Zeroing in on new ways to run business
Reviewed by D S Cheema

Enterprise Rules
by Don Young. Profile Books, London. Pages 264. Rs 350

Thinkstockthe overall world economic scene is, to say the least, dismal and gloomy. Many thinkers believe that the current world order cannot take us through the difficult times unless we look beyond the present system of running business organisations. It seems the West, which the world is accustomed to looking up to for innovation and breakthroughs, has run out of ideas and new enterprise rules need to be evolved and adopted. Don Young’s book is all about how enterprises must develop new understanding of high achievement from different perspectives than those which are obvious and currently in practice.

The author’s fundamental premise that problems of all enterprises cannot have the same solutions as they differ in history, culture and context may not be path-breaking in its nature but one gets the insight of such simple statements when one analyses the path he suggests for high achievement. Since the real world in which enterprises operate is messy and highly unpredictable, adaptability and fine-tuned judgments become crucial for survival and growth.

The guiding philosophy of the book is that suitable integration of learning and action is a powerful mechanism for high sustainable achievement. To this must be added another important policy; collaboration is more important than competition.

Enterprise RulesYoung shatters the myth of superstar CEOs who possess supernatural powers and who can turn around the organisations using magic wands. He quotes Harvard Business School professor Rakesh Khanna’s article "The Curse of the Superstar CEO", published in Harvard Business Review, "Yet today’s extraordinary trust in the power of the charismatic CEO resembles less a mature faith than it does a belief in magic"

Young warns the entrepreneurs of the much-talked-about theory of "creative destruction", which many thinkers believe is a necessary condition for a healthy economy. The theory essentially means that in neoliberal free-market economic conditions, some organisations will go to decline or even die. The author is of the view that such thinkers do not take into account the uniqueness of the human spirit which can adapt anything to survive.

He lays emphasis on building trust and social capital. He is of the view that economic performance, contribution of social sciences, business psychology and politics and power in any organisation are very important facets of an entrepreneur’s life and must be understood carefully. A "workbook" for designing, planning and enacting improvement programmers by the enterprises is an important and useful part of the book. The appendix has profiles of some high-achieving British enterprises.

A useful book for any entrepreneur who is willing to learn new lessons and make his organisation more effective. It can become a good reading material in business schools and a required reading in boardrooms of companies.