Powering Down\nThis month\u2019s authors are convinced that decentralizing corporate power is a good thing. Now, if only the people at the top would agree.\nEdited by Carol Zarrow\nThe Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life\nBy Thomas W. Malone\nHarvard Business School Press, 2004, $29.95\nDuring the dotcom boom, the idea was touted often (and breathlessly) that in the future, corporate hierarchies would wither and a newly empowered workforce would make critical business decisions from the shop floor and the field office. While it remains a staple of software vendor pitches and career-building workshops, these days the notion that the rank and file might rule has about the same cachet as Kozmo.com.Yet decentralization as a management strategy isn\u2019t a passing fad, says Thomas W. Malone. In The Future of Work Malone argues that information technology makes the distribution of corporate power away from the executive suite both inevitable and desirable. It\u2019s now inexpensive and easy to collect and distribute information among many people (including outsourcers). And in case it isn\u2019t obvious by now, Malone reminds us that employees are happier when they have some control over what they do: Managers in a decentralized environment become facilitators, rather than enforcers of rules.\nThe book describes several models for decentralized decision making, with examples from companies like W.L. Gore (which makes Gore-Tex fabric) and Hewlett-Packard. To his credit, Malone acknowledges that for most organizations, central and distributed management structures will coexist well into the future, and he includes a method for weighing the costs and benefits of managing a process or activity without central control. But the most important part of the book is Chapter 10, "Cultivating People." Read it first to find out what you\u2019ll need to do as a leader to succeed in a decentralized environment. Hint: You have to give up some power. \n-Elana VaronThe Myth of Leadership: Creating Leaderless Organizations\nBy Jeffrey S. Nielsen\nDavies-Black Publishing, 2004, $25.95\n"Designing, managing and working in human organizations should be a joyous task." So begins Jeffrey S. Nielsen\u2019s book exploring the concept of peer-based leadership. In Nielsen\u2019s view, rank-based management?where the few executives at the top make decisions for the many underneath who do the actual work?is not the way to infuse workers\u2019 lives with joy, innovation or meaning. To truly offer a fulfilling (and ultimately profitable) work experience, organizations should be peer-based, with decision making the collective job of the employees who work closest to customers.\nAs Nielsen points out, many of the ideas he presents about peer-based management have been proposed before, by the likes of Peter Drucker, for example. While he does offer guidance as to how companies can gradually introduce peer-based concepts, Nielsen offers few suggestions for overcoming the real stumbling blocks?the executives themselves. With all the prestige, power and money currently associated with being a C-level executive, it\u2019s unlikely that many will willingly discard the "chief" in their titles and replace it with the adjective "consulting," as Nielsen recommends.\n-Megan SantosusCIO Best-Seller List\n5. Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron\nBy Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind\nPortfolio, 2003\n\n4. The Innovator\u2019s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth\nBy Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor\nHarvard Business School Press, 2003\n3. Guts! Companies That Blow the Doors Off Business-As-Usual\nBy Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg\nCurrency, 2003\n2. In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington\nBy Robert Rubin and Jacob Weisberg\nRandom House, 2003 \n1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don\u2019t\nBy Jim Collins\nHarperCollins, 2001\nSource: Data from March 2004, compiled by Powell\u2019s Books, Portland, Ore.