Give consultant Albrecht credit for an arresting metaphor, but not much else, in his latest excursion into the well-trodden bourns of organizational theory and practice. Using the widely publicized woes of General Motors, IBM, Kodak, Sears, and other corporate leviathans as a departure point, Albrecht (coauthor of Service America, 1985) asserts, reasonably enough, that every enterprise, great or small, should have a clear idea of where it is going and how to get there, i.e., a ``northbound train.'' Having quickly reached the arguable conclusion that an accelerating rate of change in the global marketplace has caused many, if not most, commercial concerns to lose their way, he offers generic advisories on how best to deal with putatively new imperatives. The perplexed are invited to eschew business planning in favor of an advanced (albeit hitherto unheralded) approach dubbed ``futuring'' (which will strike some observers as very like contingency planning). The author goes on to provide slick, largely unexceptionable counsel on the creation of mission statements, leveraging resources, core values, structural options, and strategic success models. He also addresses such previously unidentified (or ignored) phenomena as corporate chastity belts (in-house sanctions that stifle individual initiative), historicizing (examining past accomplishments for clues to any competitive edge they could afford in times to come), bifocal vision (assessment of the longer-range as well as near-term outlook), environmental intelligence (a detailed picture of what's going on in a company's primary outlets), and executive evangelism (leadership that persuades subordinates to work toward common customer-oriented goals). For all its colorful coinages, an essentially conventional, cut-and-paste guide that won't tell management professionals a whole lot they don't already know.
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