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Recent Books

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A Tale of Two Economies: Hong Kong, Cuba and the Two Men who Shaped Them

As the world entered the turbulent 1960s, two men, half a world apart, one a doctor and the other a classicist, both foreigners far from home, were charged with shaping the economic strategy of their adopted countries. They held a common objective. Both were determined to create a better world. And both were deeply thoughtful about how to discharge that heavy responsibility. More than half a century later, their principles still drive the economic policies of those countries today. But their proposed solutions could not have been more different. One, Che Guevara, is well known as a revolutionary. He was central to Fidel Castro coming to power in Cuba and is an icon of revolutionary politics. He is less well known as the key architect of Cuba’s communist economic system. And yet he spent many years establishing Cuban economic policy in roles such as Minister of Industry, President of the National Bank of Cuba, member of the economic National Directorate, member of the Council of Ministers and lead negotiator for Cuba with the communist bloc. He was as serious about economics and its effect on society as he was about revolutionary warfare. The other, John Cowperthwaite, is largely unknown today. And yet he was fundamental to Hong Kong’s economic recovery immediately after the Second World War. Then, as deputy finance minister in the 1950s, and as finance minister in the 1960s, he established Hong Kong’s unique laissez-faire economic policy. Cowperthwaite crafted a twenty-first-century economy using the policies of the classical economists of two centuries earlier. Over a critical twenty-year period, he argued passionately for his laissez-faire, free-market approach and fought off constant attempts to expand the role of the state. These two men are arguably the originators of the most significant natural economic experiment of the last century, pitting the free-market model of Hong Kong against the state interventionism in Cuba. Each suite of policies has been pursued faithfully for over half a century with remarkable results that have lessons for us all. Far from being a dry, technocratic story, the journeys taken show the rich, complex and human nature of economic policy development and execution. This book looks at the very different paths chosen by Hong Kong and Cuba, and the central role of Ernesto, ‘Che’ Guevara and Sir John James Cowperthwaite.

Gulielmus Occamus & Co. Ltd (18 Nov. 2019)


Architect of Prosperity: Sir John Cowperthwaite and the Making of Hong Kong

This is a book about Sir John Cowperthwaite - the man Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman identified as being behind Hong Kong's remarkable post-war economic transformation. Despite there being some articles about him and effusive obituaries there have, until now, been no published biographies of Cowperthwaite. At the end of the Second World War, Hong Kong lived up to its description as "the barren island." It had few natural resources, its trade and infrastructure lay in tatters, its small manufacturing base had been destroyed and its income per capita was less than a quarter of its mother country, Britain. As a British colony it fell to a small number of civil servants to confront these difficult challenges, largely alone. But by the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, it was one of the most prosperous nations on Earth. By 2015 its GDP per capita was over 40% higher than Britain's. How did that happen? Around the world, post-war governments were turning to industrial planning, Keynesian deficits and high inflation to stimulate their economies. How much did the civil servants in Hong Kong adopt from this emerging global consensus? Virtually nothing. They rejected the idea that governments should play an active role in industrial planning - instead believing in the ability of entrepreneurs to find the best opportunities. They rejected the idea of spending more than the government raised in taxes - instead aiming to keep a year's spending as a reserve. They rejected the idea of high taxes - instead keeping taxes low, believing that private investment would earn high returns, and expand the long-term tax base. This strategy was created and implemented by no more than a handful of men over a fifty-year period. Perhaps the most important of them all was John Cowperthwaite, who ran the trade and industry department after the war and then spent twenty years as deputy and then actual Financial Secretary before his retirement in 1971. He, more than anyone, shaped the economic policies of Hong Kong for the quarter century after the war and set the stage for a remarkable economic expansion. His resolve was tested constantly over his period in office, and it was only due to his determination, independence, and intellectual rigor that he was not diverted from the path in which he believed so strongly. This book examines the man behind the story, and the successful economic policies that he and others crafted with the people of Hong Kong.

