Business - The Ultimate Resource; Edited by Daniel Goleman et al; Bloomsbury pounds 40.00.
The advent of the internet should have meant that there was no need to compile a 2,172-page, 3.6kg resource of all things businesslike. But the internet doesn't allow for the nuances of human nature in the way that scrambling through a big book does. That makes Business - The Ultimate Resource a useful and powerful tool.
A few years ago, 'MBA in a week' books were topping the US business books charts. The Ultimate Resource is much more than that. It is a business management encyclopaedia. Think of any business concept or management guru and it's sure to be included: from Sun Tzu's Art of War to The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, from John Adair to Frank W Woolworth. It would be hard to find any top business names and topics missing.
A lot of thought has gone into compiling this compendium. Seven sections cover basic topics. There is Best Practice - a choice of 160 of the most influential business essays, interjected with specialist viewpoints (Charles Handy, Warren Bennis, etc) to link articles together. Next is Management Checklists and Actionlists, full of do's and don'ts and FAQs. Then Management Library, a handful of summaries of the landmark books that never age.
Each page offers the reasons for the book's importance and an insight into its overall contribution.
Other sections cover Business Thinkers and Management Giants, a synopsis of individuals who either provided groundbreaking business ideas (Machiavelli to Covey) or went out and did it (Ford to Gates). There's an A-Z Dictionary for those moments when someone baffles you with management babble. The World Business Almanac is an attempt to capture economic data for each and every world country. And finally, the Business Information Resources section, which delves even deeper into any of the topics covered.
If this is not enough to wet your whistle, by purchasing Business - The Ultimate Resource, you get password access to a web site providing updates, upgrades, latest information and special contributions from management thinkers. All for a bargain basement, supercalla- fragilistic price of pounds 40. Fantastic.
But before you make it another Bloomsbury bestseller, ask yourself why you would want to have every bit of great management thinking at your fingertips. How would you use it? Information junkies, read-ahead MBA students and Ricky Gervais' The Office character, David Brent, would love this for a Christmas present. Practical use could be made through having it available in the office for when you need expert advice without calling in the consultancy Mafia.
The remit to cover so much gives scope for nit-picking. The pages are in a flimsy phonebook-style with shades of pink to add emphasis to the ocean of print. No models are included whatsoever. This indicates that the astute and already rich contributors recognise the advertising potential for their work and use it as advertising for their book/training/consultancy.
The World Business Almanac is also a mistake. There are far better and more up-to-date information resources in government web sites than is provided here. In a fast-moving economy, data from 1999 or 2000 is too old for making business decisions. And you get concerned over the depth of information when three pages are dedicated to both the US and Luxembourg, with countries like Guatemala and Kazakhstan demanding two pages.
It is an 'Ultimate Resource'; you could impress your boss or bore your friends; it could end up gathering dust or be used as a fancy doorstop.
But if you enjoy reading MT you are likely to make effective use of it.
Every MBA should at least check it out. I can see it next to the dictionary and thesaurus in the academic and businessman's library.
This volume is not a guide for Everyman, but many people will find it very useful.