best business books of all time
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10 Best Business Books of All Time
10 Best Business Books of All Time
1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by Jim Collins
2. The One Thing You Need to Know: ... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success by Marcus Buckingham
3. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) by Patrick Lencioni
4. First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham
5. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials) by Jim Collins
6. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
7. Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money--That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
8. The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership (J-B Warren Bennis Series) by Steven B. Sample
9. Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
10. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson10 Biz Books to Read This Summer
Whether you're looking for something to read while eating lunch or lounging on the beach, these out-of-the-ordinary books will make you excited about getting back to work.You probably haven't received a reading list since you were in school. But don't worry, this one includes selections that definitely won't feel like homework.
Since most entrepreneurs can't ever truly leave their work behind--even on vacation--we've selected titles that will seem more like pleasure than business. You can feel better knowing that even though you're reading about crazy bosses, Marine Corps adventures and Buddha, you'll be making yourself a better business owner at the same time. Whether you're looking for inspiration, humor or more traditional business advice, we've found a mix of all three in the following 10 titles.
Bill & Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World's Greatest Company(Portfolio, 2007) byMichael S. MaloneWhy this book stands out:There are plenty of books about corporate giants and how they came to be. What sets Bill & Dave apart is its focus on how ethics and integrity helped the Hewlett-Packard founders build a global empire. With corporate scandals still making the news, this book is a refreshing read that will not only validate, but also increase your admiration for William Hewlett and David Packard.
Who should read it:CEOs, entrepreneurs and anyone who aspires to add those titles to their resume.
Blog Schmog: The Truth About What Blogs Can (and Can't) Do For Your.Business(Thomas Nelson, 2007) byRobert W. BlyWhy this book stands out:Blogging has been surrounded by an abundance of hype in the last few years. But this book challenges the assertion that for your business to succeed, you have to maintain a blog. Robert Bly takes a scrutinizing look at the drawbacks and potential benefits of blogs and admits he's received criticism for his skeptical approach.
Who should read it:Business owners thinking about starting a blog--or who already have a blog--will want to consider Bly's analysis. Bloggers will also benefit from Bly's practical tips on how to make a blog effective.
Coolhunting: Chasing Down the Next Big Thing(AMACOM, 2007) byPeter Gloor and Scott CooperWhy this book stands out:Are you a trendsetter or a trend-follower? If you're the latter,Coolhuntingaims to change that. Authors Peter Gloor and Scott Cooper say anyone can anticipate the next big trend before it launches, regardless of their coolness quotient.
Who should read it:Company leaders involved in social networking will want to read this book, as it discusses MySpace and Friendster as key components to understanding "coolhunting," though the authors elaborate on how the practice affects all fields of business.
Crazy Bosses(Collins, 2007) byStanley BingWhy this book stands out:We've all complained at one time or another about a boss that absolutely drove us crazy. But few of us have gone so far as to publish a book about the dilemma. Stanley Bing has--twice. Bing published his first version ofCrazy Bossesin 1992, and decided to take another stab at it by compiling even more hilarious stories about demented bosses than the first time around.
Who should read it:Employees can learn how to better deal with their bosses' power trips, while anyone with leadership responsibilities can learn how to manage more effectively.
New Ideas from Dead CEOs: Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office(Collins, 2007) byTodd G. BuchholzWhy this book stands out:If the title alone doesn't catch your attention, the stories will. Following the success ofNew Ideas from Dead Economists, Todd Buchholz explores the lives of 10 of the greatest CEOs of all time, including Este Lauder, Ray Kroc, Walt Disney, Mary Kay Ash and Tom Watson Sr.
Who should read it:The audience for this book isn't limited to entrepreneurs or business people.New Ideas from Dead CEOsdetails inspirational stories from the greatest business minds in history. Anyone can learn from their struggles, setbacks and, ultimately, successes.
