Debra L. Spar, Harcourt, $27
We’ve been here before, Harvard Business School professor Debora L. Spar makes clear in this exceptionally well-written comparison of the Internet era to past technology-based booms. Each time a new technology comes along and creates an industry, she observes, pioneers are followed by pirates, who are followed by policymakers who set rules that allow the industries to mature — and, often, the really stunning wealth to begin to be generated. The Internet era is entering the policymaking phase, she reasons, and will play out as the other techno-crazes did. People will find ways to control the seemingly uncontrollable — just as the Barbary pirates were put down. She cheerfully unmasks many icons on her way before finishing with an intriguing suggestion that the most interesting times of the Internet age may still be to come.
20/20 FORESIGHT: CRAFTING STRATEGY IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD
By Hugh Courtney, Harvard Business Scool Press, $29.95
Uncertainty isn’t that uncertain, says McKinsey & Company consultant Hugh Courtney. Just four levels of uncertainty affect most business decisions, he says, and you can use that knowledge to select key issues in decisions, such as whether to focus or diversify, adapt to others’ leads or shape the trends, move now or wait.