UK: Readings & Rankings.

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

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The good business book guide - Robert Heller reviews the latest business books.

I'd Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta

by David Greising

John Wiley £16.99

'State expectations. Meet or exceed those expectations. Repeat.' The management recipe of Coca-Cola's Roberto Goizueta, sounds ridiculously easy, though to be fair, he always added: 'The third step ... is the toughest.' His repeats generated fabulous financial superlatives, not least a 3,500% rise in market value in 17 years. This posthumous, unauthorised biography enhances Goizueta's supreme reputation. While he was no marketer, he certainly revolutionised key bottler relationships at home and abroad. While he was no accountant, he transformed Coke by enforcing a simple financial proposition: that operations must cover the true cost of capital and return a minimum 20%. Both successes and failures (notably the New Coke catastrophe) teach unforgettable lessons.

The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America

Selected by Lawrence A Cunningham

Cardozo Law Review £14.99

Warren Buffett, the Midas whose brilliant investments include Coke, offers a four-part formula as simple as Goizueta's three-parter. Invest only in businesses that (a) you understand (b) have favourable long-term prospects (c) are operated by honest and competent people and (d) are attractively priced. His merciless common sense flays the follies of M&A, junk bonds, 'free cash flow', share-picking, stock options and much else as he preaches 'intrinsic business value'. This fuzzy number encompasses another simple notion: what would you pay to own 100% of the enterprise? Exploiting the difference between that and market price created Buffet's billions. They rewarded relentlessly rational thought that is a supreme mental model for management. A must investment.

The Emperor's Nightingale: Restoring the Integrity of the Corporation

by Robert A G Monks

Capstone £18.99

Goizueta and Buffett are models of corporate governance, the theme of a book which approves the former's $1 billion compensation (for creating wealth) and the latter's criticism of stock options (for its compelling sense). Robert Monks finds that most corporations bear out Adam Smith's fears: they seek unlimited life, size, power and license. He argues engagingly for external forces to counter the consequent socio-economic dangers.

Monks links his argument to the theory of corporations as 'complex adaptive systems'. This pseudo-science doesn't greatly reinforce his advocacy of activist shareholding (his own occupation).


Number of companies offering which perks to which employees


Perk cars 478+8 133

Cars for business purposes 49+24 465

Private fuel 16+18 419

Healthcare (ie BUPA, PPP)

employee only 117+9 239

employee and spouse 27 226

family 91 306


21 days or less 143 70

22-24 days 122 150

25-27 days 188 242

28-30 days 23 140

over 30 days 27 47

Pension final salary 267 127

Money purchase 83 77

Personal pensions 25 53

Group personal pension 64 57

Life assurance

up to 1x salary 20 25

up to 2x salary 76 65

up to 3x salary 106 99

up to 4x salary 188 168

Personal accident insurance 198+16 83

Permanent health insurance/ 216+15 178

long-term disability provision

Critical illness insurance 20+3 57

Health screening 78+13 210

Dental insurance 16+1 16

Mortgage subsidy 21+6 45

Subsidised loans 45 62

Share ownership plan 100+16 78

Luncheon arrangements/vouchers 84+7 57

Financial advice/counselling 66+7 44

Childcare 15+3 19

Training and development 420+20 89

Optical care/vouchers 119+8 61

Long-term care insurance 7+2 35

Equipment (eg computer) 81+14 155

SOURCE: Watson Wyatt, The 1997 strategic rewards survey, UK

Scan your eye down the list above. How do the pay perks in your

organisation compare? Employee benefits and consultants Watson Wyatt have

carried out this survey of 614 UK employers who provide a set package of

pay perks to their employees, and 44 employers who provide cafeteria-style

(flex) benefits that employees can mix and match. The responses of the

flex employers are shown separately after the + signs.

Pity the poor employees - it is worrying that 129 of the employers fail to

offer training and development. Equally, with so many employers clasping

their temples in depair over skills shortages, it seems short-sighted that

many have nothing to offer in the way of help with childcare.

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