Saturday, September 30, 2006

KM is often 'nothing more than a sophisticated shuffling of electronic data'

Manage Mentor

The Wisdom Network
Steve Benton and Melissa Giovagnoli
Amacom (www.amacombooks.org)

Knowledge mined ineffectively

As a result people with ‘astonishing expertise and insights' may be confined to ‘a narrow range of topics'. Can't KM or knowledge management help? Yes, it can, but sadly KM is often "nothing more than a sophisticated shuffling of electronic data rather than a synergistic exchange of both information and ideas." On the positive side, however, informal networks arise, ‘sometimes virtually in the form of chat rooms or websites'

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Managing is a difficult, nuanced business

Manage Mentor

Managers Not MBAs
Henry Mintzberg
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

MBAs prepare people to manage nothing

Academic approach in management education is as faulty as ‘trying to teach psychology to someone who has never met another human being'. Why so? Because organisations are complex phenomena, explains the author. "Managing them is a difficult, nuanced business, requiring all sorts of tacit understanding that can only be gained in context. Trying to teach it to people who have never practised is worse than a waste of time - it demeans management."

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Be willing to ask simple - sometimes almost embarrassingly simple - questions

Manage Mentor

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars
Patrick Lencioni
Wiley India (www.wileyindia.com)

Silos can wreak havoc

One of Jude's first assignments is at JMJ, where he identifies ‘a few redundant processes that experienced plant managers had overlooked after years on the job'. Factory supervisors who were more accustomed to ‘cocky management consultants from the high-priced Ivy League firms' are able to trust Jude because of ‘his willingness to ask simple - sometimes almost embarrassingly simple - questions, and his lack of condescension and pretention'.

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Vision is where you want to go, mission is what you do on the way

Manage Mentor

How Great Leaders Get Great Results
John Baldoni
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

Keep on keeping on

Next comes ‘vision', because the leader has to ‘point the organisation in the right direction.' Vision creates expectations, explains Badoni. Think big, he exhorts leaders. Then, focus the vision and describe it in real terms. "Vision is where you want to go. Mission is what you do on the way." Third essential is ‘alignment' - of vision with reality.

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Compose with fury and correct with phlegm

Books of Account

The Winning Brief
Bryan A. Garner
Oxford University Press (www.oup.com)

Write to win

Tip 6 says, ‘Write a draft straight through, without stopping to edit. Let it sit awhile before editing.' Benefit from Alexander Pope's insight: "Compose with fury and correct with phlegm.' Don't even take time to pick the right words, urges Garner. "When you learn to write this way, the prose itself takes on a different quality. The judicial reader will probably sense greater swiftness within your paragraphs. They won't be laborious reading."

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Peggy saw drama where others saw dust...

Books of Account

Secret Asset
Stella Rimington
Hutchinson (www.randomhouse.co.uk)

On a mole's trail

Meet Liz Carlyle, ‘an experienced and extremely talented investigator' with ‘particular skills in assessing people'. Liz leads a two-person team. To help her is Peggy Kinsolving, who follows the paper trail. Peggy loved ‘the world of print, fact, data, information'. The author describes: "It was her metier. She could disinter information which might seem meaningless and sterile to others, then, like a primitive fire maker blowing on a spark, bring it to life. Peggy saw drama where others saw dust."

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Do something that shifts the context completely

Books 2 Byte

Beyond Code
Rajesh Setty
Vikas (www.vikaspublishing.com)

Adapt with agility

"You can start small by introducing some variety into your life - pick up a habit, read some non-fiction, play a game, call a long-last friend, or watch a horror movie. Do something that shifts the context completely."

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First, 'change from the outside-in'

Books 2 Byte

Designed to Win
Hiroaki Yoshihara and Mary Pat McCarthy
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

Characteristics of enduring business

The book, which is on ‘strategies for building a thriving global business', speaks of ‘seven characteristics of enduring businesses.' The first of these is ‘change from the outside-in'. For instance, to Kunio Nakamura, the president of Matsushita, staying responsive to outside changes is important. How does Nakamura ensure this? "He has structured his company to be flat, and as he puts it, ‘web-like,' with very strong and continuously enhanced IT." That way, Nakamura finds it possible to work alongside customers around the world, explain the authors.

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OMF: offshoring management framework

Books 2 Byte

Offshoring IT Services
Mohan Babu K
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

IT outsourcing trend may be irreversible

The book speaks elaborately about OMF or offshoring management framework. OMF comprises four layers, viz. governance, management, project execution and communication. The key dimensions of ‘offshoring governance' include definition of an SLA or service level agreement, program and transition management. Governance measures include steering committee, with senior executives delegated from the client and vendor's organisations.

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Begin with ‘basic concepts of technical analysis'

Book Value

Technical Analysis for the Rest of Us
Clifford Pistolese
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

Why is technical analysis so popular?

Begin, therefore, with ‘basic concepts of technical analysis' using which you can distinguish ‘desirable, timely investments' from the rest. "It's not possible for you to know everything that affects the financial fortunes of a company. However, all that is known about a company's prospects is reflected in a stock price chart that summarises the results of all the transactions in its stock."

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‘When it comes to making money by investing,' time is on the teens' side

Book Value

Street Wise
Janet Bamford
Bloomberg Press (www.bloomberg.com)

Investing for teens

The book is a guide for teen investors. Teens form a powerful group of the population because ‘when it comes to making money by investing,' time is on their side. "A study by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) showed that Gen X investors (defined as 18 to 34 year olds) make up 19 per cent of investors."

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The inner game is just as important

Book Value

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
T. Harv Eker
HarperBusiness (www.harpercollins.com)

Play the money game to win

Aren't the laws of money all about ‘business knowledge, money management, and investment strategies?' They are just the ‘outer laws,' according to Eker. "These are essential. But the inner game is just as important... It's not enough to be in the right place at the right time. You have to be the right person in the right place at the right time."

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Let ignorance of the futures be a thing of the past!

Book Value

Futures Markets: Made Easy with 250 Questions and Answers
Sunil K. Parameswaran
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

Into the exotic world of futures

A numerical illustration given in the book should make things clearer. "Mitoken Solutions has entered into a forward contract with ICICI Bank to acquire $1,00,000 after 90 days at an exchange rate of Rs 45.50 per dollar," it begins. After 90 days, "the company will be required to pay Rs 45,50,000 to the bank and in lieu accept the dollars." And, "as per the contract, the bank will have to accept the equivalent amount in Indian currency, and deliver the dollars." The underlying asset is the dollar, in this case. The main parties to the deal are ‘long,' the person who agrees to buy the underlying asset, and the opposite ‘short,' the one who agrees to sell.