No Yelling:The Nine Secrets of Marine Corps Leadership You Must Know to Win in Business, (FireStarter Speaking and Consulting 2006) byWally AdamchikWhy this book stands out:No Yellingdelves deep into the world of the Marine Corps by providing more than 100 interviews with current and former Marines who also succeeded in the private sector. Wally Adamchik raises a topic, such as integrity or self-awareness, and then gives both a civilian example and a Marine example of that aspect of leadership in action.
Who should read it:Anyone who wants to hone their leadership skills and learn tried-and-true ways to motivate employees.
Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality(McGraw-Hill Business, 2007) byChristine Comaford-LynchWhy this book stands out:Christine Comaford-Lynch's reputation as a "renegade entrepreneur" is apt. From a romantic rendezvous with Bill Gates during her Microsoft days to her adventures as a monk, Comaford-Lynch spices up this atypical business book by providing juicy details, while still integrating the valuable business lessons she's learned.
Who should read it:Whether you're a wannabe entrepreneur or already run an established business, there's bound to be a story in this book that will interest you. The only drawback: You'll have to wait until September to check out this humorous and witty read.
Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Lost $4 Million (An Entrepreneur's Education)(Soft Skull Press, 2007) byDavid SilvermanWhy this book stands out:David Silverman's book tells the true story of his experience borrowing his father's life savings to purchase a struggling typesetting company in Iowa. He writes with humor about the hardships he faced in trying to boost employee morale while digging the company out of a deepening hole.
Who should read it:If you own your own business or feel the entrepreneurial twitch, you'll be able to empathize with Silverman's struggles and failures as he desperately tries to pursue his American dream.
Your Management Sucks: Why You Have to Declare War on Yourself.and Your.Business(Crown Business, 2006) byMark StevensWhy this book stands out:Mark Stevens isn't afraid to take a different approach to management, as evidenced by his bold title. Stevens asserts business people will never get anywhere by following the rules and being team players. Instead, he encourages aspiring CEOs, entrepreneurs and leaders to be business outlaws by shoving the rule book aside and rebelling their way to the top.
Who should read it:Stevens' seven-point plan will help anyone in a leadership position identify weaknesses in their managerial philosophy so they can become the leaders they've always wanted to be.
Buddha: 9 to 5 - The Eightfold Path to Enlightening Your Workplace and Improving Your Bottom Line(Adams Media, 2007) byNancy SpearsWhy this biz book stands out:First, this 6-inch-by-6-inch book is just the right size to fit in your carry-on or beach bag. But more importantly, it succeeds in mixing Buddha's teachings with today's corporate culture. Nancy Spears guides readers through applying a Buddhist practice known as the Eightfold Path to their own office environment.
Who should read it:If you're a bit skeptical about taking business advice from Buddha, you're probably not alone. But Spears anticipates that cynicism by providing relevant exercises and case studies from companies that benefited from her spiritual practices.
Want more? On July 20, Entrepreneur.com is launching a column devoted to books that will help you and your business grow and succeed. So stay tuned for insightful book reviews and recommendations.25 Best Business Books Ever
Posted ByDreaOn July 31, 2008 @ 6:42 am InBooks,Business-General,Reviews|36 CommentsWhat makes a business book the best?Best-selling? Most influential? Timelessness? Categorical relevance?
Business Pundit sifted through numerous categories and resources to come up with this list of the 25 Best Business Books Ever. We didnt concern ourselves with categories (management, sales, etc.) or timeliness of subject matter. Instead, we focused on the following question: Based on prominent reviews, academic use, and popularity, which business books would be considered classics? Of those, which are the best?
We think that really smart, successful businesspeople know that their education is lifelong and diverse. Nevertheless, while many corporate leaders will cite Sun TzusThe Art of Warand Niccol MachiavellisThe Princeas invaluable business tomes, we stuck with books written for a business-minded readership.
25. The Wealth of Nationsby Adam Smith1991
First published in 1776, this broad-ranging exploration of commercial and economic first principles laid the philosophical foundations for modern capitalism and the free-market economy. Smiths central thesis is that capital can best be used to create both individual and national wealth in conditions of minimal government interference. He believed that free-market competition advances both the vitality of commercial activity and the ultimate good of all a nations citizens.
