Organizing Genius

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This story appears in the May 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

No entrepreneur is an island. As much as the image of a heroic individual single-handedly building a business captivates us, it's generally not the case. "We cling to the myth of the Lone Ranger, the romantic idea that great things are usually accomplished by a larger-than-life individual working alone," observe Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman in Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration (Addison-Wesley, $24 cloth). "Despite the evidence to the contrary, we still tend to think of achievement in terms of the Great Man or Great Woman, instead of the Great Group."

The existence of a Great Group does not, however, cancel out the need for a Great Leader--quite the opposite, in fact. As such, entrepreneurs are sure to find relevant information in Organizing Genius.

There are, for instance, fascinating glimpses into the Walt Disney Co. as well as the campaign to elect Bill Clinton president. In each case, a talented staff came under the direction of one visionary person--to great effect. So much for that Lone Ranger myth.

Boom, Bust & Echo

Demographics. The word itself might seem familiar to you--but do you really understand just what demographics are and how they affect your business? If you don't, Boom, Bust & Echo: How to Profit From the Coming Demographic Shift (MacFarlane Walter & Ross, $23.95 cloth) should earn a spot on your reading list.

"Demographics are critically important for business," insists author David K. Foot. "They probably won't alter a company's financial results from one quarter to the next. But the management of a business that fails to pay attention to demographics for five years may wake up to find itself in a different business than it thought it was in--or not in business at all."

Overstatement? You aren't likely to think so after delving into Boom, Bust & Echo. In Foot's judgment, demographics--or the makeup of a population--affect anything from product demand to real estate prices. "Demographics," he concludes, "explain about two-thirds of everything."

The Digital Estate

When it comes to the Net, the business world can be divided into two kinds of people: those who get it and those who don't." So proclaims author Chuck Martin in The Digital Estate: Strategies for Competing, Surviving, and Thriving in an Internetworked World (McGraw-Hill, $24.95 cloth).

Martin, the founding publisher of Interactive Age magazine, does his best to push everyone into the former category with The Digital Estate. It's a process that demands dismissing a lot of conventional wisdom. "Business concepts ingrained through past business school teachings and experiences collapse in the Net environment," Martin warns.

As an example, Martin cites the need for Digital Estate companies to release products at an accelerated rate--so much so, in fact, that market research is actually done during product launch. "More often than not," he writes, "members of The Digital Estate simply plunge directly into the business and into the market, to BODY on-the-fly."

It obviously behooves companies of all sizes to become knowledgeable about such rules of the electronic age. Who, after all, wants to be left behind?

Entrepreneur's Bookshelf

  • In The Way of the Guerrilla: Achieving Success and Balance as an Entrepreneur in the 21st Century (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95 cloth), Entrepreneur contributor Jay Conrad Levinson leads entrepreneurs into the next century.

  • Bringing Your Product to Market, by Don Debelak (John Wiley & Sons), the laBODY book from Entrepreneur, tells you everything you need to know about launching a product.

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