Business the Ultimate Resource

Thumbs up to Business: The Ultimate Resource, an eight-pound 2200-page behemoth from Perseus Publishing. Henceforth to be known as BUSINESSTHEULTIMATERESOURCE (or BTUR for short,) and spoken of in a James Earl Jones baritone, this massive tome is certainly to be admired. It sets its sights quite high, and delivers a truckload of useful material on practical business matters. It strives to teach what Daniel Goleman calls "business intelligence," a form of innate business savvy. The book presents a staggering amount of essays and information on arguably everything that an informed businessperson needs to know. The publishers also maintain a website that complements the big book with periodic updates.

Here’s the rub: in order to review such a book, one needs to read the book, and such a task is a vast chore that would take months. And so I am going to make a few comments based on my reading of selected portions. The pluses are many. The essays by leading experts are quite smart. The list of best business books is thought-provoking if quirky—it leans heavily towards obscure and academic as opposed to popular or narrative titles. (But hey, everyone’s got best of business book lists these days: there’s a pithier one in a recent article.) Minor quibbles: the book spends 500 pages on a World Business Almanac, data which is inert compared to the other material in BTUR. And many of the resources cited skew towards BTUR’s UK roots.

Above all, the resource begs the question of whether one can produce a comprehensive encyclopedia for business, which is, at the heart, a dynamic and integrative process that requires more than mere knowledge for success, but wisdom. I have a personal bias, which is that all business models must be read on the meta level: with a cynical eye towards the profit motive (i.e. business model) of the person proposing the model. While I suspect noble publishing goals behind BTUR, the book’s earnest mission often holds it back from examining such a bias. In that light I suggest the following books on the business of business thinking: Beyond the Hype: Rediscovering the Essence of Management by Robert Eccles and Nitin Nohria, Fad Surfing in the Boardroom: Managing in the Age of Instant Answers by Eileen Shapiro, and The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge.

Posted by tom at October 28, 2002 09:49 PM
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Read or print the Intro and Chapter 1 .

Read some book reviews at Inc, 1-800-CEO-READ, and the Miami Herald.

Read the publisher's press release.

Visit the companies that Tom discusses in the book

Hear a recent lecture by Tom on the Startup Garden


Read about other books and web sites about starting your own business.


Just Managing – articles that Tom wrote for The Industry Standard and some Business Articles written for Inc., Fortune Small Business, Harvard Management Update, and other places.



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