Click here for more information onThe Wealth of Nations24. The Functions of the Executiveby Chester I. Barnard1968
This collection of Barnards lectures on management, though dated in its language, remains relevant, notably in his promotion of clear, short communication channels and managerial morality. A successful executive himself as well as a theorist, Barnard broadened the managerial role from one that assesses, controls, and supervises, to one that nurtures the organizations values and goals, and translates them into action, thereby defining a purpose and moral code that pervades the organization.
Click here for more information onThe Functions of the Executive23. The Principles of Scientific Managementby Frederick Winslow Taylor1911
In its day, this book advanced management as a discrete field requiring formal training, and systematized human work into rigorously measured, optimizable processes.
Arguing that the inefficiency in almost all of our daily acts can be remedied by systematic management, rather than in searching for some unusual or extraordinary man, Taylor aimed to determine the best practices for every job. His principles influenced working methods and managerial attitudes for most of the 20th century, particularly in mass-production industriescompanies that emphasize quantity over quality.
Click here for more information onThe Principles of Scientific Management22. The Human Side of EnterpriseDouglas McGregor1960
Psychologist McGregor revolutionized human relations management by distinguishing the two ways managers view employees and consequently manage them, ultimately producing the accordant behavior in them. Theory X assumes that workers are inherently lazy and need to be motivated and supervised; Theory Y assumes that people are self-motivated and self-directed. McGregors fundamental principles, says author Gary Hamel, underlie the work of modern management thinkers from Drucker to Deming to Peters, and the employment practices of the worlds most progressive and successful companies.
Click here for more information onThe Human Side of Enterprise
21. Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterpriseby Alfred D. Chandler1962
A business historian, Chandler was one of the first scholars to systematically examine the corporate structure of large companies. Considered a theoretical masterpiece, this booknamely, its now-debated conclusion that strategy should drive structureplayed a leading role in the profitable decentralization of leading corporations in the 1960s and 1970s.
Click here for more information onStrategy and Structure20. Organizational Culture and Leadershipby Edgar H. Stein1992
Organizational development pioneer Schein introduced, into the management debate, culture as a constantly changing force in an organizations lifeand one that must be understood for there to be successful change. In successive editions of this book, the author draws on contemporary research to redefine culture, including the notion of subcultures, and shows how to transform this abstract concept into a practical tool for understanding and influencing organizational dynamics.
Click here for more information onOrganizational Culture and Leadership19. The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nationsby James Surowieki2004
First developed in his Financial Page column of The New Yorker, Surowiekis ideas contradict the long-held distrust of masses and groupthink: Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliantbetter at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future. The author animates his rigorous argument with pertinent anecdotes and case studies from business, social psychology, sports, and everyday life. Author Po Bronson insists, This book should be in every thinking businesspersons library. Without exception.
Click here for more information onThe Wisdom of Crowds18. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Centuryby Thomas L Friedman2005
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman presents this timely, indispensable update on globalization, its successes and shortcomings, with the same urgent curiosity, panache, and illumination that has earned him three Pulitzer Prizes. With his incomparable ability to elucidate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the beginning of the 21st century, and what globalizationboth an opportunity and a threatmeans to countries, companies, communities, and individuals. In his 2006 hardcover update, with 100 pages of revised and expanded material, Friedman makes specific recommendations about the technical and creative training he believes will be needed to compete in the New Middle class.
Click here for more information onThe World Is Flat17. Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabiscoby Bryan Burrough and John Helyar1990
This narrative has been called one of the most influential business books ever, as the definitive account of the largest takeover in Wall Street history at that time: the landmark leveraged buyout of the RJR Nabisco Corporation for $25 billion in 1988. Cinematic and gripping, yet remarkably judicious, this book by two skilled journalists has sold more than 500,000 copies and inspired an HBO movie. Its graphic portrayal of how financial operations at the highest levels are conducted is considered must-reading for those who want to know how the world really works.
