August 5, 2000

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Power Plays

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 4:34 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Power Plays: Shakespeare's Lessons on Leadership and Management by John O. Whitney & Tina Packer, Simon & Schuster Publisher, 330 Pages, $26.00 Hardcover, August 2000, ISBN 0684868873
The July 31st 2000 Industry Standard has a rather scathing article about what the author calls "pop" business books. I was interviewed for the article and tried to make the point that many businesses successfully use "lite" business books to train non-MBAs. One of the sad things, I'm afraid, about that article was that it lumped all the Shakespeare books under the "pop" category. This is unfortunate because this book, Power Plays Shakespeare's Lessons on Leadership and Management, has much more substance than the Britney Spears- type books the author calls all "pop".
The author, John Whitney, is an extremely popular Columbia Business School professor who, surprisingly, doesn't have an advanced degree. He got his education in the field as a start-up and turnaround artist (his most famous--Pathmark Supermarkets). I met John during his tour for a book he wrote in 1993 called The Trust Factor. It was then that I realized John Whitney was a spectacular business talent. In 1993, we, as a business culture, were seriously in the "reengineering" period and nobody was talking about trust. Everybody was watching his or her own backsides and not trusting anyone. That book sold very well and is still in print. But I must admit that when his publicist called me and said that John had written a book about Shakespeare's lessons in leadership and management, I wasn't excited- I never was a fan of Shakespeare. But this book is something different, and just as he put his finger on the pulse of business in 1993, he now improves upon another trend - "pop" business books. John has been using Shakespeare's lessons in his classes at Columbia Business School for years, and, along with Tina Packer, the founder, president, and Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company in Boston, has loaded this book with integrity. After closely analyzing Shakespeare's authorial intent behind some of the most famous clashes and conflicts in the literary world, the authors apply that analysis to the modern business world, referencing a number of respected business thinkers. This is a book with quite a bit of substance, that will be studied and used in the corporate arena for years.