In an increasingly fast-paced world, the pressure to deliver has never been greater. Alison Thomas saves your time by reviewing five books that claim to deliver quick results for your business
More haste, less speed, or so they used to say. It doesn't seem to apply any more. Anticipate, accelerate, move fast to keep ahead of the game - this is the vocabulary of today's business manager, who is expected to cram more and more into the day and deliver ever-better results in an ever-shrinking time-frame.
Rapid advances in technology can take much of the credit for this dramatic shift in gear. Projects that once took decades to accomplish can now be achieved in years, or even months. And products become obsolete before they leave the drawing board, making minimal time to market imperative.
Meanwhile, the communications revolution has networked the world, simultaneously opening up opportunities and making companies vulnerable to assault from any quarter. It has also given shareholders and other stakeholders access to up-to-the-minute information, putting executives under huge pressure to deliver immediate results. This pressure is passed down the line to managers - already struggling to empty overflowing in-boxes - who must then implement the latest directive or draw up new skillsets to address the company's changing needs.
A fast-moving world is no place to be caught napping, as Marks & Spencer found to its cost. The dotcom bonanza was another graphic illustration of how quickly markets can change. Upstart businesses operating out of bedrooms and garages fell from grace as suddenly as they rose, but they gave the heavyweights a fright. External events can also transform the business landscape. A US recession was on the horizon before 11 September, but the terrorist attacks gave it a boost no-one could have foreseen.
As the pace hots up, HR managers have had to rethink their role. In a rapidly-changing global environment, the key to sustaining competitive advantage lies in the quality and commitment of the workforce. How do you recruit the best people, entice them to stay and develop them in a way that serves the organisation's objectives, while fulfilling their personal aspirations?
Publishers have responded with a battery of enticing titles such as 'Simple Solution', 'Instant Adviser' and '10 Minute Guide'. The sales pitch for e-learning strikes a similar chord with promises of