Brilliantly executed; a definitive work on business transformation.

TRANSFORMATION IN TIMES OF CRISIS

EIGHT PRINCIPLES FOR CREATING OPPORTUNITIES AND VALUE IN THE POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

A business book explores future-oriented strategies.

Rakesh, CEO of an Indian IT services firm, and Wind, Lauder professor emeritus and professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, have teamed up to craft an essential, timely work focused on business transformation. Using the Covid-19 pandemic as a springboard, the authors suggest that the virus disaster spawns opportunities, while lessons can be learned for responding to future crises. Positing eight principles “to defend against disruptors or become one,” the authors offer a framework for implementing the tenets and 10 specific tools to facilitate execution. This already comprehensive package will be further enhanced by the subsequent addition of an online dashboard and app. Rakesh and Wind are insistent that becoming adept at transformation means embracing all of the principles, which can be customized regardless of an organization’s size or business type. They begin with an intriguing discussion of the core theme of disruption in business, consumer behavior, and society, pointing out that unruly influences already existed but were exacerbated by the pandemic. They highlight examples of disruption in several industry segments with text and illustrative charts, demonstrating how successful companies have constantly reinvented themselves.

The primary content of the visionary book is divided into eight chapters, one for each of the principles. The chapters explain in detail the associated principles. Embedded in every chapter are many highly engaging and relevant stories of innovative companies from around the globe that are fruitfully applying the tenets. The tales are vividly told and seamlessly integrated with the authors’ salient observations. At the end of each chapter is a series of strategic questions to help “assess how aligned you and your organization are with the principle and the ideas and examples discussed.” This approach exposes readers to numerous exceptional examples that not only perfectly illustrate the principles, but could spark innovation in any organization as well. For example, the second principle involves reinventing an approach to consumers and stakeholders through “customer-centric digital transformation.” Here, Rakesh and Wind ponder the particularly daunting challenge for legacy companies to replace their core systems with new, digital ones, a virtually impossible task. The authors arrive at an ingenious alternate solution— “create an intermediary layer that connects the front-end with the back-end. This can be done faster and cheaper than replacing the entire core systems.” The authors demonstrate in technical but comprehensible detail exactly how such a task can be accomplished. Similarly, the sixth principle, which discusses the need for “adaptive experimentation,” identifies the specific benefits of this practice while citing numerous state-of-the-art examples. Useful cases, illustrative charts and graphics, a consultative text, and thoughtful questions combine to make every principle-related chapter pertinent and actionable. The book closes with an extremely valuable section that includes a 10-step implementation model for applying the eight principles as well as 10 tools (worksheets) to assist in establishing the tenets. The tools themselves are carefully constructed and scrupulously described.

Brilliantly executed; a definitive work on business transformation.    

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63-714755-9

Page Count: 554

Publisher: Notion Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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