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The gold standard of business information for the twenty-first century, Business will also be a source of inspiration and insight, with original essays from more than 150 world-renowned business thinkers, leaders, academics, and practitioners such as Charles Handy, Warren Bennis, Jim Collins, Thomas Petzinger, Jr., Peter L. Bernstein, and John Seely Brown. Unprecedented in scope (2.5 million words, 2,200 pages), Business covers all significant intellectual, practical, and factual areas in the field of management. A major feature of Business is an authoritative world almanac featuring 26 industry sector surveys and profiles of 150 countries and all U.S. states. Lively biographies of the management thinkers who have shaped the world as we know it-from Adam Smith to Peter Drucker, from Henry Ford to Estée Lauder-will inform and entertain, while digests of the 70 most influential business books ever published are certain to spark debate. In addition, Business includes a comprehensive dictionary, an anthology of quotations, and an extensive source section covering nearly 200 topics from accounting to team building.Guided by an eminent team of editors and advisors, Business equips everyone who works with the tools necessary to learn from yesterday and prepare for tomorrow.Business is the first-ever comprehensive resource on business and management. A remarkable compendium of lively essays, inspiring biographies, and impressive source materials, Business features the following:Original Best-Practice Essays from 150 of Today's Thought LeadersFascinating Profiles of Top Management Thinkers and PioneersA Management Library-The 70 Most Important Business Books of All TimeIndispensable Management Checklists and Action ListsFirst-Class World Business AlmanacComprehensive Dictionary of 5,000 Business TermsBusiness Information Sources -Where to Go from HereVisit www.ultimatebusinessresource.com
After an introduction by international best-selling author Daniel Goleman, and a user's guide that explains how the book can be used for quick reference, Business provides numerous sections that offer an abundance of viewpoints and ideas about the topics that build the backbone of modern business and management.
The book's first section is dedicated to best practices that organizations should follow on the pathway to success. It is made up of numerous essays that are dedicated to timely business topics, including: marketing, strategy/competition, finance, IT/information management, systems, structure, leadership, renewal/growth, productivity, and personal effectiveness. Each section is made up of many perspectives from a variety of writers.
Business also offers more than 100 management checklists that, together, provide a comprehensive handbook of practical answers to everyday business challenges. Each checklist reflects the current thinking and best management practices for the topic at hand. Thechecklists work to answer the most pressing problems that organizations face, and provide step-by-step paths to success, along with lists of dos and don'ts, benefits and disadvantages.
Business also contains a section dedicated to "Actionlists." These actionlists are written by a team of international specialists, and provide essential instructions for completing tasks and solving problems. They address key management tasks in detail, and include in-depth coverage of e-commerce, marketing, personal development, accounting and finance. Each actionlist includes a section of answers to frequently asked questions, ways to avoid common mistakes, and additional resources.
A Management Library
Business also includes brief summaries of 70 of the most influential business books of all time. This "Management Library" distills the main lessons from books such as Peter Drucker's The Practice of Management and Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.
In addition, Business provides more than 100 profiles of the most influential or controversial business writers, managers and entrepreneurs. These "Business Thinkers and Management Giants" range from pioneers to professors, and include Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Alvin Toffler, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, and many others.
A world business almanac is included that provides the statistics, facts and figures on the global economy and business. This section includes up-to-date profiles of more than 150 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and 24 industry sectors. A world economy section provides graphics that illustrate many business and market statistics, demographics and economic information.
The last part of Business provides over 3,000 sources of the best business information from around the world. These include the most informative books, magazines, journals, and authoritative organizations.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
The most amazing aspect of Business, besides its size and breadth, which are both unparalleled, is its readability. In an easy-reference format, Business uses concise language and interesting topics that are well-organized and exciting to discover. The variety of voices that make up Business give it an appeal that moves beyond the world of business, making it a resource that can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to know more about the potent societal force known as business. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
What special talents allow some people to build a flourishing business from nothing, while others — though given every advantage of background and preparation at the best business schools-run a business into the ground? What abilities allow one person to take a mediocre company and transform it into an industry leader, while others turn great companies into mediocre ones? And what collective qualities let one company flourish year after year while competitors founder?
The answer must lie not just in luck, breeding or education. Rather there seems to be a certain knack-a preternatural intelligence-at play, one that makes some people naturally talented at the complex demands of business, just as others are naturals at music, math, or soccer. This same ability displays itself at the group level in superlative teams, and at the organizational level in great companies.
