Broken Windows, Broken Business: How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards

Michael Levine, Author . Warner Business $21.95 (170p) ISBN 978-0-446-57678-9

Law-and-order criminology inspires this dour, hectoring treatise on the importance of sweating the small stuff in business. PR executive Levine, author of Guerrilla P.R. , combines his professional concern for detailed image control with James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling's theory that minor signs of disorder foster a climate of insecurity that causes decent folk to flee. He contends that a company's metaphorical "broken windows"—a confusing Web site, messy restrooms, peeling paint, nagging inconsistencies like "when the waiter at a Chinese restaurant is named Billy Bob"—signal an indifference to consumer satisfaction that repels customers. His remedies are fairly routine: deploy mystery shoppers to ferret out shortcomings, remember that first impressions are lasting, strive to "exceed expectations." What's unusual is his fanaticism, his demands that businesspeople cultivate "the obsessive, compulsive, almost violent need to find the flaws," even when others "deny such things exist or insist that they are unimportant and that you are being ridiculous." Such denials may indicate that "more employees should be getting fired," particularly those who don't smile or are otherwise "coasting, doing their time, merely existing" and infecting other workers with their "virus." Levine is one hard-nosed beat cop, but his strident, repetitive style and emotionally insensitive methods mean that many readers (and certainly their underlings) will find the book more demoralizing than motivating. Agent, Craig Nelson. (Nov. 9)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
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