London Publishing Partnership, 2017


Operating Model Canvas

The journey from strategy to operating success depends on creating an organization that can deliver the chosen strategy.  Operating Model Canvas, shows you how to do this. It teaches you how to define the main work processes, choose an organization structure, develop a high-level blueprint of the IT systems, decide where to locate and how to lay out floor plans, set up relationships with suppliers and design a management system and scorecard with which to run the new organization. It helps you to create a target operating model aligned to your strategy. The book contains more than 20 examples ranging from large multi-nationals to government departments to small charities and from an operating model for a business to an operating model for a department of five people. The book describes more than 15 tools, including new tools such as the value chain map, the organization model and the high-level IT blueprint. Most importantly, the book contains two fully worked examples showing how the tools can be used to develop a new operating model. This book should be on the desk of every consultant, every strategist, every leader of transformation, every functional business partner, every business or enterprise architect, every Lean expert or business improvement champion, in fact everyone who wants to help their organization be successful. Additional content can be found on the website for the Operational Model Canvas:

Van Haren Publishing, 2017


Collaboration Strategy

Current strategy and leadership thinking doesnt prioritise motivating people and setting things up so that employees, suppliers and business partners do what you want. Collaboration Strategy argues that this is fundamental to business success. In industries from pharmaceuticals to fashion, new ways of working with partners, or setting up activities using collaboration strategy have enabled businesses to grow rapidly and achieve superior profits. At the heart of this book is the authors' original collaboration framework that explains how to build a collaboration strategy for a range of different activities and industries. The authors present ten requirements for profitable collaboration and use real-life scenarios to apply their framework and analysis, offering a menu of tactics to address the most common problems in setting up collaboration with partners.

Bloomsbury, 2014


Strategy for the Corporate Level

This book covers strategy for organisations that operate more than one business, a situation commonly referred to as group–level or corporate–level strategy. Corporate–level strategy addresses four types of decisions that only corporate–level managers can make: which businesses or markets to enter, how much to invest in each business, how to select and guide the managers of these businesses, and which activities to centralise at the corporate level. This book gives managers and executive students all the tools they need to make and review effective corporate strategy across a range of organisations.

Jossey Bass, 2014


What you need to know about strategy

In any career in business, chances are that the time will come when someone will ask you to do a strategy for something.  Too often, this will be a cue for stress at work and sleepless nights. 

What You Need to Know about Strategy shows that it doesn’t have to be like this.  Taking you step-by-step through the basics of what you need to know to come up with a great strategy, it shows:

  • That getting the right answers depends on asking the right questions

  • Why priorities matter

  • How to map out your internal and external situation

  • How to deal with uncertainty

  • How to make tough choices

  • What your brain does while you’re doing strategy

By cutting out the theory, and focusing on the things you need to know and do to come up with a killer strategy, this book means that you never need to panic again. 

Capstone Publishing, 2011


The Art of Action

What do you want me to do? This question is the enduring management issue, a perennial problem that Stephen Bungay shows has an old solution that is counter-intuitive and yet common sense. The Art of Action is a thought-provoking and fresh look at how managers can turn planning into execution, and execution into results.

Drawing on his experience as a consultant, senior manager and a highly respected military historian, Stephen Bungay takes a close look at the nineteenth-century Prussian Army, which built its agility on the initiative of its highly empowered junior officers, to show business leaders how they can build more effective, productive organizations. Based on a theoretical framework which has been tested in practice over 150 years, Bungay shows how the approach known as 'mission command' has been applied in businesses as diverse as pharmaceuticals and F1 racing today. 

Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2010


Think Again

Why do smart and experienced leaders make flawed, even catastrophic, decisions? Why do people keep believing they have made the right choice, even with the disastrous result staring them in the face? And how can you be sure you're making the right decision--without the benefit of hindsight?

Sydney Finkelstein, Jo Whitehead, and Andrew Campbell show how the usually beneficial processes of the human mind can become traps when we face big decisions. The authors show how the shortcuts our brains have learned to take over millennia of evolution can derail our decision making. Think Againoffers a powerful model for making better decisions, describing the key red flags to watch for and detailing the decision-making safeguards we need.

Using examples from business, politics, and history, Think Again deconstructs bad decisions, as they unfolded in real time, to show how you can avoid the same fate.

Harvard Business Press, 2009

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