This observation leads to the question: could there be a business intelligence — a set of abilities that distinguish those truly outstanding in the world of commerce?Could business intelligence be the mark of outstanding individual performers, as well as the building block of the best-performing companies?
I raise the possibility in part to inspire debate and research, as business itself has come into its own as a field of inquiry, theory, and practice. Within the last few decades sophisticated theory and sound quantitative methods have been brought to bear on the study of business. In my own work, I've drawn on this new science to understand the role of emotional intelligence in work performance and leadership. But as I ponder the field of business studies, I wonder whether there might be a case for business intelligence as well.
The question of whether there might be a business intelligence is not far-fetched. Serious thinkers like, Howard Gardner at Harvard University look at intelligence not in the traditional, early 20th-century mold of a narrow set of intellectual abilities revolving mainly around verbal agility and alacrity at math. Instead, they think of intelligence as specific to various life domains.
Gardner transformed the way we think about intelligence by challenging its definition in terms of the restricted range of abilities that allow some to excel in the academic world or do well in IQ tests. Instead, he argues convincingly, there are multiple intelligences that go far beyond that narrow band, including in the world of movement-as in the football star or gifted dancer-and in the universe of music, as embodied in the genius of a Mozart or Yo Yo Ma.
This expands the term "intelligence" to encompass a range of consequential capacities usually thought of as far beyond its scope. Gardner has even proposed an "intelligence" for understanding the world of nature, as in the great naturalists like John Audobon or Linnaeus — and has speculated on the pros and cons of a spiritual intelligence.
Why not, then, a business intelligence? "Intelligence" in its most basic sense refers to the capacity to solve problems, meet challenges, or create valued products. In this regard, business intelligence describes the essential capacity for success in the marketplace: being able to handle the challenges and crises of the day adeptly, to apply the expertise that offers solutions as needed, and to do all that in ways that add value.
Among the criteria for any candidate, intelligence is an evolutionary plausibility for its role in human survival, a role arrived at via a reverse engineering in which selection pressures in evolution are inferred from the current operation of a faculty. Here, for instance, the case can be made that the modern-day talents for business had antecedents in primitive forms of barter and craftsmanship, primal leadership and negotiation, teamwork and cooperation.
Those who excelled in these proto-business abilities in prehistory would very likely be better able to provide for their progeny, the true mark of evolutionary fitness. Here there is another intriguing bit of data: the evolutionary psychologist David Buss at the University of Michigan has found that in cultures worldwide one of the prime qualities that make a man attractive to women as a potential mate are signs that he can be a good provider. And desirability as a mate makes one that much more likely to pass on one's genes to future generations — the biological meaning of "survival of the fittest."
One mark of any intelligence lies in having a developmental history, a series of landmarks of learning and mastery over the course of life. No intelligence emerges full bloom, but rather is nurtured and developed over the years. When it comes to business, those who emerge as outstanding typically showed signs of a flair for their later talent as far back as their teen years or even childhood. As the biographies of business greats tell us, as they grew they were particularly able learners, refining and honing these natural talents.
The emergence of the human capacity for math speaks to a different criterion for an intelligence: a relevant symbol system. Any intelligence requires a lingua franca, a set of symbols that capture the meaningful information needed to operate in that domain-such as musical notation. Historically such symbol systems arose because of a pressing human need. The historical record suggests that the basics of math-counting, adding, subtracting, and the like-emerged to fill the needs of commerce and accounting, keeping track of goods as they were traded and stored. As business has evolved, so too have the symbol systems that serve this intelligence, as they adapt to these dynamic changes.
What might the key elements of business intelligence include? The data trail leads back to the 1970s, when Harvard professor David McClelland first made the argument that what predicted the best performance in business were not traditional academic aptitudes, nor school grades, nor credentials. Instead he focused on the abilities that star performers exhibit, which can differ from job to job, role to role, and company to company-and which have little or nothing to do with academic abilities.
His research showed why academic intelligence matters little as a predictor of success once someone has gotten into a given job-they are largely threshold abilities, what anyone needs to enter the field and hold the job. More significant for predicting its success are those competencies that distinguish the best from the mediocre within a given job, role, or company. If a company wants to cultivate its strengths, it needs to hire, promote, and train people for these distinguishing abilities-just as if we want to succeed in our career, these are the abilities we will need.
