Volume 8, Number 1 (April-September 2008)

 

Milton D. Rosenau and Gregory D. Githens, Successful Project Management: A Step-by-Step Approach with Practical Examples. New Delhi: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. 360+xix. Rs. 289/-.


Over the last couple of decades, project management has been receiving wide recognition and attention in the literature of management and is quite popular among the project analyst and policy makers who plan and execute the blueprint of a project. For attempting a sound and successful project management, the focus should be on the various steps of project planning, execution and monitoring. In this context, the book is a pragmatic guide for managing projects and programs, irrespective of size, technology or industry. A comprehensive piece, it takes the reader step-by-step from basic concepts of project management to complex issues of technologies related to project management. Till date lot many scholars have talked about project management and successful executions of project and programs. But in this author takes a practical approach and makes it clear at the beginning of the book that mostly projects do not go in accordance with the plan and as a result replanning may be required, amending the negotiated definition. Therefore, the author advocates for assigning "tolerable slippage time (TST)" in the project definition and completion. Authors are Certified Management Consultant and Managing Partner in Catalyst Management Consulting in Texas, USA with combined experience of 70 years of experience and have authored eleven books together.


The organization of the book is based on five managerial functions viz. Defining, Planning, Leading, Controlling and Completing. The definition covers the project goals, strategic alignment of projects and project life cycle. The planning introduces the concept of "triple constraint" of time schedule, cost and performance specification. It emphasizes that plan depends on the interaction of human and physical resources. The managerial guidance to human resources and measuring the project work in order to initiate corrective action or replanning is covered under leading and controlling part of the book. The completing part conforms to the definition or revised definition and wrapping up of all the loose ends so as to mark the successful project completion. The theories presented are based on authors' rigorous academic research and vast industrial experience. The nesting and weaving of the different chapters gives fair glimpse of scholarly qualities of the authors. Unlike other books this offers unambiguous and sustainable solutions to the practical problems faced at different stages of project management.

 

However, the examples and case studies covered in the book are mostly statistically created and not from real organizations operating in the industry. Even though some interesting and thought-provoking case studies are drawn from the corporate world, the identity of the organization is not revealed, leaving wide scope for the readers to speculate. More could have been achieved by dedicating an exclusive chapter on communication issues in project management and by providing corporate project management problems at the end of each chapter.

 

A new feature "Tool Icon" is one of the highlights of the book that elaborates a useful strategic tool. Some of these are simple to use and some require practice for efficient usage. The author cautions that one should implement this tool as per the situation during the project management. The book is fairly intense and reader needs to concentrate to visualize and interrelate concepts being conveyed in 342 pages. Highlights at the end of chapter, with "Do and Don'ts" for successful project management and supporting flow charts and diagrams help in increasing the grasp of the reader over the subject. This is a must read guide for project managers, project team members, functional managers, scholars, entrepreneurs and any one interested in good project performance as it teaches skillful application of the processes, techniques and concepts of project management in a simple and lucid manner.

Dr. Neeraj Pandey, Assistant Professor, L.M. Thapar School of Management, Thapar University, Patiala, India.
 

 

Sydney Finkelstein, Charles Harvey, Breakout Strategy: Meeting the Challenge of Double Digit Growth. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill, 2007, 346p. Rs.450/-.

‘Breakout Strategy’ is a book which encapsulates path-breaking leadership and strategy combination for excellence of smart companies. It is a compilation of strategy and business initiatives which are taken by companies as they move the trajectory path of spectacular business growth. The book in following nine chapters tracks the path -

1. Breakout Strategy - The authors here explain, what breakout strategy is. They argue, ‘that successful breakout companies and leaders brace five essential strategy practices -

  1. Creating a workable vision by understanding needs and aspirations.

  2. Facing customers with a value proposition that covers all the important bases.

  3. Aligning what you do with what the customer really wants.

  4. Balancing the people and process sides of business to deliver on your promises.

  5. Liberating the energies of any strategy's toughest critics - those who work within the business. And these practices are brought to life in four types of breakout, which we call taking by storm, laggard to leader , expanding horizon, and shifting shape.’

