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INSIGHT – Booked in for some inspiring reads.

PricewaterhouseCoopers almost seems to be in danger of giving up professional practice and devoting all its energies to books, such is the number of titles it’s published recently. Titles such as Waltzing with the Raptors have even featured on business book best-seller lists, so we decided to take a look. All these books are available to FD readers on special offer: see page 83 for details – and tell them we sent you. CFO: Architect of the corporation’s future (300pp, John Wiley, £19.99) Readability: *** Graph simplicity: *** Case studies: **** “Must read” factor: ***** Aside from The Complete Works of David Tweedie, this is probably the book that we have spotted on more FDs’ bookshelves than any other – and rightly so. Laden with case studies, it addresses a wide range of issues geared to extracting value. As co-editor Cedric Read told us in 1997, “What makes you more successful than your competitors is the value-creation agenda.” Five Frogs on a Log (193pp, John Wiley, £24.95) Readability: ***** Graph simplicity: **** Case studies: *** “Must read” factor: **** There’s a good reason why this book is called Five Frogs on a Log – but we won’t spoil the joke. Suffice to say that, once you get it, you’ll start spotting the “five frogs factor” throughout your organisation. Based around a fictional case study, this book looks at how to make mergers deliver the value that was promised when the deal was announced. As it says on the back: read it at leisure before an acquisition, and in haste as the ink is drying. Waltzing with the Raptors (285pp, John Wiley, £18.50) Readability: ***** Graph simplicity: ** Case studies: *** “Must read” factor: *** Here, the raptors – voracious dinosaurs that starred in Jurassic Park – play the role of people and events that destroy companies by trashing their reputations. A highly readable guide to ensuring that, if your company has nothing else, it still has its good name. Filled with examples that warn: “It’s happened to before; it can happen to you.” Shared Services (294pp, John Wiley, £38.95) Readability: **** Graph simplicity: ** Case studies: **** “Must read” factor: *** A book on shared services that, appropriately, has been put together by three PwC authors and one from client corporation Lucent Technologies. As the book itself says, “it is important not to fall into the trap of trying to argue that shared services is strategic. Shared services is tactical.” Agreed, and marked down on the “must read” scale only because of that. Not quite as US-biased as you might expect, with BA, BP and the BBC all making case-study appearances. Action Management (247pp, John Wiley, £18.50) Readability: **** Graph simplicity: ***** Case studies: **** “Must read” factor: **** This claims to be a “change management” book with a difference: it’s full of things to do – hence, action management. The more you love spreadsheets the more you’ll hate this book; and the more you need to read it. The Dynamics of Shareholder Value (256pp, Mars Business Associates, £29) Readability: ** Graph simplicity: * Case studies: ** “Must read” factor: ***** Nobody said this shareholder value stuff was easy – but this is probably one of the best technical (but practical) books on the subject. It’s a worthy addition to the bookshelves of any FD concerned about creating value. RATINGS GUIDE Readability: ***** John Grisham, watch out **** – Plain speaking – lots of bullet points *** Communicates without hindrance ** Re-engineers the reader’s processes * Holistically leverages co-participants’ synergetic architecture to facilitate systemic paradigm shift Graph simplicity: ***** “… and in figure 1, the line goes up.” **** Can be reproduced on a restaurant napkin after a bottle of Chablis *** No more than three axes on any graph ** “Venn diagrams” by Jackson Pollock * Greek alphabet just sufficient for the number of formulae Useful case studies (aka, management by anecdote): ***** “Example 13: Why ICI tried but failed to …” **** “Example 12: How ICI successfully …” *** “Chapter One: It was a dark and stormy night …” ** “Imagine two companies, Company A and Company B …” * “Remember when you were a kid and you really hated it when …” FD “Must read” factor: ***** “Special FD readers offer on page 83? Wow!” **** “Get me on the phone, now!” *** Better than FRS 13: Derivatives and other financial instruments ** Better than the Dulux Guide to Drying Paint * Perfect if your boardroom table has a wobbly leg.

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