Over the last several decades hundreds of studies in organizations of all kinds-from small family-owned retailers to corporate giants, from hospitals to religious orders — have followed McClelland's lead, assessing the capabilities that set the star performers apart from average in jobs within their organization. Those abilities break down into three basic domains: cognitive astuteness, which largely translates into the ability to learn and to think strategically; technical expertise, or the essential crafts we learn to get work done; and emotional intelligence, the ability to manage ourselves and our relationships. Business intelligence, in the sense I propose, subsumes all of these as core sub-abilities — components that, when orchestrated together, create a special business aptitude.
Each of us will inevitably have a profile of strengths and weaknesses across all the varied abilities that make for business intelligence. And each job we hold over the course of a career will have a distinctive set of demands-and so to some extent require a unique recipe of capabilities to excel. As we change jobs and roles, we need to grow our business intelligence through continuous learning-not just to keep up, but also to get and stay ahead.
Of course any intelligence will have its prodigies — those who exhibit the aptitude at its peak. Here the Rothschilds and Rockefellers, the likes of Gates and Branson, make the point. But the simple fact that some have a natural knack for business intelligence, while others have only middling abilities, should not discourage anyone. For one, the abilities that make up business intelligence are all learnable — anyone with motivation can get better. For another, no one need master every element of business intelligence; we can rely on others for much of the expertise we need. And that gets me to my next point: intelligence is distributed.
THE NEED TO KNOW
An ancient proverb holds, "Best is to know — and know you know. Next best is to know that you don't know. Third best is knowing, but not realizing it. Worst is not to know that you don't know."
That bit of wisdom certainly pertains to business intelligence, which includes an aptitude for grasping the right expertise at just the right time, for the right business purpose. The best business people know what they need to, and use their expertise with confidence. When they don't have a key piece of expertise, they realize their need to know-and know where to find it. And, frankly, given the complexity of business today, any of us can find ourselves in that position-with an urgent need to know-at any moment.
How well we handle that moment speaks to our business intelligence, which can manifest in knowing the critical piece of expertise a pressing need demands-or knowing how to find it. Such access to expertise sets the best business people apart from those who flounder: star performers have a superlative grasp of just the piece of know-how they need to do their jobs well, while mediocre performers don't even know that they don't know. Indeed, in studies of outstanding performers at work, the very best were able to track down an essential bit of expertise four times faster than it took their less able peers. In short, speed of access to key expertise-a distinguishing quality of business intelligence — typifies business stars.
In today's business reality such access is all the more essential because of a fundamental fact: we each know only a part of the information or expertise we need to get our jobs done. For years Robert Kelley of Carnegie-Mellon University has been asking people who work at a wide variety of companies the same question, "What per cent of the knowledge you need to do your job is stored in your own mind?" Back in the mid-1980s the answer was typically around 75 per cent. But by the turn of the millennium, that percentage had slid to as low as 15 per cent.
This dwindling of what we know most certainly reflects the sheer rate of growth of information. More knowledge has been generated in the last century, it is said, then in all history before — and the rate of increase accelerates. Likewise, when it comes to the information and expertise needed to do business, what we need to know seems ever-escalating.
Given that anyone in business inevitably faces a growing dependence on information and expertise that others hold, access to what others know matters as never before. But luckily, none of us need to keep in our heads the ever-multiplying expertise that business today — and tomorrow — will demand. Cognitive scientists tell us that intelligence-what we know, remember, and can put to practical use-is distributed. instead of studying for years to learn all that we might one day need to know, we may do as well — or better — simply to know how to get the information or skills we'll need at the time we need it. We can access a particular bit of expertise as called for, rather than spending endless years mastering all of it.
Our business intelligence does not stop at our skin-it resides in the tools such as databases, and our networks of associates, office mates, and colleagues whom we can turn to as needed. But there is an inevitable unevenness to the range and depth of expertise that our information tools and personal networks offer. Each of us needs to find ways to make up for the gaps in our personal network of experts and information-to continue to learn-or learn ways to find out what we need to know, when we need to know it.
The implications of business intelligence go beyond each of us to the companies we work for or the people we work with. Within any human group, knowledge and expertise are distributed. In today's complex business reality, no one person can master all the skills or data the organization as a whole will need to run effectively. The financial officer has one set of expertise, the sales people another, those in R&D still another. And the company will only be as "smart" as the timely and appropriate offering up of those diverse bits of expertise allow.
