UK: Readings & Rankings - The good business book guide - Robert Heller reviews the latest business books.

UK: Readings & Rankings - The good business book guide - Robert Heller reviews the latest business books. - The Chocolate Wars: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The Chocolate Wars: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars

by Joel Glenn Brenner, HarperCollins £19.99

This admirable book describes two often intertwined, secretive money machines with two utterly different creators - empire-builder Forrest Mars Sr and philanthropist Milton Hershey. While the Hershey passages are absorbing, they cannot compete with the stark fascination of Mars.

His two sons promulgate five noble 'principles': quality, responsibility, mutuality efficiency and freedom. The nobility palls a little when you read of an actual butcher's block at head office in McLean, Virginia, labelled 'Head on the Block Responsibility' - many heads have been chopped off down the years.

Yet Mars' insatiable drive for expansion, experimentation and efficiency has anticipated many of today's most favoured manage-ment excellences.

The less ruthless Hershey continually ran, and often foundered, in Mars' wake. But Hershey has fought back, while the Mars offspring - clinging to power and conservative about new products - have sacrificed too many top managers and missed too many opportunities. Their global thrust has remained remark-able: Brenner's book tells essential parables.

The Leadership Gene

by Cyril Levicki, Financial Times Management £21.99

Forrest Mars who was infamous for his violent 'flares' of temper, is one of many exceptions to Cyril Levicki's precept to leaders that 'it is wise to never lose your temper'. Still, this is an outstandingly useful survey of leadership from all angles. The author argues that leaders are more often born than made. Informative text, questionnaires and charts show how an innate propensity to lead is best exploited and worst dissipated.

Levicki becomes notably less convincing, however, as he proceeds from leadership attributes to leadership in action. He cites one hero who only took two decisions in five years, the second being to take no others. If only life and leadership were that easy. Nevertheless, an instructive guide to success in a genre full of dross.

Rethinking the Future

Edited by Rowan Gibson, Nicholas Brealey £14.99

This is an unusually gripping collection of guru interviews. Reading the confident accounts of the magical transformations wrought by some of the philosophies, you begin to wonder why so much incompetence and inefficiency persists. Quite unintentionally, gurus tend to proffer magic bullets that will cure all known management ills. No such magic exists.

What is real is the insight to elucidate global developments and explain why bottom-up, participative, fact-based management is the only hope for a prosperous future in the face of awesome challenges.

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