Category Archives: Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: “Leverage: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture” by John R. Childress (2013)

Leverage: The CEO's Guide to Corporate Culture by John R. Childress Defining corporate culture and its impact on strategy has become a major area in academic research and in the world of consultancy. John Childress’ book, which is entertaining and gives many examples, tries to outline exactly what culture is and how this can be dealt with on a day to day basis.

Key words:

Corporate culture, leadership, organization, management, employees, subculture

Summary:

John Childress

Childress investigates social aspects within corporations and decribes their influences

Childress is a management consultant and clearly has a good understanding of what culture is and its impact on the results of a company. He gives some nice examples of disasters within companies due to their culture not being aligned with their strategy. Carly Fiorina failed as the CEO of Hewlett Packard because she tried to impose a sales driven culture in an organization that was largely dominated by engineers who simply did not understand what the CEO was trying to achieve. This is an excellent lesson in the fact that performance is not just a question of having a top-down strategy that is imposed by senior management. In fact, the rank and file of an organization and employees of all levels have a big role to play in ensuring that the company performs well.

One of Childress’ big contributions is pointing out that often managers and bosses possess ambitious plans in changing the culture of an organization. Unfortunately, this rarely works. In fact, companies that have managed to change their culture have done so by making small changes and consistently driving them forward on a day-to-day basis. Of course, this is not quite as sexy as the grandiose plan, but it is much more effective.

The book is also highly entertaining in that it gives many diagrams to make the notion of corporate culture easier to understand. In one graph, it shows just how unpopular Ryanair is with a 35 to 40 percent negative rating in a Yougov poll. This has not stopped the company from becoming highly successful. Culture can be very important in ensuring that the alignment between strategy and culture is adequately executed and will make a major contribution to the success of a company.

BBC interviews Google’s employees about corporate culture
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_R3XG7s2hw

Interesting quotes:

“Carly Fiona, the celebrity CEO of Hewlett-Packard was fired for trying to turn a culture of “technical excellence” to “sales culture.” It was a change too far and HP culture was too strong.”

“CEOs can talk and blab all day about culture, but the employees know who the jerks are. – Jack Welch”

“Warren Buffett, one of the more savvy investors of the past three decades, made a bold and profound statement in a recent annual letter to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders: “Culture, more than rule books, determines how an organization behaves.”

“The culture of the factory is its customary and traditional way of thinking and of doing things, which is shared to a greater or lesser extent by all its members, and which new members must learn, and at least partially accept, in order to be accepted into service in the firm.”

“MIT Professor Edgar Schein (often referred to as the father of corporate culture) put culture on a more solid academic footing when he published Organizational Culture and Leadership in 1985.”

“Booz Allen Hamilton, along with The Aspen Institute conducted a global survey in 2005 with 9500 senior executives. They found that 89% of the companies surveyed had written values statements.”

“They found that 89% of the companies surveyed had written values statements.”

“Your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does. – Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon”

“Another problem with so many experts writing about culture is the confusion between corporate culture and climate.”

“I believe it makes good sense for the senior executives to look closely at the business processes they are using internally. What I suspect you will find is that many of them are “legacy processes” developed some time ago when business conditions are different and might just be fostering a set of behaviours counter to the culture you now require.”

“The Netflix culture deck, titled Netflix Culture, Freedom and Responsibility, published on the web (Hastings, 2013) has over 4 million viewings and Facebook likes. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, called it “the most important document ever to come out of Silicon Valley.”

“People don’t resist change. They resist changed! – Peter Senge”

“75% of what people want from work is NOT pay related!”

“When you hear the word “merger of equals”, grab your wallet and run!”

 

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BOOK REVIEW: “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath (2010)

Made-to-Stick cover

Common myths and stories that are so popular that they have become ingrained in our culture, and become retold throughout the world: Did you know that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space? You did? It’s not true.  It’s what´s known as an urban myth.  These are so stories that are so popular that they have become ingrained in our culture, and become retold throughout the world.  In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath explain why some of these stories ‘stick.’ 

BOOK REVIEW: “The New Yorker: Office Humor” by Jean-Loup Chiflet (2012)

The New YorkerI am very grateful to a colleague at work who clearly to took pity on me after seeing all those book reviews on strategy and management stuff. Thinking that I needed a break but realizing that Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy was probably a waste of time, she offered me a collection of cartoons on office humour taken from The New Yorker. Work is one of those things that unite people across borders. Many of the cartoons are easy to identify with whether you are in Stockholm, Shanghai or Santiago de Chile. It is a nice way to take a break. 

BOOK REVIEW: “Promises Fulfilled and Unfulfilled in Management Education” by Howard Thomas, Lynne Thomas and Alexander Wilson (2013)

Promises Fulfilled and Unfulfilled in Management EducationCommissioned by EFMD and Emerald, this book is an analysis of thirty-nine interviews of key stakeholders in management education.  It sets out some of the major issues and talking points, taking the reader through the history of management education to ongoing challenges.  Many of these issues are not new, such as the role and value of research, the relevance of teaching done in the classroom, and links to the corporate world.  Criticisms of business schools have been ongoing over the past ten years, most notably from within the industry.  In 2005, Chris Grey of Warwick Business School argued that they have become just finishing schools for elites to prepare them for well-paid positions in finance and consulting. 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: “Confidence : How winning streaks and losing streaks begin and end” by Rosabeth M. Kanter (2004)

Confidence How winning streaks and losing streaks begin and endRosebeth Kanter holds the Earnest Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School and specializes in strategy innovation and leadership for change. One of her areas of research is why organizations and people gain confidence and why they lose it. This book outlines some of the main reasons that she has discovered as the result of 300 interviews and two surveys with over 2700 responses.

