Thursday, September 27, 2007

The poor only sell in the market if they are desperately in need of money


Food Sovereignty and Uncultivated Biodiversity in South Asia
Farhad Mazhar, Daniel Buckles, P.V. Satheesh and Farida Akhter (http://www.academicfoundation.com/)


The Nayakrishi Andolon (New Agriculture Movement) in Bangladesh experiments with an alternative to micro-credit. “Very poor female-headed households are given an animal to raise until it has a calf. The woman can use the milk, either for her own consumption or to sell on the market, and keep the animal’s offspring as her own to raise. The original animal is returned, and then passed on to another poor family in her village.”

Thus explains Food Sovereignty and Uncultivated Biodiversity in South Asia by Farhad Mazhar, Daniel Buckles, P.V. Satheesh and Farida Akhter ( http://www.academicfoundation.com/ ).

“Maintaining a few animals in the ecological village farming systems of the Nayakrishi is not difficult for women in this situation as plentiful fodder is available from uncultivated sources. Landowners welcome the increases in livestock numbers because this form of controlled, itinerant grazing leaves the dung directly on the land where it can be put to use in the cropping system.”

Internal and external marketing messages


Strategic Corporate Communication
Paul A. Argenti


Generally, companies inform their employees about new ad campaigns. However, managements seldom recognise the need to ‘sell’ employees on the same ideas they are trying to sell to the public. Thus rues Paul A. Argenti in Strategic Corporate Communication ( http://www.tatamcgrawhill.com/).

“Internal branding is especially critical when an organisation is undergoing changes such as a merger or a change in leadership,” he emphasises. Apt, that should be, for flux situations such as Vodafone-Hutch.

Turn on the marketing frame of mind


Break Through the Noise
Elisa Southard


Switch on the TV and reach a channel you usually don’t watch. Then? “Don’t touch the remote for at least one minute! Just look. You’re plugging into a marketing frame of mind,” writes Elisa Southard in Break Through the Noise ( http://www.vivagroupindia.com/).

Another similar exercise is to “peruse the headlines in a newspaper section you don’t normally read,” for five minutes. “If you normally read finance, be sure to flip through arts and entertainment. Read the funnies. You’ll laugh, snicker, fume, smirk, or smile.

An insight about purchase pattern


Managing Retailing
Piyush Kumar Sinha and Dwarika Prasad Uniyal


Good buyers need to be ruthless, and have clear goals in terms of store profitability, say Piyush Kumar Sinha and Dwarika Prasad Uniyal in Managing Retailing ( http://www.oup.com/). Buying success hinges on four top skills, which the book lists, as follows: negotiation, market awareness, communication and commercial taste. “The real power of the buyer comes from the knowledge of customers’ purchase patterns and the ab ility to translate these into finding the most suitable source of merchandise to address these requirements.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Difference between the common man and the economist


The Age of Turbulence
Alan Greenspan


May Day parade. Leonid Brezhnev was watching it from Lenin's Tomb. The Soviet Union's full military might was on display.

"First came battalions of elite troops, impressive soldiers, all six foot two, marching in absolute lockstep. Right behind them are phalanxes of state-of-the-art artillery and tanks. Then come the nuclear missiles. But after the missiles come a straggle of six or seven civilians, unkempt, shabbily dressed, utterly out of place."

Thus narrates Alan Greenspan in his memoirs, The Age of Turbulence (http://www.penguin.com/), recounting one of the many stories Ronald Reagan told him on an airplane.

Leadership is one of the performing arts


Leading for a Lifetime
Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas


The one key asset of great leaders is their adaptive capacity, say Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas in Leading for a Lifetime ( http://www.tatamcgrawhill.com/).

Adaptive capacity is “the ability to process new experiences, to find their meaning and to integrate them into one’s life, the signature skill of leaders and, indeed, of anyone who finds ways to live fully and well.”

The book is based on interviews with 43 leaders, ranging in age from 21 to 93, and including both geeks (heads of dot-coms and other information-based organisations) and geezers (‘grandparents of geeks’).