2. Getting on the fast track - This chapter outlines the typology of breakout companies. An exposition on various growth paths is given. - It examines ‘how subordinate companies, - new ventures and laggard enterprises - breakout and get on fast track to business growth.’

3. Staying out in front - This Chapter, ‘considers how already dominant companies plan to stay out front, either by expanding geographically or by reinventing themselves from within.’ Thus chapter 2 and 3 deciphers the characteristics of breakout companies by comparing and contrasting their growth pattern and finding a common denominator amongst them.

4. Breakout Dynamics - The chapter further deepens the study by exploring how the dynamics of breakout can be understood better and managed more effectively by skilled business leaders.

5. Putting vision to work - explains the formation, content and application of an organizational vision of breakout companies.

6. Being a magnet company - The chapter defines the elements of a value proposition and shows how compelling propositions create magnet companies.

7. ‘Delivering the promise’, illustrates that a business model is the counterpart of value proposition, a unique disposition of organizational assets and routines designed to ensure the consistent delivery of a value proposition.

8. Executing Breakout - This is the most important chapter of the book. It gives an exposition on how to execute - the breakout strategy. It gives a blueprint -how projects and programs can best be designed to effect strategic change and deliver breakout.

9. Breakout Leadership - To execute any strategy be it breakout strategy correct leadership is required. The final chapter discuses issues relating to transformational change which would form the context for an exploration of breakout leadership capabilities and how business leaders develop these capabilities.

The book is a must read for practicing managers of strategy - for its inspiring exposition of both subjective and objective aspects of successful strategic management of present day dynamic and volatile business environment. It's a 'breakout' or path-breaking book.

Dr. Sudhanshu Bhushan, Professor, Institute for International Management and Technoloyg, #336, Udyog Vihar, Phase - IV, Gurgaon - 122001, Haryana, India.
 

 

Marquard, W.H., Walsmart: What Really Takes to Profit in Wal Mart World. 2007, New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill, 267p. Rs.450/-.

In the context of the ‘Retail’ revolution that is sweeping India currently, ‘Walsmart’ is oriented to provide an in depth view of the dynamics that are behind the creation of a large retail organization. The key business level and corporate strategies that form the essence of a retailer's spectacular success are identified and explained in a rather inimitable writing style.

The book scores as an easy read; it would relevantly engage academia, researcher, and analyst or even retail professional alike. The flow of the discussion is apt as it identifies emergence of Wal-Mart as a leader and establishes the "Why"and "How" aspects of the retail giant's growth. In chapter 4, the core elements that situate a retail organization to win in a market are very effectively identified and discussed rationally. In effect the genome of the retailer stands dissected rather professionally.

If the work was to culminate as a tribute to Wal-Mart, the second part should not have been written, but that would have left story incomplete. The author outlines the competitive counter strategy that could possibly help survive and even grow in an industry under the shadow of a fierce and un-yielding firm. Use of corporate examples and interpretation of successful strategies followed by numerous businesses provides sound basis to really absorb the impact of author's recipe for making winner's out of minnows. The book retains a flow and clarity of thought process that keeps you reading, waiting for more. However as a book on "Strategy" the author does little to establish what one could take away and apply
to more generic business scenarios, the singular focus makes its appeal as a general guide to business or corporate strategy less forthcoming.

Sandeep Munjal, Assistant Professor, Institute for International Management and Technoloyg, #336, Udyog Vihar, Phase - IV, Gurgaon - 122001, Haryana, India.

 

 

Mallin, C.A., Corporate Governance. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007. 316p. Rs.295/-.

