Summary of Up the Organization

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Rating

8

Qualities

  • Applicable

Recommendation

This is a reprint of a classic best-selling book on business that has been widely copied but never duplicated. Yes, other successful collections of short, clever aphorisms have appeared and faded, but Robert Townsend had the ability to pierce the heart of the matter with stiletto sharpness. Just gloss over the small out-of-date references (like salary levels) and enjoy his ABCs of management. While some of Townsend’s recommendations still seem radical, he lived by these principles, and was a very successful, popular executive with Avis and American Express. getAbstract cautions that this is a book of epigrams, not a narrative, so it might be a little choppy. Still, Townsend manages to balance a savvy, fun attitude with serious, strategic advice.

About the Author

Robert Townsend worked at a global financial-services company as a banker and revitalized a major car rental company as president and chairman. He served as an executive at several other companies, and was a popular lecturer and TV talk show guest. He died in 1998.

 

Summary

Accounting and Taxes

No accounting system can provide you with a pure version of an independent, true reality. All accounting systems can be used in infinitely variable ways. Your job is to pick one that meets your purposes, and stick with it in good times and bad. Do not fall into the trap of trying to mask a down time with changes in the way you account for things. Write your budgets and reports in plain language. Don’t hide behind the jargon of the financial and accounting trades.

Do yourself a favor and never pressure your controller or CFO. Allow them the time to prepare their reports as scheduled. If you push them, you will generate mistakes that will mislead you and others who need to be reliably informed, and that could undermine your credibility.

Keep additional professional-services providers in the wings ready to step in if you discover that your accountants, bankers, lawyers or other hire-by-the-hour talents are not working in your best interests or have stopped performing at a high level. They will do more “if they sense that you aren’t married to them. You should try to keep at least one alternate waiting eagerly (or at least waiting) in the wings...


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