A Novel Approach
The Art of Profitability
By Adrian Slywotzky
Warner Books, 2002, $20
The Cure: Enterprise Medicine for Business
By Dan Paul and Jeff Cox
John Wiley & Sons, 2003, $24.95
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
By Patrick Lencioni
Jossey-Bass, 2002, $22
Every good story is centered around someone wanting something. Read enough dry texts on management strategies and you’ll want something too?a book that delivers its message with a little more juice. Enter the “novel for managers.” The aim of these books is obviously to make education a bit more fun. We’re not talking Jane Austen or John Grisham, but three recent management “novels” do package their lessons in a palatable read.
Have a few loose links in your supply chain? The Cure: Enterprise Medicine for Business, by Dan Paul and Jeff Cox, takes a curative look at the enterprisewide and supply chain management woes of Essential Corp. It would help if your own CEO is as ethical as Essential’s Rick Riggins?and if you also view management consultants as superheros?but the takeaway is that great companies cannot operate as siloed fiefdoms. As an existential aside: We never learn what Essential makes, but after delving into its generic product line, we realize it doesn’t matter.
The core message of The Cure is the whole point of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni. All corporate problems can be traced back to group dysfunction. If you’ve encountered the eyeball-roller, the know-it-all or the disconnected staring back at you from around the conference table, then you’ll identify with Kathryn. She’s the new CEO/heroine of Lencioni’s page-turner, trying her best to corral her disgruntled executive team toward higher functioning.
Can’t make enough money to afford group dysfunction? Try Adrian Slywotzky’s The Art of Profitability approach. Disciple Steve shows up for weekly sessions with a guru who dispenses sage advice and assignments. The idea behind this is for you to do the reading and homework so that you will gain a Zen-like insight into profit. It seems like a lot of work, but consider the results. Profit? Hey, I want some of that.
What They’re Reading
Gene Elias, vice president of IS/IT at Quiksilver
The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management, by Tom DeMarco (Dorset House, 1997)?”Essential for anyone just getting started in project management, especially software projects with multiple work teams”?and The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox (North River Press, 1992)?”Even though this is a ’story,’ it really gets to the heart of process improvement.”
Lee Lichlyter, vice president and CIO of Butler Manufacturing Co.
Necessary But Not Sufficient, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt (North River Press, 2000)?”An easy but very good book for anyone considering an ERP or major software investment.”
CIO Best-Seller List
1 What’s Next? Exploring the New Terrain for Business
By Eamonn Kelly and Peter Leyden
Perseus Publishing, 2002
By Rudolph W. Giuliani
Miramax Books, 2002
3 Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence
By Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
Harvard Business School Press, 2002
4 Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
By Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
Crown Publishing Group, 2002
5 Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
By Jim Collins
HarperCollins Publishers, 2001
Source: Data from December 2002 and January 2003, compiled by Powell’s Books, Portland, Ore.