January 29, 2005

Books to Read (Managing Organizations)

Here are some excellent books on Managing Organizations that were recommended by Prof. Paul Ingram. As always quite a few of them are good for laymen and no not require you to do an MBA to appreciate the concepts they talk about.

Warning: The last two, according to Prof. Ingram, are slightly dry academic tomes. Caveat Emptor!
  • Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes And How To Correct Them [Gary Belsky, Thomas Gilovich]
  • The Winner’s Curse [Richard Thaler]
  • Competing by Design [Nadler and Tushman]
  • The Visible Hand [Alfred Chandler]
  • Tree: A Life Story [David Suzuki]
  • No Gods No Masters [Daniel Guerin]
  • Filling the Glass : The Skeptic's Guide to Positive Thinking in Business [Barry Maher]
  • How we know what isn’t so [Tom Gilovich]
  • Organizations in Action [James Thompson]
  • Organization and Environment [Lawrence and Lorsch]


January 28, 2005

Books to Read (Entrepreneurship)

As promised in the previous post, here are some good books on Entrepreneurship as recommended by Prof. Venkataraman. Once again, thanks to Thimmaiah Chendrimada for following up and patiently collating the list.

Prof. Venkataraman's List
  • Rita McGrath and Ian MacMillan, 2000. The Entrepreneurial Mind-Set. Harvard University Press.
  • Clayton Christensen, 1997. The Innovator’s Dilemma. Harvard University Press.
  • Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor, 2003. The Innovator’s Solution. Harvard University Press.
  • Drucker, Peter. 1985. Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Harper & Row: New York.
  • Duncan Watts, 2003. Six Degrees. Norton Press.
  • Ronald Burt, 1995. Structural Holes (Chapter 1 and 3). Harvard University Press.
  • Scott Shane, 2003. A General Theory of Entrepreneurship. Edward Elgar Press.
  • Saxenian, Anna Lee, 1994. Regional Advantage. Harvard University Press.
  • Bhide, Amar. 2000. The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses. Oxford University Press: New York.
  • Sahlman, William, Stevenson, Howard, Roberts, Michael and Bhide, Amar. 1999. The Entrepreneurial Venture, Second Edition. HBS Press: Boston.
  • What do venture capitalists do? HBS Case 9-288-015
  • Sahlman, Structure and Governance of V.C. Investment, in Journal of Financial Economics, Vol. 27 (1990)


January 27, 2005

Books to Read (Strategy)

Over the past year or so, Thimmaiah Chendrimada has been collecting a list of books that MBAs should read. Quite a few of them don't require an MBA to understand. Over the next week or so, I will be posting books that are eminiently readable.

Here is a list of books on Strategy. This list was compiled based on inputs provided by Prof. Aks Zaheer. Will be listing books on Statistics, Entrepreneurship, Management of Organizations, Accounting and Finance over the next few days.

Strategy Essentials:
  • Competitive Strategy, Michael Porter
  • Competitive Advantage, Michael Porter
  • The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael Porter
  • Competing for the Future, Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad
  • Gaining & Sustaining Competitive Advantage, Jay Barney

Competitive Interaction and Game Theory:
  • Coopetition, Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff
  • Thinking Strategically, Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff

Global Strategy:
  • The Borderless World, Kenichi Ohmae
  • Managing Across Borders: The Transnational Solution, Chris Bartlett & Sumantra Ghoshal

Strategy and the Internet:
  • Information Rules, Shapiro and Hal Varian
  • Competing in the Age of Digital Convergence, D. Yoffie

Strategy Implementation:
  • Corporate Culture & Leadership, Ed Schein

Knowledge Management:
  • The Knowledge Creating Company, I. Nonaka & H. Takeuchi

Strategic Planning:
  • The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, Henry Mintzberg

Strategic Alliances:
  • Alliance Advantage, Gary Hamel and Yves Doz

Mergers and Acquisitions:
  • Managing the Acquisition Process, Philippe Haspeslagh and David Jemison

Trust and Networks:
  • Structural Holes, Ronald Burt
  • Trust in Organizations, Roderick Kramer

Other Classics:
  • My Years with General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan
  • The Art of War, Sun Tzu
  • Strategy and Structure, Alfred D. Chandler


A Song of Fire and Ice

Unlike Robert Jordan, GRR Martin surpasses himself with every new book of A Song of Fire and Ice. Just finished reading A Storm of Swords (the third book in the Song of Fire and Ice series) and would strongly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in the Fantasy genre.

What is it about A Song of Fire and Ice that has it rated so highly by most readers of Sci-Fi & Fantasy?

The best thing about Martin's Song of Fire and Ice is the unpredictability. Being a hero does not guarantee you survival.

Another thing about Song of Fire and Ice is that there are no purely evil characters in this epic saga. There are only humans, who under circumstances perform acts they probably wouldn't have otherwise.

And then, there is the plotting and the scheming, the continuously shifting loyalties and the treacherous betrayals.

And finally, each chapter is depicted through the eyes of the various characters who sometimes are thousands of miles apart. Each chapter is given a cliff-hanger ending that leaves the reader gasping for "What Happened Next".

All this and much more makes it a book I would strongly recommend to everyone.


New Novels

These are the new fantasy novels on my current reading list:
  • The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy G. Kay
  • Tigana by Guy G. Kay
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
  • The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
  • The First Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin
If there are others you would like to suggest, please use the comments section.


January 21, 2005

The search for me is over.


January 15, 2005

Artful Influence

From the book Artful Persuasion by Harry Mills:

Advertisers know that, in most advertisements, the headline is the by far the most important element. Most people read little else. It took David Ogilvy 104 drafts before he came up with the classic headline:
At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock
The advertisement became a model for copywriters everywhere. Legend has it that when David offered it to Rolls-Royce for approval, the executive in charge paused, frowned and said, "We really must do something to improve the damn clock!"


January 14, 2005

Books on my Table

Surprisingly this term is giving me time to do a little reading. Here are some of the books that are currently on my table:


Masking Complexity

Just yesterday I was talking to Thimmaiah and Ganesh about technological progress and how the real job of technology is to hide complexity from the end users. Arthur C Clarke was right when he said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

For example: look at the electric three pin socket. How many of us are aware of what happens in the backend? All we know is that we plug into the socket and our machines work. Even if there were a phenomenal breakthrough in electricity transmission, the average person out on the streets would probably remain blissfully unaware. That is exactly what technology does; it masks complexity.

A beautiful example of this on the web is Google. Google hides all its complexity hidden behind a deceptively simple white page that has just a logo, a search box and two buttons. To get a feel for the complex issues behind running something like Google, check out this talk by Google's vice-president of engineering Urs Hölzle.

He talks in detail about the problems they face, the processes they use, their commodity hardware, the scalability issues and other challenges.


January 12, 2005

The Mac Mini

This is something that has me really excited. The Mac-Mini is something that will help me switch to a Mac sometime in the near future. At $ 499, the Mac Mini is the cheapest and the most affordable Mac ever produced.

Mac Mini comes preloaded with Mac OS X and iLife. It is a BYO-DKM (Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard and Mouse) system which should be perfectly fine with many Wintel owners. It will allow them to use their existing systems and switch over to a Mac at a very low cost.

Now, if only it is made available in India...


January 02, 2005


Ever watch something so funny that your sides ached? Check out Russell Peters here.


The Shadow Internet

They start with a single stolen file and pump out bootleg games and movies by the millions.

From a Wired Article:
Just over a year ago, a hacker penetrated the corporate servers at Valve, the game company behind the popular first-person shooter Half-Life. He came away with a beta version of Half-Life 2. "We heard about it," says 23-year-old Frank, a well-connected media pirate. "Everyone thought it would get bootlegged in Europe." Instead, the hacker gave the source code to Frank - it turned out that he was a friend of a friend - so that Frank could give Half-Life 2 to the world. "I was like, 'Let's do this thing, yo!'" he says. "I put it on Anathema. After that, it was all over."

Anathema is a so-called topsite, one of 30 or so underground, highly secretive servers where nearly all of the unlicensed music, movies, and videogames available on the Internet originate. Outside of a pirate elite and the Feds who track them, few know that topsites exist. Even fewer can log in.

I have always wondered how excellent quality rips land up on P2P file sharing networks. I naively assumed that someone would purchase a DVD, rip the movie and then share it with friends. Looks like that is NOT the case.

In this excellent article, Wired takes us inside the pirate networks that are terrorizing the entertainment business. Article covers the whole value chain: from Topsites to Dumps, from the Insiders and the Packagers to the Couriers and the Distributors.

A fascinating read for everyone.