Quick Read

The Halo Effect
by Phil Rosenzweig

A wise if anonymous sage once said, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Rosenzweig, a professor at the prestigious Swiss business school IMD, shows why that bromide could serve as a disclaimer for nearly every business best seller. Subtitled "and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers," his book employs an empirical rigor often lacking in business journalism. His goal: limning the process by which management gurus inflate a company's singular success into self-flattering myths and unreliable advice that may sell books, but ultimately fails readers. Alas, while his critique of off-the-shelf management advice is sharp, he has little to offer in its stead.

The Unwritten Laws of Business
by W. J. King with additions by James G. Skakoon

Written in 1944 as a pamphlet for members of an engineering society, this slim volume's plain-spoken guidance—"demonstrate the ability to get things done," "cultivate the habit of boiling matters down to their simplest terms"—is as timeless as it is simple. In fact it's so good that for many years Raytheon CEO William Swanson passed it off as his own work and earned praise from the likes of Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett before being tripped up by a sharp-eyed blogger. Readers wanting to avoid similar embarrassment need only check out page 20 of this first-time-in-book-form edition: "Be extremely careful of the accuracy of your statements." Wise indeed.

The No Asshole Rule
by Robert Sutton

No matter where you work, you've probably encountered them: bullies who deliberately make co-workers, especially less powerful ones, miserable. Besides hurting feelings, says Sutton, a management and en-gineering professor at Stanford, letting these people run wild also harms productivity and speeds the exit of talented employees. Sutton grounds his argument in academic research but he also tells vivid stories of how real-life companies have solved the problem of psychological abuse on the job. Most satisfying, he advocates a tough zero-tolerance policy for jerks at work, and offers self-diagnostic tests to see whether you yourself might be part of the problem.

—John Sparks

Editor's Pick