Business Doctors – Sameer Kamat – Book Review


businessdoctors

Goodreads blurb: Ivy League educated management consultant, Michael Schneider, gets hired by an unlikely client – a mafia boss who wants to make a last desperate bid to resuscitate his family business that spans across gambling, drugs and porn.

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Quite a crisp and interesting blurb, wouldn’t you say. And for somebody like me who has always been fascinated by the underworld and how it operates and am also a MBA (from an IIM, no less) and has also worked in the consulting industry for a while, this blurb more than piqued my interest in the book. And when my good friend Sakshi Nanda reviewed this book on her blog [Link to review] I knew that I had to get around to reading it sometime soon. And as luck would have it, Sameer Kamat, the author contacted me on twitter and wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing the book. As they say in Hindi neki aur pooch pooch, I immediately agreed to do so.

The plot begins when Woody’s Family Business (WFB), the name by which Stephen Woody’s gang is known in LA is fading away into the sunset with all its operations running under losses. A third generation gangster, Woody is having to face the ignominy of all his business interests from gambling, drugs, pornography, extortion, being in the doldrums due to various reasons. Taking his wife’s advice he manages to get management consultancy firm Schneider Associates led by the main protagonist Michael Schneider to undertake an assignment to study the causes for the decline and propose recommendations to bring his empire back on track.

Schneider himself was almost staring down the barrel of a gun with the recession hitting him hard and no new business coming his way. Left with no choice he agrees to the offer from WFB and sets about on undertaking a deep dive into the business to understand and hopefully turn around the WFB.

The plot that follows displays the author’s masterful mish-mashing of two diametrically diverse worlds – management consulting and the underworld. Doing things the only way he know how to Michael starts off analyzing WFB using standard management consulting tools and methodologies, he analyzes each and every aspect of Woody’s businesses and tries to make sense of them using his consulting point of view. Along the way he realizes that while the basic approach works, he will have to customize some of his tools and his modus operandi to suit the situation and the assignment at hand. This leads to some unintentionally funny and at times dangerous situations as well.

Does Schneider manage to turn around WFB, do his presentations and methodologies filled with management funda and jargon manage to convince Woody and his business associates, does he manage to get a second lease on his own career and consultancy, these form the rest of the plot.

The author, being an MBA himself has a good hold on the management consulting parts of the book and manages to take us readers through the nitty-gritty of this particular profession. And to be honest, the way he brings out the universality of some of the most well known management concepts by using them in the underworld make for some interesting food for thought as well.

But to be honest, the entire underworld portion of the book where the author talks about the operations of the WFB seem to have been purposely dumbed down to a large extent. It is almost like the author wanted to cater to the ‘lowest common denominator’ segment of the readers in these portions. His descriptions of these operations are a little too simplistic and somewhat naïve even to be taken at face value. In any case, these are not so jarring that they spoil the entire book by itself.

In a nutshell, do read this book if you want to read a book in the ‘crime caper’ genre. Although strictly speaking, this is not a crime caper in the true sense of the word, but this plot could easily fit into that genre, simply because of the nice twist that the last ten odd pages provide. I must confess that I saw the twist coming, albeit not completely in the manner in which it finally presents itself.

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Disclaimer: This review is a ‘free’ commissioned review by the author. While I received the book free of cost, I declare that the review itself has not been influenced in any form or fashion by the author.

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About the author: Sameer Kamat is the founder of MBA Crystal Ball and Booksoarus. His first book, Beyond The MBA Hype published by HarperCollins, is currently in the third reprint. Business Doctors – Management Consulting Gone Wild is his second book.

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Name Business Doctors: Management Consulting gone wild
Author/s Sameer Kamat
Publisher Bookosaurus
Year published 2014
ISBN 13 9789351569640
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Flipkart
Amazon link Amazon
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10 thoughts on “Business Doctors – Sameer Kamat – Book Review

  1. You picked up the book cos you were a management student once, I’ll pick up the book cos I’m a fan of The Sopranos still 🙂 thanks for the review 🙂 will let you know how I liked the book.

  2. Good one.. I think we both reacted similar to it. Like you said the research on the underworld was not detailed but it sort of sufficed for this plot. overall i think it was a good entertaining read.

  3. I am no MBA, and I don’t even know the full form of IIM if you ask me. Those are hallowed portals made for the chosen few. Interestingly, the management jargon that you found “purposely dumbed down” helped me to understand the plot work as well as a field which, like I said, I have no clue about. Naive? I’m not sure! I like how you qualify the point you are making with ‘not so jarring’. Although, that does confuse me about your final impression/recommendation of the book.
    It is good to read a ‘consultant’s’ view about the book, but I do think that if Sameer – the consultant managed to keep it simple enough and YET engaging enough for dumb readers like myself, he was catering to any and all academic backgrounds. Which, I assume, an author tries his best to. And to have successfully managed that superimposition without generating yawns in return speaks about his writing skills. I do agree, in parts like the ” home prison” the “classes” got boring (as I mention in the review).
    Thankfully, I did not read this book as a ‘crime caper’. It would have failed in that genre, for me.
    Now, why have you tagged my review here?

    • @Sakshi, let me answer the question first, yours was the first review I read of the book and I was immediately piqued as this book combined two professions that I know about, crime and management consulting (which also equates to ‘white collared crime’ 😀 )

      Yes, while the dumbing down of the management jargon did help, my only gripe with the book was that the underworld does not function quite as simplistically as the author seems to suggest in the book. Not that I am an expert on the underworld, but have seen enough movies and TV series and read enough books to understand that there is a fair degree of sophistication involved in that profession. To assume that hardened underworld criminals like the ones that work in WFB would blindly go on to accept and even embrace Schneider’s interventions in how they do business just because they are sh** scared of their boss was something I found very hard to digest.

      In a nutshell, the book is Ok as long as you have ‘temporary suspension of disbelief’ which I guess all books of the ‘light reading’ type require anyways 🙂 My recommendation, go ahead and read the book, just don’t expect it to be mindblowing, earth-shattering, read it more like a light read to kill some time and be entertained, and you won’t be disappointed.

      • I agree with you whole-heartedly in your second para. In fact, I mention it in my review too. That the various goons come across as too dumb and that the underworld is much more sophisticated than that. I wish you had included this paragraph as is in the review. It is a very valuable feedback about this book.
        Thanks for including my link so gracefully. I would have gone off my rocker if you had quoted me and called me anonymous. 😛
        I love the ‘white-collared crime’ comment. 😀

    • @Bikramjit, trust me when I say this, but the author has done a good job of making all the management consulting jargon very simple and easy to understand 🙂

      • Yes sir , I trust you for sure .. BUT 🙂 can you trust me to understand still .. I am very dumb .. Trust me when i say that 🙂 he he he he

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