''BEFORE YOU PROCEED, I'D SUGGEST A seatbelt...or a slug of Johnny Walker.'' That's Tom Peters proclaiming the death of the organization as we know it in his new book, The Circle of Innovation. It's also not bad advice for how to approach this book, No.7 among this month's hardback best-sellers. It's irreverent, funny, irritating, and disappointing--and it's certainly a wild ride.

Peters has been a mainstay of the management world since 1982, when his and Robert H. Waterman Jr.'s In Search of Excellence became a monster hit. Since then, Peters has forsaken scholarly analysis for a more emotional philosophy in which creativity is king and organization a constraint. He calls for a ''white-collar revolution'' of self-motivated workers. Creative destruction is great, too: Rather than focus on a company's core beliefs, he encourages ''forgetting'' everything, from rules to consensus. In rapid-fire, high-energy prose, he describes lots of folks who embody his principles.

Unfortunately, Peters neglects to show his now-fired-up readers how to actually effect change. And some will find his habit of spelling out key words (''Be G-R-E-A-T'') and his stream-of-consciousness sentences distracting, if not condescending. At least no one need be intimidated by the 518-page tome: Peters' frequent use of huge display type makes it a very E-Z read. As the book's subtitle says, you can't shrink your way to greatness. But you can't just enlarge your way there, either.


1 THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD, and William D. Danko, PhD (Longstreet Press $22) The penny-pinchers shall inherit the earth.

2 THE DILBERT FUTURE by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness $25) Prognostication from the prolific cartoonist.

3 BUFFETTOLOGY by Mary Buffett and David Clark (Scribner $27.50) An ex-daughter-in-law's take on Buffett's techniques.

4 DIE BROKE by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine (HarperBusiness $25) Forget about the will--and the conventional wisdom, says a financial adviser.

5 SUCCESS IS A CHOICE by Rick Pitino with Bill Reynolds (Broadway $25) Coach says work harder, harder!

6 MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR MONEY by Jane Bryant Quinn (Simon & Schuster $30) An updated edition of the columnist's 1991 guide.

7 THE CIRCLE OF INNOVATION by Tom Peters (Knopf $30) ''Create waves of lust,'' says business writing's No. 1 cheerleader.

8 F.I.A.S.C.O. by Frank Partnoy (Norton $25) An ex-salesman's charges against Morgan Stanley.

9 POUR YOUR HEART INTO IT by Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang (Hyperion $24.95) At Starbucks, the chief's cup runneth over.

10 LOUIS RUKEYSER'S BOOK OF LISTS by Louis Rukeyser (Holt $25) Diverse data and opinion on the markets and the world of money.

11 WALL STREET MONEY MACHINE by Wade B. Cook (Lighthouse Publishing $24.95) A former cab driver's formulas for striking it rich.

12 TRUMP by Donald J. Trump with Kate Bohner (Times $25.95) New York's most self-infatuated blonde returns to the dictaphone.

13 INSIDE INTEL by Tim Jackson (Dutton $24.95) A through-the-keyhole view of the chipmaker and its hard-driving boss.

14 THE LEADERSHIP ENGINE by Noel M. Tichy with Eli Cohen (HarperBusiness $26) Building leadership at the top and throughout the ranks.

15 STOCK MARKET MIRACLES by Wade B. Cook (Lighthouse Publishing $24.95) Investing fundamentals--and infomercials for the author's many wares.


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

2 THE MOTLEY FOOL INVESTMENT GUIDE by David and Tom Gardner (Fireside $12) The online duo puts it on paper.

3 THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness $11.95) The revenge of the cubicle dwellers.

4 DOGBERT'S TOP SECRET MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness $11.95) Obedience training and other dogma.

5 BUILT TO LAST by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras (HarperBusiness $14) How 3M, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, and others became standouts.

6 THE 1998 WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press $16.95) The enduring job-search bible.

7 J.K. LASSER'S YOUR INCOME TAX 1998 by the J.K. Lasser Institute (Macmillan $14.95) Time to fire up the calculator.

8 INVESTING FOR DUMMIES by Eric Tyson, MBA (IDG Books $19.95) From stocks to small business--with cartoons, too.

9 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.

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

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

12 PERSONAL FINANCE FOR DUMMIES by Eric Tyson (IDG Books $19.95) Lighthearted primer.

13 1001 WAYS TO REWARD EMPLOYEES by Bob Nelson (Workman $10.95) Give them a champagne brunch, a casual-dress day--or plain old cash.

14 THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER by Kenneth Blanchard PhD and Spencer Johnson M.D. (Berkley $10.95) Three management techniques, conveyed in brief story form.

15 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.

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 December.



Updated Jan. 29, 1998 by bwwebmaster
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