In The Company Of Giants

Books worth a look.
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3 min read

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

Imagine the world without personal . Not so easy to do, is it? Now try imagining the sheer Grand Canyon-sized imagination needed to launch this computer revolution in the first place. Real hard to do that, isn't it?

Well, maybe that's what separates the mere mortals from the giants. and Online's are just two of the who booted us into cyberspace. And if you've ever wanted to probe the genius of said pioneers, check out the appropriately titled In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World (McGraw-Hill, $24.95 cloth).

Authors Rama Dev Hager and Rafael Ortiz do a fine job of posing smart questions to masterminds of the electronic age--and, perhaps more critically, their interview subjects give interesting answers. Even nontech en-trepreneurs will relate to 's emphasizing the importance of finding--and keeping--the best employees. "When you're in a start-up," says Jobs, "the first 10 people will determine whether the company succeeds." Even us mortals can understand that.

The 500 Year Delta

Thanks to the impending millennium, predicting the future has turned into a national obsession. But even if your brain feels overloaded with all this talk, you'd still be well-advised to read The 500 Year Delta: What Happens After What Comes Next (Har-perBusiness, $25 cloth) by Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker.

Although a tad grandiose at times, The 500 Year Delta paints a vivid picture of our tumultuous culture. "In two generations, we have shifted from a society that nearly sanctions stability to one that can barely sit still for a half-hour sitcom, and then only with channel-grazer in hand," Taylor and Wacker write. "The jangling images and quick cuts of an MTV video are nothing more than the reflection of the jangling, quick-cut internal rhythms of our lives today."

Dizzy? Dive further into the book, and learn why "the mass shopping experience" is becoming as extinct as nonremote controlled TV sets. Intrigued? Don't miss the chapter detailing consumer motivations and the appeal to same.

"This is a book about the near-term and long-term future of business and how business leaders must reposition themselves and rethink the arenas in which they compete," assert Taylor and Wacker. Brain overloaded or not, it's time for you to start rethinking.

Breakaway Management

Is your workplace dysfunctional? Scary as it sounds, so-called dysfunctional workplaces are on the rise--at least according to author Tom E. Jones in Breakaway Management: Overcoming Dysfunction in the Workplace (Worx Publishing, $14.95 paper).

"Dysfunctional behavior is characterized by unstable relationships, harmful habits, poor organization, lack of confidence, and the inability to make good choices," writes Jones. "While such behavior is not new to the workplace, it is becoming more commonplace and thus increasingly difficult to handle."

To Jones' way of thinking, many contemporary business books make the mistake of assuming that the companies they're addressing are functional--hence, the advice proffered in these books often misses the mark. "The underlying problem is managerial," he claims, "but the solution lies outside the scope of mainstream methods."

What's the leader of a functionally challenged group of employees to do? Jones stresses the importance of assigning responsibility to workers as well as enhancing their self-confidence. There's even a chapter detailing how to have fun in your battle against dysfunctionality--not as oxymoronic as it sounds.

"As more dysfunctional behaviors are brought in to the workplace, the makeup of our organizations will continue to change," concludes Jones. "So must our management strategies."

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