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What the CEO Wants You to Know: How Your Company Really Works by Ram Charan





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Basic Training

Dr. Ram Charan has advised companies and executives, and you may have read his articles in Harvard Business Review or Fortune. In plain, simple language, Charon explains that the fundamentals of business are the same everywhere on the pages of his short new book, What the CEO Wants You to Know: How Your Company Really Works. This book can be used by all employees to share a common language around business fundamentals and to focus on answers to key questions about their company and its competitors. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter “Understanding Your Company’s Total Business:”

“The elements of money making – cash generation, margin, velocity, return on assets, and growth – can all be measured. But people with business acumen don’t just memorize these words like terms in a textbook. They understand their real meaning, instinctively sense their relationships to one another, and use them to create a mental picture. True businesspeople combine the elements of money making to get an intuitive grasp of the total business.
A doctor’s diagnosis is a simple comparison. A doctor takes your pulse, blood count, temperature, and so on. From simple measurements, she can deduce what is happening with your body. Nevertheless, regardless of how many tests have been conducted, a good diagnosis requires judgment of the body’s overall health. Is it improving or declining? A good doctor can save your life by deducing that the body is being affected by an untreated disease.”

Charan uses this book to teach readers how to develop an intuitive grasp of a company by getting answers to some fundamental questions, and understanding what the answers mean for the health of the business. Using this book inside an organization to call attention to performance and competitive assessments can lead to improved results. Knowledge workers who share information are more likely to pull in the same direction. This book would have received one more star had it not been peppered with so many Ford and Jac Nasser stories. Given the boot Nasser received at Ford, those stories and examples rang hallow. If you’re able to read by those examples, go ahead and use this book to create a common framework for employees.

Steve Hopkins, January 23, 2002


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