Indian software engineers helped the world rise to the Y2K challenge


The Age of Turbulence
Alan Greenspan


Mid 1991: The Indian economy was “teetering on the edge of collapse, reflecting more than four decades of de facto central planning,” writes Alan Greenspan in The Age of Turbulence ( http://www.penguin.com/ ). “Now, as it was becoming evident that India was suffering from the same failed paradigm that had blighted Eastern Europe, a major change was in the offing…”

The then Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao sprang a surprise by eliminating ‘aspects of deadening hand of controls’ and appointing Dr Manmohan Singh Finance Minister. Luckily, “Singh, a market-oriented economist, was able to tear a modest hole in the regimented economy,” and demonstrate that ‘a little economic freedom and competition can exert extraordinary leverage on economic growth’. The reforms initiated by Singh in 1991 are still unfolding, sees the octogenarian author. He is not too happy, though, that India’s tariffs are ‘double the average levels for South-East Asian countries, increasing the cost of materials used in production for export’.

Effective methods of browsing


Books 2 Byte
Research Methods for Graduate Business and Social Science Students
John Adams, Hafiz T.A. Khan, Robert Raeside and David White
(http://www.sagepublications.com/)

Find the ‘invisible Web’

What is surfing? “Unstructured browsing, whereby links are followed from page to page and educated guesses are made along the way to arrive at the desired piece of information,” say John Adams, Hafiz T.A. Khan, Robert Raeside and David White in Research Methods for Graduate Business and Social Science Students ( http://www.sagepublications.com/).
“Surfing is fun when there is time; however, it is an ineffective method,” they counsel. Instead, find relevant information by browsing through subject directories or using keyword searching, they advise.

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The advantages of blade servers


On the Edge: A Comprehensive Guide to Blade Server Technology
Kiran Mani and Bradley Jee


Push aside the server, and welcome the blade server. For starters, “a blade server is a server chassis housing multiple thin, modular electronic circuit boards, known as server blades,” as http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com explains. “Each blade is a server in its own right, often dedicated to a single application. The blades are literally servers on a card, containing processors, memory, integrated network controllers, an optional fibre channel host bus adaptor (HBA) and other input/output (IO) ports.”

Blade servers are self-contained computer servers designed for high density, say Kiran Mani and Bradley Jee in On the Edge: A Comprehensive Guide to Blade Server Technology ( http://www.wiley.com/). “Blade servers allow more processing power in less rack space, simplifying cabling and reducing power consumption.”

Standardise the exchange of information between trading partners


Books 2 Byte
New Directions in Supply-Chain Management
Tonya Boone and Ram Ganeshan

Can digital marketplaces and efficient supply chains co-exist? Yes, if we can move towards digital supply chains, a converging paradigm, says one of the essays in New Directions in Supply-Chain Management edited by Tonya Boone and Ram Ganeshan ( http://www.jaicobooks.com/).

“We envisage a modular supply chain for the future – trading partners will possess the processes and the technologies that will enable rapid and seamless business integration,” predict the authors.

“It will be the B2B version of ‘plug and play’ where supply chain entities plug-in to their chosen trading partners via ‘digital hubs’ to design products, manage money, information, and people flows, and also fulfil orders.”

The values and thought patterns - the invisible part of the culture


Recruiting, Retaining, and Promoting Culturally Different Employees
Lionel Laroche and Don Rutherford


Information technology companies are among the top in terms of staff diversity. But diversity may need conscious pursuit, because “most professionals vastly underestimate the impact of cultural differences in their work,” rue Lionel Laroche and Don Rutherford in Recruiting, Retaining, and Promoting Culturally Different Employees ( http://www.books.elsevier.com/).

“Whether it be accountants, engineers, or doctors, the common belief is that the technical skills can be universally recognised and that these skills are what will make or break the professional equally in any country.”

The six faces of global change


Futurewise
Patrick Dixon


Fast, urban, tribal, universal, radical and ethical. Or, in short, FUTURE, the ‘six faces of global change’, which Patrick Dixon discusses in Futurewise, fourth edition ( http://www.vivagroupindia.com/).

