Soundview Executive Book Summaries

How Does Your Company Rate?

Although we’re seeing some slight improvements in our economy in recent weeks, we still have a long way to go to a full recovery. However, some are looking beyond the present crisis and see signs of a strong economy in the future – that is for those that make the grade.

In Good Company, Laurie Bassi and her co-authors make the case that to succeed in the future a company will need to meet the criteria for what they call a “good company.” They have developed a rating system (The Good Company Index) which takes into account certain criteria that are becoming essential in the new economy.

  1. Good Employer – they use a starting number based on ratings from and the Fortune list of 100 best companies.
  2. Good Seller – they use the consumer ratings of wRatings regarding quality, fair price and trust.
  3. Good Steward – they based this on statistics regarding a company’s record on the environment, penalties/fines, restraint in executive compensation and contribution to society/community.

As they state in their book, “A good company is one that starts with good intentions and then puts those into practice concretely through its actions in these three areas. Is your company good or moving toward good?

If you think that your company may not rate well and would like to move it up the charts, join Laurie Bassi and co-author Ed Frauenheim for our Soundview Live webinar Business Success in the Worthiness Era coming up on March 1st.


The Responsible Business

What does it mean for a company to be responsible? In the past the focus was on treating employees fairly, obeying the law, and not polluting the environment. defines corporate responsibility this way: duty and rational conduct expected of a corporation; accountability of a corporation to a code of ethics and to established laws.

But a shift has taken place in recent years away from the idea of just doing no wrong, to a forward-looking idea of doing more right. This is the new corporate responsibility. Recent books that touch at the many aspects of this change in thinking include Common Purpose by Joel Kurtzman, Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and Tactical Transparency by Shel Holtz and John Havens.

But Carol Sanford, author of The Responsible Business, takes it a step further by looking at the very heart and soul of the company and how it operates. One key principle that Sanford emphasizes is having a workforce of CEOs, where “every person in the co-creative group (employees, suppliers, partners, contractors) think like a CEO and feel responsibility for the success of the whole, including financials, in their everyday decisions and actions.”

In this way of thinking, responsibility is taken down to the level of the employees – the people who live in the community, have children in the local schools, and see the day-to-day effects of the decisions made by the company. If a company is accountable to the larger community in which it functions, this can have a huge impact on how it does business.

If you’d like to hear more about Carol Sanford’s thinking on corporate responsibility, please join us for our Soundview Live webinar with her on October 13th at noon EST. The webinar is aptly named Becoming a Responsible Business, and there will be ample time to ask your questions regarding the implications for your company.

Captain Moore’s Waterview

On Monday (Sept. 7) the oceanographic research vessel Alguita embarked on a 10th anniversary voyage to retrace its first trip to study plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. Specifically the course heads for “the great Pacific garbage patch” described in my Ocean Conservancy  calendar as “A giant floating ‘continent’ of garbage, twice the size of Texas.”

Apparently it was during Captain Charles Moore’s Pacific Ocean crossing after the Transpacific Yacht Race in 1997 when he was heading back to California from Hawaii that he had the disturbing intersection with what ABC News subsequently described as 3.5 million tons of trash that is 80 percent plastic.

Captain Moore founded the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which owns the ORV Alguita, and has ever since surrendered his time and resources to examining the impact of this massive floating swill, increasing awareness about it, and figuring out how to get rid of it. A July 2008 Discover magazine article described how in this particular area of the Pacific there is a series of currents several thousand miles wide that swirl together ensnaring trash and debris from North America, Asia and the Hawaiian Islands. The tricky part, as far as funding research and assigning cleanup dollars, is that the open ocean waters of the world are a difficult place to justify government spending.

I confess I had never heard about this huge floating garbage patch before. It makes me realize that we should be continuously promoting and adding to our Soundview Business of Green collection to give people access to information about sustainability and responsible business practices. Two other important books that we have summarized, Saving the World at Work and The Necessary Revolution shout out the importance of being environmentally responsible at work and home.

With fresh summer memories typically embracing a waterview that we choose to savor until next year, this topic captures another picture we shouldn’t quickly forget.

Onward to The Green Road

One of my joys as editor in chief is reviewing the numerous book reviews that are submitted to us. We have a talented pool of writers who imbue their reviews with style and creativity. From the monthly allotment, we provide the best reviews on for FREE. It just takes the simple step of signing up for a log-in.

Of course, my appetite for reviews doesn’t stop with the ones that fill my inbox. I go in search of intriguing reviews from many outlets, both print and online. This review, furnished by Matter Network via the folks at Reuters, deals with Andrew Winston’s book Green Recovery, published by our friends at Harvard Business School Press.

