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What The CEO Wants You to Know

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What The CEO Wants You to Know

Using Your Business Acumen to Understand How Your Company Really Works


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

What makes a business tick? It’s not as complicated as you think. The trick is to master the basic concepts.

Editorial Rating



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An expert can deconstruct a business down to its basic driving forces to diagnose how it is working. Now, you can do the same – with this concise guide from author Ram Charan, who refers to the ability to work with operational essentials as “business acumen.” He bases his initial ideas on his family’s shoe business in India. This family-owned business fought hard for every sale, and each night the relatives discussed what had happened during the day, which goods customers bought and what the store’s competitors were doing. When he left home to study and, eventually, to become an author and consultant to global companies, Charan remembered those hardscrabble lessons. Here, he distills the core similarities between street vendors and global corporations in what amounts to a narrated business dictionary. This book's clear explanations of essential concepts will help you more deeply understand the vocabulary and ideas at the heart of business.


A Comprehensive Understanding of the Fundamentals

When top CEOs distill their businesses down to the clear fundamentals, and then find a way to convey those core ideas to their managers and employees, everyone benefits. People get a better idea of what their jobs are all about and why they matter. The company’s “top line” (sales), as well as its “bottom line” (profits) improve. People gain the opportunity to grow while the company benefits. Smart CEOs have learned that the same basic factors apply to any business, regardless of its size or location.



Leaders who really know these basics completely understand how a business makes money. They have “business acumen.” The next meaningful step for them is to “make sure that everyone in the company understands these fundamentals,” because having a workforce that understand how business functions helps the company succeed.

The Insights of Acumen

When author Ram Charan was growing up in rural India, his father owned a small shoe shop. Although Charan’s father had no formal training, he built a solid reputation in a competitive environment and earned enough money to educate his son. Charan...

About the Author

Ram Charan is an adviser to senior executives in companies of all sizes. He is the author of Boards That Work and the co-author of Every Business is a Growth Business and E-Board Strategies. He has written for the Harvard Business Review and other publications, and he taught at Harvard and Northwestern.

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    F. K. 7 years ago
    CoMon sense that most people miss about what a business does and keeps it going. It is not a paycheck generator or a place to take up your time until 5pm so you can go home.
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    D. R. 8 years ago
    Doesnt add much value.. Need more paragraphs
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    P. A. 10 years ago
    My first time using getAbstract and am suprised just to see an overview of this book and not access to the full material. I assuming there's a good reason for this but the information that is provided is relativly vague and only supports a general perspective of I believe to be the books true meaning.