The Fundamentals

Meet the challenges of the Digital Age-but don't forget the roots of business success.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the May 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Internet has changed a lot about business, but not everything. These three books help entrepreneurs meet all today's tech challenges while keeping them grounded in the still-essential skills of communication and problem-solving.

If you want to survive and prosper in a business world radically changed by the Internet, you have to master e-culture, according to management writer Rosabeth Moss Kanter. E-culture is about community and expresses itself in shared identity, shared knowledge and collaboration.

Moss Kanter offers four prescriptions to deal with e-culture. First, treat strategy development as improvisational theater by setting a theme for your company and encouraging experimentation within those boundaries. Second, use your network of partners often rather than occasionally. Third, rebuild your company as a community that values and implements input from the entire organization. (For example, have multiple channels for communicating between all levels and departments.) Last, win the talent wars. One trick: Recognize employees' outside interests by sponsoring special company lunches where workers can show amateur artwork or demonstrate hobbies.

Evolve! is available at

Power Talk

Linguist and management consultant Sarah Myers McGinty, Ph.D., shows how to communicate in many situations using just two basic styles of talking: language from the center and language from the edge. Language from the center is used to command and to establish authority. It directs, contradicts and even interrupts. Instead of asking questions, it makes statements. You use language from the center to keep a meeting on track, for instance, by responding to an off-topic comment with "That's interesting, but now back to my first point . . . "

Language from the edge is appropriate when you're trying to gather information or respond to questions. It avoids confrontation and qualifies statements. Language from the edge asks, "Are we likely to make any money off this?" rather than stating, "This product is a loser."

Myers McGinty also shows how to tell whether you communicate from the center or the edge and how to mix and match the two styles to attract new clients, correct employees and run meetings. Power Talk is worth a listen.

Power Talk is available at

The Problem Solving Journey

Success in the business world is all about solving problems, says Christopher Hoenig, entrepreneur and former director of information management and technology for the General Accounting Office. To be a better problem-solver, Hoenig says you need to perform six essential acts, from "Generate the Mindset" to "Deliver the Results."

"Generate the Mindset" helps the innovators on your staff develop ideas and creative attitudes. "Know the Territory" assists you in asking the right questions to uncover critical information. "Build the Relationships" is all about cultivating interactions to implement change. "Manage the Journeys" involves setting a direction for the problem-solving community you have constructed. "Create the Solutions" is an umbrella skill for combining available tools and people to synthesize answers. "Deliver the Results" shows how to execute the solutions you've devised.

The Problem Solving Journey is a complex book enlivened by brief profiles of well-known problem-solvers, including entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. If you want to learn more about the book and obtain a free online diagnosis of your problem-solving skills, visit

The Problem Solving Journey is available at

What Are You Reading?
Body and Soul: Profits With Principles (Crown Publishing) by Anita Roddick

"The Body Shop's story is completely inspiring for someone who never thought they could start their own business without borrowing money, having a business plan or selling their soul to make it happen. My husband and business partner, John, and I can relate because she was so passionate about her business and because she had very little money or support when she began."

-Tracy Porter, founder of Tracy Porter Inc., a design and licensing company in Princeton, Wisconsin


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