Here in the 40%

Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink: Why 40% of Your Business Is Unprofitable and How to Fix It

Portfolio (Penguin); $27.95

Islands of Profit starts from a simple, astounding observation: Around 40 percent of any given business is unprofitable, with the whole enterprise subsidized by the 20 percent or so that's highly profitable. It then moves on to offer a number of strategies for changing that ratio, with a set of "profit levers" and a focus on four components - using the right information for analysis, having the right priorities in terms of growth, developing the right sales, marketing and operational processes, and installing the right compensation system. Speaking for the 40 percent, we'd like to thank the 20 percent, and offer them a beer. Unfortunately, we'll have to ask them to pay.

Go along to go wrong

Nice Teams Finish Last: The Secret to Unleashing Your Team's Maximum Potential

Amacom Books; $17.95

It's nice when a team gets along - but that's not why we form them. We form teams to win, whether in sports or in business, and getting along doesn't always get the job done. Nice Teams Finish Last has no time for avoiding conflict, papering over differences, or sugarcoating the truth. It does, however, insist on respect and open-mindedness, and uses them as a way to build a better team through honest feedback, without all the ulcers and suppressed rage that go along with being nice.

In that spirit of honest feedback, we'd like to note that capitalizing the words NICE and FIERCE and BOLD every time they appear in your book is EXTREMELY ANNOYING.

Management in Hell

Positive Strategies for Dealing with Problem Performers

Lorman Education Services; teleconference CD and manual package - $167.20 (with WebCPA discount)

Hell, Sartre once said, is other people - which leads us to imagine that the French philosopher must have spent some time as a manager. Few experiences are as excruciatingly infernal as trying to manage an incorrigible employee, or the toxic environment they can create. This teleconference (live on Nov. 11) and the associated manual aim to give managers the tools and soft skills they need to tackle the devils of their workplace with a more positive approach that doesn't rely on punishment, but instead focuses on coaching and commitment to turn devils into angels - or at least normal people.

More Sartre

What I Didn't Learn in Business School

Harvard Business Review Press; $25.95

What business schools aren't teaching, apparently, is what we already know from our in-depth study of Sartre (see entry above): Hell is other people. What I Didn't Learn in Business School makes the point that all the traditional strategies taught in b-school often fail in the real world when they run up against the entrenched interests of colleagues, co-workers and the like. Told as a "business novel," the book shows how even the most brilliant strategic plan can go straight to Hell through human interaction.

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