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by Alan Hargreaves

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Alan's Bookshelf


Corpus Rios: the how and what of business strategy

4 out of 5 stars.

Christopher J Tipler, Rios Press, $65

My first thoughts on seeing Corpus Rios: “not another book about strategy that claims to be different to all the previous ones”. I put it in the pile with others of the genre. There’s no shortage of “new” takes on strategy.

When I eventually picked it up, my view started to change on page 49, when the author introduced the problem of “values”. As someone who has both sat through, and run, more than a few strategic off-sites, I find most efforts in this area completely wasted.

How many times have we left a strategy session motivated and inspired only to find nothing much changes?

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Fit To Bust: How great companies fail

Fit to Bust

4 out of 5 stars.

Tim Phillips, Kogan Page, $29.95

Here’s one for the bedside table: 36, self-contained, easy-to-read, short chapters about where things went wrong in business. When I couldn’t face the long novel, I’d read a few before drifting off.

Spotting what hasn’t worked has become a small industry over the last five years. It’s not just as a result of the global financial crisis. It began when people started noticing that companies that were labelled “built to last” were not lasting. Even Jim Collins, who wrote a best seller of the same name eventually had to follow it up with a book on why great companies fail.

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5 stars out of 5

Alan Hargreaves, Wiley & Sons

Reviewed by Gihan Perera on Amazon

There are many good books about business growth, but this is one of the best I've read, because it's organized as 52 self-contained ideas. So it's easy to pick up the book, grab one idea, and put it into practice in your business.

I've seen other books try this "bite-sized chunks" format, but most fail, because they just end up being a random collection of disparate thoughts. This book is different, because the ideas have been carefully grouped and sequenced, so they follow on from each other, while still being independent. And it's not that these ideas lack depth just because they are succinct. On the contrary, they seem very well-considered and can have significant impact if applied correctly.

Even the sections of the book that didn't seem directly relevant to me had some gems I could use. For example, the idea about delegation isn't directly relevant, because I have a very small, geographically dispersed, team with clear roles, so I don't have much to delegate on a day-to-day basis. But the key concept of that chapter is to ask the question, "Who is the best person to handle this?", and that DOES apply to me when I'm considering the dozens of e-mail messages I receive every day.

With most business books, I'm happy if I get one practical, actionable idea. "Recharge" has given me many more than one, and I've already decided I'm going to try one each week!

Click here to read more reviews on Amazon


The Big Tilt

3.5 stars out of 5

Bernard Salt (Hardie Grant, RRP$29.95)

This latest work from demographer, Bernard Salt, examines the population shifts that are now widely acknowledged. The boomers are approaching retirement, Gen X is looking for the top job and Gen Y is still living at home.

The Big Tilt doesn’t cover a lot of new ground. It builds on some of the themes of his earlier popular books – notably Man Drought, which humorously chronicled the issues originally highlighted by Bridget Jones.

That’s an issue that doesn’t seem to have gone away. In Australia, there are almost 12 single women available for every 10 men aged between 40 and 54.

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Fast, Flat and Free: How the internet has changed your business

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Gihan Perera, First Step Publishing, RRP$33.00

Most books about internet marketing give you either the theory or the practice. Here’s one that gives you both.

If you are tired of hearing about “engagement” and “collaboration” but not getting any ideas on how to put those buzz words to work, Gihan Perera shows you how.

This is a marketing book as much as a practical guide. Perera has been working with the internet since before there was an internet. He is aware of both its strengths and its limitations. What the book does is tell you what works and what doesn’t.

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