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Bookshelf Even businesses that appear successful may be losing money on more than a third of their product lines. That's because most managers still operate by an outdated mass-market para- digm, in which companies could thrive even if only a handful of prod- ucts were profitable enough to sub- sidize the rest. Those days are gone, says MIT senior lecturer Jonathan L.S. Byrnes in Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink. Top executives need to honestly evaluate the businesses they already have, discover what's making money and what isn't, and maxi- mize profit by refining the relationships they have with suppliers and customers. In today's "age of preci- sion markets," as he names it, com- panies must provide customer value at the individualized level; define what markets they won't pursue, as well as those they will; and make sure they're the best at something. Some might cling to the old ways of doing business. But, Byrnes predicts, "These managers will fail." (Portfo- lio, $25.95) Plenty of great ideas get shot down before they can be implemented. In Buy-In, John P. Kotter and Lorne A. Whitehead examine 24 com- mon arguments people use to attack proposals and offer strategies for counteracting them. Actually, they write, the two dozen can be boiled down to four: fear mongering, delay, confusion, and ridicule. They pres- ent a fictional small-town meeting where an enthusiastic panel proposes a plan for acquiring new library computers—and various town resi- dents offer a host of objections. The 64 BizEd NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010 panelists respond with a "counterin- tuitive method… showing respect for all, and using simple, clear, and common- sense responses." According to Kotter, of Harvard, and Whitehead, of the University of British Columbia, this approach can turn attacks to your advantage "by capturing busy people's attention, helping them grasp an idea, and ultimately building strong buy-in." Every reader will recognize the char- acters and the arguments described in the library story—and be delight- ed to learn ways to deal with both. (Harvard Business Review Press, $22) Peter Drucker posited that the true purpose of business is to create and keep cus- tomers, and in Strategy from the Outside In, Wharton professor George S. Day and Duke professor Christine Moorman wholeheartedly agree. They explore why a customer- centric philosophy, obsessively built around the buyer's preferences and needs, is superior to an "inside out" strategy based on a com- pany's own strengths and goals. They suggest four imperatives for customer- driven companies: Deliver superior value to a dis- tinct segment of the mar- ket; innovate new value by constantly tracking what additional products customers want; capitalize on the customer as an asset by finding ways to elicit greater loyalty; and capitalize on the brand by leveraging the benefits it delivers. "Outside in means standing in the customer's shoes and viewing everything the company does through the custom- er's eyes," they write. Drawing on real-world exemplars such as U.K. grocery chain Tesco, they provide a blueprint for achieving this complex task. (McGraw-Hill, $32.95) In The Sustainable MBA, consultant Giselle Weybrecht presents a clear, straight- forward education in sustainability to anyone who is interested in the topic but doesn't know where to begin. She sketches its history, lays out the business case, and offers dozens of Web sites for readers look- ing for more information on tangen- tial topics, from social entrepreneur- ship to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. Then she gets seri- ous. Most of the book is organized by business dis- ciplines such as accounting, finance, marketing, and governance, and for each discipline, she explains why sustainability matters. For instance, Weybrecht explains that the accountant's job is to "collect information to assist internal deci- sion makers (management account- ing) and to prepare financial and sustainability information for external stakeholders (financial accounting)." She has written an earnest, pragmatic book that offers deep value to everyone from the idealistic business stu- dent to the seasoned office man- ager and everyone else who has a hand in business. (Wiley, $34.95) Human resources professionals help their companies succeed by analyzing how well employees improve, produce, and contribute to the bottom line. Such data might be even more use- ful if HR managers employed the

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