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Business books you must read

November 08, 2007 09:22 IST

It has been a good year for business books. Spoilt for choice, readers have had a tough time making up their minds. Should they find out why Nassim Nicholas Taleb is urging everybody to imagine the unimaginable (Black Swan), or delve into Alan Greenspan's take on the world economy (The Age of Turbulence)?

Will a look at how auto manufacturers are gearing up for new cars, new fuels and new technologies (Zoom) be more interesting than venturing deep into the dingy offices of investment bank Lazard Frerés to find out how multi-million deals were swung, and at what cost (The Last Tycoons)?

Those may be among the best business books of the year, but don't close the list just yet. There's more ahead. Several must-read books are planned for the coming few months, while some have been launched in the weeks just past.

Written by experts in management, business and strategy, these books promise to be inspiring, informative and educational. Some of them may even be fun reads.

The Future of Management
Gary Hamel
Harvard Business School Press
Pages: 288
India release: October 2007

Who wrote it

Gary Hamel is the visiting professor of strategic and international management at the London Business School. He is the author of Leading the Revolution and co-author, with C K Prahalad, of Competing for the Future.

What its about

Legacy beliefs prevent organisations from overcoming new, 21st-century challenges. The way forward is management innovation: new ways of mobilising talent, allocating resources and building strategies. How do you turn your company into a serial innovator and make it fit for the future? Case studies from Google, Whole Foods, IBM and Samsung help Hamel illustrate his new theories. Not all of it is practical, but Hamel's point of view is always interesting.

Redefining Global Strategy
Pankaj Ghemawat
Harvard Business School Press
Pages: 288
India release: October 2007

Who wrote it

Pankaj Ghemawat's website describes him as a "global strategist". On leave from Harvard as professor of business administration, he is currently professor of global strategy at IESE Business School, and is the author of several books on business strategy.

What it's about

Globalisation is a myth and thinking the world is flat is so Middle Ages. At best, the world is "semiglobalised", so cross-border integration does not necessarily mean standardisation. Quite the opposite, suggests Ghemawat. Most economic activity happens locally, so tailor your strategies to suit your markets. Examples from Toyota, Procter & Gamble, Tata Consultancy Services and IBM add some much-needed colour to this scholarly tome.

The Professional
Kenichi Ohmae
McGraw-Hill
Pages: 208
India release: January 2008

Who wrote it
Known as "Mr Strategy", Kenichi Ohmae is Japan's top management guru, a former senior partner at McKinsey & Co, and the author of more than 140 books, including the bestselling The Mind of the Strategist.

What it's about
The Professional was published in Japanese in 2005 and is appearing in English now for the first time. In it, Ohmae presents his vision for changing the culture of leadership, explaining how "professionals" (that is, managers) need to acquire the expertise, ethics and discipline to grow their business and deliver the highest value to customers, and how that will help them reclaim their social prominence and respectability.

Trump Never Give Up
Donald J Trump
Wiley
Pages: 208
India release: January 2008

Who wrote it

"The Donald" is the New York based real-estate magnate who had it all, lost it all and then got it all — all over again. Donald Trump is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest financial turn around in history. He is also the host of popular television reality show The Apprentice.

What it's about

In this follow-up to his 2006 bestseller Trump 101: The Way to Success, Trump shares dramatic stories from the most difficult moments in his career. Like in the earlier book, each story is followed by coaching and commentary from adversity expert Paul Stoltz. With chapters titled "When your wardrobe malfunctions in front of 10,000 people", "How would I look with a shaved head?" and "A billion dollars in the hole", this promises to be an entertaining, engaging read.

The Chindia Tide

Jagdish Sheth
Tata McGraw-Hill
Pages: 225
India release: December 2007

Who wrote it
Marketing guru Jagdish Sheth is professor of marketing at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. He is the author of more than 200 books and research papers, many of which are considered classics in their field.

What it's about
If the 20th century belonged to the US, Sheth believes the 21st will be China's and India's. "Chindia" will serve as the engine of growth for the global economy and it couldn't have happened at a better time — without these two powerhorses, the world economy would stumble, if not collapse. Like the US then, Chindia now is committed to a "peaceful rise" - which means not just prosperity, but much-needed stability as well. If you're interested in how post-colonial geopolitics plays out, this should be right up your street.

The Rule of Three in India
Jagdish Sheth, Rajendra S Sisodia and Gita Piramal
Tata McGraw-Hill
Pages: 300
India release: February 2008

Who wrote it

Rajendra Sisodia is professor of marketing and founding director of the Center for Marketing Technology at Bentley College, Massachusetts. He has co-authored several books with Jagdish Sheth. Gita Piramal is a consultant, an author and managing editor, The Smart Manager.

What it's about
In 2002, Sheth and Sisodia wrote the original The Rule of Three, postulating that only three players will dominate in any market. The rest will compete by specialising in product or market segment. The authors proved their theory with example after example from the developed world. Now, they're extending it to India, having studied over 200 companies here. How does the rule play out in India? What strategies should Indian companies adopt to ensure they emerge winners?

India's Century
Kamal Nath
Tata McGraw-Hill
Pages: 320
India release: November 2007

Who wrote it
Kamal Nath is the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry.

