Business Exposed

Book description

Cutting edge, pithy and provocative, this is a no-holds barred analysis of business today that will entertain and appal you in equal measure.


This entertaining expose of the business world, reveals the scandals, quirks, counter-intuitive behaviour and downright silliness that make up business today. Based on rigorous research and verifiable facts, combining revelation, story-telling and analysis, this book will defy anyone to read it and not emerge better-informed about the reality of business today.


From the collective inertia of middle management to the cowardly reluctance of CEOs to stand out from the crowd, from the soap opera of working with consultants to the mystery of why top executives’ salaries bear no resemblance to the performance of their firms, Business Exposed will entertain and appal you in equal measure.


The author is widely recognised as a new and emerging business guru, speaking of him in 2009, the Financial Times said: “The London Business School associate professor is a rising star and his pithy observations are both accessible and authoritative.”

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Praise for Business Exposed
  3. Contents (1/2)
  4. Contents (2/2)
  5. About the author
  6. Publisher’s acknowledgements
  7. Introduction: The monkey story
  8. Management happens
    1. Forced to be stupid
    2. Collective inertia – if you don’t join them, you can beat them!
    3. Pharma – the devil is in the detailing
    4. The Abilene paradox
    5. Same same but different
    6. "Selection bias”
    7. Numbers and strategy – do they mix?
    8. Inebriated cyclists
    9. Deciding stuff – that’s the easy bit
    10. How well do you know your company? (My guess is not very well at all . . .)
    11. How to make a compelling corporate strategy in six easy steps
    12. Wanna play Strategy? Get a board game
    13. “Framing contests”: what really happens in strategy meetings
    14. It looks like we don’t have a strategy . . .
  9. The success trap (and some ideas how to get out of it)
    1. Why good companies go bad
    2. The Icarus paradox
    3. Tunnel vision – “in the end, there is only flux”
    4. Operation Market Garden
    5. Mental models – let’s all think within the same box
    6. A creosote bush: how “exploitation” drives out “exploration”
    7. A bitter pill
    8. Framing something as a threat or an opportunity dramatically alters what we choose
    9. In a downturn, manage your revenues, not your costs
    10. In a crisis, innovate
    11. Is your company brave enough to survive?
  10. The urge to conquer
    1. How big is your yam? (not that it matters)
    2. Deal-eager executives – tribal instincts
    3. CEOs, marriage, mergers, geriatric millionaires, and blushing brides
    4. When acquisitions take over
    5. “Time compression diseconomies” – too much, too fast
    6. Seeds and fertilizer – how to build a firm
    7. “I’ve won . . . I’ve won!”
    8. Most acquisitions fail – really!
    9. “Heerlijk, helder, Heineken”
    10. Toads and acquisitions – where does CEO “hubris” come from?
  11. Gods and villains
    1. The heroes of our time
    2. Narcissus versus Humble Bloke – and the winner is . . . ?
    3. Are overconfident CEOs born or made?
    4. Hang the hero
    5. Celebrity CEOs and the burden of expectations
    6. Successful managers – incompetent for sure
    7. Executives: superhuman after all . . .
    8. “Over the hill and far away, top managers are here to stay”
    9. Chief story-teller
    10. Managers and leaders: are they different?
    11. Women on top
  12. Liaisons and intrigues
    1. Facts over fiction
    2. Analysts, astrologers, and lemmings – three of a kind?
    3. Conflicts of interest – do analysts rate their bank’s clients’ stock more favorably?
    4. Banks’ blurry categorizations – have your cake and eat it too
    5. Analysts rule the waves (whether we like it or not)
    6. Sirens and investment bankers – birds of a feather
    7. How to tame an analyst
    8. Advice or influence? Why firms ask government officials to be directors
    9. Boards of directors: cliques and elites
    10. Board-cloning – a rewarding habit
    11. Boardroom friends
    12. CEOs and their stock options . . . (oh please . . .)
    13. Stock options, risk, and manipulations
    14. Too hot to handle: explaining excessive top management remuneration
    15. How to justify paying top managers too much
    16. CEOs do seek advice – if you pay them for it . . .
    17. Dirty laundry: who is hiding the bad stuff?
  13. Myths in management
    1. No stranger to fiction
    2. Say you will – that’ll do
    3. Right again! Managers and their self-fulfilling prophecies
    4. Your expectations manage you
    5. “Reverse causality” – sorry, but life’s not that simple
    6. Eating Uncle Ed – don’t worry, it’s called downsizing
    7. Does downsizing ever work?
    8. Who can downsize without detriment?
    9. What management bandwagons bring
    10. Remember this one: “total quality management”?
    11. ISO 9000 makes you reliable, myopic, efficient, and dull – and unable to invent Post-It notes
    12. How bad practice prevails
    13. Can we please stop saying that the market is efficient?
    14. Pin-striped pigeons
    15. Management consultants – happy slapping
    16. Star knowledge workers – you really should not pay them that much, you know
    17. Patent sharks
    18. Information overload – and how to deal with it (if you’re the one loading)
    19. When knowledge hurts
    20. Exaggerating to make my point
    21. R&D – it’s a steal
  14. Making far-reaching decisions (when you can’t see a fricking thing ahead of you)
    1. The Red Queen
    2. Binoculars in the mist
    3. “Today’s fast-changing business environment”? The same as it ever was!
    4. Is innovation over-rated?
    5. Customers? Ah, forget about them
    6. Means and ends; profits and innovation
    7. It is OK to get lucky – even for a top manager
    8. Getting lucky – fortune favors the prepared firm
    9. Sometimes it is about knowing when not to decide
    10. Retaining your ability to make money? Causal ambiguity’s the answer
    11. Company cloning – how to change a winning formula
    12. When to fire your M&A management consultant
    13. Not all trouble is really trouble
    14. Change for change’s sake
    15. Now change it again!
    16. “A serial changer”
    17. “Innovation networks” and the size of the pie
    18. Spinning clients – the McKinsey effect
  15. A rock or a soft place?
    1. The hidden cost of equity
    2. “Shareholder value orientation” – now, where did that come from?
    3. Who should come first? Shareholders? Are you sure . . . ?
    4. Human nature: self-interested bastard or community-builder?
    5. Downtown Calcutta firms
    6. Pay inequality – good or bad for team performance?
    7. What really caused the 2008 banking crisis?
    8. The third sin
    9. “Work–family initiatives”?! That’s rather soft and fluffy, isn’t it?
    10. Corporate social responsibility – nice, but does it earn you any money?
    11. Taking care: companies make love and money (if their shareholders let them)
  16. Epilogue: The Emperor’s new clothes
  17. Literature (1/2)
  18. Literature (2/2)
  19. Index (1/3)
  20. Index (2/3)
  21. Index (3/3)

Product information

  • Title: Business Exposed
  • Author(s): Freek Vermeulen
  • Release date: August 2009
  • Publisher(s): Pearson Business
  • ISBN: 9780273732938