Being futurewise means planning to change tomorrow, future-thinking at every level, taking a broad view to out-plot the opposition, explains Dixon. “Being futurewise is about shaping the future, making history, having contingencies, staying one step ahead.”

The nine Cs to get at a customer


Online Marketing
Richard Gay, Alan Charlesworth and Rita Esen


C for customer. Fine, but to get at him you need to get nine other Cs right, say the authors of Online Marketing ( http://www.oup.com/), Richard Gay, Alan Charlesworth and Rita Esen. These Cs are: corporate culture, convenience, competition, communications, consistency, creative content, customisation, coordination, and control.

“Most committed online organisations do not just tweak their sites but opt for a complete overhaul and site redesign,” says the book, talking about culture. “Online vision goes beyond providing a corporate Web site but actively seeks partnerships and strategic alliances to increase traffic, brand awareness and sales.”

Regulating the level of performance


How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Jack Canfield


Comfort zone in each of us works just like the thermostat, says Jack Canfield in ‘How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be’ ( http://www.harpercollins.com/). “You have an internal psychological thermostat that regulates your level of performance in the world.” The author cites, as example, how if a salesperson’s self-image was that he earned $3,000 a month in commission, “then whenever he earned that much commissions in the first week of the month, he would slack off for the rest of the month.” So with savings, explains Canfield.

Governance is emerging as a major consideration in private investment decisions


Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2007


The World Bank conducted a survey in 77 developing countries, covering more than 40,000 firms, to measure business perceptions of the investment climate. It found that Governments in developing East Asia could improve the investment climate by paying attention to two things. First, corruption. “Survey respondents in China (73 per cent), Indonesia (44 per cent), the Philippines (45 per cent), and Vietnam (37 per cent) stated that they had to pay bribes to get things d one,” reports ‘Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2007’ ( http://www.academicfoundation.com/ ).

The second area is the time taken to clear goods through customs. “Claiming imported goods from customs took 7.2 days in the Philippines, 6.7 days in the Republic of Korea, and 7.3 days in India, compared with the developing country average of 6 days.”

Never lose the common touch


Business the Richard Branson Way
Des Dearlove


One of Richard Branson’s less well-known talents is a razor-sharp negotiating technique, writes Des Dearlove in the third edition of ‘Business the Richard Branson Way’ ( http://www.wiley.com/ ).

“Branson expects to haggle, always putting in a lower—and sometimes significantly lower—offer. On large purchases—country mansions, aircraft, a Caribbean island—that can make a very big difference.” Accountants may be happy to know that though Branson may not be an accountant, ‘he has always surrounded himself with people who can do the sums.’

The rising return, a reflection of the changing economic situation


India Policy Forum
National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and Brookings Institution

Education offers a very good return in India, comparable to that of other strongly growing countries. This is one of the findings Barry Bosworth, Susan M. Collins and Arvind Virmani discuss in ‘Sources of growth in the Indian economy’, an essay included in volume 3 of ‘India Policy Forum’ of the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and Brookings Institution ( http://www.sagepublications.com/ ). Though the incremental returns to primary education are significantly lower than the average returns, there is a large jump at the secondary school level.

The negotiated price -- a hybrid of many factors


Family Businesses: The Essentials
Peter Leach


Some entrepreneurs start a business, build it up, sell and start all over again. To most owners, though, it is not easy to decide about selling off, says Peter Leach in ‘Family Businesses: The Essentials’ ( http://www.vivagroupindia.com/ ). Reason: “Along with the investment of money, time and energy over the years in establishing the business, there is an emotional investment.”

Family businesses have unique characteristics that will be under threat following a sale, cautions Leach. “Many of the employees may be close friends, generating feelings of betrayal for the owner if the company is sold (especially if it is sold to a competitor).” Post-sale, the bureaucratic culture of many large businesses can be ‘so alien to that of smaller family enterprises that owners generally find the transition extremely difficult.’

