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Cutting edge, pithy and provocative, this is a no-holds barred analysis of business today that will entertain and appal you in equal measure.
This entertaining expose of the business world, reveals the scandals, quirks, counter-intuitive behaviour and downright silliness that make up business today. Based on rigorous research and verifiable facts, combining revelation, story-telling and analysis, this book will defy anyone to read it and not emerge better-informed about the reality of business today.
From the collective inertia of middle management to the cowardly reluctance of CEOs to stand out from the crowd, from the soap opera of working with consultants to the mystery of why top executives’ salaries bear no resemblance to the performance of their firms, Business Exposed will entertain and appal you in equal measure.
The author is widely recognised as a new and emerging business guru, speaking of him in 2009, the Financial Times said: “The London Business School associate professor is a rising star and his pithy observations are both accessible and authoritative.”
Table of Contents
About the Author
Introduction: The monkey story
1: Management happens
Forced to be stupid
Collective inertia - if you don’t join them, you can beat them!
Pharma - the devil is in the detailing
The Abilene Paradox
Same same but different
Numbers and strategy - do they mix?
Deciding stuff - that’s the easy bit
How well do you know your company? (My guess is not very well at all…)
How to make a compelling corporate strategy in six easy steps
Wanna play strategy? Get a board game
"Framing contests": What really happens in strategy meetings
It looks like we don’t have a strategy…
2: The Success trap (and some ideas how to get out of it)
Why good companies go bad
The Icarus paradox
Tunnel vision - "in the end, there is only flux"
Operation Market Garden
Mental models – let’s all think within the same box
A creosote bush: how "exploitation" drives out "exploration"
A bitter pill
Framing something as a threat or an opportunity dramatically alters what we choose
In a downturn, manage your revenues, not your costs
In a crisis, innovate
Is your company brave enough to survive?
3: The urge to conquer
How big is your yam? (not that it matters)
Deal-eager executives - tribal instincts
CEOs, marriage, mergers, geriatric millionaires, and blushing brides
When acquisitions take over
"Time compression diseconomies" - too much, too fast
Seeds and fertilizer - how to build a firm
"I've won... I've won"
Most acquisitions fail - really!
"Heerlijk, helder, Heineken"
Toads and acquisitions - where does CEO "hubris" come from?
4: Gods and villains
The heroes of our time
Narcissus versus humble bloke - and the winner is?
Are overconfident CEOs born or made?
Hang the hero
Celebrity CEOs and the burden of expectation
Successful managers - incompetent for sure
Executives: superhuman after all…
"Over the hill and far away, top managers are here to stay"
Chief story teller
Managers and leaders: are they different?
Women on top
5: Liaisons and intrigues
Fact over fiction
Analysts, astrologers, and lemmings - three of a kind?
Conflicts of interest - do analysts rate their bank's clients' stock more favorably?
Banks' blurry categorizations - have your cake and eat it too
Analysts rule the waves (whether we like it or not)
Sirens and investment bankers – birds of a feather
How to tame an analyst
Advice or influence? Why firms ask government officials to be directors
Boards of directors: cliques and elites
Board-cloning - a rewarding habit
CEOs and their stock options (oh please)
Stock options, risk, and manipulations
Too hot to handle: explaining excessive top management remuneration
How to justify paying top managers too much
CEOs do seek advice – if you pay them for it
Dirty laundry: who is hiding the bad stuff?
6: Myths in management
No stranger than fiction
Say you will - that'll do
Right again! Managers and their self-fulfilling prophecies
Your expectations manage you
"Reverse causality" - sorry, but life's not that simple
Eating Uncle Ed - don’t worry, its called downsizing
Does downsizing ever work?
Who can downsize without detriment?
What management bandwagons bring
Remember this one: "total quality management"?
ISO 9000 makes you reliable, myopic, efficient, and dull - and unable to invent Post-It notes
How bad practice prevails
Can we please stop saying that the market is efficient?
Management consultants - happy slapping
Star knowledge workers - you really should not pay them that much, you know
Information overload – and how to deal with it (if you’re the one loading)
When knowledge hurts
Exaggerating to make my point
R&D - it's a steal
7: Making far-reaching decisions (when you can’t see a fricking thing ahead of you)
The Red Queen
Binoculars in the mist
"Today's fast-changing business environment"? The same as it ever was!
Is innovation over-rated?
Customers? Ah, forget about them
Means and ends; profits and innovation
It is OK to get lucky - even for a top manager
Getting lucky - fortune favours the prepared firm
Sometimes it is about knowing when not to decide
Retaining your ability to make money? Causal ambiguity's the answer
Company cloning - how to change a winning formula
When to fire your M&A management consultant
Not all trouble is really trouble
Change for change's sake
"A serial changer"
"Innovation networks" and the size of the pie
Spinning clients - the McKinsey effect
8: A rock or a soft place?
The hidden cost of equity
"Shareholder value orientation" - now, where did that come from?
Who should come first? Shareholders? Are you sure..?
Human nature: self-interested bastard or community-builder?
Down-town Calcutta firms
Pay inequality - good or bad for team performance?
What really caused the 2008 banking crisis?
The third sin
"Work-family initiatives"…?! That's rather soft and fluffy isn't it?
Corporate social responsibility - nice, but does it earn you any money?
Taking care: companies make love and money (if their shareholders let them)
Epilogue: The Emperor's new clothes