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Mind is your trading psychology, method is how you analyse markets

Book Value

Entries & Exits
Dr Alexander Elder
Wiley (www.wiley.com)

Successful trading is based on three Ms

"Successful trading is based on three Ms — mind, method and money," says Elder. "Mind is your trading psychology; method is how you analyse markets and make trading decisions; money is risk control." The formula is also explained as 3 Bs, viz. ‘balls, brain and bankroll'. These are ‘the legs of a three-legged stool,' because if any one is missing, you end up on the floor!

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Can cultural methods and knowledge help marketers?

Book Mark

Qualitative Marketing Research: A Cultural Approach
Johanna Moisander Anu Valtonen
Sage (www.sagepublications.com)

Photos never represent objective evidence

Can cultural methods and knowledge help marketers? Yes, "in the systems of representation where the wants, meanings, ideas, norms and values associated with marketplace behaviour are discursively produced," aver the authors. "Cultural research problematises taken-for-granted ideas, and questions received wisdoms in an attempt to offer new perspectives ... It thus can provide a space for alternative constructions of real-life phenomena or marginal versions of them." A book heavy on research but worth plodding on, I'd suggest, especially to those who'd love to delve deeper into entrenched habits of marketing.


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Spreading the love of books

Books 2 Byte

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World
John Wood
Collins (www.harpercollins.com)

From Microsoft to the land of monks

"Be in Johannesburg on Friday and Taiwan on Monday, ready to do presentation, take meetings, and do press interviews. The job was financially rewarding but full of high pressure and stress." It was as if the mantra was, "You can sleep when you are dead and buried."

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To help make the future explain what technology can do

Books 2 Byte

The Art of Technology Management
Carl S. Ledbetter
Vision (www.visionbooksindia.com)

The CTO can be a ‘horizon filter'

"Technology managers get to help make the future, and most often they do that by explaining what technology can do," he says. Handy insight, that is, when you want to overcome people's intimidation by technology.

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Human capital can't be built overnight

Books 2 Byte

Information Technology, Innovation System and Trade Regime in Developing Countries
K.J. Joseph
Palgrave Macmillan (www.palgrave.com)

ICT as a shortcut to prosperity

Human capital can't be built overnight; so, the author's suggestion is ‘a two-pronged action towards increasing the quantity and quality of IT manpower'. One, ‘more targeted policies for attracting investment into IT manpower training'; and two, ‘relaxing the restriction on the mobility of IT manpower.'

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How far that little candle throws his beams!

Book Value

Candlesticks Explained
Martin J. Pring
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

Many terms used in candlestick method are battle oriented

Portia wonders in The Merchant of Venice, "How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world." Quite far, you can also say of candlesticks as charting technique for price prediction. For, their source is Japan; it was in the 1700s, that ‘the earliest forms of candlestick charts were originally used to predict rice price,' as chapter 1 unravels. "In 1750, a wealthy Japanese merchant, Munehisa Homma, began trading at his local rice exchange in Sakata using his own personal candlestick analysis."

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Adopt ‘a comprehensive client-first approach'

Book Value

Getting Started as a Financial Planner
Jeffrey H. Rattiner
Viva (www.vivagroupindia.com)

How to help the wealthy manage their money

Rattiner offers a method that financial service professionals and also the non-financially trained individuals can use for graduating "from a transaction-oriented business model to one involving a step-by-step process." The key, as the author insists, is to adopt ‘a comprehensive client-first approach' so that it is possible to uncover more of what the client is looking for.

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The first sin is lack of market focus

Book Mark

Ten Deadly Marketing Sins
Philip Kotler
Wiley India (www.wileyindia.com)

Why marketing is in bad shape

The first sin, according to Kotler, is lack of market focus. To say, for instance, that you sell to ‘everyone' is a key sign of poor identification of market segments. "A women's dress shop might say, ‘We sell clothing to women between ages 20 and 50.' " To Kotler, this isn't acceptable, either, because the range is ‘a pretty large group' with varying needs. "Younger women are more likely to dress for the social scene while the 35+ group is probably more interested in utility in clothes for work and home."

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Begin with a study of ‘share of hearts, minds, and markets'

Book Mark

Marketing Metrics
Paul W. Farris, Neil T. Bendle, Phillip E. Pfeifer and David J. Reibstein
Pearson Education (www.pearsoned.co.in)

A ‘dashboard' of metrics

Begin with a study of ‘share of hearts, minds, and markets,' a chapter that introduces you to metrics such as BDI (brand development index), AAU (awareness, attitudes, and usage), willingness to recommend, penetration, and willingness to search. Before taking a plunge into these, first define your market. Not a trivial exercise, alert the authors. "If a firm defines its market too broadly, it may dilute its focus. If it does so too narrowly, it will miss opportunities and allow threats to emerge unseen."

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Supply chain is more than the hard assets

Book Mark

Living Supply Chains
John Gattorna
Pearson Education (www.pearson-books.com)

Breathe life into your supply chain

To Gattorna supply chain is more than the hard assets such as "technology, warehouses and distribution centres, or trucks and planes." It is "any combination of processes, functions, activities, relationships and pathways along which products, services, information and financial transactions move in and between enterprises," he defines. "It also involves any and all movement of these from original producer to ultimate end-user or consumer; and everyone in the enterprise is involved in making this happen."

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Sales masters on sales methods

Book Mark

The Giants of Sales
Tom Sant
Amacom (www.amacombooks.org)

Wisdom of four sales gurus

Sant classifies sales methods into four. The first is process-oriented, with "a series of identifiable steps," by following which the salesperson achieves success. Approaches of this type have dominated the sales training market for the past generation, says the author.

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Many small businesses fail within the first few years

Book Mark

101 Ways to Market Your Business
Andrew Griffiths
Jaico (www.jaicobooks.com)

Cut the ‘Can I help you?' question

Small may be beautiful, but the harsh reality is that many small businesses fail within the first few years. Reasons are lack of initial capital and marketing ability, says the author. "People running these businesses work very hard, generally have excellent products and often are completely dedicated to making their business a success, but they just don't know how to find new customers or keep existing ones."

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The unconscious meaning we apply to any given thing

Book Mark

The Culture Code
Clotaire Rapaille
Broadway Books (www.broadwaybooks.com)

Imprint and its code: Like a lock and its combination

What is ‘culture code'? Rapaille defines it as "the unconscious meaning we apply to any given thing - a car, a type of food, a relationship, even a country - via the culture in which we are raised." For instance, the code for Jeep in the US is ‘horse,' he discovers, and therefore advises Chrysler engineers to replace the square headlights with round ones. "Because horses have round eyes, not square ones." Also, "The Wrangler needed to have removable doors and an open top because drivers wanted to feel the wind around them, as though they were riding a horse."

