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"Suddenly," writes Michael Hammer in the opening to his confidently but aptly named new book The Agenda, "business is not so easy anymore." He then sets out an ambitious plan for righting what many businesses are doing wrong, much as he did a decade ago in his bestselling Reengineering the Corporation. This time, however, he retreats from the overarching "big idea" promulgated in his earlier book to present a system that incorporates nine ideas geared for an environment where customers really do rule. Hammer unveils these aligned-but-individual ideas, which relate to process and customer orientation, along with measurement, management, connecting via the Net, and eventual positioning as "components of virtually extended enterprises" rather than "self-contained wholes." He goes on to explain why they represent improvements over past procedures and cites examples of them in practice. (While discussing measurement, for instance, he shows why most companies use their carefully compiled statistics for little more than affirming what has already happened; he then tells how one firm matched fixed goals in customer retention, employee retention, and product distribution with actual performance requirements that could be tracked and changed.) The final two chapters offer specific implementation suggestions, all filtered through the eyes of an engineer who never went to business school and peppers his writing with references to the Grateful Dead and the Jack Palance character in City Slickers. In all, another provocative and practical tract that will surely attract old fans as well as new believers. --Howard Rothman [via]