October 6, 2006

News & Opinion: The Long Tail Small Giant Huge Box Wal-Mart Effect Shakes The World

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 2:42 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The clunky title above represents an effort to combine the book titles of the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs business book award shortlist, and Im throwing them all together because they really fit as a group. To read them all in a group (as I havewith the exception of one) leaves the clear impression that, while each of these books shares one clearly realized and distinctive story, they all inform one another in a fashion that is more than additive.
As Jack pointed out in a Publishers Weekly column, business books are increasingly aiming higher, with the best efforts redefining the big picture in which we work by telling smart stories informed with great reporting and animated by great writing. This group of titles certainly bears out his claim.
In his excellent essay describing the best candidates for the contest this year FT financial editor Andrew Hill writes that there were far fewer how-to manuals, which, though sometimes best-sellers of the genre, are mostly too ephemeral to make it to the shortlist, and more books aiming to become a durable addition to the library of great business works. By the way, Hill did a thoughtful Q&A with us last year in which he expressed a hope that this contest would motivate business authors to raise their game. I think his dream has been realized.
Here are few conclusions that Ive drawn from reading four of the five books. (Please forgive me, James Kynge, author of China Shakes the World, Ill do a separate post on your book when I can do it justice.) One note: each of the books shines on its own. For more on the individual books, as well as excerpts from each, go to the FT site on the contest. The more I reflect on the range of these titles, the more that their collective power shines through. As noted, the books ultimately form a larger argument about the nature of big change over time that takes into account all of their findings.
Take the issue of scale: is big good?
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