Thursday, September 20, 2007

'Intentional attacks'


Study on Unconventional Methods in Special Audits and Investigations
Research Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India


Vedic texts speak of many usable techniques for auditors, says a recent publication of the Research Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India ( http://www.icai.org/): Study on Unconventional Methods in Special Audits and Investigations. For instance, in Nyaya Shastra, Sage Gautama mentions several pramanas (modes or methods) of establishing the truth, one learns. These are: pratyaksha (physical verification), anumana (inference or logic), upamana (description), anupalabdhi (elimination of fallacy to establish the truth or inverse logic), and shabda (axioms).

Tools to manipulate the data in Excel


How to Do Everything with Microsoft Office Excel 2007
Guy Hart-Davis


Let’s say you have entered a lot of data into your worksheets. You may then want to manipulate the data to see what conclusions can be drawn from the same. Two powerful tools to help you in this task are PivotTables and PivotCharts.

‘Pivot’ may sound mysterious and cause you to shift in your chair, but it should help to know that PivotTable is “a form of report that works by rearranging the fields and records in a table into a different format,” explains Guy Hart-Davis in How to Do Everything with Microsoft Office Excel 2007 ( http://www.tatamcgrawhill.com/ ).

Methods to compute logistics cost


Logistics & Supply-Chain Management
Anurag Saxena and Kaaushik Sircar


Significant low-hanging benefit opportunities may be waiting in the logistics area, say Anurag Saxena and Kaaushik Sircar in Logistics & Supply-Chain Management ( http://www.jaicobooks.com/ ). However, for a lowest cost logistics approach to succeed, it must begin by addressing two key points, they add: “First, a clear identification of the firm’s customer service/business goals and, second, a detailed, accurate and complete calculation of current logistics costs.”

Three forms of informal activity


Trade Liberalization and India’s Informal Economy
Barbara Harriss-White and Anushree Sinha


A fuzzy term for researchers has been ‘informal economy’. Quite disturbingly, the phrase is at times used “synonymously with the black or criminal economy, which produces illicit goods and is a manifestation of the desire of economic agents to avoid disciplinary regulation,” write Barbara Harriss-White and Anushree Sinha in Trade Liberalization and India’s Informal Economy ( http://www.oup.com/ ).

‘Informal economy’ covers a larger set of activities than the merely black or shadow economy, they explain. “It involves the non-state-regulated processes of goods and services which are legitimate and compete with formal sector products.”

Policy and programs to shape the rural


Globalising Rural Development
M.C. Behera


Conservation and regeneration of rural landscapes — these are not what are implied by ‘rural development’, rues Farida Akhter in one of the essays included in Globalising Rural Development edited by M.C. Behera ( http://www.sage.com/ ). The phrase “simply implied, against the backdrop of urbanisation, the state-mediated policy and programs to shape the rural to meet the urban need.”

The purpose, says Akhter, had always been “the destruction of non-industrial landscapes in order to shape them to better serve as the hinterlands of industry, particularly as the supplier of ‘raw materials’ and ‘labour’ as well as the dumping ground of industrial wastes.”

It is a much easier job to be an investigator or critic of morality, than a lawyer


In a Cardboard Belt!
Joseph Epstein


In a strict historical sense, professions included theology, medicine, and law, writes Joseph Epstein in ‘Why I am not a lawyer’, an essay that comes immediately after ‘Speaking for the dead’ in In a Cardboard Belt! ( http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ ).

A looser construction of ‘professional’, about half a century ago, in the middleclass Chicago neighbourhood that Epstein talks about in the essay, included “dentistry, at a stretch accounting (at the CPA level), possibly at the very lower end pharmacy, and I suppose veterinary medicine.”

Sports business


Pitch Invasion
Barbara Smit


The 2006 football World Cup was the backdrop for a multimillion-dollar battle of the boot makers, pitting Adidas squarely against Nike, writes Barbara Smit in ’ Pitch Invasion’ ( http://www.landmarkonthenet.com/ ).

The Adidas’ ’Impossible is nothing’ campaign, orchestrated at a cost of about 250 million euros “bore all the hallmarks of a military operation.” The sports business has changed beyond recognition since the Dasslers of Adidas invented it, says Smit. “Long gone are the days when a sneaky employee could just leave a pair of boots in the locker room with a couple of banknotes.”

