MANAGING by Harold S. with Alvin Moscow Geneen


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The top conglomerator of the go-go years expounds his business philosophy: ""to outdo what I had done before""; a ten percent annual rise in ITT's earnings, year after year; integration and acquisitions; 5 A.M. to 11 P.M. workdays. Geneen doesn't connect up the dots, biographically or otherwise--but this colorless text does have its fascinations, especially for readers of Anthony Sampson's Sovereign World of ITT and other cognoscenti. Geneen speaks unabashedly as the accountant-executive he epitomized--determined to have the facts and figures, interested only in immediate results. From his sketchy account of his early life (a boom-and-bust promoter-father), we understand his aversion to risk--why, pre-ITT, he wanted to protect a lagging company by diversification; why he distinguishes sharply between corporate management (""primarily concerned with how not to make mistakes, even little ones"") and entrepreneurship, ""the wave of the future."" Geneen knows and doesn't know his sort is obsolete. What he has to say directly about ITT, in snippets, also registers in this light. When he became CEO in 1959, the autonomous European subsidiaries were providing the bulk of the profits; to secure those profits (he felt) required domestic expansion-by-acquisition; to fund those acquisitions, European profits would have to be increased--by bringing the locally-run companies into line: ""They honestly preferred to do things their European way--at least until we Americans could prove we knew best."" He describes the monthly reports that streamed in, ultimately from 250 ""profit centers""; the monthly General Managers Meetings (nothing like ""other companies' . . . small committee meetings""). He illustrates his credo, Management Must Manage--and identifies ITT as ""a management company""--by two examples: the loss from a leased Canadian forest, where the trees ""didn't grow fast enough""; and the Sheraton turnaround--by selling off the properties, contracting to run them. (""If you cannot solve the problems of your environment, change your environment."") For the Dita Beard case, the Hartford anti-trust furor, Chile, etc., see the Geneen bio by Robert Schoenberg to be published in January (and reviewed shortly). The juxtaposition will add some piquancy to this bland yet blunt item.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday