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Strategic effectiveness Services

Management Platform: Literature tips

"Here you can find interesting literature recommendations on strategy and management relevant topics."


Caroline Cerar - Expert in Strategic Effectiveness

Princeton University Press, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-691-1681-9


Two nobel prize winners as authors of a book published by the Princeton University Press raises expectations toward the reading. Akerlof and Shiller herein make the attempt of a new perspective on the free play of market forces.


In numerous examples, they point out how markets can render unwanted effects. The invisible hand described by Adam Smith is also based on the exploitation of psychological weaknesses of the other, on manipulation and deception in the free game of the market forces. “Phishing for Phools” is an immanent element of our economic system consequently. Phising means – derived from the Internet – to make people do things, which are in the interest of the fisherman (phisherman) and not in their own interest. Phishing, however, is not illegal, but renders negative effects for the one, who got “phished”. He or she is becoming the “phool” (fool) finally.


Such a perspective on the economic theory is new and disillusioning at the same time. Akerlof and Shiller are successful in explaining such unwanted phenomenona in simple language. They describe the evolution of the subprime-crisis in a very illustrative way, such as the junk bond-bubble around Michael Milken. They also provide a perspective on politics and lobbying and present examples of phishing in the pharma and tobacco industry. While reading the reader gets a vivid picture, on how prone oneself can be to such kinds of deceptions. Die stories, which we tell ourselves or which we are told, do influence our own decisions only all too often. Those decisions are often far from the ones of a rational “homo oeconomicus”. Akerlof and Shiller do assume a much more fundamental and far-reaching approach compared to the traditional Behavioral Economics.


The conclusions and recommendations for potential counter-measures are sobering simple. During the reading one can get the insecure feeling that many of such phishing-mechanisms are still flourishing in obscurity and, consequently, that the next pus blister in our economic and social system could soon burst.







Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Profile Books; Main edition (31 July 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1781253390
ISBN-13: 978-1781253397


This book is another example of a business classic. First published in 1984, it became a long seller over the years. Mark McCormack was the founder of IMG (International Management Group), the first sports management company, representing some of the world’s most famous sports athletes, such as Jack Nicklaus, Jean-Claude Killy or Jackie Stewart.


In this book, Mark McCormack not only provides illustrative insights into the world of sports and major deals, but gives very practical and methodical advice for diverse management situations. He himself taught at Business Schools. However, the title of the book is more than a catchy phrase. In the preface, he writes: “In fairness to Harvard Business School, what they don’t teach you is what they can’t teach you, which is how to read people…” And, it is exactly his quality to read people and use these insights in business, which is absolutely striking. There are numerous examples throughout the book. The chapter on this is a “must read”.


Mark McCormack was particularly known for his negotiation skills, therefore the chapters on sales and negotiations can be recommended to everybody, who would like to improve on these qualities. His ideas and viewpoints in the part “Running a Business” were especially positively surprising to me. There, he shows a very systemic approach to building and managing a business and provides very practical and methodical advice, which has not lost any of its validity up to our days. A business book really worth reading!



Hanser Verlag, München, 2008

ISBN: 978-3-446-41564-5


This book is a bestseller in the genre of start-ups and self-employment, but constitutes also a memorable reading on the topic of strategy. Günter Faltin is Professor for Entrepreneurship at the Freien Universität Berlin and multiple founder and business angel. In “Kopf schlägt Kapital” three central themes are particularly prominent:


  • The absolute necessity of a well thought-through entrepreneurial concept

  • The possibilities to found based on components

  • Away from typical founding myths


For Günter Faltin, the entrepreneurial concept stand in the centre. It consists out of an idea concept with a strong value proposition, which needs to be developed into an entrepreneurial concept or design step-by-step. Also logistics, customer service, accounting and the logic of pricing and terms need to be simplified, streamlined and intelligently connected with each other and integrated into the entrepreneurial design. Entrepreneurial design is a permanent task of a founder and the “reliable and most important partner for success” of the company.


Many components of the entrepreneurial concept are already available as special services by others on the market, for example logistics services. The capital need, potential mistakes and overload of the founders especially in the beginning phase can be minimized by using a systematic outsourcing of non-core services to specialists. There are several examples how digitalization can be used beneficially.