The governance of the game is in the hands of paid professionals


Not Quite Cricket
Pradeep Magazine


There are several reasons for the apathy that has taken over the cricketing world, and most of these have to do with the irresponsibility and mismanagement of the BCCI, the body that controls and administers the money that is poured into the game,” writes Pradeep Magazine in Not Quite Cricket ( http://www.penguin.com/).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India gets most of the money generated through television and the consumer goods industry, he adds. “Till the early Nineties when Doordarshan had monopoly over telecasting rights, the Board depended largely on the guarantee money from the staging associations to fill its coffers. The staging associations, in turn, made a packet from the sale of tickets and from in-stadia ads." Then came the liberalisation, and with it, satellite television and cable TV…

Don’t let cold sore interfere with your life


Then We Came to the End
Joshua Ferris


Let’s say you need to create a TV spot for an analgesic to reduce cold sore pain and swelling. And, the client insists that the ad should be ’funny and irreverent and all that, but at the same time, not offending anybody who suffers from cold sores’.

The two things are mutually exclusive, says Joe, a character in Joshua Ferris’ novel Then We Came to the End ( http://www.crosswordbookstores.com/). “It was one of those impossible, harebrained paradoxes that only a roundtable of corporate marketers smelling of competing aftershaves could have dreamed up.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The new venues of trial


The Body Hunters
Sonia Shah


Fleeing from the empty test clinics of the West, drugmakers have come in search of better places where the sick are abundant, and costs low, writes Sonia Shah in The Body Hunters ( http://www.pearsoned.co.in/ ). Destinations, as you can well imagine, are the developing countries.

“In the US investigators reject proposals that require their subjects undergo painful, invasive procedures.” Not so in the new venues of trial. The book cites a doctor as saying he was approached to conduct a trial that required him to “surgically insert telescopic devices into women’s abdomens that were ten times bigger than he and other doctors had been using for years.”

About Saudi crude


Sleeping With The Devil
Robert Baer


In See No Evil, Robert Baer, a former CIA operative had written about how terrorism works. Now, his Sleeping With The Devil ( http://www.crownpublishing.com/ ), a book dedicated to Danny Pearl, is about Saudi crude. The author describes how Saudi oil fields have the same vulnerability as Pearl Harbour had in 1941, when ‘even if a Japanese bomb missed its target, it was likely to find something worth blowing up’.

Religion, a primary human need


Black Mass
John Gray


A central task of government is to work out and enforce a framework whereby we can live together, says John Gray in Black Mass ( http://www.penguin.com/ ). He does not foresee a role for a homogenised world or a morally homogeneous society. “No one type of government or economy will be accepted everywhere, nor will any single version of civilisation be embraced by all of humanity.”

A two-stage collapse


America’s Bubble Economy
John David Wiedemer, Robert A. Wiedemer and Cindy S. Spitzer


All is not lost when the pop happens. You can protect your portfolio using alternative investments, say John David Wiedemer, Robert A. Wiedemer and Cindy S. Spitzer in America’s Bubble Economy ( http://www.wiley.com/ ).

First, what is a bubble? “There is no formal definition within the field of economics that provides a precise way of identifying a bubble. For our purposes, we say a bubble exists whenever an asset’s perceived or psychological value exceeds its real economic value.” Economic value, the authors define, is a value based on logical economic parameters, such as population growth, rising company earnings, increased personal income, or some other fundamental economic parameter that is directly tied to the asset’s rise in value.

Americans were borrowing at a remarkable pace


Bubble Man
Peter Hartcher


To know what happened in the US housing market, read the chapter titled ‘Nemesis’ in Peter Hartcher’s ‘Bubble Man’ ( http://www.wwnorton.com/ ). It traces how the national housing stock was around 60-70 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) in the early post-World War II years, and how it touched 100 per cent in 1981.

“During the course of the 1990s, the market value of the nation’s housing stayed in a steady ratio of 102-110 per cent. Even as the stock market slipped its traces and raced beyond all historical proportion to the US economy in the late 1990s, the value of the residential real estate market remained in a stable relationship with the size of the economy.”