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The key to purpose is its broad applicability

Manage Mentor

Purpose
Nikos Mourkogiannis
Palgrave Macmillan (http://www.palgrave.com/)

Purpose is your moral DNA

Managers who want a company built to last should build it on ideas that have lasted, insists the author. "Among these are offering great products, giving good service and focussing on the customer." The key to purpose is its broad applicability, impacting both the product and the people. "And purpose must be sincere. The wicked but clever need not apply."

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Ask challenging questions

Manage Mentor

Creativity@Work
S. Ramachander
Response (www.indiasage.com)

There is no formula for creativity

There is no formula for creativity, he says. Nor is his book a toolbox for creative managers. "Creative element requires breaking away from routine, and applies largely to matters where a straightforward, right answer is not ready at hand." Ask challenging questions, advises Ramachander. "If the trodden path and the status quo were not challenged, very little new would happen." Also, seek hidden connections, he exhorts.

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Success is the achievement of whatever it is you set out to do

Manage Mentor

‘Succeed on Your Own Terms’
Herb Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

Find your key strengths

What is success? "The achievement of whatever it is you set out to do," says Rebecca Stephens, ‘the first British woman to climb Mount Everest.' That success has less to do with what you have than with knowing who you are is one of the many insightful blurbs in the book. The authors' favourite definition, however, is this, from Jose Luiz Tejon Megido, a Brazilian author: "Success starts with keeping a sense of youth about you. Keep inside of you an image of the child you were. And make sure the child is always part of who you are and what you're doing."

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Behind the diversity of life there is a spiritual reality called unity

E-Dimension

In Spite of the Gods
Edward Luce
Little Brown (www.littlebrown.co.uk)

India moving forward ‘on a remarkably stable trajectory'

He opens the book with AndrĂ©, ‘a sixty-three-year-old Frenchman with a greying ponytail and a passion for Vedantic philosophy' in Auroville, Pondicherry. "India has thousands and thousands of years of practice at harmonising differences and penetrating to the unity beyond," AndrĂ© tells Luce. "There is an essence to India that other countries do not have, which tells you that behind the diversity of life there is a spiritual reality called unity."

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Dilemmas can involve more than two alternatives

Books of Account

Directors' Dilemmas
Patrick Dunne
Kogan Page (www.vivagroupindia.com)

Directors in tricky spots

What's a dilemma? "A tricky spot with no immediately obvious conclusion and where the alternative solutions all involve some degree of pain," defines Dunne. Alternatives can be more than two, please note. Fundamental drivers that cause dilemmas for directors are four, he lists. First is ‘confusion over the role of the board'. Role evolves, reminds the author. "As the company enters new phases of development in scale, breadth and ownership, the nature of the role of the board will need to change."

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Can you operate at half your operating cost?

Books of Account

Up Against the Wal-Marts
Don Taylor and Jeanne Smalling Archer
Amacom (www.amacombooks.org)

12 financial must-knows

This should interest accountants, because it is about reducing costs. "Wal-Mart was able to operate on about half the expense that their largest competitors consumed as operating costs. They passed part of the cost savings along to their customers in the form of lower prices."

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Birds talk in a sort of code, relying on wordplay, puns, coded messages and double meanings

Say Cheek

The Secret Language of Birds
Adele Nozedar
HarperCollins

Feel lucky to be called bird-brained!

All the while, the birds have been calling and chirping, singing and cooing. If you `watch, listen and understand,' you can understand the secret lingo of birds, assures Nozedar. Take care, however, because the language is "a sort of code, relying on wordplay, puns, coded messages and double meanings, which would appear to give the key to many hidden secrets and mysteries."

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In one out of 10 villages, Dalits are still not allowed to wear new clothes

Say Cheek

Untouchability in Rural India
Ghanshyam Shah, Harsh Mander, Sukhadeo Thorat, Satish Deshpande and Amita Baviskar
Sage (www.indiasage.com)

Untouchability travels beyond death

Believe it or not, "In one out of 10 villages, Dalits are still not allowed to wear new clothes, sunglasses or chappals, or to use umbrellas and ride bicycles." But, aren't roads public sphere, where all are equal? That seems to be true, only on paper, because the book narrates many more shocking instances of prejudice and inequity.

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You often had to be a pretzeltongue to decipher what somebody was saying!

Say Cheek

Barry Trotter
Michael Gerber
Orion (www.orionbooks.co.uk)

Dedicated to Rowling, `with impudent admiration'

“Unlike wizard pipes, wizard cell phones were no better than the Muddle kind," writes Gerber in a chapter right `In the belly of the beast'. What of the phones? "You often had to be a pretzeltongue to decipher what somebody was saying." Barry crank-calls `970-WIZZ' and hears not `that familiar slightly harried Welsh-accented voice' (perhaps, from a call centre in India?) but `a sultry voice' saying `Hi, there'!

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Unconscious meanings we apply to any given thing

Book Mark

The Culture Code
Clotaire Rapaille
Broadway Books (www.broadwaybooks.com)

Imprint and its code: Like a lock and its combination

First, what is ‘culture code'? Rapaille defines it as "the unconscious meaning we apply to any given thing - a car, a type of food, a relationship, even a country - via the culture in which we are raised." For instance, the code for Jeep in the US is ‘horse,' he discovers, and therefore advises Chrysler engineers to replace the square headlights with round ones. "Because horses have round eyes, not square ones." Also, "The Wrangler needed to have removable doors and an open top because drivers wanted to feel the wind around them, as though they were riding a horse."

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Add speed to the worksheet on your screen

Books of Account
Merger
Sanjay Sanghoee
Manjul Books (www.manjulindia.com)
Valuation thriller

The scene shifts to Morgenthal Winters or MW — `a white-shoe investment bank', which was among the top three M&A or mergers and acquisitions advisors. There, the corporate culture was one of respectful indifference, narrates Sanjay. "Everyone knew what they were doing, seldom exchanged advice with their peers, had professional respect for each other, and didn't give a damn about anyone personally. It was the perfect environment in which to execute high profile deals within tight deadlines."

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

There is no shortage of sports-related content on the Internet


Books 2 Byte

Sports Journalism: Context and Issues
Raymond Boyle
Sage (http://www.sagepublications.com/)

The wireless sports journalist

Despite the explosion of material on the Web, there has been reinforcing of ‘already existing media brands,’ says the author. “In 2005, sports pieces were invariably among the top downloaded stories from the Web sites associated with The Guardian, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph.” The book cites research by Aura Sports - “that 79 per cent of sports see their official club Web site as the most important source of news, with 61 per cent stating that national newspapers are their prime source.” Evidence, says Boyle, that “the print media sports sector has not been decimated by the rise of the Internet as a source of sports journalism.”

