The Unwritten Laws of Business

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The bestselling business classic that Raytheon CEO
William Swanson made famous.

Every once in awhile, there is a book with a message so timeless, so universal, that it transcends generations. The Unwritten Laws of Business is such a book. Originally published over 60 years ago as The Unwritten Laws of Engineering, it has sold over 100,000 copies, despite the fact that it has never been available before to general readers. Fully revised for business readers today, here are but a few of the gems you’ll find in this little-known business classic:

If you take care of your present job well, the future will take care of itself.
The individual who says nothing is usually credited with having nothing to say.
Whenever you are performing someone else’s function, you are probably neglecting your own.
Martyrdom only rarely makes heroes, and in the business world, such heroes and martyrs often find themselves unemployed.


Refreshingly free of the latest business fads and jargon, this is a book that is wise and insightful, capturing and distilling the timeless truths and principles that underlie management and business the world over.

The little book with the big history.

In the summer of 2005, Business 2.0 published a cover story on Raytheon CEO William Swanson’s self-published pamphlet, Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management. Lauded by such chief executives as Jack Welch and Warren Buffett, the booklet became
a quiet phenomenon.

As it turned out, much of Swanson’s book drew from a classic of business literature that has been in print for more than sixty years. Now, in a new edition revised and updated for business readers today, we are reissuing the 1944 classic that inspired a number of Swanson’s “rules”: The Unwritten Laws of Business. Filled with sage advice and written in a spare, engaging style, The Unwritten Laws of Business offers insights on working with others, reporting to a boss, organizing a project, running a meeting, advancing your career, and more. Here’s just a sprinkling of the old-fashioned, yet surprisingly relevant, wisdom you’ll find in these pages:

If you have no intention of listening to, considering, and perhaps using, someone’s opinion, don’t ask for it.
Count any meeting a failure that does not end up with a definite understanding as to what’s going to be done, who’s going to do it, and when.
The common belief that everyone can do anything if they just try hard enough is a formula for inefficiency at best and for complete failure at worst.
It is natural enough to “look out for Number One first,” but when you do, your associates will be noticeably disinclined to look out for you.

Whether you’re a corporate neophyte or seasoned manager, this charming book reveals everything you need to know about the “unwritten” laws of business.


From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

The Unwritten Laws of Engineering was originally written by W. J. (William Julian) King as a series of three articles published by Mechanical Engineering magazine in 1944 and was subsequently released as a book by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. King had been a General Electric engineer who retired as a UCLA engineering professor in 1969. He died in 1983. James Skakoon is General Manager of VERTEX Technology, an engineering consulting firm, and the author of Detailed Mechanical Design: A Practical Guide (2000). He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Reviews

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Additional Information

Publisher
Crown Business
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Published on
Feb 10, 2010
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Pages
112
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ISBN
9780307492425
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Decision-Making & Problem Solving
Business & Economics / Motivational
Business & Economics / Personal Success
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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W.J. King
Some years ago the author became very much impressed with the fact, which can be observed in any engineering organization, that the chief obstacles to the success of individual engineers or of the group comprising a unit were of a personal and administrative rather than a technical nature. It was apparent that both the author and his associates were getting into much more trouble by violating the unwritten laws of professional conduct than by committing technical sins against the well-documented laws of science. Since the former appeared to be indeed unwritten at that time, as regards any adequate and convenient text, the following “laws” were originally formulated and collected into a sort of scrapbook, to provide a set of “house rules,” or a professional code, for a design-engineering section of a large manufacturing organization. Although they are admittedly fragmentary and incomplete, they are offered here for whatever they may be worth to younger men just starting their careers, and to older men who know these things perfectly well but who all too often fail to apply them in practice.


Just a few points should be emphasized: None of these “laws” is theoretical or imaginary, and however obvious and trite they may appear, their repeated violation is responsible for much of the frustration and embarrassment to which engineers everywhere arc liable. In fact this paper is primarily a record, derived from direct observation over a period of seventeen years, of the experience of four engineering departments, three of them newly organized and struggling to establish themselves by the trial-and-error method. It has, however, been supplemented and confirmed by the experience of others as gathered from numerous discussions, lectures, and the literature, so that it most emphatically does not reflect the unique experience or characteristics of any one organization.


Furthermore, many of these rules are generalizations to which exceptions will occur in special circumstances. There is no thought of urging a slavish adherence to rules and red tape, for there is no substitute for judgment, and at times vigorous individual initiative is needed to cut through formalities in an emergency. But in many respects these laws are like the basic laws of society; they cannot be violated too often with impunity, notwithstanding striking exceptions in individual cases. 

Daniel Kahneman
Major New York Times bestseller
Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012
Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year
One of The Wall Street Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011
2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient
Kahneman's work with Amos Tversky is the subject of Michael Lewis's The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

Amy Morin
The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Mental Strength

Everyone knows that regular exercise and weight training lead to physical strength. But how do we strengthen ourselves mentally for the truly tough times? And what should we do when we face these challenges? Or as psychotherapist Amy Morin asks, what should we avoid when we encounter adversity? Through her years counseling others and her own experiences navigating personal loss, Morin realized it is often the habits we cannot break that are holding us back from true success and happiness. Indulging in self-pity, agonizing over things beyond our control, obsessing over past events, resenting the achievements of others, or expecting immediate positive results holds us back. This list of things mentally strong people don't do resonated so much with readers that when it was picked up by Forbes.com it received ten million views.

Now, for the first time, Morin expands upon the thirteen things from her viral post and shares her tried-and-true practices for increasing mental strength. Morin writes with searing honesty, incorporating anecdotes from her work as a college psychology instructor and psychotherapist as well as personal stories about how she bolstered her own mental strength when tragedy threatened to consume her.

Increasing your mental strength can change your entire attitude. It takes practice and hard work, but with Morin's specific tips, exercises, and troubleshooting advice, it is possible to not only fortify your mental muscle but also drastically improve the quality of your life.

W.J. King
Some years ago the author became very much impressed with the fact, which can be observed in any engineering organization, that the chief obstacles to the success of individual engineers or of the group comprising a unit were of a personal and administrative rather than a technical nature. It was apparent that both the author and his associates were getting into much more trouble by violating the unwritten laws of professional conduct than by committing technical sins against the well-documented laws of science. Since the former appeared to be indeed unwritten at that time, as regards any adequate and convenient text, the following “laws” were originally formulated and collected into a sort of scrapbook, to provide a set of “house rules,” or a professional code, for a design-engineering section of a large manufacturing organization. Although they are admittedly fragmentary and incomplete, they are offered here for whatever they may be worth to younger men just starting their careers, and to older men who know these things perfectly well but who all too often fail to apply them in practice.


Just a few points should be emphasized: None of these “laws” is theoretical or imaginary, and however obvious and trite they may appear, their repeated violation is responsible for much of the frustration and embarrassment to which engineers everywhere arc liable. In fact this paper is primarily a record, derived from direct observation over a period of seventeen years, of the experience of four engineering departments, three of them newly organized and struggling to establish themselves by the trial-and-error method. It has, however, been supplemented and confirmed by the experience of others as gathered from numerous discussions, lectures, and the literature, so that it most emphatically does not reflect the unique experience or characteristics of any one organization.


Furthermore, many of these rules are generalizations to which exceptions will occur in special circumstances. There is no thought of urging a slavish adherence to rules and red tape, for there is no substitute for judgment, and at times vigorous individual initiative is needed to cut through formalities in an emergency. But in many respects these laws are like the basic laws of society; they cannot be violated too often with impunity, notwithstanding striking exceptions in individual cases. 

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