Saturday, January 17, 2009

BusinessWeek Magazine - Jan 19 Issue

Several interesting things from the Jan 19 issue of BusinessWeek.

Probably most noteworthy was a book excerpt from Consultant Ram Charan in the Jan 19 issue of BusinessWeek. Titled "Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty", the book purports to give detailed steps on how corporations can make it through the current financial conditions. The excerpt itself provides an example of how a major company (which also happens to be a Charan client) reacted to the first signs of an economic crisis and what steps they've taken with their business.

It's of course difficult to fully evaluate Charan's book on just an excerpt... and I question a little bit the accolades heaped on a CEO who retains the author as a consultant... but, I did find interesting the employee communication that appeared to take place at Dupoint. Given that the main thrust of the actions were around reducing costs, this certainly must have both impacted employees used to the existing environment in the company, and concerned them with questions around their job security.

Probably not a lot different than actions that have had to take place at other companies lately, but where Charan appears to say Dupont has done it better is in the speed and execution/communication. From an individual employee perspective, people are going to be a lot more behind the actions of their company if they've had the reasons completely explained and share some ownership in the decisions themselves. The specific example that Charan provides is that within 10 days of official corporate action around cost control, each employee had both met face to face with a manager to discuss what was needed and also specifically asked what they could do to help. As Charan writes, these type of corporate actions are rarely going to fun for employees, but if both done quickly and with the buy-in of employees, the odds of success are going to be much higher than might otherwise be the case.

Also from this issue were the following (smaller) stories.

- "Digital Books Via Cell Phone" details the large number of books available through the App Store for iPhone downloads. Particularly interesting is the low-cost of many classic titles.

- The "Innovation" section of the magazine has as one of three different mentions what may well be the next big thing in personal computers. 2008 saw the introduction and popularization of mini "netbook" computers such as the eeePC from Asus or mini-note from HP and this type of device coupled with touchscreen technology will likely soon be coming to a store near you. Not a Circuit City, of course, but, you know... a store.

- Lastly, there's an interesting book review on "The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising". Sounds like a fascinating portrait of quite a guy.