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The search for perfect knowledge and control is ultimately self-destructive


Books 2 Byte

Hard-core Management
Jo Owen
Kogan Page (http://www.vivagroupindia.com/)

Technology control is about compliance, not commitment

“The search for perfect knowledge and control is ultimately self-destructive. Even with the advances in technology, the marginal costs and gains from extra information soon lead to more information becoming uneconomic.”
A vicious swirl can suck you in, watch out. Because, with more information will come the “demand for reviewing, analysing, challenging, checking, and dealing with the information.” As a result, people in the organisation may end up “arguing about the information instead of dealing with the business.”
IT (information technology) is giving the management ‘performance and control information’ that Stalin and KGB could only have dreamt about, quips Owen.

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Brain surgery without the blood


Bill of Health

Healthy Thinking
Tom Mulholland
Wisdom Tree (http://www.wisdomtreeindia.com/)


Attitude plus behaviour = goal

The book aims to perform ‘brain surgery without the blood,’ says the author, a registered medical practitioner. “You don’t need any medications or equipment.” All you need are your thoughts and ‘emotional algebra.’ The first formula is, ‘trigger + thought = emotion.’ From this, you can derive that emotion minus trigger is thought. “When you feel an unhealthy emotion, subtract the trigger so you can identify the thought.”

What to do if you identify that the thought is ‘unhealthy’ — meaning, it doesn’t assist your enjoyment or ‘lead you anywhere other than unhealthy emotions’? You can elect to stop it, deal with it later, change it, or forget it, counsels Mulholland. “If you want to change it, then you need to understand the following equation: Attitude + behaviour = goal.”

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Sales people are important to any organisation, but they don’t get the respect they deserve


Reading Room

Managing Your Sales Force
Pingali Venugopal
Response Books (http://www.indiasage.com/)

Respect leads to interest

Salespersons can be efficient if two factors are remembered. One, the company has to have ‘the correct marketing strategy.’ And two, salespersons can perform only if they have the interest to perform, which in turn depends on the respect or importance given to them in the organisation.


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Most human beings are resistant to change


Reading Room

In the Line of Fire
Jerry Weissman
Pearson (http://www.pearsoned.co.in/)

You are the tires

‘Why do people in business ask challenging questions?’ Because they are mean-spirited, or they want to put you to test? “Perhaps. More likely it is because when you are presenting your case, which is just the case in almost every decisive communication in business... as well as in all walks of life... you are asking your opposite party or parties, your target audience, to change,” explains Weissman. What happens in response? “Most human beings are resistant to change, and so they kick the tires. You are the tires.”

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Managing an intangible


Reading Room

Planning & Managing Human Resources
William J. Rothwell and H.C. Kazanas
Jaico (http://www.jaicobooks.com/)

Do you have an HR auditor?

The book has chapters on jobs and roles such as HR work analyst, auditor, environmental scanner, forecaster, planning formulator, and integrator, apart from the usual topics, viz. recruitment, training, job redesign and so on. The work analyst “studies the methods (means) used and results (ends) achieved.”

The HR workforce analyst studies ‘what kind of people are doing the work of the organisation at present.’ He establishes norms for job selection, devises methods for assessing individual performance, and takes ‘inventory of knowledge, skills, and attitudes of workers in the organisation.’


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Hidden gold in the form of ‘untapped knowledge and capabilities’ of your employees!


Manage Mentor
The Wisdom Network
Steve Benton and Melissa Giovagnoli
Amacom (http://www.amacombooks.org/)

Knowledge mined ineffectively

“Most organisations contain rich and diverse veins of knowledge that they mine ineffectively,” rue Benton and Giovagnoli. “Even more troubling, companies may not even realise that they have overlooked expertise that would help them deal with critical business issues.”

As a result people with ‘astonishing expertise and insights’ may be confined to ‘a narrow range of topics’. Can’t KM or knowledge management help? Yes, it can, but sadly KM is often “nothing more than a sophisticated shuffling of electronic data rather than a synergistic exchange of both information and ideas.” On the positive side, however, informal networks arise, ‘sometimes virtually in the form of chat rooms or websites’.


More

Modern culture has made a cult of time


E-Dimension
Empire of Knowledge
Vinay Lal
Vistaar (http://www.indiasage.com/)

Violence of ‘development’

Dissent is condemned to oblivion, cautions Lal, unless it is couched in ‘the rational, civilised, constitutional, and adult-like language recognised by Western parliamentarians and social commentators.’

Chapter 1 reckons with the millennium and notes how modern culture has made a cult of time. “If modernity’s encounter with time is any gauge, we have become creatures largely of sense rather than sensibility,” rues Lal. “The politics of time is yet to open itself to us, but the time when we shall be let in to its secrets is not so far removed,” he hopes.

A chapter titled ‘governance in the twenty-first century’ sees the UN (United Nations) as embodying Neanderthal politics, at the heart of which lies “the exceedingly old view, which no generation has ever been able to relinquish, that might determines right.” The General Assembly has been all but reduced to ‘a ceremonial speech-making body,’ laments Lal.

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Not “a version of economics that is sometimes insightful, but also all too often ridiculously at odds with our simple powers of observation”


E-Dimension
Explorations in Pragmatic Economics
George A. Akerlof
Oxford University Press (www.outp.com)

Why the standard economist may be the emperor in new clothes

The book opens with the famed essay on the market for ‘lemons’ that is more than three decades old. There, Akerlof explains, using the example of used car sales, how sellers have an incentive to market poor quality merchandise or ‘lemons’ in situations where buyers use some market statistic to judge the quality of prospective purchases. Interestingly, the author applies the logic to topics as varied as insurance and employment, honesty and credit. For instance, as in the case of cars, “the average medical condition of insurance applicants deteriorates as the price level rises,” points out Akerlof when exploring for an answer to why people over 65 find it difficult to buy medical insurance.

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Important elements of consumer culture are visuals


Book Mark
Qualitative Marketing Research: A Cultural Approach
Johanna Moisander and Anu Valtonen
Sage (http://www.sagepublications.com/)

Photos never represent objective evidence

Can cultural methods and knowledge help marketers? Yes, “in the systems of representation where the wants, meanings, ideas, norms and values associated with marketplace behaviour are discursively produced,” aver the authors. “Cultural research problematises taken-for-granted ideas, and questions received wisdoms in an attempt to offer new perspectives ... It thus can provide a space for alternative constructions of real-life phenomena or marginal versions of them.” A book heavy on research but worth plodding on, I’d suggest, especially to those who’d love to delve deeper into entrenched habits of marketing.

