Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership, Bob Lutz

(Penguin, Rs. 599)

There are leaders and there are leaders. Some are easy to work with; some can leave you a mental wreck. More often than not, they are impatient, stubborn, opinionated, unsatisfied and domineering, and perhaps these qualities make them successful.

After an unparalleled 47 years as part of the auto industry, Bob Lutz retired as one of the most respected leaders in American business. He survived all kinds of managers over those decades: tough and timid, analytical and irrational, charismatic and antisocial and some who seemed to shift frequently among all those traits. His experiences made him an expert on leadership. These years have provided the fodder for this book on leaders — good, bad and ugly.

Sometimes shocking, but most definitely funny, these true stories have plenty of life lessons for readers. Not just that, every story, be it the sadism of a Marine Corps drill instructor or a washed-up alcoholic, is a document of the complexities that make people what they are. Nothing can fully capture their idiosyncrasies, foibles and weaknesses — which can make or break companies in the real world. Lutz shows that we can learn just as much from the most stubborn, stupid, and corrupt leaders as we can from inspiring geniuses.

Understanding the Linux Kernel, Daniel P Bovet, Marco Cesati

(O'Reilly, Rs. 675)

The Linux Kernel provides useful insights into how Linux works efficiently on a number of systems. Linux kernel is an operating system kernel that was first released in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The kernel manages all communication between the external world and the CPU, and specifies the order and method by which programmes utilise processor time, ensuring its efficient sharing across the hundreds of processes that make demands on processor time. It also organises data transfers ensuring that the CPU does not wait for too long for relatively slower disks.

This edition extensively discusses topics such as important algorithms, data structures, and programming secrets used in the kernel. Also, the theory behind the how and why of Linux functions is explained in depth. The book also enumerates the changes made to the kernel subsystem, especially in the areas of block devices and memory management. The book highlights programme execution, synchronisation that happens inside a kernel and Inter-process communication as well.

Much more than just an academic exercise, this book will help Linux users make the most of their systems.

Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Toy Industry, David Robertson, Bill Breen Edited By: Nigel Wilcockson

(Random House, Rs. 699)

They are one of the world’s best-loved toy makers. But what makes them tick?

By following the teams that are inventing some of the world's best-loved toys, this book provides a peek at the company's disciplined approach to harnessing creativity and recounts one of the most remarkable business transformations in recent memory.

Returning to the fold from the brink of bankruptcy, a new LEGO management team — faced with the growing rage for electronic toys, few barriers to entry, and ultra-demanding consumers (ten-year old boys) — reinvented the innovation rule book and transformed the company into one of the world's most profitable, fastest-growing ones. Some lessons taught are how to become customer-driven and learn to leverage a full-spectrum approach to innovation.

Businessmen and entrepreneurs can take a leaf out of this book and learn how to build by using their own innovation advantage, brick by brick.