The Party’s Over
Partners.com: How to Profit from the New DNA of BusinessBy Michael J. Cunningham
Perseus Publishing, 2001, $27.50
Ever show up at a Halloween party clad in the most ridiculous costume you could get your hands on, only to find it’s not a costume party? Perseus Publishing and Author Michael Cunningham might be wearing that panic-stricken look after the recent release of Partners.com, a book whose title contains the dreaded, now-pejorative dotcom. And worse, its subtitle implies there’s something new going on in business?even though 2001 has proved that the vaunted new economy ain’t no different from the old one.
Still, let’s not judge a book by its cover. Cunningham’s idea is sounder than the jargon in the title?doing partnerships right or wrong can dictate the entire direction of your business. And Cunningham gives us quite an aerial view of that thesis in his book. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much how-to in this how-to book as this reviewer wanted.
Cunningham’s at his best and clearly most comfortable when he starts in on a case study or writes from personal experience. But he constantly floats away from the practical to explain the next big concept or cute metaphor. For example, after a strong section of case studies and explanations of types of partnerships (a list clearly extracted from his consulting experience), Cunningham goes into a chapter titled “Building a Partner-Ready Organization (The B2x Corporation)” that starts off talking about linking vision and values. Suddenly, instead of being on the ground, in the thick of things, we’re 30,000 feet up in the air. Likewise, a long section on customer relationship management delineates the concept’s premise and the basic ways to get there, but offers little real-world analysis. Cunningham hardly acknowledges the pain CRM has brought to CIOs?or to customers, for that matter.
Partners.com will satisfy tech executives who want a high-level overview of current concepts. But I fear most of you know what CRM means and don’t have time for the airplane ride, since you’re down on the ground, trying to make all of it work.
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“Where I’ve seen executives fail more and more these days is their incapacity to continue to learn. And often that comes about because they’ve got the habit of success. There’s a great line from the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot, where one of the two characters says to the other, ’Habit is a great deadener.’”
-From a CIO Radio (www.cio.com/radio) interview with Warren G. Bennis, author of Managing the Dream: Reflections on Leadership and Change (Perseus Publishing, 2000)