Click here for more information onBarbarians at the Gate16. My Years with General Motorsby Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.1963
Sloans as told to opus still stands as the most cogent expression of the managerial philosophy that dominated American business for most of the 20th century. With insightful authority, this fabled CEO chronicles General Motors resurrection, under his leadership, from a nearly bankrupt enterprise in the early 1900s to the worlds greatest industrial corporation when he retired in 1956.
Particularly striking is this books unintentional expression of a value system: a relentless commitment to the engineering worldview of efficiency as paramount. Sloans simultaneous decentralization of manufacturing and centralization of corporate policy and financial controls became the basis for an organizational model that dominated American industry for more than half a century.
Click here for more information onMy Years with General Motors15. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organizationby Peter M. Senge1990
Based on 15 years of experience putting the ideas into practice, this bestselling classic popularized the concept of the learning organization, a holistic approach that prioritizes learningnew and expansive patterns of thinkingas both an individual and a group experience. Senge argues that changing individuals so that they produce results they care about [and] accomplish things that are important to them faster than the competiton does is, in the long run, the only sustainable competitive advantage.
Because the learning organization requires managers to surrender their traditional spheres of power and control, and because it demands trust, involvement, and the allowance for experimentation and failure, it has rarely been converted into a reality. Nevertheless, Senges ideas have affected the rewards and remuneration strategies of many companies.
Click here for more information onThe Fifth Discipline14. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Dont Work and What to Do about Itby Michael E. Gerber1985
This underground bestseller dispels the commonplace assumptions surrounding starting and running a successful small business. Two of Gerbers most incisive observations are that (1) many entrepreneurs know considerably more about producing what they sell than about operating their business, and (2) the entrepreneur must work on your business, not in your business. This book intelligently and comprehensively charts an approach to systematizing a new business so that it grows beyond the capacities of its creator.
Click here for more information onThe E-Myth Revisited13. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Differenceby Malcolm Gladwell2000
Drawing on a fascinating array of research findings and real-world examples, Gladwell presents a concise, elegant, erudite analysis of mass behavioral change that is strikingly counterintuitive. Regarded among marketing and sales professionals as one of the best books on the economics of popular culture, this entertaining read is, says author Jeffrey Toobin, one of those rare books that changes the way you think about, well, everything.
Click here for more information onThe Tipping Point12. Competing for the Futureby Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad1994
This definitive book on contemporary business strategy criticizes the narrow mechanistic view of strategy and calls for an approach that is multifaceted, emotional as well as analytical, and concerned with meaning, purpose, and passion. The authors say their work provides would-be revolutionaries with the tools and concepts they need to challenge the protectors of the past. They argue that too many leaders, stuck in the day-to-day details of running their businesses, fail to prepare their companies for the future, and that crafting a strategic architecture around a companys core competencies is the solution.
Click here for more information onCompeting for the Future11. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leapand Others Dontby Jim Collins2001
Measuring sustained results over a period of 15 years, Collins identifies, from an original list of 1435, 11 well-established companies that made the leap from being good to being great.
Applicable to entrepreneurs as well as corporations, this carefully researched book singles out what Collins calls Level 5 Leadershipa paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional willas the critical factor in those transformations. Such natural leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company, which begins with getting the right peoplethose with discipline and resolvein the right positions. Challenging the conventional notion of the outgoing, high-profile CEO, an effective leader moves with selfless determination, inspiring average performers to become great producers.
Theres been a lot ofcontroversy about this bookon Business Pundit. Is Good to Great too general, too philosophical? Is its research flawed? Have Fannie Mae and Circuit City proven Level 5 principles wrong?
The book still found its place on this list based on our selection criteria. When we compiled these books and scrutinized Good to Great, we realized that its not the only classic subject to pointedand validcritiques. If we removed Good to Great from the list based on BPs prior post, wed have to remove a whole bunch of other books, too.
