Timothy Laseter's Book Recommendations

Reading List:

• OUT OF THE CRISIS by W. Edwards Deming

"Deming wrote this manifesto to American management in 1982. The book articulates the philosophy that Deming used in the 1960s to help drive Japan's quality transformation. Deming offers a unique blend of statistics and common sense to highlight many fallacies of traditional management practices. A must-read for anyone interested in Total Quality Management and a useful read for anyone interested in business."


"Although many books predate it, The Machine That Changed the World offers the most comprehensive, analytical treatise on Japan's manufacturing superiority. The team at MIT captured the true essence of "World Class Manufacturing," "JIT," and other Japanese manufacturing techniques and ultimately coined the new term "Lean" to capture the phenomenon."

• INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA by Clayton Christensen

"Like many academics before him, Christensen draws upon 20/20 hindsight, in this case to identify an insidious pattern of market leaders losing out to nimble start-ups. The computer industry's evolution from mainframes to min-computers to personal computers offers a well-worn case example of new start-ups in a fringe segment growing to dominate the field. Surprisingly, however, Christensen applies the framework to the lesser known case of the evolution of steam shovel operators and the construction industry-which substantially enhances the credibility of his conclusions."

• CLOCKSPEED by Charles Fine

"Fine brings a strategic perspective to the issues of supply chain management by drawing upon a fruit fly analogy. Fine's "double helix" model to explain changing patterns of vertical integration and modular product design ranks among the most intriguing concepts posited in the book. At a minimum it offers some intellectual hope to the Microsoft haters in the world."

• BALANCED SOURCING by Timothy Laseter

"Though I'm obviously biased (since I wrote it), I believe that Balanced Sourcing warrants inclusion on this list of provocative books for an Operations Manager or student. Written for an executive audience, the book explains some of the leading concepts in Supply Management in understandable terms drawing upon case examples from leading companies. It also offers enough practical guidance in areas such as cost modeling, strategic sourcing, and global supply management to be of use to practitioners as well."


"This book and the next are intended to provide a historical context to some of the business issues addressed in the modern texts. Frederick Taylor, the father of Scientific Management, possessed a rather broad perspective of business…in addition to his stopwatch. It's worth reflecting that the founders of the Toyota Production system took inspiration from the mass production pioneers such as Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor."

• THE BIG TIME by Laurence Shames

"One of my favorites among many "business histories," this well-written book by Laurence Shames documents the story of a host of business icons. By focusing on the Harvard Business School Class of 1949-the first class to graduate after World War II-the book paints a fascinating picture of the extraordinary growth years as the U.S. economy grew to true world dominance."

• THE WINNER'S CURSE by Richard Thaler

"This book examines "paradoxes and anomalies of economic life" such as the winner's curse (the tendency for the winner of an auction to have overpaid). Richard Thaler does a remarkable job of making the sometimes arcane world of "Game Theory" understandable to someone not trained in economics and advanced mathematics. For example, a Monty Python sketch helps explain the underlying assumptions of the classic game called "The Prisoner's Dilemma."

• THE SOCIETY OF MINDS by Marvin Minsky

"As explained in the opening sentence, this fascinating book "tries to explain how the mind works." Marvin Minsky, one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, draws upon a broad range of disciplines and experiences to explain his theory of intelligence. By explaining the thinking required for relatively simple, childish tasks (like stacking blocks), Minsky helps the reader appreciate the complexity of the mind."

• INNUMERACY by John Paulos

"Mathematician John Paulos, coins a new word as he examines "mathematical illiteracy and its consequences" in this thought-provoking book. Paulos argues against a cultural acceptance of "innumeracy" or a lack of facileness with mathematical concepts. The book does not argue for a world of calculus wizards but instead provides examples of pseudo-science and non-intuitive chance coincidences to underscore that all of us can benefit from a greater degree of numeracy."

Biographical Info:

Instructor in Business Administration Timothy M. Laseter teaches in the Operations area at Darden. Prior to joining the Darden faculty in 2002, Laseter was a partner in Booz Allen Hamilton's operations practice with concentrations on operations strategy, supply chain management, and sourcing for a wide variety of global businesses. Prior to joining Booz Allen, Laseter worked in manufacturing operations at a joint venture between Siemens and Corning. Laseter is the author of Balanced Sourcing: Cooperation and Competition in Supply Relationships and a contributing editor for strategy+business. A frequent speaker at business conferences, Laseter has presented to executive audiences in Europe, South America, and Asia as well as throughout the U.S.

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