Monday, October 31, 2016

Best Business Books 2016: Management

strategy+business, Winter 2016

by Theodore Kinni

It’s satisfying when corporate wrongdoing comes complete with a villain, preferably someone larger than life and twice as mean. Having an evil mastermind à la Bernie Madoff to pin things on sets up a happy ending. The bad guy or gal is brought to justice and, voilà, all is right in the business world.

Unfortunately, we are often denied that satisfaction. Some organizational disasters — such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Dieselgate — seem to occur as a result of unintentional internal combustion. Scapegoats always seem to be found, but it’s a stretch to argue that there was a black-mustachioed villain who put match to fuse. Instead, when the investigations are over, the real culprit turns out to be a hodgepodge of systems, processes, or managerial decisions that didn’t raise alarms until the consequences suddenly exploded.

This year’s three best business books on management offer compelling and useful advice on how to avoid such problems. In Pre-Suasion, the best of the group, Robert Cialdini explains how managers can be predisposed to make constructive decisions and can predispose others to take constructive action. In Managing in the Gray, Joseph L. Badaracco shows how managers can make difficult decisions in a more responsible manner. And in The Process Matters, Joel Brockner explores how the decisions that managers make when constructing processes can help prevent undesirable outcomes. Read the rest here.

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