Bubbles leave behind a new commercial and consumer infrastructure


Pop!
Daniel Gross


This world’s a bubble, says Saint Aurelius Augustine. And in almost a similar vein, George Santayana sees the soul as “but the last bubble of a long fermentation in the world.” Truth is tough, it will not break, like a bubble, at the touch, nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening, reminds Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Well, the depressing truth of the times is that financial pundits lose no opportunity in frightening us of one bubble or the other, more so in the wake of the sub-prime crisis. So, it should be refreshingly reassuring to read that bubbles are great for the economy, as Daniel Gross writes in ‘Pop!’ ( http://www.landmarkonthenet.com/ ).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Option premium is a sunk cost

Book Value
Fundamentals of Options
Sunil K. Parameswaran
(www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

Options demystified

In an options contract, the buyer of the contract, also called the holder or the long, has a right, while the seller, also known as the writer or the short, has an obligation. Thus reads a snatch in Fundamentals of Options by Sunil K. Parameswaran ( www.tatamcgrawhill.com).

“The long has the freedom to decide as to whether or not he wishes to go through with the transaction, whereas the short has no choice but to carry out his part of the agreement if and when the holder chooses to exercise his right.”

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Review your communication style

Book Value
The Bow-Wow Secrets
William Cottringer
(www.wisdomtreeindia.com)

Dog laws

There are seven ‘dog laws’, according to The Bow-Wow Secrets by William Cottringer ( www.wisdomtreeindia.com). First, ‘know what kind of dog you are’. It is okay for one dog to ask another if he is unsure about something, says the author.

“Sometimes a second opinion is good.” And there are more lessons to learn from dogs — such as, they compete against themselves, and learn early on what they are best at doing.

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Self-belief

Book Value
Sack Your Boss
Jonathan Jay
(www.jaicobooks.com)

Be on your own

Quit your job and turn your passion into your profession, exhorts Jonathan Jay in Sack Your Boss ( www.jaicobooks.com).

“The one thing you must have in bucketfuls is self-belief,” he insists. “If you do not believe in yourself, no one else will.” When you sack your boss do not make the mistake of taking a partner, cautions Jay.

“The reason people take on partners or fellow directors is that they do not believe in the business themselves.

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Purchase of shares

Book Value
Basic Financial Accounting for Management
Paresh Shah
(www.oup.com)

Financial accounting primer

If you are looking for a starter book on finance, here is Basic Financial Accounting for Management by Paresh Shah ( www.oup.com). Written to help the self-learner, the book has exercises and case studies in ample measure, apart from a discussion of the basics in a simple style.

For instance, in a section on ‘buyback of shares’, Shah explains that the phrase refers to the act of purchasing own shares by a company ‘either from free reserve, securities premium, or proceeds of any shares or securities’.

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Learn to ask questions

Book Value
The Only Three Questions that Count
Ken Fisher
(www.wiley.com)

Know the unknown

You may be smarter, wiser, or better trained than the next investor but that isn’t enough, says Ken Fisher in The Only Three Questions that Count ( www.wiley.com ). “You’re a fool if you think being smarter or better trained is enough to beat others based on commonly available news and information.”

The problem, as the author diagnoses, is that the typical investor’s mind harbours “the false premise that investing is a craft, like carpentry or doctoring.” No, investing is more like a scientific query session, says Fisher.

“As a scientist, you should approach investing not with a rule set, but with an open, inquisitive mind. Like any good scientist, you must learn to ask questions. Your questions will help you develop hypotheses you can test for efficacy.”

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A predictive statistical model of compatibility


Super Crunchers
Ian Ayres


There is a new wave of prediction that utilises the wisdom of crowds in a way that goes beyond conscious preferences, says Ian Ayres in ‘Super Crunchers’ ( http://www.johnmurray.co.uk/). It is eHarmony, the discovery of a new wisdom of crowds through Super Crunching. How does it work? “Unlike traditional dating services that solicit and match people based on their conscious and articulated preferences, eHarmony tries to find out what kind of person you are and then matches you with others who the data say are most compatible.”

