Posts tagged ‘read this’

June 14th, 2012

Recommended: Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Imperial Life in the Emerald CityIt’s hard to imagine a more damning project post-mortem than Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which will be only vaguely familiar to those who’ve seen the Matt Damon movie loosely based on it. (And by “loosely,” I mean The Serpent and the Rainbow loosely.)

The book is no thriller: it details, misstep by misstep, the failures of both people and process in the aftermath of the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq, with particular focus on the cronyism and ivory tower economics which would ultimately define  L. Paul Bremer’s viceroyship.

March 14th, 2011

Recommended: Google’s Rules

For those who might’ve missed it in the business section of the New York Times this weekend, Google has formalized what it believes to be the perceived attributes of a successful manager, and there’s much to admire here:

July 10th, 2010

Recommended: Skunk Works

Skunk Works

Skunk Works

In 1975, thermodynamicist and propulsion expert Ben R. Rich took over the role of CEO at Lockheed’s famous Skunk Works division, inheriting an unconventional organization-within-an-organization that had become, at the height of the cold war, the envy of defense contractors and private enterprise alike. As chronicled in Rich’s account of the years before and after his promotion to the most coveted role in American aerospace, the Skunk Works became renown for designing cutting edge aircraft under extraordinary pressure and impossible timelines, often coming in under budget.

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May 20th, 2010

Recommended: Yertle the Turtle

“I’m ruler,” said Yertle, “of all that I see.
But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.”

Dr. Seuss

Yertle the Turtle

Yertle the Turtle

To scan the business management shelves of one’s local bookstore is to rediscover the fun of counting: “Six Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance”, “The 48 Laws of Power”, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, “The Five Essential Elements”, “The One Minute Manager”, “10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy” — and that’s just the first page of leadership results on Barnes & Noble’s website.

Although curiously snubbed by the world’s top business schools (et tu, Tuck School of Business?), Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle remains the seminal volume in math-enabled hubris.

May 10th, 2010

Recommended: The Soul of a New Machine

The Soul of a New Machine

The Soul of a New Machine

I had the recent good fortune to pass a colleague a copy of Tracy Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine.

Kidder’s chronicle of the struggle to design and build a 32-bit minicomputer beneath the radar of politicized executive management came out nearly thirty years ago, and while there remains a faint whiff of naugahyde and Old Milwaukee, many of the roadblocks encountered by project leader Tom West are no different than the pitfalls confronting production managers today.


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