A chapter on ethnography explains the field as “a research process in which the researcher closely engages in the daily life of some social setting and collects data.” For example, when studying ‘a consumption-oriented community such as a Vespa-club,’ the ethnographer may study the practices through which members of the community represent themselves as ‘Vespa-people.’ Also: “How they talk about themselves as Vespa-people, how they represent themselves in their personal Web pages and in the Vespa community Web site, how the Vespa brand is displayed in the clothes of the members of the community, and so forth.”

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True charm goes beyond mere appearance


Say Cheek

The Power of Charm
Brian Tracy and Ron Arden
Amacom (http://www.amacombooks.org/)

When you pause, three good things happen


With charm, you ‘get listened to and often get extra chances’. But, to charm, you need five ‘A’ behaviours, viz. acceptance, appreciation, approval, admiration, and attention. The simplest signal of acceptance is smile, because it can make the other person’s self-esteem jump. In the process, the smiling-you become charming, ‘even before you open your mouth’.

The appreciation technique isn’t difficult to practise, either; say, ‘thank you’ on every occasion, for any large or small reason, advise the authors. Pay attention to the last ‘A’, attention, because it is the most important. It is illustrated in this snatch from the first chapter titled ‘charm in action’: “When he speaks to you, it’s as though you’re in a cocoon with him. No one exists in the world for him but you. And when he listens, he listens as though every word you say is important and needs his undivided attention.”

Your ‘charm quotient’ can get a boost from ‘four keys to effective listening’. First key is to listen attentively. How to listen ‘as if you are transfixed by what the other person is saying’?


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Monday, July 31, 2006

Math models to predict disease outbreak


Books 2 Byte
Flu Action Plan: A Business Survival Guide
Colum Murphy
Wiley (http://www.wiley.com/)

Put policies in place

Using mathematical modelling, you can foretell 10 years in advance what might happen, affirms a quote of Gabriel Leung, cited in the book. Murphy mentions about a model that proved to be close to reality — that of Professor Roy Anderson of Oxford University. Drawing from the laws of physics, Anderson had studied in the early 1990s the HIV/AIDS disease among sex workers in Kenya, and predicted the massive impact of the infection. “His predictive curve foretold the nightmare that was in store for global health and gave an advance warning to the world’s health authorities of the sheer enormity of the task that lay ahead.”


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We must give our programmers clear priorities


Books 2 Byte
Necessary but not Sufficient
Eliyahu M. Goldratt
Productivity & Quality Publishing P Ltd (http://www.productivityquality.co.in/)

Porcupines have quills and programs have bugs

You’d meet Lenny Abrahms, behind the electric doors of the systems development section. He is battling with the challenge of integrating vendor-performance measures before the release date. Roger, the VP is worried about quality assurance. “We must give our programmers clear priorities,” he tells Lenny. “Some of our people are really excellent programmers, but I can’t keep constantly interrupting them. The need to stop work to answer questions and fix bugs is turning their work into havoc.” Too real a problem, as most professionals would acknowledge.
“It’s not such an impossible mission to write a computer system that will work right the first time,” says Lenny. “Just design a system that does nothing, and you have about a 12 per cent probability it will work smoothly. In all other cases it’ll do something - which means there are bugs somewhere.” Porcupines have quills and programs have bugs; that’s life, philosophises the author.


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It is healthy to be curious


Soft Skills
The Art of Connecting
Claire Raines and Lara Ewing
Amacom (http://www.amacombooks.org/)

Curiosity is key

“In human interactions, people regularly put forward a piece of information about themselves in hopes of finding a bridge.” This is an ‘offer’, say the authors. “Sometimes offers are accepted; sometimes they’re blocked.” If you were persistent, you’d counter a block with another offer!

“Curiosity is key,” reads the second principle. “Curiosity opens a mental door. As long as that door is open, there’s no container for judgment and self-righteousness. It’s impossible to be both curious and judgmental at the same time.” Also, it is healthy to be curious. “When we’re curious, we are stimulating our brains, keeping our minds sharper as we age.”

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Earthy read


Reading Room
Arumugam
Imayam
Katha (http://www.katha.org/)

Tale of a child denied his childhood

“Raman’s earthly possessions in Krishnapuram consisted of an old house, with four rafters holding up the roof. Close relations were practically non-existent, and those that did were twice or thrice removed. Raman would go out to work everyday, and return home in the evenings with a smile on his face — a good-humoured person who knew no fatigue or anger.”

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Even mental processes and thinking can be different!


Reading Room
International Business
R. Chandran
Jaico (http://www.jaicobooks.com/)

Before you sell your wares in the world space

An interesting chapter is on ‘cross-cultural communication.’ Food, relationships, beliefs and values vary among cultures. Even mental processes and thinking can be different. “The British will enter into any business only after doing their homework thoroughly and they follow strict documentation procedures; they also expect their counterpart to do the same,” describes the author. “The Germans have a preconceived notion that they are technically superior and can produce perfect items, and lay great stress on logic, while the Japanese reject the western idea of logic.”

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We are all Zen students, and we are all businesspeople


Manage Mentor
Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration
Marc Lesser
New World Library (www.newworldlibrary.com)

‘Start where you are’

Lesser declares, “We are all Zen students, and we are all businesspeople. Our lives are messy, impossible, miraculous, mysterious, and beyond our usual explanations. There are no easy answers.” So? ‘Start where you are,’ instructs the book. “There is no such thing as work separate from your life. Work is not something you do to earn money or make a living. Everything you do is your life, your path. Your work is your path. Relationships are your path.”
Lest you beat a trail to the nearest forest to find peace, Lesser reminds, “Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace within the storm.” He lists the many benefits of integrating Zen practice with work. Foremost is ‘increased creativity’. This happens because Zen develops a flexible and open mind. “Understanding that the world is not always what it seems fosters seeing problems and opportunities from a different perspective.”
Since Zen blurs the lines between what is ordinary and what is sacred, the essence of Zen is explained in one of the mystical dialogues as ‘chopping wood and carrying water’. But what is so mystical and sacred about “going to meetings, writing emails, managing cash flow, and writing business plans”?

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From the deeply secretive core of America’s real playbook


E-Dimension
The One Percent Doctrine
Ron Suskind
Simon & Schuster (http://www.simonsays.com/)

A code from the secretive core of the US

The book begins on a critical note, of the US President, Mr George W. Bush. That he trusts his eyes to size up people ‘swiftly and aptly’ when taking countless decisions each day. “The trap, of course, is that while these tactile, visceral markets can be crucial — especially in terms of handling the posturing of top officials — they sometimes are not. The thing to focus on, at certain moments, is what someone says, not who is saying it, or how they’re saying it,” notes Suskind.
The title of the book draws from ‘The deeply secretive core of America’s real playbook: A default strategy, designed by Dick Cheney’. That you pursue even a one per cent chance as if it were a certainty! Such as, the slim probability of there being weapons of mass destruction, which led a nation to war.
In the first chapter titled ‘False positives’ meet George Tenet, at the DI, the Directorate of Intelligence. DI is the home of CIA’s army of analysts, “who read the human intelligence or humint, collected by field agents, clandestine agents, and foreign sources of human intelligence, and the signals intelligence, or sigint, from the vast US network of eavesdropping.”

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A bit of history on topics that currently rage on


E-Dimension
Strategic Consequences of India’s Economic Performance
Sanjaya Baru
Academic Foundation (http://www.academicfoundation.com/)

The business of diplomacy and the diplomacy of business

Opinions about economics and politics don’t normally have a long shelf-life. While that fact may act as a dampener to the popularity of any compilation such as the one on hand, it should still be relevant to read a bit of history on topics that currently rage on.
For instance, Mr Jaswant Singh, who is caught in the mole avalanche he triggered, may be happy to read the essay on his famous doctrine on ‘tied’ foreign aid. Baru recounts how Denmark cut its aid to India when we went nuclear. “For over four decades accepting foreign aid had become a habit. Plan models had been built to show why we needed aid,” he notes. “Aid never comes easy. It always comes with conditionalities... Some countries are brazen in pushing their own agendas along with aid.”
Mr Jaswant Singh’s message was clear, chronicles Baru — that India is in no mood to cling on to “funds that are costly to administer and come with sermons, especially on national security.” Not something we have shaken off totally, if the US-India nuclear energy agreement is an example, though of a different kind of aid. In a report dated July 27, Forbes (www.forbes.com) cites the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, that he has asked the US administration for assurances that the ‘goalposts are not tampered with.’

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Monopoly is at the heart of every successful business


Book Mark
Monopoly Rules
Milind M. Lele
Crown (http://www.crownbusiness.com/)

It’s not about competition, it’s about monopoly

Monopoly, according to Lele, need not be large as painted by ‘economics 101’. A prominent example that he cites is of Honda: the company could capture one-third of the profits, even while controlling less than 10 per cent of the US minivan market, because the Odyssey had seats that folded flat.
“Monopoly is at the heart of every successful business,” declares Lele. “Pursuing it is not only moral but essential for anyone interested in creating a company with lasting value.” This is not about SCA or ‘sustainable competitive advantage’, clarifies the author, because SCA “does very little to shed light on some of the most startling success stories of the last dozen years,” including Starbucks.

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Distrust in Indian auditors!


Books of Account
Corporate Governance: Principles, Policies and Practices
A.C. Fernando
Pearson Education (http://www.pearsoned.co.in/)

Imperative to have independent auditors

Among ‘current issues’ is a paragraph on CRT (Caux Round Table). It is ‘an international network of principled business leaders working to promote a moral capitalism’ founded in 1986 by Frederick Phillips and Oliver Giscard d’Estaing, ‘as a means of reducing escalating trade tensions’.
CRT lays emphasis on job creation, sustainable practices, trust, and transparency. Importantly, it believes that solutions to complex global issues require the cooperative efforts of business, government and other institutions. “The partnership developed in many cities where business collaborate with local authorities, central government, education, emergency services and special interest groups could be adapted to global initiatives.”
The book wraps up on a bitter note about the lack of independent auditors. “It is imperative to have independent auditors who are reputed and above board. Due to the distrust in Indian auditors, most of the multinational companies have insisted that the parent company’s auditor should also audit the subsidiary companies in India, often at much higher costs,” rues the author.

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Remarkable range of topics


Say Cheek
The Da Vinci Notebooks
Leonardo da Vinci
Viva (www.vivagroupindia.com)

‘I know that many will call this useless work’

“Some of his writings here are detailed instructions or discussions - others are more hurried notes, and others again are downright cryptic and mysterious,” observes Dickens in the intro. The remarkable range of topics he covered includes colours and gestures, anatomy and aerial perspective, architecture and geography, machines and morals.
“Let no man who is not a mathematician read the elements of my work,” cautions the very first line in chapter 1. But that need not prevent the non-math among us from plodding on.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Must the end of life be the worst part?


Bill of Health
Chasing Daylight
Eugene O’Kelly
Tata McGraw-Hill (www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

A different ‘closure’

Gene was 53 years old when in May 2005 the doctors diagnosed him with late-stage brain cancer that gave him but three to six months to live. “I asked myself to answer two questions,” writes Gene in chapter 1 titled ‘A gift’. The questions were: “Must the end of life be the worst part? And, can it be made a constructive experience — even the best part of life?” His answers were, ‘No. Yes,’ respectively.

“I was an accountant not only by trade, but by manner. The same traits that made me someone who might flourish in the world of finance and accounting also made me someone who did not know how to do anything unplanned — dying included,” he writes describing his resolve to manage the last lap in his life’s journey.

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May nobody go hungry!


Reading Room
In Search of Self
Amisha Kanoria

The dream India

“May nobody go hungry, may all have two meals, in order to keep healthy, and to express what they feel.”

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Diffusion of innovations


Reading Room
Communication of Innovations
Ed: Arvind Singhal and James W. Dearing
Sage (http://www.indiasage.com/)

Education diffusion through entertainment

The book is a collection of ten essays about Ev Rogers, “the pioneering and distinguished teacher-scholar of diffusion of innovations, communication networks, technology transfer, development communication, and the entertainment-education strategy.”

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The negative person drags his feet


Reading Room
Pillar of Strength: A biography of Mahesh Bagrodia
Shivani Maheshwari
Ameya Inspiring Books (http://www.ameyabooksindia.com/)
Be positive to attract other positives
“The negative person drags his feet. But if you are positive, other positives will be attracted towards you. They will reinforce your attitude.”
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When it comes to IR, there seems to be a void


Reading Room
Industrial Relations
C .S. Venkata Ratnam
Oxford University Press (http://www.oup.com/)

Mature businesses feel the need to collectivise

What about the new-era industries such as information technology and related businesses? The focus in these has shifted from collectivism to individualism, observes the author. “Even here, as businesses mature people will feel the need to collectivise, not merely for salaries and benefits, but also for protecting themselves against unfair dismissals.”

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The direct predecessor or the IBM PC was DataMaster


Books 2 Byte
Upgrading and Repairing PCs
Scott Mueller
Pearson Education (www.pearsoned.co.in)

From the original PCs to the most recent
Chapter 1 gives a timeline, beginning from 1617 when John Napier created ‘Napier’s Bones’ for calculating. On August 12, 1981 was established a new standard in the microcomputer industry, with the debut of the IBM PC. Many may not know that the direct predecessor or the IBM PC was DataMaster, “a small office computer system introduced in 1980.”

