Executive Times

Volume 3, Issue 12

December 2001


ă 2001 Hopkins and Company, LLC

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Closing the Year

Many executives and organizations look forward to closing the books for 2001 and starting fresh for 2002. For some, this may have been their worst year ever; for others, their success has been overshadowed by terror and war. What do you want to leave behind as 2001 ends? How do you plan to do things differently in 2002? Do you and your organization want to maintain or change your identity?


Many Executive Times readers look forward to our December issue that contains our expanded book list, including highlights from 2001 reading and a look into 2002.  Readers of the print issue can go to http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/et1201sub.html to access the links in the web version. Five full pages of this issue are devoted to books that you might enjoy yourself, or will want to order for someone on your holiday gift list. Information about gift subscriptions to Executive Times appears on the last page.


Who Are We? Who Will We Be?

Name changes, mergers and new CEOs can all cause an organization to pause and reflect on its culture, values and operating methods. Philip Morris Corporation announced in mid-November (http://www.philipmorris.com/pressroom/press_releases/pmcosincannouncment.asp) that it wants to change its name to Altria Group to distinguish the parent company from its tobacco company. The parent owns a variety of companies, and shareholders will vote on the name change in April. “Altria” comes from the Latin “altus,” meaning “higher,” which may be well received by customers of the Miller Beer subsidiary. ServiceMaster may de-emphasize its fundamentalist Christian culture as new CEO Jonathan Ward tries to increase shareholder value. (The New York Times 11/21/01 http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/21/business/21MAST.html). Hewlett-Packard and Compaq continue to promote the benefits of their planned merger, while founder family members announce their intentions to vote against the merger. The positive H-P CEO Carly Fiorina stories took one more negative slant in a Jim Collins op-ed in The Wall Street Journal (11/26/01) (http://interactive.wsj.com/archive/retrieve.cgi?id=SB1006731723317077840.djm) calling attention to Carly’s unseemly self-promotion efforts. Your guess is as good as ours about how many of these changes will actually take place.


How many of these changes do you forecast will occur in 2002? How clear is your organization’s identity? How valuable is it? What would cause that value to change? Does the name of your organization add or detract value? Who will you and your organization be in 2002?


 (Note: readers of the web version of Executive Times can click on the book covers or titles to order copies directly from amazon.com.  When you order through these links, Hopkins & Company receives a small payment from amazon.com.  Subscribers to the print version of Executive Times can receive the web version at no additional cost. Send e-mail to hopkinsandcompany@att.net with a request to be placed on the web version distribution list.  Also, not all books we read make it to the pages of Executive Times.  Check out other book selections on our bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/bookshelf.html).


This year’s expanded book section highlights the best and worst books read during 2001, as well as some additions to our “Shelf of Reproach”, the books we haven’t read or finished. There’s also a list of books we’re looking forward to reading in 2002. 


The Top 10 Recommended Books from Executive Times 2001:



Issue Date

Executive Times Advice


World War 3.0: Microsoft And Its Enemies

Auletta, Ken


Comprehensive story of the Microsoft antitrust trial based on insider interviews. Fascinating to read about Microsoft’s arrogance. Read longer review. Recommendation:





Now, Discover Your Strengths

Buckingham, Marcus


Gallup research says we should be developing our strengths and talents instead of focusing on our weaknesses. StrengthFinder profile selects five top themes out of 34 to help focus. Read longer review. Recommendation:



Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead

Coens, Tom and Mary Jenkins


Great book that replaces current assumptions about performance appraisals with new ones and proposes alternatives. Read longer review. Recommendation:



Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Ehrenreich, Barbara


Read this to glimpse on the life of minimum wage workers and the dependency of the rest of us on them and their sacrifices. Read longer review. Recommendation:



Peace Like a River

Enger, Leif


Enger captures human nature, family relationships, love and compassion. Read longer review. Recommendation:



Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market – and How to Successfully Transform Them

Foster, Richard and Sarah Kaplan


Based on 38 years of McKinsey data, companies need to be redesigned from top to bottom on the basis of discontinuity. Well worth reading.  Read longer review. Recommendation:



The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment

Kaplan, Robert S.


Best articulation of the Balanced Scorecard so far. Replete with clear examples. Read longer review. Recommendation:



The Art of Innovation

Kelley, Tom


You, too, can learn how to innovate by reading this interesting book by a managing director of the award winning design firm, IDEO. Read longer review. Recommendation:



Jack: Straight From the Gut

Welch, Jack


Jack sums up his GE career: “Almost everything should and could have been done faster.” Read longer review. Recommendation:



The New Market Leaders: Who’s Winning and How in the Battle for Customers

Wiersema, Fred


Quantitative ways to measure market leadership and case studies of what successful companies are doing.  Read longer review. Recommendation:




Worst 5 Books Read in 2001:




Brief Review


Making Change Happen One Person at a Time

Bishop, Charles

Had this been intended as a parody, it would be enjoyable to read. Unfortunately, the author is serious. Read longer review. Recommendation: ---



High Five: The Magic of Working Together

Blanchard, Ken

Junk food fable. Simplistic. Not worth reading.  Read longer review. Recommendation: ---



The 108 Skills of Natural Born Leaders

Blank, Warren

Conflicting and confusing recommendations. This book is for the self-improvement addict, but no one else.  Read longer review. Recommendation:




The Fed: The Inside Story of How the World’s Most Powerful Financial Institution Drives the Markets

Mayer, Martin

Annoying, irritating and sloppy bon mots. Take a pass. Read longer review.
Recommendation: ---



The No Spin Zone

O’Reilly, Bill

Unless you really enjoy reading brief edited transcripts of old interviews followed by lengthy sanctimonious and obnoxious comments by the author, take a pass. Read longer review. Recommendation: ---




More Recommended Books Not Reviewed in Executive Times 2001:



Brief Review


Never Change

Berg, Elizabeth

Protagonist Myra Lipinsky is a caregiver, a single nurse, who at age 51 spends her time with her patients and her dog. When her new patient turns out to be former high school classmate Chip Reardon, her life takes some major changes, which Berg presents with skill. Read longer review. Recommendation:





Good Harbor

Diamant, Anita

Diamant presents the depth of emotions within many characters, and explores how family members and friends protect each other, for better or for worse, when dealing with grief and loss. Read longer review. Recommendation:





Look At Me

Egan, Jennifer

Look at Me approaches identity, growth, change and trauma with cleverness and perception, and Egan’s skills make reading this book a pleasure. Read longer review. Recommendation:




Greenfield, Meg

Wit, insight, and sharp intelligence shine through this fine book. Describes the way insiders like Greenfield walk fine lines in their relationships. Read longer review. Recommendation:





The Agenda: What Every Business Must Do to Dominate the Decade

Hammer, Michael

Your competitors are probably reading this, so you should too. Not as revolutionary as Reengineering the Corporation. Read longer review. Recommendation:



Blue Diary

Hoffman, Alice

Hoffman’s language evokes mood, time and place with precision and care. Readers thrive inside the atmosphere she creates. Read longer review. Recommendation:





The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World

Pollan, Michael

For an explanation of what Johnny Appleseed did a long time ago, and what Monsanto is doing today, enjoy reading The Botany of Desire, and come away from it thinking about plants in a whole new way. Read longer review. Recommendation:






The Death of Vishnu

Suri, Manil

A complex and clever story of life, death and forbidden love among residents of a Bombay apartment building. Read longer review. Recommendation:





How I Play Golf

Woods, Tiger

Coffee-table size and weight with lots of photos of Tiger showing the right and wrong way to play golf. Read longer review. Recommendation:





Some additions to the Shelf of Reproach for 2001:



Brief Review


The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care

Bernstein, Nina

It was an epic struggle to read each chapter of this award-winning, sad story of New York’s foster-care system. Paused after about 100 pages.



IBM and the Holocaust

Black, Edwin

Started out with strong interest that waned after 100 pages.





Constantine’s Sword

Carroll, James

Always enjoyed novelist Carroll’s work, but this heavy non-fiction lost our attention after about 250 pages despite Carroll’s fine writing and the interspersing of his own story with lots of history.


John Adams


Lost interest in the unalterably determined John Adams and David McCullough around 300 pages into this book.



Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage

Persico, Joseph E.

After learning that the long-standing story of Churchill knowing in advance about the bombing of Coventry was not true, and that Roosevelt didn’t know about the Pearl Harbor attack in advance, we stopped reading around 200 pages into this pretty good book.


The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Solomon, Andrew

Intimidated by this comprehensive book around page 40 where we stopped.


Some Books We Look Forward to Reading in 2002:






Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson’s Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965

Beschloss, Michael

We liked Beschloss’ first volume of Johnson’s tapes, Taking Charge. Another year of tape transcripts with Beschloss’ light touch in editing and framing appear in this new volume.



Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Lap … and Others Don’t

Collins, Jim

Author of Built to Last returns with more case studies of successful companies, selected based on quantitative results.



20/20 Foresight: Crafting Strategy in an Uncertain World

Courtney, Hugh

McKinsey partner touches the nerve of how many executives are thinking about what to do next.



Vernon Can Read!

Jordan, Jr., Vernon E.

Memoir that the book jacket calls “emblematic of the extraordinary journey of black Americans since World War II.”



The Sigma Protocol

Ludlum, Robert

The author died, but three novels were in the publisher’s pipeline, so we can continue to enjoy new Ludlum books for a while longer.



Winning Decisions

Russo, J. Edward

Author of Decision Traps (1989) offers more help for executives on improving decision-making skills.



Working with Intellectual Capital or A Wealth of Knowledge: Putting Intellectual Capital to Work

Stewart, Thomas A.

Author of Intellectual Capital returns with a new book to be released soon. Title on pre-publication draft dust jacket doesn’t match publisher’s listing. ISBN: 0-3855-00718.





ă 2001 Hopkins and Company, LLC.  Executive Times is published monthly by Hopkins and Company, LLC at the company’s office at 723 North Kenilworth Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois 60302. Subscription rate for first class mail delivery of the print version is $60.00 per year (12 issues). Web version subscriptions are $30.00 per year. Single issues: $10.00 print; $5.00 web. To subscribe, sign up at www.hopkinsandcompany.com/subscribe.html, send an e-mail to hopkinsandcompany@att.net, call (708) 466-4650, or fax to (708) 386-8687. For permission to photocopy or e-mail Executive Times, call (708) 466-4650 or e-mail to hopkinsandcompany@att.net. We will send sample copies if requested. The company’s website at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/archives.html contains the archives of back issues beginning in the month after the issue date. 

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