Click here for more information onGood to Great10. Out of the Crisisby W. Edwards Deming1982
This classic on quality management reflects Demings experience introducing statistical methods for quality measurement and improvement to Japan in the 1960s. Aiming to transform the U.S. style of management and governmental relations with industry, the author blends statistics and common sense to challenge American business practices at almost every point, launching the quality revolution here. Citing poor management, not lazy workers, as responsible for most quality problems, this book, in simple, direct language, offers a theory of management based on Demings notable 14 Points of Management, and explains how to apply them to boost quality.
Click here for more information onOut of the Crisis9. Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolutionby Michael Hammer and James Champy1993
Though based on the relatively dry field of operations research, this book became a prominent bestseller in its heyday, replacing much of the received wisdom of the last 200 years of industrial management with a radical prescription for rebuilding businesses wholesale to achieve dramatic performance gains.
Unfortunately, this pioneering book garnered some controversy, largely because corporate cost-cutters used the concept of reengineering to justify mass layoffs. Acknowledging that reengineering can be difficult to launch and to sustain, the authors provide clear and specific guidelines, numerous examples, and in-depth case studies.
Click here for more information onReengineering the Corporation8. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companiesby James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras1994
Drawing on six years of innovative research, Collins and Porras identify 18 exceptional, long-lasting companies and directly compare each with one of its top competitors, over time. With entertaining case histories, they discredit the longstanding beliefs that a successful business is founded by a charismatic, visionary leader and begins with a great product. Rather, they argue, enduring organizations demonstrate core values and a core purpose that remain fixed, while their business strategies and practices adapt endlessly to a changing world. Organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, this book provides a master blueprint for building a great and enduring company.
Click here for more information onBuilt to Last7. The Practice of Managementby Peter F. Drucker1954
Considered the foremost management and business thinker of the 20th century, Drucker was the first to depict management as a distinct function, a separate responsibility in the workplace: the work of getting work done through and with other people. This still-relevant book holds that management was one of the major social innovations of the last century, and it poses three now-classic business questions: What is our business? Who is our customer? What does our customer consider valuable?
According to author Gary Hamel, No other writer has contributed as much to the professionalization of management as Peter Drucker. [He] bridges the theoretical and the practical, the analytical and the emotive, the private and the social more perfectly than any other management writer.
Click here for more information onThe Practice of Management
6. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitorsby Michael E. Porter1980
Now in its 63rd printing in English, with translations in 19 languages, this modern classic filled a void in management thinking, transforming the theory, practice, and teaching of business strategy. Strikingly accessible, Porters analysis of industries captures the complexity of industry competition in three generic strategies and five competitive forces that have been internalized and applied by managers, investment analysts, consultants, students, and scholars throughout the world.
This seminal book changed conventional thinking around strategy, offering a method whereby a company can examine not just its particular industry but its place in it, that is, its essential differentiation from its competitors that can be sold to the customer. Author Gary Hamel says, [I]t is an unfailing guide to whether some particular strategy, once articulated, can be counted on to produce worthwhile profits.
Click here for more information onCompetitive Strategy5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Changeby Stephen R. Covey1989
Having developed the concept of this groundbreaking, long-term bestseller by studying literature going back more than 200 years, Covey bases his approach on relatively immutable personal human values. Unlike many a self-improvement author, however, he doesnt promise a quick fix; rather, he calls for a paradigm shifta revolutionary change in ones perceptions and interpretations of how the world works. And with different thinking comes different actions that will profoundly affect ones productivity and effectiveness.
Be proactive. Begin with an end in mind. Put first things first. Think win/win. Seek first to understand. Synergize. Renewal. With penetrating insights and cogent anecdotes, Covey presents a highly structured, holistically integrated methodology for creating balance, and hence success, in ones personal and professional lives.