The review, as well as the book itself, make the case for continued emphasis on green thinking in business. With the recent battles over health care and the continued concern about the jobless rate in the United States, there may be those who assume that the green movement is pushed onto the side-table until other issues are resolved. This is a bit foolhardy, and Winston devotes a good bit of his effort to assert the needs of businesses of all sizes to not take their eye off the globe. Winston’s six business trends are among those commonly named drivers of the green business movement, and each has enough push behind it to ensure that it won’t leave the agenda in any boardroom for some time.

If you have a particular interest in the impact of the search for sustainability on the business world, I’d recommend Soundview’s collection The Business of Green. We compiled 11 of the most important books written to date on the subjects that rest beneath the green banner. It wouldn’t hurt to get informed on environmental issues, because as Winston indicates, a company’s ecological practices will only come under greater scrutiny in the months and years ahead. Oh, and don’t worry about the footprint of our collection … it’s available in a variety electronic formats but not on paper. No trees were harmed in its creation.

Publishing Green
October 3, 2008, 12:37 PM
Filed under: Books in General, Green Business | Tags: , ,

Just as it seemed that the green movement was really heating up in the world of business, the topic seems to be taking a backseat to the economy. Advertising Age  just reported that in a recent survey by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business of the chief marketing officers of 72 companies, environmental issues ranked lowest on a list of five priorities for the next 12 months.


However, green and sustainable issues haven’t taken a backseat for business book publishers. Many books coming out in the 4th quarter of 2008 and early in 2009 have a tint of green, if not very creative titles. Among the upcoming books are Green Business from DK Publishing, Greening Your Business from National Book Network, Green Your Small Business and Strategies for the Green Economy from McGraw-Hill and Billion Dollar Green and Clean Money from Wiley.


Admittedly, these books were already in the works before the recent economic crisis erupted, but business book publishing is still a good barometer of what’s on the minds of top business thinkers in major companies, consultancies and business schools.


The green trend has become embedded in the agendas of businesses and within our social consciousness. It may be riding in the backseat, but it’s definitely still with us. Watch for many more such books coming to your favorite online or bricks & mortar bookstore, and in the reviews and summaries of Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

Join the “Responsibility Revolution”
September 15, 2008, 10:45 AM
Filed under: Green Business, Strategic Management

From time to time, a book reaches beyond the business world to touch all parts of our life. One such book that comes to mind immediately is Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, which talks about thinking without thinking.


But it’s my prediction that another book will soon join these ranks – Saving the World at Work by Tim Sanders. Sanders was the chief solutions officer at Yahoo!Inc. from 2001 to 2005, and his previous book Love Is the Killer App was a New York Times bestseller.


Although the topic of bringing green practices and community responsibility to business is not new to Sanders, he brings research to bear on his contention that businesses can and must bring social and environmental responsibility into the heart of their companies to survive into the future.


He calls it a “responsibility revolution” and demonstrates that consumers are now making buying decisions based on the reputation of the company, and that workers are using this same criteria to decide where they’ll take a job. The best customers and best employees are being drawn to those companies with a strong environmental and social reputation and track record.


What is also compelling about Sanders coverage of this topic is that he provides concrete suggestions as to how companies can change their practices and build this desirable reputation. You can learn more about this revolution at his blog site. Soundview will publish the summary of this book in their November 2008 issue.



Senge Did It Again
September 9, 2008, 4:38 PM
Filed under: Green Business, Strategic Management

From the thought leader that changed the way we think about business with his 1990 bestseller The Fifth Discipline, comes a collection of strategies that companies and individuals can utilize to tackle important environmental problems worldwide. The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World debuted in early June after a much anticipated wait, published by Doubleday Business and written by Peter Senge — the man who was named by the Journal of Business Strategy “as one of the 24 people who had the greatest influence on business strategy over the last 100 years.”

Ever since our editorial staff read about the coming of Senge’s latest book in Doubleday’s catalog, we worked closely with their subsidiary rights team to secure the summary rights to a book that we felt would rock the business world.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones that thought this way.

Reviewers on—your peers—gave the book gave the book four out of five stars, claiming that the book “hits the nail on the head” and is “a compass and a roadmap for progress.” I couldn’t have said it better. Even more interesting is the interview that Jessie Scanlon of BusinessWeek conducted with the management guru; an excerpt of the interview can be found online here

And if you haven’t picked up a copy of the book yet, you’ll be happy to know that it’ll be available in our September package; so read up on some of the reviews, check out the BW interview, and start thinking about some changes your company can make to become more sustainable.