and white, any company fails at all. Burke and Morrison compensate for their simplified suggestions with anecdotes about management misunderstandings and consultant failures that any project leader could relate to and learn from. Business @ the Speed of Stupid is a useful guide on how to avoid falling victim to technology hype and myth.

-Stephanie Viscasillas

Where There’s a Will

Will and Vision: How Latecomers Grow to Dominate Markets

By Gerard J. Tellis and Peter N. Golder

McGraw-Hill, 2001, $27.95

Although the new economy promotes the fast and furious, the authors of Will and Vision give the winning prize?long-term brand recognition?to the slow and steady. Companies don’t have to be first; they just have to be better, hitting the market with an innovative spin. A lot of us assume that today’s superbrands were the pioneers in their field, but being first with a great idea doesn’t equal automatic success and endurance, the authors claim, citing their 10-year investigation of late market entrants, including Netscape’s Navigator and Procter & Gamble’s Pampers. The writers make a convincing point, but some of their arguments come across as nitpicking?sure, King C. Gillette didn’t invent the safety razor, but give the guy’s company credit as the first out with a disposable version. Forget the questions the book raises, and use its case studies and chapter on finding and committing financial resources as tips to convince the higher-ups of your next brilliant, innovative idea.

-Sarah Johnson

CIO Best-Seller List

1. Jack: Straight from the Gut

by Jack Welch

Warner Books, 2001 2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don’t

by Jim Collins

HarperCollins Publishers, 2001 3. Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

by Spencer Johnson

The Putnam Publishing Group, 1998 4. Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen

Hyperion, 2000 5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey

Simon & Schuster, 1990

Source: Data from December 2001, compiled by Amazon.com, Seattle

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