Never a magazine to be caught resting on its sexagenarian laurels, Business Week hit the streets not long ago emblazoned with the news that "Small Is Beautiful." Should anyone wonder what might have prompted such a declaration at this moment, it was explained in the editor's memo of the same edition. There we learned that you, the leaders of America's small growth companies, lately did a remarkable turnaround -- one that, frankly, had heretofore escaped our notice.
It so happens, wrote Business Week editor-in-chief Stephen B. Shepard, that until recently, you were nothing but a bunch of "folks" who "groused about high production costs, cumbersome government regulations, and limited financing. Being small meant being in the backwoods of corporate America." That sounds pretty grim, but -- before you shuffle back to your woodpile in a fit of corporate embarrassment -- consider the good news. You've changed.
Today, said Business Week, "being small is likely to mean being in a specialized market with limited competition," being able to "lure the brightest MBAs and borrow or raise equity with ease."
So go rouse Ma from her daily wrestlin' match with the books, tell Jim Bob to take a break from mixin' up the next batch, and gather 'round the corporate coal stove in celebration. But please, for God's sake, find a better spot than the mattress for all those idle cash reserves.
Peter F. Drucker's new book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is as original and provocative as Business Week's story is silly. In fact, the book goes a long way toward restoring our faith in institutions (which Drucker most assuredly is) over the age of 60. Be forewarned that a reader of the book will have to contend with Drucker's legendary arrogance, which seems to have mellowed not one whit with age. Nonetheless, the book is worth it, and more.
Drucker's thesis is summed up succinctly in the preface: "Whereas much of today's discussion treats entrepreneurship as something slightly mysterious, whether gift, talent, inspiration, or 'flash of genius,' this book represents innovation and entrepreneurship as purposeful tasks that can be organized -- are in need of being organized -- and as systematic work. It treats innovation and entrepreneurship, in fact, as part of the executive's job."
The book's most glaring deficiency is the author's apparent lack of firsthand familiarity with start-ups and small growth companies, both of which he writes about at some length. Even so, Drucker's analysis of "entrepreneurial management" is as cogent and thought-provoking as anything on the subject to date, and should quickly become the handbook for forward-thinking leaders in companies both large and small.
INC. contributing editor -- and long-time senior writer -- Lucien Rhodes (below) is a business observer of a different bent. Dubbed the "Columbo of American business journalists" by an entrepreneur he profiled, Lucien is as adroit at business detection as his TV counterpart was at sleuthing of a different sort.
Over the past several years, Lucien has repeatedly focused on identifying and analyzing companies on the leading edge of human-resource development, and his work has won him the respect of the leading thinkers and practitioners in this area. In May, he was singled out for more visible acclaim. From more than 1,500 submissions, Lucien Rhodes's article on People Express Airlines Inc. ("That Daring Young Man and His Flying Machines," January 1984) was awarded a prestigious Champion-Tuck Award as the best business article to appear in any magazine in the United States in 1984. It was the first to probe People Express founder Donald Burr's philosophy of company building, a story that continues to unfold (see "Bitter Victories" page 25).
Meanwhile, Lucien is hard at work on a book with Tom Peters, the co-author of In Search of Excellence, about the struggles of those who are pioneering new approaches to business management. The book is due out in the fall of 1986. We look forward to reading it -- and to seeing Lucien's byline back in the pages of INC.
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