Everything I Know About Business I Learned from Monopoly. Alan Axelrod.2002. ISBN 0762413271. I picked this up as I had enjoyed the same author’s books on Patton and Elizabeth I. He has a light breezy style. But nothing prepared me for this. Yes, I learned more about Monopoly the board game, and his treatise does make sense, but I read this with an ongoing “he really has to be kidding” sense of disbelief. The game metaphor is in some cases way too overpowering. Perhaps it was the juxtapositions with having recently read about Rupert Murdoch, but my normal disbelief was seriously compromised. So, if you can not reach me in the next few days, I just may be closing in on acquiring Marvin Gardens (greens are a desirable street), while creating a housing shortage (there are not enough to go around) because the game is not so much about winning as ensuring that the other players lose. Get it from the library since there is a better Monopoly strategy book, Philip Orbanes, The Monopoly Companion.
Business the Rupert Murdoch Way. Stuart Crainer. 2002. ISBN 1841121509. I picked this up because Murdoch has been so widely successful while other newspaper barons like Robert Maxwell and Conrad Black have flamed out. The core to it seems to be that besides being a widely distributed entrepreneur prone to big risks, Murdoch “knows that the future will be different from today and drives his business to be the first mover in new markets,” Big risks bring big payoffs. His China startegy is very intriguing. However it seems that unless he finds a way to really involve others in his empire, as he appears to be a confirmed driving micromanager, his empire may implode when he is no longer able to manage it day by day. Worth the read and the leadership ten tips. I found it in a bookbin…get it from the library if you are interested. Its a quick easy read, the same author has a book out on Jack Welsh.
Bad Boy Ballmer. The Man who Rules Microsoft. Frederic Alan Maxwell. 2002. ISBN 0066210143. An unauthorized biography which still does as fair job of assembling the real Balmer from the published PR and past records. The author did a lot of research and interviews to end up with a very easy to read and interesting book. Lots of insights and lessons to be learned here for those of us in the tech industry. Yes the picture is not always that pretty, but hey Andrew Carnegie for all his “good works” had a dark side to him too. Get it at the library and also at book warehouse at the moment .
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone. Axelrod et al. 2004. ISBN 157675278X. They tell us this is a book written by committee. And it is done quite well. The chapter on the meeting canoe (how to structure an effective meeting) is worth the price. Building on the team theme, this book continues the thought that none of us are as smart as all of us together. Many tactical tips on getting and keeping people involved. As useful for non profits (volunteers) as well as business groups. Plus it is short and very readable.
Video. What the Bleep Do We Know? The Movie. What a hoot of a movie. Put your mind in this blender. Quantum physics and its applications to some definitions of reality. Or the theory behind The Matrix if you want. http://www.whatthebleep.com/ Its worth the two hours despite a bit of a slow start. The speakers are worth the price of admission to me. (Plus it has a book list that is amazing!)
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Patrick Lencioni.2002. ISBN 0787960756. Another one of the four fables Lencioni has written. If you are in the process of planning for 2005 and want to look at how your team and management meetings are going, I recommend this book. Elegantly simple, devilishly difficult to do consistently, but team building is essential to building traction. He writes an easy to read, but compelling tale. Worth having on your library shelf.
Blockbusters. The five keys to developing great new products. (Based on a ten yr study of 700 new product launches). Gary .S. Lynn, Richard R. Reilly. 2002. ISBN 006008474X. Quite a cool readable book. Learn about the Apple IIe (market ldr for 8 yrs), Iomega Zip drive, Polycomm soundstation, Black and Decker Powershot. Palm Pilot and Handspring, Mars pathfinder. All marketplace blockbusters which impacted their industry in huge ways. These two break it out into five areas;
Compelling product vision,
Senior management commitment, and
Engineers will love this book , it has metrics! Plus it is a very easy and believable read. I found it in a bookbin.
Microsoft. First Generation. Cheryl Tsang. 2000.ISBN 0471332062. The story of 12 of the first Microsofites, the millionaires who have now retired with their riches. Lots of insight in many divisions and ways at Microsoft, plus insights into some of Gates and Balmers early interactions and styles. From employee no 7 to no 1007, these individual guys and gals have stories about product, division and international business development. They lasted an avg. of ten years and all of them would do again, given the chance. Of course they messed up their marriages, personal health and missed out on seeing their kids grow up. But they changed the world. In the bookbin. Easy read as the author is a writer. Get it from the library. I sense an edge under the book of much unsaid. I am waiting for the New Normal by MacNamee. It promises to turn our work upside down…again.
Here Be Dragons. Peter C. Newman. 2004. ISBN 0771067925. At over 2 inches and 200 000 words definitely not a book to trifle with. Loved it! Each chapter covers years and Newman puts hearts, feelings and guts out on each page. He is really cutting when it comes to politicians. As he says,” Canada can survive incompetent PMs and govts.” He has no reluctance to name the incompetents in any generation. Each chapter can stand on its own and it teaches us a lot about Canada and Newman. Good Canadians will want to buy, read and gift it or use the library, but you have to read it all! Lots of howlers here! 708pp. Partner Selling. Bob Frare. 2000.ISBN 1580622909. A primer on the subject of working with your customer to win win and long term sales value. Lots of very good material, written in a pragmatic easy to read style. Just the book to give to a non salesman technically oriented person to read about selling today. Very digestible, realistic and definitely useful. Bargain bin at Bookwarehouse or ask for a library loan.200pp
Alexanders the Great’s Art of Strategy. Partha Bose. 2003. ISBN 159240006X. This is quite a good book for strategy readers as well as bibliography types. Very readable, with lessons learned in each chapter, plus Bose jumps from each of Alexander’s famous battles, or actions with examples in modern industry that parallel his thinking. If you need an offset to the Art of War and Clauswitt’s War, this is a very good book to have handy. Else get it at the library (on sale at Book Warehouse).