Click here for more information onThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People4. The One-Minute Managerby Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson1981
Millions of managers in Fortune 500 companies and small businesses around the globe have followed the timeless principles of this first mega-bestselling business book, presented as a parable. Concisely elegant, this narrative reveals three practical management secrets: One-Minute Goals, One-Minute Praisings, and One-Minute Reprimandsa concept that has spawned numerous One-Minute titles, for endeavors from parenting to golfing.
Blanchard and Johnson ground their ideas in studies in medicine and the behavioral sciences to explain why the one-minute techniques work with so many people, in so many environments.
Click here for more information onThe One-Minute Manager3. How to Win Friends & Influence Peopleby Dale Carnegie1937
Having sold more than 15 million copies, this seminal self-improvement book continues to guide managers in the universal challenge of face-to-face communication.
A master of human nature, Carnegie advises that [w]hen dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity. He argues that success is only 15% professional knowledge; the remaining 85% is the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.
Click here for more information onHow to Win Friends & Influence People2. The Innovators Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Failby Clayton M. Christensen1997Examining a variety of leading well-managed companies that have failed to capitalize on innovative technologies, Christensen explains, with striking clarity and style, how to manage breakthrough products successfully when customers may not be ready for them.
His argument that overdependence on customer needs, or on the most profitable products, can damage a companys success challenges the marketing and customer service books that put customer focus at the top of the corporate agenda. Considered a paradigmatic marketing visionary, Christensen highlights the problems inherent in what appears to be sound decision making, and rigorously demonstrates that companies will fall behind if they fail to adapt or adopt new technologies that will meet customers unstated or future needs.
Illustrating his points with anecdotes of historical figures, business leaders, and ordinary folks, Carnegie instructs the reader in how to change people, how to win them over to your way of thinking, without causing offense or resentment, and without making them feel manipulated. He teaches these skills through the underlying principle that people want to feel important and appreciated. Carnegie was the first to create a flourishing, credible, long-term business out of his ideas.
Click here for more information onThe Innovators Dilemma1. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best-Run Companiesby Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.1982Highly influential when global competition, largely from Japan, had brought Western business to a low, this quintessential business book describes eight enduring management principles that made the forty-three companies surveyed excellent. The authors focus exclusively on big companies, namely big manufacturers, but ironically condemn the excesses of modern management practice and advocate a return to simpler virtues. They have since come to feel that their ideas are better embodied in smaller companies.
Through lively case studies, this very readable classic forces a look at the fundamentals, at first principles that give a company its soul: Attention to customers, an abiding concern for people (productivity through people), the celebration of trial and error. A driving force in the subsequent deluge of business books, this trailblazer established customer service as a key form of differentiation and advantage, and launched the author-as-consultant/speaker/celebrity phenomenon.
Click here for more information onIn Search of ExcellenceSources:Perseus Publishings The Best Business Books Ever: The 100 Most Influential Management Books Youll Never Have Time to Read, Forbes, Business Week, U.S. News & World Report, a variety of lists located around the Web, and our own subjective reading experiences.10 Overrated Business Books (and What to Read Instead)
If youre like most professionals, youve got a stack of business books sitting somewhere near your desk many of the so-called classics that every smart manager supposedly needs to read. Frankly, however, we think that some of these classics became popular not because they were particularly insightful, but because they reinforced conventional business wisdom. Heres our list of overrated classics, broken up by genre. As an alternative to these over-hyped tomes, weve included a suggested reading list that might provide some insights you didnt already know.
1. Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution by Michael Hammer and James Champy (Collins, 2003)
Publishers blurb:This book leads readers through the radical redesign of a companys processes, organization, and culture to achieve a quantum leap in performance.
Excerpt:Corporations do not perform badly because, as some critics have claimed, workers are lazy and managements are inept. Our record of industrial and technological accomplishment in the last century is proof enough that managements are not inept and workers do work. Ironically, the explanation for why companies perform badly is the identical explanation for why they used to perform so well.
Why its overrated:The tautological reasoning (see excerpt) inherent in the reengineering concept immediately became weasel-speak for the downsizing craze, eviscerating companies while producing no lasting value.
