A family business prospers through a series of brutal consolidations and rational growth. Then a long line of demented CEOs bring monumental expansion and foolish diversification-at a high cost in shattered, lives. In the end, a series of reverse takeovers leaves the now-overextended and corrupt parent company at the mercy of less-civilized operations that previously cringed at its grandeur. Enron? WorldCom? Try Rome, whose rise and fall carry a moral for the managers, employees, and students of any global ...
A family business prospers through a series of brutal consolidations and rational growth. Then a long line of demented CEOs bring monumental expansion and foolish diversification-at a high cost in shattered, lives. In the end, a series of reverse takeovers leaves the now-overextended and corrupt parent company at the mercy of less-civilized operations that previously cringed at its grandeur. Enron? WorldCom? Try Rome, whose rise and fall carry a moral for the managers, employees, and students of any global enterprise. Stanley Bing mingles business parable and cautionary tale into an ingenious, often hilarious new telling of the story of the Roman Empire.
In Sun-Tzu Was a Sissy, Fortune columnist Stanley Bing dispensed hefty doses of brutal management advice. In this equally hard-fisted follow-up, he looks to the tumultuous history of the Roman Empire for lessons on running an expanding organization. Bing's warning about boardroom backstabbing, senseless expansion, and foolish diversification will strike a chord with history buffs -- and business page readers. Crisp and clever counsel.
Fortune columnist Bing (Sun-Tzu Was a Sissy) condenses the 1,200-year history of Rome into a slim, wildly entertaining satire for businessmen, particularly those who happen to be fans of HBO's Rome. Irreverent without ever slipping into Dave Barry-style logical anarchy, the volume renders epic history in corporate-speak, providing enough substance and insight along the way to keep readers' attention. As Bing notes, much of Roman history consists of "wars, wars and more wars," and he skips over big chunks of it. "I give up," he shrugs, focusing instead on the decisions and personalities of the colorful leaders, from Romulus to Caligula. Most interesting are the author's discourses on why Rome's "corporate strategy" worked so well for so long ("corporations willing to kill people do better than those which are not") and why its "corporate culture" was sufficiently strong to rally its citizens/soldiers/employees for an endless series of battles. And while wryly acknowledging that the Romans' use of "murder as a business tool" may be excessive in today's environment, Bing endorses many of their strategies as sound: "In any corporate transformation, a good housecleaning is absolutely called for." Word to the wise: if the guy in the next cubicle is reading Rome, Inc., watch your back-especially if it's the Ides of March. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In a crafty, comic case study, Bing (nom de guerre of a mid-level suit working at a conglomerate) imagines Imperial Rome as a commercial operation. It's still the same old story: a fight for power and money. Covering the empire from its incorporation to its forced liquidation, novelist Bing (You Look Nice Today, 2003, etc.) offers a witty take on the business of Rome, Inc. The day the firm was started by Founding Partner Romulus, it was already bent on aggressive takeovers to enlarge its franchise and spread the brand-and to hell with those wimpy Etruscans. The Romans were merger, acquisition and pillaging champs. Consider that unfriendly Sabine takeover. Study the Battle of Actium, mismanaged by Mark Antony in an attempted merger with Egypt, Ltd. Learn from Cincinnatus, a good field manager who returned to corporate headquarters to extol ecology (like Exxon and Waste Management later). Follow the capo di tutti capi, Julius Caesar, covering his bald spot with a large-size laurel wreath. He was the paragon of CEOs: ambitious, bold, unsentimental, strategic, crafty and, like any Chief Executive, surrounded by weasels. With competent mid-level execs in togas (or, when apt, designer armor), Rome had it down when it came to management skills, even without PowerPoint presentations at corporate retreats. Inevitably, though, troublemakers occupied the corner office. Bing crafts a frequently funny bullet-point narrative, plundering Plutarch and lifting Livy along the way. A humorous executive summary of Edward Gibbon, part of a series on various forms of enterprise for MBA types.
Stanley Bing is the author of four humorous and eminently useful books on business, most recently the best-selling Sun-Tzu Was a Sissy, and two novels. He lives in New York City and works for a gigantic multinational conglomerate.
Preface: Think Global, Kill Local xv
In Which Two Brothers Form the Beginnings of a Pretty Fair Mom-and-Pop Enterprise 3
First Acquisitions and Other Rapes 12
The Republic: An Ode to the Well-Run Corporation 25
Wars, Wars and More Wars 45
Crazy Republicans 59
Marius, the First Mogul 66
The End of the Day 94
Julius Caesar and the Reinvention of the Corporation 104
Antony & Augustus 128
The Spirit Fails 154
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Abridged) 177
Afterword: What Have We Learned? 189