What it's about
It's being touted as the first book of its kind - "exclusive details and personal knowledge" of India's journey to becoming a global economic giant from a political insider. Anecdotes of Nath's negotiations with major national and international figures should be particularly interesting.

Leaders at All Levels
Ram Charan
Wiley
Pages: 192
India release: December 2007

Who wrote it
Internationally renowned leadership guru Ram Charan is a prolific writer. He co-authored (with Larry Bossidy) the wildly successful Execution and has also written bestsellers like What the CEO Wants You to Know and The Leadership Pipeline. He has taught at Harvard and Kellogg and consults with Fortune 100 giants such as Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont and GE.

What it's about
CEO failure is becoming increasingly common. But the crisis in leadership is as much a symptom as a cause of what is wrong with management today. Companies don't develop their unit managers' leadership potential and, therefore, the succession pipeline is never filled. With unit managers underdeveloped, execution is weak, further exacerbating the problem. Ram Charan advocates considering leadership development a core competency across organisations - a hands-on, integral business function that is implemented at all levels.

India's Global Wealth Club
Geoff Hiscock
Wiley
Pages: 320
India release: November 2007

Who wrote it
Veteran journalist Geoff Hiscock is Asia business editor and Sydney bureau chief for CNN.com International.

What it's about
Hiscock's earlier two books, Asia's Wealth Club and Asia's New Wealth Club covered 100 billionaires in the region. Now, he profiles 100 of India's richest and explains how they did it, listing seven "secrets" behind their success. The life stories are grouped according to sectors - the global top 10, followed by auto, pharma, media, aviation and so on.

We are Like That Only
Rama Bijapurkar
Portfolio Books
Pages: 292
India release: November 2007

Who wrote it
Marketing consultant Rama Bijapurkar is visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. She consults with a range of companies on market strategy and consumer behaviour and has worked with McKinsey & Co, Marg and Hindustan Lever.

What it's about
Why the Indian consumer is "like that only", why Consumer India will not change in a hurry, how Indians consume, what they buy, why they buy...Bijapurkar analyses 12 key aspects of Consumer India.

The Global Brain
By Satish Nambisan and Mohanbir Sawhney
Wharton School Publishing
Pages: 304
India release: November 2007

Who wrote it
A former area sales manager with Hindustan Lever, Satish Nambisan is a professor of technology management and strategy at the Lally School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Mohanbir Sawhney is the professor of technology and the director of the Center for Research in Technology & Innovation at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. This is his fourth book.

What it's about
In management speak, "global brain" refers to the network of people who can help enhance an organisation's innovation strategy, even though they lie outside its boundaries - customers, suppliers, researchers, independent inventors and so on. To innovate effectively, companies must harness these new sources of creativity. But there's really no one-size-fits-all strategy to "network-centric innovation". Drawing on the experiences of companies like IBM, Procter & Gamble, DuPont, 3M, Unilever and others, Nambisan and Sawhney show how to identify and create specific capabilities that enhance the innovation process, and include tips on how to overcome the "not invented here" mindset.

Value Merchants
James Anderson, Nirmalya Kumar and James Narus
Harvard Business
School Press
Pages: 240
India release: November 2007

Who wrote it
James Anderson is professor of marketing/ wholesale distribution at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Nirmalya Kumar is professor of marketing, director of Centre for Marketing, and co-director of Aditya V Birla India Center at London Business School. James Narus is a professor of marketing at the Babcock Graduate School of Management, Wake Forest University (Charlotte, NC).

What it's about
If the consumer market is tough, the B2B one is particularly cut-throat. Purchasing agents intent on paring their procurement costs have a single-point agenda - price concessions - which makes it especially difficult for suppliers to prove the "value" of their offerings. How can suppliers demonstrate superior value compared to the next best alternative from the customer's viewpoint? With case studies from Tata Steel, Quaker Chemical and Sonoco, Value Merchants appears a serious, academic work.

What the Customer Wants You to Know
Ram Charan
Portfolio Books
Pages: 160
India release: January 2008

Who wrote it
Ram Charan (See Leaders at All Levels)

What it's about
Rethinking sales from the outside in. Don't begin with what you have to sell, advises Ram Charan. Start with your customer's problems - understand what makes her tick. And then become a trusted partner, someone the customer turns to for creative, cost-effective solutions, which you will be able to provide because you know your customer inside out. A utopian ideal perhaps, but nice to read nevertheless.

Billions of Entrepreneurs
Tarun Khanna
Penguin Viking
Pages: 400
India release: February 2008

Who wrote it
Tarun Khanna is professor of strategy at Harvard Business School. He is co-editor of the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy and of the Journal of International Business Studies and serves on the editorial boards of several prestigious strategy and management journals.

What it's about
How do the entrepreneurial forces shaping India and China's development compare? Where do they overlap and complement one another and where do they diverge and compete? And how can Western companies participate in this development?

The Real Price of Everything
Michael Lewis
Penguin
pages: 1,472
India release: January 2008

Who wrote it
Michael Lewis is the bestselling author of Liar's Poker and Moneyball, which offered a never-before look behind the scenes on Wall Street.

What it's about
Lewis explores six classic economic texts that shaped the present economic system. That includes Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population, and John Keynes's General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. If the choice seems uncomfortably reminiscent of college required reading lists, you'll have Lewis's entertaining commentary to liven things up.

Meenakshi Radhakrishnan-Swami in Mumbai
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