Countering the threat of nuclear terrorism


Nuclear Terrorism
Graham Allison


The National Security Agency (NSA) in the US employs 30,000 electronic eavesdroppers to collect and interpret communications from around the world, while the CIA’s Directorate of Operations – its human spies – has only about four thousand employees, informs Graham Allison in ‘Nuclear Terrorism’ ( http://www.constablerobinson.com/). Yet, “the most sophisticated secret technologies cannot uncover small-scale insider theft, or even nuclear efforts camouflaged in highly visible civilian research programs,” he says, thus emphasising on the need for ‘more creative, diverse human sources of intelligence’.

It is no longer a straightforward plug-and-play experience


Simplexity
Jeffrey Kluger


Why are your cell-phone and camera so absurdly complicated? “Misled by flexibility,” answers Jeffrey Kluger in ‘Simplexity’ ( http://www.johnmurray.co.uk/). “Electronic devices, by any rational measure, have gone mad,” he laments.

“It’s not just your TV or your camera or your twenty-seven-button cell-phone with its twenty-one different screen menus and its 124-page instruction manual. It’s your camcorder and your stereo and your BlackBerry and your microwave and your dishwasher and your dryer and even your new multi-function coffee-maker which in any sane world would have just one job to do and that’s to make a good cup of coffee.”

This is not a flat world, but a tilted one


Take This Job and Ship It
Byron L. Dorgan


The majority of the victims lost in the sinking of the Titanic were second- and third-class passengers, and immigrants and workers in steerage below, writes Byron L. Dorgan in ‘Take This Job and Ship It’ ( http://www.stmartins.com/). Similarly the current job losses in the US hit the less affluent, he says. “The wealthy grab the lifeboats, and the rest flounder. ‘Sink or swim,’ workers are told. ‘Compete with thirty-cent-an-hour labour or lose your job, that’s just the new reality of the global economy,’ they say.”

China had more journalists in prison than any other country


Chinese Lessons
John Pomfret


E-commerce in China is still in its infancy, writes John Pomfret in Chinese Lessons ( http://www.henryholt.com/). “Few Chinese have credit cards, making it difficult to pay for items purchased online.” And there is a bigger problem: “Without any regulatory system, China is awash in bogus Internet business selling fictitious products. The lack of morality and paucity of trust that pervade Chinese society have found their way to cyberspace,” the author rues.

Consequences of a flattening of culture


The Cult of the Amateur
Andrew Keen


On the Web, where everyone has an equal voice, the words of the wise man count for no more than the mutterings of a fool, bemoans Andrew Keen in The Cult of the Amateur ( http://www.landmarkonthenet.com/).

In support, he cites the ‘infinite monkey theorem’ of T.H. Huxley, a nineteenth-century evolutionary biologist. Huxley’s theory, as you may know, is that “if you provide infinite monkeys wit h infinite typewriters, some monkey somewhere will eventually create a masterpiece – a play by Shakespeare, a Platonic dialogue, or an economic treatise by Adam Smith.”

Six keys to organic growth

Manage Mentor
The Road to Organic Growth
Edward D. Hess
(www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

Alternative to M&A deals

In an age when mergers and acquisitions (M&As) make for dramatic headlines, it may seem old-fashioned to talk about growing from within. But Edward D. Hess does just that in The Road to Organic Growth ( www.tatamcgrawhill.com).

Inorganic growth through the M&A route may not be negative, but growth generated internally frequently results in better returns on investment, stock value improvements, and lower employee turnover, he argues.

A great takeaway from his research is ‘six keys to organic growth’, beginning with an elevator-pitch business model. That is, an easy-to-understand strategy that can be explained to and understood by line employees.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Photos for Books of Account







By S. Muralidhar....






RDE in action


Selling Blue Elephants
Howard Moskowitz and Alex Gofman


Do you want to know how to make great products that people want before they even know they want them? Howard Moskowitz and Alex Gofman explore this question in Selling Blue Elephants ( http://www.pearsoned.co.in/).

And RDE or Rule Developing Experimentation is their answer: “A systematised solution-oriented business process of experimentation that designs, tests, and modifies alternative ideas, packages, products, or services in a disciplined way so that the developer and marketer discover what appeals to the customer, even if the customer can’t articulate the need, much less the solution.”

