Words On Words

The Miami Herald's Business Monday Book Club.
Click here for information.

Music Reviews and Features
Dion Dimucci

Lester Bangs in Buffalo

Lester Bangs in "Almost Famous"

The Cure In Concert

Pearl Jam In Concert

History of Warner Brothers Music

Creolina's Cajun/Creole

People's Bar-B-Que and Soul Food

Originally published June 7, 2004 in The Miami Herald.

MBA in a Box covers all the basics of business.
A varied group of contributors offers lessons on everything imaginable about business.

MBA in a Box. Joel Kurtzman, Glenn Rifkin and Victoria Griffith et al. Crown Business. 448 pages.


Although the title reminds me of old junior high school jokes (``Hey, do you have Prince Albert in a box?'' or "Why does Dr. Pepper come in a bottle?"), it's still an apt name for this top-line tour of business necessities such as sales, marketing, HR, leadership, finance and so on.

Not nearly as exhaustive as Business, The Ultimate Resource (produced by Britain's Bloomsbury Publishing and published in the States by Perseus and reviewed here, this new volume is a bit less daunting and will probably be read as opposed to just used as a reference.

Kurtzman is more of a producer than author in this case, but it's his vision that's clearly the dominant one in the conception and execution of this work. His most obvious contribution is a longish introduction that outlines his motivations for putting out this volume, as well as profiles of his contributors. It's tempting to excerpt that intro here, but the book's chapter titles might be more revealing. They are:

* Innovation: How Breakthroughs Happen.
* Sustainability and the Environment: A Business That Makes Nothing But Money Is a Poor Kind of Business.
* Finance and Accounting: ''We're Not in Kansas Anymore'' -- Getting Real About Numbers and What They Mean.
* Strategy: Make Sure You Take the Right Fork in the Road -- On the Importance of Strategic Direction.
* Managing Is Getting Paid for Other People's Home Runs.
* Human Resources: Why Brains Trump Brawn.
* How to Be a Leader and Live to Tell About It.
* Marketing: Find Out What They Want and How They Want It and Give It to 'Em Just That Way.
* Communication: A Fool May Talk, But a Wise Man Speaks.
* There's Many a Slip 'Twixt the Cup and the Lip: Good Ideas Gone Awry.

Kurtzman prefers familiar and colloquial language, which accurately echoes the prevalent informality of most businesses and professions these days. Fair enough, but the discussion of the relevant issues is no less serious or learned. Contributors include such notables as Dean Kamen, Warren Bennis, Adrian J. Slywotzky and Rosabeth Moss Kanter, former editor of the Harvard Business Review and Herald columnist
Most of the pieces are short and well focused with well-chosen examples and accompanying explications that make sense. One grievous exception is the very last item in the box, er book, Bill Pollock's tale of the Apple III Computer. He apparently thinks the lesson is obvious and self-evident, so he just presents the facts and implicitly asks readers to come to their own conclusions. Mine is that it's the weakest contribution in this otherwise interesting and potentially valuable business asset.

Like business books? Join the club.