A thorough, highly engaging, and superbly written exploration of organizational culture.

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THE CULTURE PUZZLE

HARNESSING THE FORCES THAT DRIVE YOUR ORGANIZATION'S SUCCESS

A business book offers an example-filled deep dive into organizational culture.

Culture is arguably one of the most puzzling areas in today’s business organizations. In this impressive and vibrant treatment of the subject, academicians/consultants Moussa, Newberry, and Urban seek to demystify organizational culture by analyzing its “four forces” (“vision, interests, habits, and innovation”) and showing how they fit together, as do the pieces of a puzzle. The pragmatic approach of the authors is revealed in a careful, methodical way. They first introduce the puzzle pieces in a broad brush stroke, then discuss the four forces in depth, and finally demonstrate how to sustain a healthy organizational culture. Along the way, the book features countless case studies and anecdotes that perfectly illustrate the typical cultural challenges faced and the opportunities available to take organizational culture to the next level. In Part 1, the authors employ memorable metaphors to highlight the importance of corporate culture. They liken those CEOs who may be tone deaf about culture to Akhenaten, an Egyptian pharaoh who was an innovative genius but could not convince the populace to follow his lead: “This tale of a prideful pharaoh who fails to change long-standing cultural beliefs remains keenly relevant today.” Just as effective is the metaphorical gardener who is responsible for “thoughtfully and carefully tending the culture garden.” An example employed by the authors is the decidedly nonmilitary leadership style of American Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Iraq. McChrystal recalled his mother’s penchant for vegetable gardening and applied three lessons he learned from her to managing his troops: adapting to changing conditions, being “the protector in chief,” and creating the right environment.

Part 2 addresses the four forces in precise detail; chapters devoted to each one are brimming with relevant examples, all of which are accompanied by authoritative commentary and keen insights. In discussing vision, the authors demonstrate how storytelling helps build strong cultures. The chapter regarding interests covers several vital issues, such as how to keep organizational tribes from fragmenting and how to become a “culture virtuoso.” An outstanding vignette in this chapter is an anecdote about retired Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who returned during the 2008 financial crisis to transform a “loose collection” of 10,000 store managers “into a tribe of tribes.” In the chapter about habits, the authors explain “four principles for creating moments that usher in new habits.” Concerning innovation, the authors identify three characteristics associated with “the true nature of innovation and the sort of environment that fosters it.” In Part 3, Moussa, Newberry, and Urban reprise the gardener metaphor, aptly describing how a culture leader takes responsibility for “Pulling Weeds and Cultivating Wildflowers.” The authors close the book on a hopeful note, observing that during the Covid-19 pandemic, they were encouraged to see many organizations “thinking village rather than self.” Crammed with stories across a broad spectrum of industries and organizational sizes, this book delivers much of value that any manager should be able to glean.

A thorough, highly engaging, and superbly written exploration of organizational culture.

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-52-309182-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A solid and informative exploration of major New York real estate developments.

THE NEW KINGS OF NEW YORK

An insider looks at New York City’s commercial real estate business.

In this business book, Piore profiles the dominant figures in large-scale real estate development in New York in the 1990s and 2000s and the ways in which their projects reshaped the city’s skyline and communities. The construction of Hudson Yards opens the work, which then jumps back in time to review the city’s physical decline in the ’70s and its ’90s renewal before returning the focus to the large developments of the last two decades. In addition to Hudson Yards, the volume examines the construction of commercial and residential spaces at Columbus Circle, the redevelopment of the World Trade Center, and the growth of high-rise condos selling for record-setting prices to international buyers whose identities are concealed by shell corporations. Developers Steve Ross, Harry Macklowe, and Kent Swig are the book’s main characters, with other developers, financiers, and real estate brokers playing smaller roles. The work is filled with juicy quotes and insider gossip, not only about the projects, but about the men’s personal lives as well, with Swig’s and Macklowe’s expensive divorces getting plenty of attention. Some anecdotes appear multiple times throughout the text, like Macklowe’s late-night demolition of a building, adding to the sprawling nature of the narrative. But on the whole, Piore does a good job of keeping the threads of the story clear as he moves from one project to another. The complex financial and regulatory aspects of real estate development are explained in sufficient detail, making the volume appropriate for nonspecialist readers. As the work is focused primarily on major deals and the people involved in them, the sociological implications of the resulting housing shortages and growing economic inequality are only briefly touched on. Still, the author does acknowledge the problems along with celebrating the audacity and success of the long-shot bets that have resulted in multibillion-dollar wins.

A solid and informative exploration of major New York real estate developments.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73794-340-2

Page Count: 380

Publisher: The Real Deal

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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A vigorous and highly readable plan for building the finances of a new business.

PROFIT FIRST FOR MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISES

TRANSFORM YOUR MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISE FROM A CASH-EATING MONSTER TO A MONEY-MAKING MACHINE

A program of cash-management techniques for aspiring entrepreneurs, aimed at a minority readership.

At the beginning of this business book, Mariga reflects on the birth of her daughter, Florence, and on the depressing prospect of returning to her corporate job and missing some of her baby’s early moments. She realized that she “wanted to show Florence…that I could, that she could, that anyone could be anything they wanted to be in this world.” To that end, she wanted to start her own business, and she “wanted to help entrepreneurs build successful businesses that provide opportunities for others.” In a sentiment reflected by others she’s interviewed, she says that she wanted to strengthen her family legacy, so she founded her own accounting firm. She paints a vivid picture of the hardscrabble early days of other minority business owners like herself, the child of an African American mother and a Chinese father who also had a family accounting business. She and others were “all hustling to acquire clients and build our businesses…and most of us had absolutely nothing to show for it.” She was inspired by Mike Michalowicz’s Profit First money management system, and the bulk of her book is devoted to an explanation of how to make this system work for minority business enterprises. (Michalowicz provides a foreword to the book.) One of the primary goals of Profit First is to build “a self-sustaining, debt-free company,” so a large part of Mariga’s work deals with the details of managing finances, building and abiding by budgets, and handling the swings of emotion that occur every step of the way. As sharply focused as these insights are, the author’s recollections of her own experiences are more rewarding, as when she tells readers of her brief time as a cut-rate accountant and learning that it was a mistake to try to compete on price. These stories, as well as financing specifics and clear encouragements (“Small changes and adjustments accumulate. Over time, they will lead you to your goal”), will make this book invaluable to entrepreneurs of all kinds.

A vigorous and highly readable plan for building the finances of a new business.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7357759-0-6

Page Count: 230

Publisher: The Avant-Garde Project, LLC

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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