The crux of the above conversation between Woody and his wife Angie is , that we turn to professionals when we fail to understand or find it difficult to handle problems on our own . And this conversation is the very base of Sameer Kamat’s latest publication , Business Doctors , where Ivy League educated management consultant Michael Schneider gets hired by an unlikely client , a mafia boss , Stephen Woody, who wants to make a final desperate bid to revivify his family business that sprawls across the underworld ……drugs , gambling and porn .
Yes , it’s a book written by an Indian author where the backdrop is Los Angeles or to be precise , the dark alleys of its mafias and the underworld . A different flavour after a long time as far as the language and style is concerned ( devoid of any Hinglish lingo which , nowadays , sometimes becomes quite painful ) .
Stephen Woody has succeeded his father to become the Boss of Woody’s Family Business or WFB . His clout in the territory of extortion, kidnapping , contract-killing ,gambling , weapons is satisfying enough but internal bleeding has started as new gangs appear making the field highly competitive . Woody , though tries to gild the wound in gold but knows for sure that in this way a shutdown is imminent . His wife Angie , a former model , pokes her pretty nose in the business as she prescribes to hire ‘ business doctors ‘ to heal the wound . Schneider topped among the short-listed candidates and thus the foundation is laid for the next series of events .
Schneider’s consulting company , Schneider Associates , firstly finds this assignment unholy but later reluctantly succumbs to the pressure as their very own business is on the verge of a financial crisis and WFB’s offer could save their ship as well . Schneider cheers up his right hand man Martin to take the challenge and says ” We are doing what we normally do —business analysis —except in an unusual field this time . And that is not a crime . ”
Thus they venture into another world …the world with darker shades with their Project Lean And Mean and learn the lessons which no management school in the world would ever be able to deliver . The story spans over a time limit of six months and these six months become a table-turner to the lives of most of the characters giving the reader a roller-coaster experience as well .
The plot is intricate but every part of the puzzle falls in place at the end . Even the way Angie acts while suggesting the names of business consultants to Woody , has been reasonably justified later and the reader gets the hint how Schneider topped the list .The narrative has a near perfect ” cause and effect ” pattern and is successful enough to maintain the excitement till the end .
The characters are well developed . The readers can easily imagine Woody when he is described as carrying an excess weight of twenty pounds and looks like a cross between a bouncer and a businessman . The way he acts and speaks reveals his character that he is in constant endeavour to fancy that aura of being a mafia Boss . Angie , a ravishing beauty with not-much-a-model-like height , never appears to be a damsel in distress but proves in every act that her ambition is not blind but methodical . Michael Schneider , our protagonist , has all those qualities that is required to become a successful business consultant , a spiffy appearance , a near perfect physique , a calculative and innovative mind , chutzpah and courage . But everyone has his Achilles’s heel and Schneider is no exception. ( you have to read the book to find out more ) .
Apart from major characters , other characters have also been portrayed diligently , like Martin , Schneider’s assistant who idolizes Schneider and has the ability to review a 450 page document pinpointing every error . Joe who is Woody’s Man Friday , Blizzard , Jamal , Bullet , Kenny, Chang , Phil , all have been given sufficient space to breathe in .
Sameer Kamat has uniquely translated the management jargon into understandable lingo ( and has made the things simple for us too ) . Thus , instead of billing WFB in a time and material basis , Schneider assures Woody that he would bill him on an hourly basis . Value stream mapping , organization structure assessment are simplified as recruitment , pay outs and promotions . Last but not the least , the four step process of group dynamics development is delivered as Forming , Storming , Norming , Performing . The management explanations , never look like a boring preaching and teaching , so to say .
What I like most in the book is the regular glint of wit which has increased the reading pleasure . As Woody tries the same dialogues with his goons in the Dungeon which Angie had improvised to make him aware of the need of business doctors , the conversation becomes real innovative and interesting !
” Ray , what do you do when your tooth hurts real bad ? ”
” I use a spanner , and yank it out real hard ….. ”
“What do you do when one of your guys gets thrown into the real slammer ? ” Woody looked at Alfredo optimistically .
” I make sure we kill him before the cops have had a chance to interrogate him and get all our secrets out of him ”
Numerous other example can be cited which would surely lighten up the mood .
Finally some things which I think could have been improved or avoided .
- The L.A. goons look real dumb . That’s something curious as it seems impossible to survive in the hardcore underworld with such minimal I.Q. The way they speak or act , may look hilarious but somewhat lack that credibility .
- Woody , with such a powerful network , remains oblivious of Angie’s whereabouts or her activities .
- The ‘parking place ‘ for the new recruits , their stay over there and their activities are described vividly and at times look a bit dragged .
The book has been divided into 20 chapters . There is no paragraph break as such in individual chapters , but when there is a shifting of backdrop , the author uses *** to mark the difference. It is quite experimental and once the reader gets used to it , it looks quite interesting .
Business Doctors is a book which is a fusion of two apparently odd things , management and malfeasance , it’s the ingenuity of the author that the fusion looks perfect and flawless. A great read and is absolutely recommended .
From my side it’s 4.5/5
About The Author
Sameer Kamat is the founder of MBA Crystal Ball and Booksoarus . His first book Beyond The MBA Hype published by Harper Collins , is currently in the third reprint . Business Doctors : Management Consulting Gone Wild is his second book .
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