Not at least Günter Faltin is undermining many traditional myths around business formation and is presenting counter-examples. Such as, that a well thought-through entrepreneurial concept is the deciding factor and not capital per se. Also one should divest stereotypes, such as the picture of an enterprise with a lot of people on its payroll or that start-ups necessarily need to deal with high-tech. At the same token, he ends the discussion around character traits of business founders. In empirical research no conclusive evidence could be found for the correlation between character traits and success of business formations. Rather, is is about fund and the capability to develop an idea into a marketable entrepreneurial concept and bring it to the market.


This book is only available in German so far.


Penguin Books Ltd., 2009
ISBN: 1-101-17042-5


Title and key messages of this book by Jeremy Rifkin could not be more current and relevant these days. Much more so - it is a clear affordance to think deeply, think differenly and to act.


The sociologist, economist and thought leader Rifkin starts with the humanly innate ability to empathize with others as the basis for human community. The feeling of belongingness has been extended to increasingly larger groups - from the early tribal community, to religious group affiliation, to e.g. the founding of the national states in the 19th century, to name a few stages.


The enlargement of the empathetic belongingness was supported by the respectice societal, economic and technological developments, such as, for example, the introduction of administrative processes to organize larger communities of people and the division of labor, or the use of machine power. For our time now, being globally connected using new technology, Rifkin demands a new global consciousness and a feeling of responsibility for the world and all people and creatures - simply in the sense of an "extended family". With the mirror neurons in our brains are capable of these feelings of empathy...

Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Imprint, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7879-8775-6


Also real classics in business literature will be presented here.


Though Robert Townsend died long ago, his work is still exerting its effects. With Townsend as CEO of the eternal Number 2 in the car rental market, the campaign “We try harder” was designed. This slogan is known still in our days. His book “Up the Organization” reached a huge popularity when launched and has developed into a long seller.


The simplicity and, also on top, accuracy of the thoughts, tips and observations in the form of short vignettes are impressive and make one intuit the richness of the treasure of experience Townsend accumulated throughout his life as a manager and consultant. His own anecdotal stories and the contributions by a few fellows of his time make the book a diverting and inspiring reading experience.

Portfolio (Penguin Putnam)2003

ISBN: 1-59184-010-4 (Hardback)

ISBN: 1-59184-045-7 (Paperback)


With this book Sydney Finkelstein takes a juxtaposition to the known literature on success factors in management. He focusses on the small, in the beginning seemingly harmless thinking and behavioral mechanisms of top executives and their organizations, which can lead to the failure of big strategic projects or of whole companies.


In light of the strong factual evidence the reader is repeatedly led to ask questions, like "How could someone even believe in the success of such a venture for a second?", "Why didn't they act earlier, given that they knew...?".

The results of the study show that often the very experienced, rewarded and highly intelligent executives were the ones, who stumbled over such kind of mistakes.


The author presents the circumstances, the dangerous thinking and actions and the course of such business developments in a fascinating and illustrative way. Published more than 10 years ago this book has not lost its significance and can serve managers and company owners still and time and again as an enlightening and forbidding "Guide to Desaster" and as negative check list.

HarperCollins Publishers, New York

ISBN-13: 978-0062296238


Like each year Edge, a platform, which deals with forward-looking scientific and socio-political topics, defines one central question. In 2013 one ventured on the collective search of topics, about which one should think carefully or be worried about. 150 scientists, journalists and thought leaders dealt with this question and found each a very personal answer. Well-known names, such as Steven Pinker, Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, Daniel Goleman, Anton Zeilinger, Nassim Nicholas Taleb or Lisa Randall are among them.


It is about these topics, which are currently not talked about, however which we should put in the center of our societal and scientific discussions. The titles of specific contributions voice a clear message, e.g.: "Incompetent systems", "Data Disenfranchisement", "Are we becoming too connected?", "Illusions of Understanding and the Loss of Intellectual Humility", "The Complex, Consequential, Not-so-Easy Decisions about our Water Resources" or "Worrying about Children".


Scenarios of a substantial underpopulation, a "Global Greying" or of a world without growth are discussed. Naturally, specific solutions are often missing, nevertheless the often new approaches to the diverse themes are refreshing, sometimes, however, also shocking. In this regard please refer to the article of Susan Blackmore with the title "Losing our Hands", Noga Arikhas "Present-ism" or Anton Zeilingers "Losing Completeness".


This book offers a broad array of answers out of different scientific domains and philosophies of thinking. Specifically these different perspectives encourage a personal reflection on part of the reader. A reflection, which continues even after finishing this book and which seems to be intensifying over time.