Read this instead:The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam by Barbara Tuchman (Knopf, 1984)
Why:It gives a great explanation of cognitive dissonance the reason that management fads always fail.
Excerpt:For the ruler it is easier, once he has entered a policy box, to stay inside. For the lesser official it is better, for the sake of his position, not to make waves, not to press evidence that the chief will find painful to accept.
2. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best-Run Companies by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman (Harpercollins, 1982)
Publishers blurb:Based on a study of forty-three of America's best-run companies from a diverse array of business sectors, describes eight basic principles of management action-stimulating, people-oriented, profit-maximizing practices that made these organizations successful.
Excerpt:But primarily the ferment is around another stream of thoughts that follows from some startling ideas about the limited capacity of decision makers to handle information and reach what we usually think of as rational decisions, and the even lesser likelihood that large collectives (i.e. organizations) will automatically execute the complex strategic design of the rationalists.
Why its overrated:The excellent companies mostly went smack down the toilet.
Read this instead: The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams (Harper Business, 1996)
Why:Youll know exactly why excellent companies go smack down the toilet.
Excerpt:Employees like to feel that their contributions are being valued. Thats why managers try to avoid that sort of thing. With value comes self-esteem and with self-esteem comes unreasonable requests for money.
Management Role Models
3. Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts (Grand Central Publishing, 1989)
Publishers blurb:In a uniquely creative and entertaining approach to a most serious task, Attila reveals his principles for successful morale building, decision making, delegating and negotiating, and gives advice on overcoming setbacks and achieving goals.
Excerpt:The mere presence of the horde often instilled sufficient terror in the people of a region that they abandoned their villages without either resistance or subsequent reprisal. Out of this perplexing and barbaric past rose one of the most formidable leaders the world has known: Attila, King of Huns.
Why its overrated:While most managers would love to behead disobedient employees, such behavior reads poorly in the annual report.
Read this instead:The Art of War by Sun Tzu (various editions)
Why:If youre going to bloviate about business and warfare, you may as well quote the classic source.
Excerpt:There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor, which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
4. JackWelch & the G.E. Way: Management Insights and Leadership Secrets of the Legendary CEO by Robert Slater (McGraw-Hill, 1998)
Publishers blurb:The legendary maverick discusses the traits that led BusinessWeek to anoint Welch, the gold standard against which other CEOs are measured.
Excerpt:In order to make General Electric truly competitive, he would have to put it through more dramatic and far-reaching changes that any major American business enterprise had ever undertaken.
Why its overrated:GE is an entirely unique organization and Jack Welch was an idiosyncratic leader. What worked for him (there) wont likely work for you (here).
Read this instead:Crazy Bosses by Stanley Bing (Collins, 2007)
Why:These are the managers that youre actually going to run into, so youd better be prepared for them.
Excerpt:There are two ways to look at it. Either (a) the business world is a sane place dominated by a couple of crazy people who ruin everything or (b) the organizations we serve are basically crazy, and you need to be crazy to manage them. After years of studying the subject, Im weighing in on (b).
5. Jesus CEO by Laurie Beth Jones (Hyperion, 1995)
Publishers blurb:By harnessing three categories of strength behind Jesus leadership techniques (the strength of self-mastery, the strength of action, and the strength of relationships), each of us can become the empowered leaders that the next millennium will require.
Excerpt:I believe that Jesus had to go into the wilderness to find out who he was that a wilderness experience was as much a part of his shaping and destiny as it is yours and mine.
Why its overrated:While many managers think theyre God and manage accordingly, the historical Jesus espoused a communal lifestyle in direct opposition to (Roman) capitalism.
Read this instead:The Book of Proverbs (in the Bible)
Why:A collection of wisdom that completely transcends religion.
Excerpt:Better a dry crust and with it peace than a house where feast and dispute go together.
6. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey (Free Press, 1989)
Publishers blurb:Presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems.
Excerpt:The Character Ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.
Why its overrated:Insufferably sanctimonious.
