Complexity committee

How to Operate a Compensation Committee

The Rosenberg Associates; $95

It used to be that people were paid to work. Now, though, they're paid to incentivize them to align their priorities and performance with the strategic goals of the organization. That added layer of complexity has led many firms to create compensation committees to figure out what to pay staff and partners to incentivize them properly, which has led practice management expert Marc Rosenberg to write How to Operate a Compensation Committee. It covers everything you need to know, from why they're popular to how to establish one and what it should do, and what the characteristics of a good system are.


Do as they did

Succession Transition: A Roadmap for Seamless Transitions in Leadership

Momentum Books; $19.95

Plante Moran, like everyone else these days, is thinking about succession planning - with the major difference that Plante Moran has been thinking about it a lot longer than anyone else, and actually knows what it's doing. In fact, current managing partner Gordon Krater and the MP he succeeded, Bill Hermann, have written Succession Transition to describe the firm's process for leadership transitions. It's about a lot more than just swapping nameplates on the C-suite: The firm has deep systems in place for developing and nurturing leadership at all levels, and the book offers a rare glimpse into how a successful firm makes sure that its success can last.


No offense

The Complete Idiot's Guide to QuickBooks 2012

Alpha; $24.95

As much as we think your small-business clients could benefit from a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to QuickBooks 2012, you'll want to be careful how you present it to them. The many useful tips with certainly help them keep their books better, and get more out of their accounting system (to say nothing of making life a little easier for you, their accountant). Hopefully they have a sense of humor about the whole thing. If not, consider our next entry.


Uniquely unhappy

Conflict 101: A Manager's Guide to Resolving Problems So Everyone Can Get Back to Work

Amacom Books; $17.95

Tolstoy's dictum about happy families being all alike and unhappy families all being unhappy in their own way is easily applied to offices as well - but it misses the main point, which is that so many offices are unhappy. Conflict 101 is fully aware of the myriad ways a workplace can be poisoned, and details a host of tactics for disarming that unhappiness so you can focus on the business that is, literally, at hand. Perhaps the most important lesson overall is that people are always unhappy in the office in their own way and for their own reasons - reasons that are often bizarre, illogical and incomprehensible, but that must be dealt with nonetheless.


Better filters

Drinking from the Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decision Without Drowning in Information

Portfolio (Penguin); $26.95

Data overload is a common complaint these days, and as business intelligence systems and dashboards proliferate, it's only going to get worse. Since you can't cut yourself off, the trick is to arm yourself with the right tools to filter the streams of irrelevance to find the pure springs of usefulness. To help, Drinking from the Fire Hose offers its "7 Fire Hose Questions" for focusing on what matters, as well as a ton of real-life examples of how to see through the flood. It helps to bear in mind that what the data tells you isn't necessarily what you need to know.


Get another 100

The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results

Wiley; $25.95

The main goal of any leader's first 100 days should be secure themselves a second hundred. To that end, we recommend wholesale purges and the instigation of a reign of terror, but if your corporate policy precludes that, you might consider the strategies on offer in The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan. The first lesson is to read the book before your hundred days start - successful onboarding begins before you walk through the door. After that, the books case studies, examples, strategies and many downloadable guides will show you how to assess the situation you're now in charge of, how to build a team, and host of other things you'll need to know to ensure a long reign.


No spectacles

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Free Press (Simon & Schuster); $25

Watching someone make a big bet is great entertainment: You get to see triumph on a grand scale, or a test of human character in the face of enormous failure. We always encourage other people to make big bets - but for ourselves, we're sticking to the strategy in Little Bets, which is that major breakthroughs are the product of a series of small experiments, not a single great leap. From examples as disparate as Pixar, Hewlett-Packard, Beethoven, the U.S. Army, and comedian Chris Rock, the book teases out a remarkably consistent approach to success that includes failing fast to learn quickly, trying imperfect ideas, focusing on finding problems, and practicing "highly immersed" observation. It may not create the same grand spectacles as the "bet the company" approach, but grand spectacles usually end badly for everyone but the audience.

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