The Smart CEO's Reading List


Corporate Lifecycles: How and Why Corporations Grow and Die and What to Do About It, by Ichak Adizes (Prentice-Hall, 1988)

Company founders rave about the relieved recognition they feel when reading this book -- which outlines the fits and starts and patterns autocratically run companies typically experience while growing, and how to get past them. "It described everything we went through in frightening detail," says John Katzman of The Princeton Review, a test-preparation service based in New York City. "It was my business, in print."

Katzman actually had an unopened copy of the book for almost two years before he saw author and consultant Adizes (interviewed in Inc. in January 1991) at a seminar. He devoured the book when he returned, had his managers read it, and even brought in the Adizes Institute to run a session. "It was a nasty thing; I sat there and heard what was wrong with the company for three days." He says the book changed his business; the company is trying to practice Adizes's theories about broadening and improving the way decisions are made and implemented. "We're moving from a monarchy to, if not quite a democratic system, then a constitutional monarchy."