Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Finding common ground

My post on s+b's blog this week is about a quietly fascinating book that examines a mediator's career for insights into conflict resolution and change management:

What Managers Can Learn from Mediators
When it comes to challenging careers, mediation can make management look like a cakewalk. Take the contentious and long-running disputes over water rights, grazing land, nuclear waste dumps, and Native American treaties that arise on environmental mediator Lucy Moore’s home turf in the Southwestern United States. These are the kinds of conflicts that can lead to real-life shoot-’em-ups. 
Moore has written an engaging and thoughtful new book, Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator (Island Press, 2013), in which she describes her work and, better yet, teases out some of the lessons she has learned about getting people with sometimes radically different backgrounds and perspectives to come together and undertake the rest here

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Daniel Pink’s new pitch

A few months ago, I got the opportunity to interview Dan Pink for strategy+business. Smart guy, great writer, fun to talk with. The results were published yesterday. Here's the opening:

Daniel Pink didn’t plan a career exploring the world of work as much as he gravitated toward it. After studying linguistics at Northwestern University and law at Yale, he became an aide to U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, and then served as chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore. “When I had the opportunity to dole out assignments, I kept the ones about work, labor, business, economics, and technology,” he recalls.  
In 1997, disillusioned by the realities of politics and burned out by the workload, Pink quit to write under his own byline. An article published in Fast Company later that year became the kernel for his acclaimed first book, Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself (Warner Books, 2002). It plumbed the transition from employee to self-employment by millions of people much like Pink himself, and established a format that Pink has been following ever since: presenting a highly articulate, accessible synthesis of a topic or trend and a practical tool kit for putting it to work at work.
Several more books followed, bringing Pink into the ranks of the world’s leading management thinkers and speakers. His most recent book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others (Riverhead Books, 2012), explores a topic ripe, perhaps even overripe, for Pinkian synthesis. The very nature of selling has been fundamentally altered by digitization, which continues to render long-accepted sales conventions irrelevant, yet, paradoxically, makes salespeople more important to companies and customers than ever the rest here

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

China's real industrial advantage

My post on the s+b blog this week is about a book that seeks to illuminate one of the less understood sources of China's industrial might:

Government Subsidies Pave the Way in China
In the 2000s, China transformed itself from a net importer to one of the largest producers and exporters in the world in four mature, capital-intensive industries: steel, glass, paper, and auto parts. What accounted for this success, which in each case was achieved in a short five-year span? 
Industry research reveals that each of the four has relatively low labor requirements, so it wasn't China’s seemingly endless supply of inexpensive workers. The Chinese companies didn't enjoy economies of scale or scope. Nor did the undervaluation of the renminbi explain their growth.
According to Usha Haley, director of West Virginia University’s Robbins Center for Global Business and Strategy, and George Haley, a professor of marketing and international business at the University of New Haven, it was government subsidies that drove this industrial transformation. In Subsidies to Chinese Industry: State Capitalism, Business Strategy, and Trade Policy (Oxford University Press, 2013), they calculate that subsidies from China’s governmental bodies—in the form of free or low-cost loans, energy, materials, land, and technology—provided the dollar equivalent of as much as 30 percent of the output of these four the rest here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A practical take on creativity

This week's book post on the s+b blog is a one-question interview with the authors of a new book proposing that we rein in our creativity efforts: 
Thinking Inside the Box
Books about business innovation seem to arrive as quickly as ideas on a whiteboard in a brainstorming session. But Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results  (Simon & Schuster, 2013), by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg, jumps out for its counterintuitive take on creativity.
In the book, Boyd, assistant professor of marketing and innovation at the University of Cincinnati and former director of Johnson & Johnson’s Marketing Mastery program, and Goldenberg, professor of marketing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s School of Business Administration, assert that thinking inside the box enhances idea generation. Thus, they argue, innovation initiatives should be limited to resources close at the rest here

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

John J. Raskob: A CFO for the Roaring '20s

My book post on s+b's blog this week covers the first biography of the most influential CFO in the U.S. a century ago.

Resurrecting a Forgotten Capitalist 
In June 2013, echoes of the Roaring 20s were everywhere in Manhattan. The Great Gatsby was in movie theaters, and the film’s marketing partners—the Plaza Hotel, Brooks Brothers, and Tiffany among them—were playing up their Gatsby connections and collections. Oxford University Press got into the act, too, with the timely release of Temple University history professor David Farber’s seminal biography, Everybody Ought to Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob, Capitalist. 
Raskob is relatively unremembered today, but he shouldn’t be: He is as much an icon of that high-flying decade as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s glamorous and doomed protagonist, Jay Gatsby. Raskob was America’s leading CFO (“treasurer” in those days). Reportedly able to size up complex financials at a glance, Raskob was instrumental in the growth of two industrial giants: DuPont and General the rest here

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How to get filthy rich in rising Asia

This week, my book post on the s+b blogs calls out a novel that offers lessons about the pursuit of wealth.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia  
It’s always enlightening—and enjoyable—to read business literature that actually qualifies as literature. And Mohsin Hamid’s new novel fits the bill perfectly.
Hamid, whose previous novels, The Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, were shortlisted for several major literary awards, including the Booker Prize, creatively appropriates the self-help format in How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. It’s the life story of an unnamed man, an amoral Horatio Alger who is born to a poor family in a rural village in a country that sounds a lot like India (but could be any developing nation with an emerging economy) the rest here.