A GOOD METAPHOR, AS ANY PULP-FICTION writer will tell you, can make or break a paragraph. Harvard business school professor John Kao has taken this advice to the max: The whole of his book, Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, rests on his argument that stimulating on-the-job imagination is like structuring a jazz jam session. ``Throw away your sheet music,'' Kao instructs. Instead of relying on a score, executives must lock in on the beat while inspiring flights of imagination.

Jamming, No.14 on this month's hardcover best-seller list, is like a jazz standard--often familiar, occasionally surprising. Kao reminds us that physical spaces must be conducive to creativity and that managers must craft challenges that will inspire innovation. Like many other writers, Kao is also fond of the Internet, which, he says, facilitates ``novel connections.''

But Jamming finds its own melody when the author describes the process of ``getting to cool,'' or arriving at a mental state of ``relaxed knowingness.'' Like pianist Keith Jarrett, who clears his mind to engage in pure improvisation, so must businesspeople learn to ``overthrow the tyranny of the given, the known, the `right' way....'' To that end, Kao offers numerous exercises involving fantasizing and ``forced reverie.'' Interesting, too, is Kao's vision of a post-industrial ``factory of ideas,'' operating under an imperative to ``jam or die.'' Listen up, Charles Darwin--now, it's the survival of the hippest.


1 THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness -- $20) The revenge of the cubicle dwellers.

2 WALL STREET MONEY MACHINE by Wade B. Cook (Lighthouse Publishing -- $24.95) Formulas to help you strike it rich.

3 BEYOND REENGINEERING by Michael Hammer (HarperBusiness -- $25) In the ``process-centered'' workplace, everyone is a professional.

4 INSIDE THE TORNADO by Geoffrey A. Moore (HarperBusiness -- $25) Lore on marketing mined from Silicon Valley.

5 THE MOTLEY FOOL INVESTMENT GUIDE by David and Tom Gardner (Simon & Schuster -- $24) An online investment duo puts it on paper.

6 BUILT TO LAST by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras (HarperBusiness -- $25) How 3M, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, and others became standouts.

7 HOW TO THINK LIKE A CEO by D.A. Benton (Warner -- $23.95) What it takes to land a corner office, according to a career counselor.

8 WHAT WORKS ON WALL STREET by James P. O'Shaughnessy (McGraw-Hill -- $29.95) A statistical look at how investment strategies stack up.

9 CLICKING by Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold (HarperCollins -- $26) Spotting trends in order to achieve success and personal fulfillment.

10 CO-OPETITION by Adam M. Brandenburger and Barry J. Nalebuff (Currency -- $24.95) Game theory and strategy for a world of changing business rules.

11 RAVING FANS by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles (Morrow -- $20) Turning customers into your biggest boosters.

12 LEADING CHANGE by John P. Kotter (Harvard Business School -- $24.95) Shaking up the organization, by a Harvard B-school prof.

13 A SIMPLER WAY by Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers (Berrett-Koehler -- $27.95) Lessons from nature about structuring complex organizations.

14 JAMMING by John Kao (HarperBusiness -- $23) A guide for prompting jam sessions of creativity and improvisation.

15 THE PATH by Laurie Beth Jones (Hyperion -- $16.95) How to plot your own mission statement.


1 THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey (Fireside -- $12) Habitually popular.

2 GET A FINANCIAL LIFE by Beth Kobliner (Fireside -- $11) Hey, Gen X'ers--mutual funds and mortgages can be fun!

3 LEARN TO EARN by Peter Lynch and John Rothchild (Fireside -- $13) Capitalism for beginners.

4 1001 WAYS TO REWARD EMPLOYEES by Bob Nelson (Workman -- $8.95) Give them a champagne brunch, a casual-dress day--or plain old cash.

5 THE BEARDSTOWN LADIES' COMMON-SENSE INVESTMENT GUIDE by the Beardstown Ladies Investment Club with Leslie Whitaker (Hyperion -- $10.95) Recipes for Four-Bean Salad, Five-Hour Stew--and 23% returns.

6 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING MONEY AND INVESTING by Kenneth M. Morris and Alan M. Siegel (Fireside -- $13.95) Concise explanations enriched with graphics.

7 THE 1996 WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press -- $14.95) The enduring job-search bible.

8 HOW TO DRIVE YOUR COMPETITION CRAZY by Guy Kawasaki with Michele Moreno (Hyperion -- $12.95) Pulling off the gloves--and giving the other guy fits.

9 FIRST THINGS FIRST by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill (Fireside -- $14) Managing your time by balancing your life.

10 THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER by Kenneth Blanchard PhD and Spencer Johnson M.D. (Berkley -- $9.95) Three management techniques, conveyed in brief story form.

11 YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin (Penguin -- $11.95) To achieve financial independence, restructure your life.

12 GETTING TO YES by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (Penguin -- $11.95) A Harvard team's step-by-step guide to conflict resolution.

13 PERSONAL FINANCE FOR DUMMIES by Eric Tyson (IDG Books -- $16.95) Lighthearted primer.

14 JESUS CEO by Laurie Beth Jones (Hyperion -- $10.95) That team-builder and turnaround artist from Nazareth.

15 WHY GOOD GIRLS DON'T GET AHEAD...BUT GUTSY GIRLS DO by Kate White (Warner -- $12.99) Career strategies from a former goody two-shoes who got wise.

BUSINESS WEEK's Best-Seller List is based on a survey of chain and independent booksellers that carry a broad selection of books on economics, management, sales and marketing, small business, investing, personal finance, and careers. Well over 1,000 retail outlets nationwide are represented. Current rankings are based on a weighted analysis of unit sales in August.

By Hardy Green


Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.
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