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.”


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.


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.”


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.


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.”


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.’


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’.


Modern culture has made a cult of time

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.


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

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.


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.”


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’?