TROUBLESHOOTER Feat. Sir John Harvey Jones BBC Consumer Publishing, pounds 14.99 MAKING IT HAPPEN - REFLECTIONS ON LEADERSHIP Sir John Harvey Jones Harper Collins, pounds 8.99 SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL EF Schumacher Vintage, pounds 7.99 MAVERICK Ricardo Semler Random House Business Books, pounds 7.99 THE RISE AND FALL OF MARKS AND SPENCER Judi Bevan Profile Books, pounds 7.99 THE BUSINESS ENTERPRISE HANDBOOK Liz Clarke et al Kogan Page, pounds 30
Anyone starting a business, or wondering how to move forward, grow and improve an existing business will probably look for help and advice in a book. And what a choice there is. There are so many books on every aspect and philosophy of business that one almost needs a book on how to choose the right business book. Many publications can be genuinely helpful for managers of any size of business while others are basically one idea, that could just as easily be put forward in a single article, surrounded by an enormous amount of padding.
"Most managers don't read business books," says Rufus Olins, the editor- in-chief of Management Today. "They buy them but they rarely actually read them. As far as we can see, the most popular type of business books are the self-help type for individuals, such as What Colour is Your Parachute?. However, one that does seem to be read and enjoyed by managers of medium to large companies is Built to Last, which was written by James Collins and Jerry Porras. That really seems to be worth a serious read."
This book is a classic among business publications, costing pounds 15.99 from Random House Business Books. It took the authors, both Stamford University professors, six years to research. In it they take 18 "visionary" companies, such as Disney, Hewlett Packard and Ford, and work out what is special about them and what sets them apart from the "second division" companies in their sectors. They conclude that, as well as achieving excellence in their field, all the companies featured show an almost cult-like devotion to a "core ideology" or identity, and an active indoctrination of employees into "ideological commitment" to the company.
The Forum of Small Businesses (FSB), which has owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses as its members, recommends the Troubleshooter series of books which tied in with the BBC series of the same name, featuring Sir John Harvey Jones, former CEO of ICI, giving ailing businesses a helping hand. Troubleshooter and Troubleshooter 2 (BBC Consumer Publishing, pounds 14.99 each) came out in the early Nineties but the advice is still helpful, coming from one of Britain's most successful business leaders. In fact Amazon readers give Sir John's latest book, Making it Happen - Reflections on Leadership (Harper Collins, pounds 8.99), five stars. This is not surprising, as it is full of common-sense advice on all aspects of business life and management, using the author's experiences as chairman of ICI and his experience of leadership in the Royal Navy. …