In a crafty, comic case study, Bing (nom de guerre of a mid-level suit working at a conglomerate) imagines Imperial Rome as a commercial operation.
It’s still the same old story: a fight for power and money. Covering the empire from its incorporation to its forced liquidation, novelist Bing (You Look Nice Today, 2003, etc.) offers a witty take on the business of Rome, Inc. The day the firm was started by Founding Partner Romulus, it was already bent on aggressive takeovers to enlarge its franchise and spread the brand—and to hell with those wimpy Etruscans. The Romans were merger, acquisition and pillaging champs. Consider that unfriendly Sabine takeover. Study the Battle of Actium, mismanaged by Mark Antony in an attempted merger with Egypt, Ltd. Learn from Cincinnatus, a good field manager who returned to corporate headquarters to extol ecology (like Exxon and Waste Management later). Follow the capo di tutti capi, Julius Caesar, covering his bald spot with a large-size laurel wreath. He was the paragon of CEOs: ambitious, bold, unsentimental, strategic, crafty and, like any Chief Executive, surrounded by weasels. With competent mid-level execs in togas (or, when apt, designer armor), Rome had it down when it came to management skills, even without PowerPoint presentations at corporate retreats. Inevitably, though, troublemakers occupied the corner office. Bing crafts a frequently funny bullet-point narrative, plundering Plutarch and lifting Livy along the way.
A humorous executive summary of Edward Gibbon, part of a series on various forms of enterprise for MBA types.