On CEO’s bookshelf
Business leaders' reading recommendations for 2012
By Kim Da-ye
Many leaders have identified reading as the key to their success. Business Focus asked Korea’s industry leaders which books they read last year, plan to read this year and recommend the readers.
POSCO Chairman & CEO
China’s mindset on Korea: Rational Friend, Emotional Other by Chung Duck-koo
Chung Joon-yang, chairman and CEO of global steelmaker POSCO, told employees on the first working day of 2012 of increasing uncertainties in Korea’s economy.
The world is anxiously watching China’s real estate market if bubbles would finally burst, putting the global economy in danger, while the sudden death of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il could escalate political unrest in the Korean peninsula at any time.
Calling 2012 “an infection point,” Chung said China is at the center of change and recommended China’s Mindset on Korea as a must-read this year.
Written by Chung Duck-koo, chairman of the North East Asia Research (NEAR) Foundation and former minister of commerce, industry and energy, the book explores what the Chinese government and Chinese people really think of Korea and Koreans.
The book was also recommended by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan who reportedly gave out this book to the staff as a present at the beginning of the year.
The Forgotton man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes
At a directors’ meeting at the end of last year, Chung mentioned The Forgotten Man by American veteran journalist Amity Shlaes while calling for the company to weather the global economic crisis wisely.
The Forgotten Man narrates the history of the Great Depression from a free-market perspective with stories from real people. In this book, Schales, a conservative voice, criticizes government interventions and even the New Deal, which is known to many Koreans as a successful measure against the depression.
Regardless of the accuracy of Schales’ argument, the book shows that various measures to fight an economic crisis were already tried and tested back then, and POSCO should learn from the book in preparing for difficult times ahead, Chung commented.
“In addition to the importance of telling the story of the Great Depression from a different perspective, The Forgotten Man is a good book for those studying the historical development model in this persisting global economic crisis,” Chung said in recommending the book.
KT Chairman & CEO
Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results by Morten T. Hansen
Collaboration by Morten T. Hansen doesn’t call for readers to collaborate more but tells of how collaboration should be done because bad collaboration is worse than none.
The book is based on 15 years of research, in-depth case studies of major corporations including Apple and Hewlett-Packard and interviews.
Hansen, a former professor at Harvard Business School, currently teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and INSEAD in France.
Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer
Did you know Israel has placed more companies on the NASDAQ stock exchange than any other country outside the U.S.?
The book’s official description says that it addresses “the trillion dollar question” about how “Israel — a country of 7.1 million, only 60 years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources — produce more start-up companies than large, peaceful and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the U.K.”
The authors, experts in foreign policy, found the answers in the country’s “adversity-driven culture, flattened hierarchies, and government policies” that created an intensely innovative and entrepreneurial society.
AmorePacific President & CEO
Doing Both: Capturing Today’s Profit and Driving Tomorrow’s Growth by Inder Sidhu
If you are hesitating between innovating for the future and doing your best at the present, this book tells you should do both.
The book is a case study of how Cisco’s “Doing Both” strategy has helped double revenue, triple profits and quadruple earnings per share.
It is also a story from an insider — Author Inder Sidhu is the senior vice president of strategy and planning for worldwide operations at Cisco, a computer networking services provider.
Suh Kyung-bae, the CEO of AmorePacific, recommended this book as the leading cosmetics firm will focus on innovation this year.
The company established this year’s key strategies as “innovation of brands and products, innovation of purchase experiences, innovation of communications, exploration of new markets and innovation of the working environment.”
The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win by Jeffrey Hollender
The CEO clearly takes corporate social responsibility (CRS) seriously, judging by his recommendation of the book as well as AmorePacific’s CSR activities under the slogan of “Beautiful People, Better Tomorrow.”
The Responsibility Revolution is all about how to build a socially and environmentally responsible company, and Jeffrey Hollender may be one of the best people to write about it. Hollender is the co-founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation which makes eco-friendly household products including laundry detergents, diapers and trash bags.
Shinhan Bank President and CEO
Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose by Rajendra Sisodia, Jagdish Sheth and David Wolfe
The book establishes the stakeholder relationship management (SRM) business model that serves not only shareholders but also customers, employees, suppliers and communities.
Published by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a top U.S. business school, the book argues that companies adapting to the SRM business model would outperform non-SRM counterparts in building shareholders’ wealth.
“This book was published in early 2008, but as Capitalism 4.0 became an issue in 2011, it became increasingly relevant,” said
Suh Jin-won, the CEO of Shinhan Bank, linking the SRM business model to Shinhan’s “warm finance” principle that aims to benefit the world with financial tools.
Detail Management by Wang Zhong Qui
Suh expects that companies will face many challenges in 2012 amid heightening uncertainties in the global economy and sluggish growth, and finds the solution in “detail management.”
“Boosting efficiency in management will be achieved through bold investment in preparation for the future including exploring new markets and strengthening the capability of employees as well as decisive cutting out of parts that are being wasted,” Suh said, promising an efficient management in 2012.
Citibank Korea President and CEO
Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson
It wouldn’t be just Niall Ferguson, a Harvard University professor, who wondered why Western Europe overtook civilizations in the East that had been far more advanced for the most part of mankind’s history.
The author identifies six elements that allowed Western Europe’s fast advance: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic.
“This book understands the elements that empowered the Western civilization, and warns that it can collapse at any time. Despite the limitation of the dichotomous view that divided the world into the west and the rest, the historical facts are fun to read
as well as instructive,” Ha commented.
Shock of Gray by Ted C. Fishman
The contents of Shock of Gray, written by a veteran journalist Ted C. Fishman, is best-summarized by its subtitle, “The Aging of the World’s Population and how it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation.”
Recommending the book, Ha said, “As the structure of the population becomes deformed, conflicts within companies are intensifying. We need to handle the aging of the population wisely.”
Kang Seung-woo, Yoon Ja-young and Kim Jae-kyoung contributed to this article.