Today's business reality poses a paradox: the challenge of reconciling information overload with lightning-fast decision making. To survive competitively, each of us individually — as well as any company — must gather expertise as needed, and operate or adapt accordingly. This applies to the smallest corner store and the largest corporation alike. It points to the crucial role of information flow throughout an organization in determining its viability. The sum of what everybody in a company knows, and knows how to do — its aggregate business intelligence — gives a company much of its competitive edge — if it can mobilize that expertise well.
Indeed, battle-worn executives like Andrew Grove of Intel argue that the very survival of a company depends on the ability of its top leadership team to be nimble in their response to the surprises and challenges of the marketplace. And systems theory tells us that in an environment of turbulent change and competition, the person-or company-that can take in information most widely, learn from it most thoroughly, and respond most nimbly, creatively, and flexibly, will be the most adaptive. This business imperative was, no doubt, a force in the emergence of the "knowledge management" movement from within the Information Technology enclave to the further reaches of the organization.
In short, at each step of the way, the ability to access needed expertise makes a critical difference. Where are the gaps in our business intelligence? We can ask ourselves if we are completely current in, say, the best ways to get to know our customers and their needs, or how to make a strategic alliance work, or the ins and outs of relationship marketing, Where would we turn in our own personal network to find the answers?
BUSINESS LITERACY-AND WISDOM
Then there's business literacy, a working familiarity with the key thinking and writing that business people need to keep up with. Given the thousands of books and articles published each year for business people, it's virtually impossible to keep current with the explosion of new ideas and concepts-not to mention weeding out the quickly fading fads of the moment. The majority of that unwieldy mass of ideas and insights offered up each year will fall away like leaves in autumn. But year after year there are thinkers whose insights prove worthwhile, because they make a practical difference — they add to business intelligence, and prove their worth by ways they matter at work.
Business advantage is gained by harnessing smart ideas-not just amorphous data, the latest technology, or a larger-than-life C.E.O. The editors of the Harvard Business Review candidly admit that of all the business ideas that have been proposed in their pages, many are mundane refinements of existing concepts. Only a very few qualify as breakthrough: in 1979, Michael Porter conceived his theory of the forces that shape strategy; in 1990 C. K.
Prahalad and Gary Hamel wrote about a company's core competencies; in 1995 Clay Christensen proposed the importance of disruptive technologies. All these ideas are now essentials of business literacy.
Failing at business literacy leaves us behind the curve, or defensive when others bring up important business ideas that we, too, should be familiar with. Worse, it can leave us clueless while others act on powerful new concepts. Business literacy feeds and grows business intelligence. In gauging our own business literacy, we need to ask ourselves, how strong is our working familiarity with the key thinking and writing that anyone in business needs to work well?
Finally, consider what might be called business wisdom, which can be seen as the sum total of lessons learned over the course of a career. As each of us goes through the ups and downs, crises and triumphs, of a life in business, the brain automatically extracts lessons for confronting similar situations in the future. Over the years we each build up a set of tacitly learned decision rules — life's lessons — which constitute the sum total of our wisdom on the matter.
But each of us has only a specific, limited set of life experiences-and so a restricted set of lessons-informing our business wisdom. We can each benefit from expanding the pool of lessons learned, given the unpredictable nature of challenges we will face tomorrow. Through human history a traditional way of enlarging our wisdom has been by hearing from the "elders" — those who have gone through what we have yet to face in the business world such wisdom comes from the most highly seasoned among us-both through what they have to tell us, and what their lives in business reveal to us.
Of course business intelligence, literacy, or wisdom are themselves useless unless we can translate them into action-in short, having an answer to the question of what to do come Monday morning. When all is said and done, it is only in the day-to-day demonstration of wise efforts that business intelligence proves its worth.
Here we can ask ourselves how prepared we've been for the major crisis — or opportunity — of the last week, month, or year. What have we done to gird ourselves for the next such moment? Or we can pause to do an audit of our own business intelligence, looking for the gaps that signal where we might want to build more strengths. Or we can reflect on what we know, what we don't know — and where we would go to find out.
Copyright © 2002 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Posted September 24, 2002
Business: The Ultimate Resource represents a massively ambitious project. When I was first asked to contribute to the project, I was concerned that such a huge undertaking would not have enough detail for the wide range of topics within it. I was wrong. With skilful editing, organization and focus I think that this may the the most useful business reference books ever published. A great range of authorities in a single spot will guarantee its place in my library for years to come.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.