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Reviews – Books

#1 Book That New Executives Must Read

KODIAK, Alaska (Sept. 27, 2011) The Naval Research Laboratory tactical satellite IV (TacSat-4) lifts-off from the Alaskan Aerospace Corporation's Kodiak Launch Complex aboard a Minotaur IV+ launch vehicle. TacSat-4 will have a unique highly elliptical orbit which augments current geosynchronous satellite communications and will support to tactical handhelds. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

You just got promoted into the Executive suites. You’ve been a manager for awhile now, with ever-increasing managerial responsibilities. You know how to manage that smaller group. But now you’re going to be running a full line of business, your own PL. You know how to manage 100. How do you manage 2,000?

Most business books have little to give the new executive other than platitudes that sound…

Summer Reading List

Like everyone else, I do a good deal of summer reading on the way to here or there. Or simply waiting for my baby to stop screaming. (Poor GERDy kid!) In addition to the mindless Kindle reading, which I’ll have to list elsewhere simply because I have no idea how to pull off my list from it, I’ve been busy with a bunch of research for a book I’m working on for someone else and some stuff that I’m…

Engineer-speak vs. Marketing-speak: Talking to engineers successfully

Young worker at the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad 40th street shops, 1942.

I’ve been reading the fascinating You’re In Charge — Now What?: The 8 point plan by Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin. It’s mostly about how incoming CEOs can handle the first 100 days. What got me hooked is that the process they describe in their first chapter is pretty much the one that I’m writing up about Jos Wintermans at Canadian Tire and Acceptance, Ltd. If you are starting a new managerial job, above Level 3 especially, I’d recommend taking a look at their points. They fluff some elements that require more rigorous thinking, but it is correct in its essentials.

The passage that struck me today is a short one about how a marketing guy, Jeff Killeen, handled the culture shock of starting as CEO at GlobalSpec. GlobalSpec is an engineering-focused company, and here he talks about the struggles he had both in developing a relationship with technical genius & founder, John Schneiter, and the engineers of the company. If you work with engineers or developers, this is relevant.

Friedman’s Predictions For the Next 100 Years

I’ve been reading some of the futurists materials. They improved since the old days: now they admit that most of details and technologies are pretty unknowable. And then they predict them anyway!

George Friedman — “chief intelligence officer” and founder of Strategic Forecasting, Inc., a private intelligence agency who is sometimes called the “shadow CIA” — weighs in with his…

Workplace Democracy, Participation and Power

ADLER typewriter Model n°7 (Frankfurt / Germany). Unknown model date (probably ~1930/40). By Dake

FromOrganizational Participation: Myth and Reality by Frank Heller, Eugen Pusicć, George Strauss, and Bernhard Wilpert. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 294 pp.

These experts (Heller is from Tavistock) have a brief mention of Wilfred Brown’s participative management at Glacier Metal Company.

In some individual cases the transition from autocracy to a variety of organizational forms where influence is more widely distributed can be achieved by deliberate intra-organizational processes, as for instance in the formation of the Scott Bader Commonwealth (Hoe 1978) or the democratization of the Glacier Metal Company (Jaques 1951; Wilfred Brown 1960). In the case of Scott Bader, the founder of the business was a devout Christian who, after a prolonged strike of his workforce. came to the conclusion that he no longer wished to be the sole owner. In the Commonwealth he created, every employee became formally a part owner and two potentially participative decision-making councils were set up. The Managing Director of the Glacier Metal Comapny, Wilfred Brown, was a very unusual person. He combined intellectual and socio-political interests (he was for a time a Minister in the British Labour Government with a very sympathetic attitude to social science which led him to engage a psychoanalytically oriented consultant, Elliot [sic] Jaques from the Tavistock Institute in London, to help introduce a participative-humanistic organization (Jaques 1951).

These two well documented cases, while not unique, are examples of substantial structural and to a lesser extent behavioural changes consequent on a policy decision by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In both cases the CEO stayed on the scene for sufficiently long to consolidate the structural changes and in both cases these changes survived the death of the founder for a number of years. [145-6]

Top 5 Job Assignments to Produce Learning (revisited)

Employees at Mid-Continent Refinery [ca. 1943 Tulsa, OK (LOC). By John Vachon]

Here are the Top 5 job assignments to produce learning with commentary: [full post]

Jaques First To Use “Culture” About Companies

Geert Hofstede, in “Culture’s Consequences”, says it plain: Elliott Jaques was the first to use “culture” in management literature.

Young Stars vs. Systematic Innovators

Man drawing complex diagrams on whiteboard. (c) alphaspirit. Shutterstock.

The Young Genius vs. Old Master ideas of David Galenson, professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. Probably a pretty straight-forward idea but one that troubles the fields of art and economics both. Hidden high potentials are often systematic innovators, and since these are less valued in our society, there are interesting implications.

Top 2008 Biz Books

strategy+business, the Booz Hamilton rag, has some interesting folks listing their top picks for 2008 biz books. The list is interesting because the range of people picking them.

Still, I’d rather hear from people I think are interesting. So, what did you read last year that you recommend? Post your list in the comments and I’ll do an interview with you about your list for the next occasiona…

John Shütz on Power and Authority

Schütz, John Howard. 2007 [1975]. Paul and the Anatomy of Apostolic Authority (New Testament Library). Louisville: Westminster John Knox. Pp. xxvi+307 (paper). ISBN 0664228127.

I heard about this in Wayne A. Meeks (1983), The First Urban Christians: The Social Life of the Apostle Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press), where Meeks notes:

John Shütz, in his important monograph on…

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