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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