Book Reviews on Business

Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company
By Robert Brunner, Stewart Emery and Russ Hall

For industrial designer Brunner and his collaborators, design is more than what makes a product pretty. Instead, they argue persuasively, good design principles should enrich every interaction a company has with consumers. They cite the success of design-savvy brands like Nike, Apple and IKEA. Less convincingly, they stretch the definition of design to include things like manufacturing management, and they also dole out undeserved praise to BMW, a company whose indulgence of a designer's worst impulses has compromised a brand. Still, for design newbies, this is a worthwhile introduction to the power of what's been called "the last great differentiator."

Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years
By Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui
Woody Allen may have said that 80 percent of success is showing up, but the release of this book by former Wall Street Journal writer Carroll and consultant Mui suggests that timing matters, too. Indeed, even though it has gone on sale amid a string of business failures so colossal as to make the 750 corporate flameouts the authors study look trivial, Wall Street's implosion actually bolsters their finding that bad strategy, not flawed execution or bad luck, causes most business disasters. And for them at least, that's certainly fortuitous.

Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-Country Search for a Greener Future
By Greg Melville
Don't let the subtitle fool you. This road-trip-cum-search-for-America's-energy-future is not just for those who've seen "Dude, Where's My Car?" a few times. Melville's tale of a cross-country drive in a decades-old Mercedes converted to run on used cooking oil is also a hopeful, goodhearted portrait of those he meets—be they Minnesota wind farmers or hippie diesel mechanics—who are getting a head start on building the post-carbon future, a tomorrow fueled by a refreshing optimism, as well as by grease.