Profile books Ltd, London (2012) - ISBN: 978 1 84 668 563 7 (Hardback)

ISBN: 978 1 84 668 585 9 (Paperback) - ISBN: 978 1 84765 805 0 (ebook)


The Economist uses once more its strength - namely excellent research, broad and deep data set and experienced authors - and presents with this book an overview of anticipated, big trends and developments in the next years and centuries to come.


The single articles deal with a broad spectrum of topics - from demography and health, over geopolitical and global economical developments to science, innovation and technology - and highlight potential developments based on shifts which have already happened. Well-known topics are approached with a fresh look, so for example in the article "Women's world".


Despite the strong focus on data and information the reader still gets some concrete statements about how the future could look like; e.g. the example of the still big danger of the use of nuclear weapons or the increasing significance of education, which should distinguish the poor and the rich even more so in future.


It is recommended to read this book twice, in order to "read across the chapters" on the second occasion and thereby get a better mental picture of how the postulated megatrends might specifically impact the details of our every day life in future.

Gabal Verlag, Offenbach

ISBN: 978-86936-174-1


"Dedicated to all executives" Cyrus Achouri, professor for Human Resource Management at the Academy of Economics and Environments in Nürtingen, undertakes in this book a journey through the different basics of systems theory, cognitive, motivational and learning theory as well as ethics, in order to fit all this into the framework of a systemic understanding of leadership.


The "30-points-plan of systemic leadership" in the end of the book, enumerated rather short and concisely, seems much more as a staccato "How to" of a new form of leadership..


Even if this book is in large parts dedicated to the "heavy to digest" aspects of system theory, the author is successful in presenting concepts and new perspectives in a relevant way as well as illustrate their meaning for the management of people and organizations.


There is a lot to learn and reconsider. It could be single new aspects, which do fascinate. It could also be the view on leadership in a broader context, which might aspire readers particularly.


HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2008
ISBN 978-0-06-185454-5


Dan Ariely understands it very well to unmask the irrational thinking of people in this book in a very humorous way. The experiments, which  are being presented, are often very simple in their set-up, but the results are usually stunning. There, where we belive in the rationality of humans in their thinking and action, we are taught better. Our all too human mechanisms are revealed in this book. At the same time, we also receive tips how to avoid some of the pitfalls in thinking.


The questions, which are dealt with, definitely have a practical benefit. For example, one learns why we often pay too much finally, when we are actually getting things for free (warning of for free-offers), the significance of our own expectations or the influence of choice on our behavior.


The fascintation of the author for the topic of human decision and behavior can be felt time and again. Daniel Ariely, who - at young age - needed to stay in hospital for months and needed to undergo painful treatments because of severe skin burn injuries, made a very impressive development. These experiences caused him to deal with the question of how do provide such painful treatments in a better and for patients more bearable way. This was also the basis for his later career as a professor for psychology and behavioral economics.


HarperCollins, New York

ISBN: 978-0-06-212099-1


Jim Collins, the author of "From Good to Great", conducted a new study together with his research fellow Morten T. Hansen. They focussed on the question, what does it take for a company to develop positively, while other companies stumble in times of great uncertainty and chaos.


There are a couple of findings, which deem rather counter-intuitive at first sight: The thriving companies actually overall changed less as a reaction to radical changes in the outside world as compared to their less successful peers. They rather had adopted the skill to stick to those components of their business models, which are essential, and only change certain elements over time. It also turned out that the leaders of the successful companies were neither more risk taking, nor more visionary or more creative in contrast to their comparison companies. Much to the contrary, the successful organizations achieved leading performance due to a unique mix of discipline (in sticking to their business model and in execution), empirical foundation (in analyzing trends and results of own business actions) and a rather paranoid view on the business environment and their own strategic actions. 


With this book Jim Collins continues the learning journey which started with "From Good to Great" and grew with "Built to Last" and "How the Mighty Fall". This time the focus of the research question was on success factors in very challenging business environments.The study also took a look at the factor of luck in business and showed that the winners are usually not more lucky than the less successful players, but they are more disciplined in fully and excellently taking advantage of the lucky circumstances in the market.


This book is an enjoyful reading as the authors are able to present the key conclusions out of the massive data set of the study in an easy-to-understand framework using very illustrative examples.



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Dan Ariely Predictably Irrational
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