Read this instead:The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (various editions)
Why:It will provide you with the precise moral foundation youll need to be successful on the corporate ladder.
Excerpt:Upon this a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with.
7. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson (HarperCollins, 1981)
Publishers blurb:For more than 20 years, millions of managers in Fortune 500 companies and small businesses nationwide have followedThe One Minute Manager's techniques, thus increasing their productivity, job satisfaction, and personal prosperity.
Excerpt:Effective managers he thought, manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organization and the people profit from their presence.
Why its overrated:A collection of feel-good bromides and obvious anecdotes thats main benefit is its brevity.
Read this instead:The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White (various editions)
Why:Spend a half-hour reading this tiny book, and youll learn how to write good business prose.
Excerpt:Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
8. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson (Putnam Adult, 1998)
Publishers blurb:An amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a Maze and look for Cheese to nourish them and keep them happy.
Excerpt:Two were mice named Sniff and Scurry and two were Littlepeople beings who were as small as mice but who looked and acted a lot like people today. Their names were Hem and Haw.
Why its overrated:Gives the term cheesy new meaning.
Read this instead:How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff (W.W. Norton, 1954)
Why:If you want to read a short book, this one will open your eyes. Youll never look at a corporate presentation or the evening news exactly the same way again.
Excerpt:No conclusion that 67 percent of the American people are against something or other should be read without the lingering question, 67 percent of which American people?
9. Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work by Jack Canfield, etc. (HCI, 1996)
Publishers blurb:A special collection of inspiring tales that share the daily courage, compassion, and creativity that take place in workplaces everywhere.
Excerpt:The thoughtfulness, empathy, and love of this convenience store manager demonstrates vividly that people remember more how much an employer cares than how much the employer pays.
Why its overrated:Sentimental treacle has its place, but work is work, not some touchy-feely seminar.
Read this instead:The Complete Yes Minister by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay (BBC Worldwide Americas, 1989)
Why:Based on the popular British TV show, it explains exactly how and why bureaucracies work, whether in governments or corporations. Plus youll finally understand why the Brits now hate Blair.
Excerpt:It is the Law of Inverse Relevance: the less you intend to do about something, the more you have to keep talking about it.
10. Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids That You Can Learn Too by Robert T. Kiyosaki (Time Warner Paperbacks, 2002)
Publishers blurb:Will explode the myth that you need to earn a high income to become rich, challenge the belief that your house is an asset [and] teach you what to teach your kids about money for their future financial success.
Excerpt:What greatly disturbed me was how little these people [a banker, a business owner, and a computer programmer] knew about either accounting or investing, subjectsso important in their lives. I wondered how they managed their own financial affairs in real life.
Why its overrated:Own your own business, invest in real estate, dont buy stock and useless crap, and drive a junker car. There, we just saved you $10.
Read this instead:A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investingby Burton G. Malkiel (W.W. Norton, 2007)
Why:Since youre probably not going to start your own business and youve alreadygot money in the stock market, youd best know how to invest wisely.
Excerpt:All investment returns whether from common stocks or exceptional diamonds are dependent, to varying degrees, on future events. That's what makes the fascination of investing: It's a gamble whose success depends on an ability to predict the future.
The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers. Not to be missed! Probably one of the only business books based on actual data. Explodes a lot of the myths, and just as applicable to startups as to mid-size companies
Good In A Room: How to Sell Yourself and Win Over Any Audience (Stephanie Palmer). I have read the last chapter, and I hope the rest of the book is as good.
The Mom Inventor's Handbook (Tamara Monosoff). Our lifesaver and THE book that got us going.
A new Brand World: Eight Principles For Achieving Brand Leadership in the Twenty-First Century (Scott Bedbury)
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Malcolm Gladwell). Not specifically business, but quite a relevant read
Inc. Magazine (not a book, but we read it regularly for useful tidbits)
Thinking Inside The Box: 12 Timeless Rules for Managing a Successful Business (Kirk Cheyfitz)