‘Corporate Governance’ by Christine Mallin adequately and comprehensively covers the topic of corporate governance. These are times when modern business is gripped in chaos lacking definition and direction - which can be attributed to historically lopsided global business growth. These are transition times with business environment and system exhibiting turbulence with business itself lacking definition and direction. In such times Business Ethics and Corporate Governance are subject matter of much significance and importance. Corporate Governance has to be meaningfully incorporated in modern day business. This book by Mallin provides a blueprint for corporate governance in this century in international business with multifaceted global dimensions. The book illustrates the complexities of a very intricate subject of corporate vernance. The book in divided in four parts -

1. Development in Corporate Governance - which adequately deals with theoretical aspects of the subject. Some model corporate governance codes are also discussed.

2. Owners and Stakeholders - as an important perspective for corporate governance is also explained from various angles in the four chapters -(1) Shareholders and Stakeholders (2) Family owned firms (3) The role of institutional investors in Corporate Governance (4) Socially Responsible Investment.

3. Directors and Board Structure - discusses their role in corporate governance and subsequent chapter illustrates their remuneration and its rationale.

4. International Corporate Governance is the most important section of the book. Country specific corporate governance is discussed and illustrated in various parts of the globe. The convergence and divergence of the corporate governance is explicitly brought out, which provides good insights into the subject from a global perspective.

The book could have various case studies in corporate governance from different parts of the globe- which is what is lacking in the book. ‘Corporate Governance’ by Mallin though could be a good handbook for graduate and post - graduate courses in the subject, at various business schools , globally.

Dr. Sudhanshu Bhushan, Professor, Institute for International Management and Technology, #336, Udyog Vihar, Phase - IV, Gurgaon - 122001, Haryana, India.

 

Ahmad, A . and Chopra, O.P., Passion to Win. New Delhi: Excel Book, 2004. 322p. Rs.250/-.

Success is the most desired word which everyone wants to achieve but very few can make it. Successful organizations are like successful people, they do not do different things, but they do things differently. This book is all about such efforts by successful organizations. This book is about how business organizations become exceptional, achieve superior performance and competitive ability compared to others in the league. The book is based on a study conducted on some of the best performing companies in India like Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, Ranbaxy, Dr. Reddy Labs, Hero Honda, Eicher, L&T, Motorola, BPL, HLL, GSK, Tatas, Reliance, ICICI etc.

It is based on research study by All India Management Association. The good part about the book is that it is focused on the Indian context and is aimed at developing Indian organizations as globally competitive organizations. The book has been written in a very different style. Rather than loading it with professional jargons, the book discusses the insights of highly experienced business leaders and professional managers by quoting their views and observations which were captured through direct interviews with them in the process of writing this book.

The book is based on five distinguishing characteristics of high performance organizations which have been identified by the author as Inspiring leadership, Innovative strategy, Distinct identity, Process driven execution and Win win relationships.

It has been divided into eleven chapters. Chapter 1-3 are introductory chapters and also discuss few basic concepts of strategic management like purposeful, values driven enterprise and sustainable competitive edge. Chapter 4-8, are based on the five distinguishing characteristics identified by the author. Chapter 9 talks about firm as a living system and the emerging modern Indian corporation. Chapter 10, is a concluding chapter and talks about critical analysis of performance and sustainability of the companies studied and chapter 11 talks about learnings and action implications i.e. lessons for the business leaders, entrepreneurs and managers.

At the end of the chapters, the book has two research appendices. Research appendix 1 is an analysis of the linear trend of selected financial parameters in the sample companies and research appendix 2 gives the rankings of the top 100 companies in the year 1991 and 2002 based on market capitalization. The good part about the book is that it also has an index in the end to search for terms from within the book.

While the book would provide a good source for case studies in the Indian context, the only apprehension is that the data used in the book may soon turn obsolete and may not be considered as contemporary by the users.

Kirti Madan,
Assistant Professor, Institute for International Management and Technoloyg, #336, Udyog Vihar, Phase - IV, Gurgaon - 122001, Haryana, India.

 

 


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