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S+B's Top 25 Business Books for 2000-2001

Harvard Business School professor Alfred Chandler continues the story of the modern corporation in his sequel to The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. In this history we find much about the past that can teach us about the future.

17. Unchained Value: The New Logic of Digital Business, by Mary J. Cronin, Harvard Business School Press, 2000

Cronin breaks the “new value system of the digital economy” into a set of discernible processes. Her thesis: Centralized information systems are giving way to disaggregated modular systems in which information flow is controlled by competitors and partners who must share information to maximize the value of the network.

18. Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs, by Don Tapscott, David Ticoll, and Alex Lowy, Harvard Business School Press, 2000

Offering ideas similar to those presented in Mary Cronin's Unchained Value, Digital Capital presents the concept of the b-web, a new organizing principle for business that is based on the value created from a web of relationships among companies. The authors offer new and enduring ways of looking at organizational structure and competition.

19. The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm, by Tom Kelley, Doubleday Currency, 2001

Kelley, the general manager of IDEO, offers a wealth of observations to help establish and then develop a workplace within which creative thinking is not only nourished but sustained and enhanced.

20. Evaluation in Organizations: A Systematic Approach to Enhancing Learning, Performance, and Change, by Darlene Russ-Eft and Hallie Preskill, Perseus Publishing, 2001

There are others who are stronger on the individual subjects mentioned in the title — Peter Senge and Bill Isaacs on learning, Jac Fitz-enz on performance measurement, James O'Toole on change management. But no other single volume offers more and better information and guidance on those three subjects than this one.

21. Taking Technical Risks: How Innovators, Executives, and Investors Manage High-Tech Risks, by Lewis M. Branscomb and Philip E. Auerswald, MIT Press, 2001

Most (if not all) of the issues addressed by various contributors to this volume are directly relevant to companies outside high tech that are now struggling to become more innovative while managing rapid change with finite resources.

22. Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live, by Daniel H. Pink, Warner Books, 2001

A somewhat controversial book that, as Pink himself points out, offers neither the first nor the last word on the subject. The author suggests some plausible but by no means definitive answers. Still, his exploration is engaging.

23. The Capitalist Philosophers: The Geniuses of Modern Business — Their Lives, Times, and Ideas, by Andrea Gabor, Crown Business, 2000

This book skillfully portrays 13 important American business thinkers and how their ideas have influenced large corporations. It’s another substantive look back at the roots of American business that helps us better understand where we are headed.

24. The Six Sigma Revolution: How General Electric and Others Turned Process into Profits, by George Eckes, Jossey-Bass, 2000

A book for non-technicians among the executive ranks who want to get an in-depth look at Six Sigma. This book is a major achievement that can be expected to have enduring value for years to come.

25. Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Alfred A. Knopf, 2000

These Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists from the New York Times present unusual perspective on the lives of ordinary people in Asian countries. This is an outstanding overview of the state of the region for executives wanting to understand how Asia will evolve in the 21st century.

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