cover image THE SYSTEM: A Story of Intrigue and Market Domination

THE SYSTEM: A Story of Intrigue and Market Domination

Terry Waghorn, Ken Blanchard, . . Perseus, $19.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-7382-0791-9

KPMG strategist Waghorn blends business advice with a fictional account of corporate intrigue to create a "management novel," but his merger of fact and fiction is only partially successful. Essentially all his business points are found at the beginning and end of the book, by way of speeches delivered by one Tim Hunt, one of two main characters. His advice boils down to three main ideas: focus, fortify and foster futurity. But Waghorn's attempt to illustrate practical applications of these concepts is muddled. To counter a falling stock price and the prospect of a hostile takeover, David Atkinson, owner of the fictional company Quenetics, takes Hunt's advice and sheds two of his company's three businesses to focus on his temporary service division. While that's a plausible scenario, Waghorn overreaches when he introduces a series of technological innovations that Hunt's company just happens to be developing, which, if integrated into Quenetics's existing business, would revolutionize the workplace à la Microsoft in the 1980s and '90s. Unfortunately, such breakthroughs don't come along every day, making Waghorn's story more of a fairy tale than a fable. In the end, Waghorn (co-author, with Ken Blanchard, of 1996's Mission Possible) breaks little new management ground. And while his story is a passable thriller, it's not giving away too much to say that Hunt and Atkinson live happily ever after. (Oct.)