By Martin Kihn (Warner Business Books, $24.95)
I knew a good ride was in store when I read the title of this book. The subtitle comes from a delightful quotation originally put forth by the eminent Robert Townsend, author of Up the Organization (Joseph, 1970), the greatest book on management ever written. Then I read that the author is an Emmy-nominated comedy writer. I figured I would read it in one sitting.
Now, just because Mr. Kihn is youngish and a comic, don't get the idea that the book is only a series of wisecracks and half-truths designed to get back at the men in the gray flannel suits. It is that, but it's much, much more. How many times have you had to put down a business book to catch your breath from laughing? It happens here, just like in the British version of "The Office."
If you are looking for a skewer job of the lofty principles that snuggle so near to the hearts of real business leaders—core values, competitive edges, adding value, brain dumps, process checks, and feedback camps—you have come to the right place. However, if you are a certified Harvard MBA, you won't like yourself after you read the book.
But nothing, I say, nothing tops Appendix A, the Complete Consultants Dictionary, "words and phrases you need to know to talk like a top-tier management consultant." It is in this directory of razor-sharp wit that you will discover to your embarrassment that the language of high hot air is everywhere. In other words, you, too, can increase your billability, that is, when you can find some bandwidth in your current cactus job. —S.C.