Key words

Confidence, organization, people, sports teams, corporations, Gillette, Continental Airlines, BBC, Harvard Business School

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BOOK REVIEW : “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

How Google WorksAny company that is so successful that its name has become a verb deserves to be studied. This excellent book gives some insights into the workings of one of today’s richest and most admired companies. I’m very grateful to my colleague, Gordon Ray, for having brought this to my attention.

Key words

Google, company culture, innovation, talent management, Jeff Bezos, network, search machine

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Book Review- Leadership and Organisation in the Aviation Industry by Marc-Philippe Lumpé

Leadership and Organisation in the Aviation Indusleadership and organisation- lumpetry is a dense and well written book about different how different professional cultures interact. The book is based upon a PhD by Marc-Philippe Lumpé. He basis his analysis the GLOBE project and how that relates to the aviation industry The GLOBE project (global leadership and organisational behaviour effectiveness research project incorporated the ILT and HOFSTEDEs dimensions into one unique study. In short it looked at national culture and how different cultures adapt to such things as: uncertainty avoidance, power distance, social collectivism, future orientation etc. The theoretical basis of this book centres around this study and how it helps us understand different national and professional cultures. 

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INTRODUCTION of the author & entrepreneur Peter Wilcock (a guest post by Philip Warwick)

The Business Whisperer This week, Philip Warwick, Senior Teaching Fellow at Durham University Business School, UK, introduces the author Peter Wilcock who visited Durham in November this year. Wilcock’s new book “The Business Whisperer” helps budding entrepreneurs to develop the tools they need to be successful business people. 

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BOOK REVIEW: “Network Advantage: How to Unlock Value From Your Alliances and Partnerships” by Heinrich Greve, Tim Rowley & Andrew Shipilov (2014)

Network Advantage: How to Unlock Value From Your Alliances and Partnerships by Heinrich Greve, Tim Rowley & Andrew Shipilov

Greve, Rowley and Shiplov have done extensive academic work and research on alliances over the past two decades. According to the authors of Network Advantage, companies have made more than 42,000 alliances in the past ten years. Despite this experience, many of them failed to be successful. This book explains why so many alliances fail and gives advice on how companies can work to ensure that they improve their chances of succeeding when they make alliances. This book is designed to give easier access to some of their research and is written in a style that would most managers of the general public will find easy to understand.

Key words

Network, alliances, corporation, value creation, partnerships

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BOOK REVIEW: “Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs” by David B. Yoffie & Michael A. Cusumano (2015)

Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve JobsDavid Yoffie and Michael Cusumano spent almost 30 years studying Steve Jobs, Andy Grove and Bill Gates. Both have already written extensively about the technology industries. This book brings into perspective strategic rules having used of the three CEOs that have the most effects on the technology industry and business in general over the last few decades.

Key words

Technology industries, Steve Jobs, Andy Grove, Bill Gates, Five rules, Harvard Business School, MIT

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BOOK REVIEW: “Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Company and Career” by Andrew S. Grove (1996)

Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew S. GroveThe legend has it that Intel employees saw the impression “Only the Paranoid Survive” as they walked into the building every morning. Andrew Grove Intel’s first employee is certainly happy to own the expression. Despite the fact that Intel has come to dominate the semiconductor market particularly in the PC industry. Despite the fact they had 80% market share on stage and despite the fact that the company was so successful that it was even investigated by antitrust and abuse of monopoly power by the US government. Groove was right clear on the fact that competitors were out there to bring Intel down. This book is a fascinating read on one of the most successful technology companies in the past few decades.

Key words

Semiconductor, Grove, Intel, Moore, Strategy, Pentium

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BOOK REVIEW: “From Worst to First” By Gordon Bethune (1999)

From-Worst-to-First-by-Gordon-Bethune

The turnaround of continental airlines in the 1980’s is one of the most remarkable stories of the corporate world. The company was set up in 1934 and for decades had been known for quality of its service and the stability and caring of its governance structure. Indeed the CEO Bob Six had actually been CEO of the company from 1936 till 1981. The deregulation of the airline industry by the Carter administration changed all that. Suddenly, Airline companies became caught in a dog fight for market share. In an industry that saw its profits plummeting due to the increase of oil prices and also the lack of barriers to entry in the industry. By the time Gordon Bethune took over in 1994, the company had gone bankrupt already and had gone through 10 leaders in 10 years and looked, to all intents and purposes to be totally doomed. Continue reading

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Book Review: Emerging Multinationals in Emerging Markets by Ravi Ramaruti and Jitendra Singh (2010)

 

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Book Review by Philip Warwick, Durham University Business School

Ramamurti and Singh have achieved the rare feat of editing a book that is at the same time interesting and has academic rigour. With their contributors, they set out to explain the increasingly important role of emerging market multinational enterprises (EMNEs) in the world economy. At the start they say that they want to determine to what extent the success of these emerging market companies is based on their country of origin and to what extent their success can be explained by existing mainstream international business theory. Alternatively, is a new explanation needed? In the first paragraph they list some of the organisations to which they are referring: Huawei (telecommunications) of China, Cemex (Cement and Construction) of Mexico, Gazprom (Oil and Gas) of Russia and Embraer of Brazil, whose planes I fly in if I travel  to Europe on KLM’s short haul services.

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