Collaborative branding discovers, delights, and satisfies


Living Brands
Raymond A. Nadeau


Be there. Be real. These are the first two of the six secrets that Raymond A. Nadeau discusses in Living Brands ( http://www.tatamcgrawhill.com/). “Becoming a legitimate part of people’s lives is the new minimum price of brand entry and is the only method for a brand’s sustained longevity.” Being there is critical; because it is no longer news that brands have evolved “from being products with purely functional benefits into highly emotionalised personalities that represent an entire intimate lifestyle to consumers.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Five most common blind spots


Blind Spots
Claudia M. Shelton


Your behaviour might have been impressive about five years ago among a group of college students, but the same may not appeal to a boss who manages you now. Similarly, “what brought you success as an individual contributor may not work to help you manage a group, or build relationships with a new set of peers.”

Also, “what made you successful in the corporate world is likely to be quite different from what makes you prosperous and happy in the world of the entrepreneur.” Why so? Because the meaning of success changes and reality shifts over time, reasons Claudia M. Shelton in Blind Spots ( http://www.wiley.com/). “When we don’t recognise that shift, when we still think of success in old ways, we have blind spots.”

Monday, September 10, 2007

Types of time wasters


Time Management
Ramesh K. Arora


Mixing and matching personal-official and avoidable-unavoidable, Ramesh K. Arora describes four types of time wasters in Time Management ( http://www.paragonintpub.com/ ). The AP (avoidable personal) time wasters include, for example, gossiping, addiction to soap operas, repeatedly watching the same TV news, getting angry often, eating frequently and so on. UP, the unavoidable personal type, includes social occasions. Also in this category are ‘demanding friends, surprise visitors, irregular water supply, power failure, and irresponsible domestic assistance’.

Creativity is the art of expanding possibility


Creativity for Critical Thinkers
Anthony Weston


Congrats! You have achieved the first breakthrough. It may be quite normal if you feel like stopping now, but don’t. “Our single greatest temptation is to stop as soon as we make a first breakthrough, as if some sort of final exam has been passed and now there is nothing more to be done,” writes Anthony Weston in Creativity for Critical Thinkers ( http://www.oup.com/ ). But don’t fall into the trap of such a complacence, he exhorts. “In fact we have usually only taken the first step of what could be many more. We’ve only cracked open the door. Real creativity only begins with the first breakthrough. Walk through that door — and keep going.”

Set goals that others can follow


Manager’s Toolkit
Harvard Business Essentials series


Leaders are different from managers. Leaders deal with ambiguity, change and opportunity, and push the train tracks where they’ve never gone before, while managers create order out of complexity, and keep the trains running on schedule. Thus explains Manager’s Toolkit, from the Harvard Business Essentials series ( http://www.tatamcgrawhill.com/).

Despite the above distinction, leaders must also manage, and vice-versa, the book adds. “To be effective, leadership cannot just be about inspiration and grand visions, but must also be about getting results. Managers must als o lead within their own spheres of responsibility.”

Online information



Books 2 Byte
Next
Michael Crichton
(http://www.crosswordbookstores.com/)

Data online

“Under state law it’s all discoverable. We’re required to post all lab findings to an FTP address. In theory it’s password-protected, but anyone can get to it.” “You put genetic data online?” “Not everyone’s data. Just the lawsuits…”

A gripping snatch from ‘Next’ by Michael Crichton ( http://www.crosswordbookstores.com) Catch up.

More

Computer languages


The Artist and the Mathematician
Amir D. Aczel


A semi-secret society named Oulipo was formed in November 1960, in France. Its members composed “thousands of poems and sonnets, many of them based on mathematical concepts of combinations and permutations of nouns, verbs, and letters,” informs Amir D. Aczel in ‘The Artist and the Mathematician’ ( http://www.landmarkonthenet.com/). “Computers were just beginning to be available at the time the group began its work in the early 1960s, and computer languages, especially ALGOL, were receiving much attention from the public.”