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The Agenda: What Every Business Must Do to Dominate the Decade Hardcover – October 9, 2001

29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

"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

From Publishers Weekly

While suppliers once dominated their customers because the latter were competing for scarce goods, now, with the late 20th-century's increase in production capacity, "sellers have become supplicants for scarce buyers." In his fourth book, Hammer (Reengineering the Corporation) heralds the arrival of the new "customer economy," exhorting corporations everywhere to prepare for it by implementing his agenda. Each of the nine chapters devoted to business innovation principles diagnoses a corporate disease, offers a cure, provides brief case histories of companies undergoing treatment and summarizes what the reader should remember when attempting to remedy his own company. But this quick and occasionally entertaining read is often superficial: a chapter describing the power of the Internet to break down intercorporate barriers fails to answer basic questions about vulnerabilities assumed by companies outsourcing essential business functions or sharing information. His broad subjects require corporate case studies to provide needed detail; instead, the reader is offered anecdotes. And exhortations like "to create a customer-centered company, everyone... will have to work extra hard, learn new skills, cope with unfamiliar problems, and in general rise to the occasion" are unhelpful. Nor are Hammer's assumptions always realistic: constructing powerful computer interfaces to help customers help themselves is not the low-cost, complete customer service panacea Hammer claims it to be. After all, readers familiar with automated phone-navigation systems or customer service links replaced by FAQ links on Web sites may wonder where the "customer economy" concept really exists in practice.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609609661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609609668
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There's an old saying to the effect that a carpenter sees every problem as a nail. To Dr. Hammer, every opportunity or problem looks like it needs new and better processes.
The Agenda is structured as follows:
It makes the case that business is "not so easy any more."
Then Dr. Hammer describes 9 ways that companies have been and could continue to improve. Become easy to do business with. Make what you provide more valuable to customers. Focus on improving processes. Where you have no processes, make some. Put in processes for all of your innovation. Use measurements to improve processes in ways that help customers. Tear down functional and business unit walls. Look beyond immediate customers to the ultimate end user, and partner with distributors to be more effective. Lower barriers between your company, customers, and suppliers. Do less, and electronically connect yourself with outsourced partners. Think of all this as the left-brained approach to whole brain problems.
Then in two final chapters, you are given tools for implementing this agenda. These include watching out for new trends and making your organization more nimble in adapting to new conditions. You are also encouraged to focus your leadership on taking a series of coordinated steps forward in putting these many new processes in place. He predicts it will be "a trying experience." Since this agenda is much more extensive than reeengineering was, that may be an understatement. Most people found reengineering to be pretty trying.
Is there a single new idea in the book? I'm not sure I found one. Is any idea explained better than in some other book? I don't think so. As a result, the mini-essays become very short statements of what are book-length problems.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Martin Schray on February 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The agenda is the latest book from process guru Michael Hammer. Hammer's others works include Reengineering The Corporation. The Agenda covers a wide range of topics, but has three main focuses:
Become customer focused and know your customer
Define, measure, and improve your processes
Processes must extend beyond corporate boundaries to encompass your complete value chain
These three main focuses are expanded and covered in the following nine points
1. Make yourself easy to do business with
2. Add more value for your customers
3. Obsess about your process
4. Turn creative work into process work
5. Use measurement for improving not accounting
6. Loosen your organizational structure
7. Sell through, not to, your distribution channels
8. Push past your boundaries in the pursuit of efficiency
9. Lose your identity in a extended enterprise
The Agenda is filled with great examples for all for each of the nine points. The Agenda offers a no nonsense view as to what businesses must do to thrive in this decade. The Agenda has a chapter that covers how to begin the extensive changes required to execute on Hammer's agenda and make it your own. The Agenda also addresses the type of organization change core competency that needs to be woven into the thread of Agenda companies.
A highly enjoyable and though provoking read. The Agenda is great material for both middle and senior management.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the Preface, Hammer makes a remarkable observation about the impact of a previous book, Reengineering the Corporation: Since its publication, "businesspeople have been deluged with books promising simple recipes for eternal victory. Perhaps part of my atonement for this unintentional transgression has been to write The Agenda." In his newest book, Hammer identifies and illuminates "a set of nine emerging business concepts that underlie how the best companies around are mastering today's turbulent environment." He devotes a separate chapter to each of the nine "Agenda Items." They are:
1. Make yourself easy to do business with you (ETDBW)
2. Add more value for your customers (deliver MVA)
3. Create a process enterprise (make high performance possible)
4. Tame the beast of chaos with the power of process (systematize creativity)
5. Base managing on measuring (make managing part of management, not accounting)
Hammer: "The purpose of measuring is not to know how the business is performing but to enable it to perform better....A good measure must be accurate, actually capturing the condition it is supposed to describe. It must be objective, not subject to debate and dispute. It must be comprehensible, easily communicated and understood. It must be inexpensive and convenient to compute. It must be timely -- that is, not requiring a long delay between the occurrence of the condition and the availability of the data."
6. Loosen up your organizational structure (profit from the power of ambiguity)
7. Sell through, not to, your distribution channels (turn distribution chains into distribution communities)
8. Push past your boundaries in pursuit of efficiency (collaborate whenever and wherever you can)
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As a consultant, I often remind my clients that "Methods are method, principles are few. Methods frequently change, principles rarely do." Mr. Hammer's 9-point agenda is composed of basic principles (talk to the customer, make it easy for customers to buy, focus on processes, etc.). His 9-points have have been taught and recommended by many for years and years. What's new? Mr. Hammer now calls them The Agenda.
There is little to argue about in this book other than it's too long on principles, about right on examples and too short on "how to implement them".
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