Practical Guide To Gurudom

Dec. 21, 2004
The Guru Guide: The Best Ideas of the Top Management Thinkers (1998, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 800-225-5945) It was probably inevitable. As the number of management theorists and their books have grown, so has the need for a distillation of the gurus' dominant themes. The Guru Guide: The Best Ideas of the Top Management Thinkers provides a clear, concise, and informative introduction to the most prominent management thinkers. More importantly, authors Joseph H. Boyett and Jimmie T. Boyett show where the gurus ideas coincide and conflict, trace how the major management theories evolved, and provide a candid evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses. The 79 management thinkers featured cover the landscape of business thought over the last three decades, from Bennis, Covey, Drucker, and Hamel to Mintzberg, Porter, Senge, and Wheatley. To come up with their roster of gurus, the authors began by making a list of what they believed to be the most important and enduring management issues: leadership, managing change, learning, teams, strategy, motivation, and future organizational designs. They gave heavy emphasis to those thinkers who had written significant books or articles during the last five years, and then checked the bestseller lists to see what businesspeople are actually reading. "Some of [the gurus] are arguably the best thinkers in their field," say the Boyetts. "Others may not necessarily be the greatest thinkers, but their bank accounts attest to their popularity." Organized for easy reading, each of the books chapters focuses on a critical management issue, lists the gurus whose ideas are included, and is flagged by symbols indicating the opinions of the authors and key summary points. The chapter on leadership, for example, outlines Warren Bennis basic ingredients of leadership, Burt Nanus seven megaskills of leadership, Stephen Coveys seven habits of highly successful people, and Max DePrees attributes of leadership, among other lists. The authors guide the reader through the major themes of leadership, and conclude that "leadership comes down to the fact that with all of the posturing and promises, no guru, regardless of his or her mettle or meddling, can make you an instant leader. Leaders arent born -- at least not full-blown. Neither are they made like instant coffee. Instead, they are slow brewed." The Guru Guide concludes with brief biographies of the featured management thinkers and a 15-page bibliography to facilitate further investigation of their work. The Ultimate Book of Business Quotations (1998, AMACOM, 800-262-9699) A number of the gurus featured in the Boyetts book also make brief appearances in The Ultimate Book of Business Quotations, collected by Stuart Crainer. Their pearls of wisdom, however, run cheek by jowl with quotations from noncorporate observers such as Winston Churchill ("Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room"), Groucho Marx ("Those are my principles, if you dont like them I have others"), and Marshall McLuhan ("For tribal man space was the uncontrollable mystery. For technological man it is time that occupies the same role"). Handy as a resource for finding just the right bon mot for a speech or presentation, the book also can be read purely for enjoyment, especially since Crainer has studiously ignored quotes that include business jargon. Some of the category headings themselves are entertaining: "Ambition: naked intent," "Bosses and bastards," and "Career snakes and ladders." And, because Crainer believes that "the best lines are snappy," the quotes are short -- "Lengthy dissertations on marketing are notable by their absence," he assures us. A Daily Dose of the American Dream: Stories of Success, Triumph, and Inspiration (1998, Rutledge Hill Press, 615/244-2700) Another handy desktop reference, one designed to be a quick pick-me-up, is A Daily Dose of the American Dream: Stories of Success, Triumph, and Inspiration by Alan C. Elliott. The book offers 365 readings on subjects as diverse as Clarence Birdseyes invention of frozen food, Charles Darrows devising of the board game Monopoly, and Olympic track champion Wilma Rudolphs triumph over polio. Each story contains a specific challenge that encourages readers to examine their own business or personal lives, and can be used to help translate someone elses technique for success into your own or, in some instances, to learn from others mistakes.

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