Much of the PC’s design was influenced by the DataMaster design, explains Mueller. “In the DataMaster’s single-piece design, the display, and keyboard were integrated into the unit. Because these features were limiting they became external units on the PC, although the PC keyboard and electrical designs were copied from the DataMaster.”

A section titled ‘what is a PC?’ explains not only the basics but also how a single contractual error made Microsoft the dominant software company it is today. What was that? When IBM hired Microsoft to provide most of the core software for the PC, it failed to secure exclusive rights to the DOS, ‘either by purchasing it outright or by an exclusive licence agreement’.


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Market for digital games compares well with ‘more mundane markets'


Books 2 Byte
Understanding Digital Games
Jason Rutter and Jo Bryce
Sage (www.sagepublications.com)

Games are now part of our broader mediascape
The market for digital games compares well with ‘more mundane markets such as insurance, credit card services, large kitchen appliances or fast food,’ points out the book. “In the UK, digital games are worth approximately half as much as ‘paints and coatings’, while the fast food market is worth about three and a half times more.”
A chapter on the history of digital games by John Kirriemuir begins from the beginning, when there was just the dot! He narrates tales that take us back by more than half a century. Such as the story about the 1952 game of noughts and crosses (Tic-Tac-Toe) that Alexander (Sandy) Douglas ran on the EDSAC, ‘the world’s first stored-program computer to operate a regular computing service’. And the 1958 tennis game that William Higinbotham served on a laboratory oscilloscope. The first game to be available ‘outside a single research institute’ was Spacewar, a 1962 game ‘written by a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology led by Steve Russell.’

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The explanation you give to the experience makes all the difference


Manage Mentor
Suite Success
Liza Siegel
Amacom (http://www.amacombooks.org/)

You can choose the way you think
Siegel emphasises that ‘a few key positive emotions and positive qualities such as optimism and persistence’ play a more important role in business success than ‘skill, education, and to some degree, even talent.’ She assures that the habit of optimistic thinking can be practised and learned. “With time, what starts as a habit leads to a genuine attitude change.” Remember, “People can choose the way they think.”
Though you may not be able to avoid the many hassles that confront you, “you can shield yourself from being overly affected by them,” counsels Siegel. “The explanation you give to the experience makes all the difference.” Such as: “It isn’t anything about me personally. It’s only a temporary setback, and this is just one little area of my life.”


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A good player made a good trader, and vice versa


Book Value
Liar’s Poker
Michael Lewis
Hodder

When others bluff and double-bluff
You’d meet John Meriwether in chapter 1. He was the king of the game, the liar’s poker champion on the Salomon Brothers’ trading floor. To him, the game had a lot in common with bond trading. “It tested a traders’ character. It honed a trader’s instincts. A good player made a good trader, and vice versa,” explains Lewis.
How is the game played? “A group of people — as few as two, as many as ten — form a circle. Each player holds a dollar bill close to his chest.” Then? “One trader begins by making ‘a bid’. He says, for example, ‘three sixes’.” Which means, his guess is “that the serial numbers of the dollar bills held by all players, including himself, contain at least three sixes.”
The game moves clockwise, and the next player has two options: One, he can bid higher, in terms of the number or the count, as for instance, ‘three sevens’ or ‘four fives’; or two, he can ‘challenge’. Thus, the game goes on, with the bid escalating till “all players agree to challenge a single player’s bid.”


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The ‘War on Terror’ is a case of neo-liberal globalisation project turning in on itself


E-Dimension
Global Rivalries From the Cold War to Iraq
Kees van der Pijl
Vistaar (http://www.indiasage.com/)

Societies pushed to contender roles
Israeli attacks find repeated mention in the book. “For the Jewish state, Iraq was always the more immediate enemy, and in a daring air raid in 1981 the Israelis destroyed the country’s one nuclear reactor before it could be started up,” one learns from a chapter on ‘energy conflicts in the post-Soviet era’.
Read also about Israel’s proxy wars with Syria and Iran in 1982. “It also used the occasion to strike at Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, driving Yasser Arafat from the country in August, and allowing Phalangist militias to massacre hundreds of civilians.” Attack came from ‘Hezbollah, the Shia party formed with aid from Iran’ against the US-French force stationed in Beirut, narrates Pijl. “Striking twice in 1983, they killed several hundred US soldiers (and 58 French) in October. To avoid further losses, the Pentagon withdrew the remaining troops.”
The ‘War on Terror’ is a case of neo-liberal globalisation project turning in on itself, “just as the medieval crusaders in their closing stages became obsessed with internal heresy,” says the author.


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Capitalism has ‘a profound asymmetry’ at its very core


E-Dimension
The Twilight of the Nation State
Prem Shankar Jha
Vistaar (http://www.indiasage.com/)

We can’t afford to put capitalism on autopilot mode
Thesis of Jha’s book is that capitalism can’t be put on autopilot mode, because the system has ‘a profound asymmetry’ at its very core. Markets can restore economic equilibrium after each external shock, but “they are inherently blind to the distributive effects of their own working,” such as widening income differences, redundancy, business failures and accentuated conflicts. The author studies the ‘four cycles’ of capitalism, tracing right from the origins in the twelfth century, “when wind- and water-mills spread throughout the European continent in a very short span of time.” The first cycle saw the rise of ‘industrial capitalism’ in Venice and Florence, and ‘finance capitalism’ in Genoa, with the city-states serving as the ‘containers’ of capitalism. This phase lasted for about 170-220 years.

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Offshore world is the financial black-hole


Books of Account
The Sink
Jeffrey Robinson
(http://www.constablerobinson.com/)
Smoke ‘n mirrors
Drugs, arms, and dirty money are ‘the Holy Trinity’ moving along “like a malignant virus through the system, driving crime and terror, breeding unabated offshore in the murky heart of the legitimate, global financial world,” describes Robinson.
Offshore world is the financial black-hole, he’d declare; a sink, “where money trails evaporate into thin air, where dirty money mingles with the financial traffic of the world’s legitimate businesses, where connections smudge and are then erased, and where anyone looking for the truth is confronted by so many man-made barriers.”
One example of offshore jurisdiction is Niue. “Some 2,000 people living on a rock in the middle of the Pacific earn an estimated $2 million a year in fees from licensing phoney banks and dubious shell companies, representing 7-10 per cent of the national economy.” Another is Nauru, where “10,000 natives licensed 400 offshore banks.”

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Value is not the price you charge, but the ceiling on the price you can charge


Book Mark
Trump University Marketing 101
Don Sexton
Wiley (http://www.wiley.com/)
Managers control features, customers buy benefits
The book sings the praises of Donald Trump by filling many pages with his insights, photographs of his buildings and ‘signature collection.’ Despite that, there is a lot you can learn from Sexton on ‘how to use the most powerful ideas in marketing to get more customers.’

Such as, that marketing is ‘managing perceived value.’ And that perceived value is “the maximum a customer or prospective customer will pay for your product or service.” This value is not the price you charge, but the ceiling on the price you can charge, explains the author. “Customers behave according to their perceptions of the value they receive, not according to the actual value they receive.”

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Monday, July 17, 2006

IDRA explained


Reading Room
A Study on the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (http://www.icai.org/)

Industrious read
The book begins with a discussion of industrial development in the pre-Independence era. The post-1947 scenario begins with the Policy Resolution of 1948, and progresses through the Industrial Policy of 1956, Industrial Policy Statement of 1977 and so on.

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A collection of boyhood escapades with meticulous illustrations


Reading Room
Green Well Years
Manohar Devadoss
EastWest (ewb@touchtelindia.net)

Tamil is a phonetic language

“The first ‘row’ of twelve letters are vowels (‘life’ letters) and the consonants (‘body’ letters) are a ‘column’ of eighteen letters,” he explains. “For each consonant, there is a row of twelve letters which are ‘consonant-vowel’ combines (‘life-body’ letters).”

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We can’t afford to throw our lives away through indifference, self-pity and hopelessness


Reading Room
You Get One Shot At Life
Aaron Lumpkin
Jaico (http://www.jaicobooks.com/)

See life for what it really is
Many of us don’t live colourful, energetic, enthusiastic, compelling and inspiring lives. There are ‘two main reasons’ for such a state of affairs. “First, many of us have not made a diligent effort to overcome the negative feelings that we have developed over the years. Some of us have decided that we are not smart enough, not lucky enough, not deserving of a better existence, so we resign ourselves to living mediocre lives.”

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Dreams are what get you started, discipline is what keeps you going


Say Cheek
Business and the Beautiful Game
Theo Theobald and Cary Cooper
Kogan Page (http://www.vivagroupindia.com/)

Lessons from football to succeed in business
The first half begins with skills. You’d need six of them, viz. control, touch, vision, awareness, resilience and fitness. Remember, these are what can help both in business and in football. For instance, resilience is about bouncing back in the face of adversity. “Organisations are realising the benefits of allowing their people to make mistakes, as this is key to learning the right way to do things,” note the authors.

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Some entrepreneurs have rejected the pressure of endless growth


Manage Mentor
Small Giants
Bo Burlingham
Penguin Portfolio (http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/)

Soul makes a business great
There are thousands of private companies that don’t grow much, but they don’t die either, points out the author. Contrary to conventional wisdom - that businesses must grow or die - these companies are ‘often quite healthy’, even as they march to the sound of ‘a different drummer,’ as Henry David Thoreau would say.

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There are people who believe that a man in his eighties should retire and take time off


Stories Retold
Meri Jeevan Yatra - The Journey of My Life
Samprada Singh

‘Miles to go before I sleep’
Quite often I prefer to sit along with the middle rank manager and try to understand his style of functioning and discuss his own managerial problems as well. Such an informal, uninhibited, complex-free and personalised meeting between the staff members and me proves conducive to industrial ethos.

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Many forays into e-learning have been big fiascos


Books 2 Byte
E-Learning: Concepts and Practice
Bryn Holmes and John Gardner
Sage (http://www.sagepublications.com/)

A flower petal approach to e-learning

E-learning, for starters, is defined simply as ‘online access to learning resources, anywhere and anytime.’ E-learning offers new opportunities to both educators and learners, aver Holmes and Gardner. Virtual environment supports not just the delivery but also the exploration and application of information and the promotion of new knowledge, they explain.

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Cyber crime falls into four categories


Books 2 Byte
Cybercrime and Society
Majid Yar
Sage (http://www.sagepublications.com/)

Cyber crime comes in different shapes and sizes!

Cyber crime falls into four categories, according to Wall, cited in the introduction.These are cyber-trespass, cyber-deception, cyber-pornography, and cyber-violence. The first two are crimes against property, explains the author. “The third covers ‘crimes against morality’, and the fourth relates to ‘crime against the person’.” Yar adds one to the list, viz. ‘crimes against the state’ which include ‘terrorism, espionage and disclosure of official secrets’.

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You can add value by giving your property a makeover


Book Value
Trump University Real Estate 101
Gary W. EldredWiley (www.wiley.com)

Real gains from real estate
Begin with your three budgets, urges the author. The first is the mental budget, that is, “how well you allocate your thoughts, attitudes and beliefs.” Next comes the money budget, the most easily understood and widely followed one. Last is the time/activity budget, or the hours you are going to devote “to looking at properties, building business relationships, and reading related books and articles.”

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Globalisation poses a challenge to the notion of a ‘normal biography’


E-Dimension
The Futures of Old Age
John A. Vincent, Chris R. Phillipson and Murna Downs
Sage (www.sagepublications.com)

Towards a dignified, fulfilled old age

The penultimate chapter is on the impact of globalisation on ageing, by Phillipson. Globalisation poses a challenge to the notion of a ‘normal biography’ constructed around a linear model of the life course, states the author. “There will be losers and winners in this process,” he adds. In the short term an increase in racism and associated forms of oppression may create divisions within the population of older people, warns Phillipson.

A way out may be migration, which Tony Warnes discusses in the final chapter. Through a chart, the author explains ‘the accumulation of human capital through the life course’, and observes that social networks (or, ‘who you know’) are less likely to influence the quality of life in retirement than occupational positioning and progress.

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A fact we have to live with is ageing


E-Dimension
The Ageing World
Anil Bagchi
Pearson Education (http://www.pearsoned.co.in/)

Elders will be accommodated in the mainstream
While there can be arguments on when to call a person elderly, a fact we have to live with is ageing. But what is ageing? “A progressive overall deterioration of different parts of the body, that starts after a particular age. On any given day the degeneration is a sub-clinical addition, but the process is relentless.” Chapter heading may give a clue to what you should be doing as antidote, ‘eat less and live well’.

Part two of the book is devoted to ‘grey dynamics’. Bagchi doesn’t foresee a shortage of occupation for the old. “The elders may decide to work or do what they are largely doing, which is enjoying leisure, but that will not change the situation,” he notes. Because, jobs will be created only when the elders work.

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Youth is full of sport, age's breath is short; youth is nimble, age is lame


E-Dimension
Ageing in India
Moneer Alam
Academic Foundation (www.academicfoundation.com)

We are greying faster with far less to bank on

A significant feature of Indian ageing is the predominance of women, perhaps because men are 'more prone to lifestyle diseases such as blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes'. Yet, elderly men from the higher income categories are far more active compared to women, one learns. "Old age work is more a phenomenon of poverty and economic insecurity, particularly in the case of women," points out Alam, with ample numbers to back from his sample study.

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