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    25 Best Business Books Eve r

    Posted By Drea On July 31, 2008 @ 6:42 am In Books,Business-General,Reviews | 44 Comments

    What 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 25Best Business Books Ever. We didnt concern ourselves with categories (management, sales, etc.) ortimeliness of subject matter. Instead, we focused on the following question: Based on prominentreviews, academic use, and popularity, which business books would be considered classics? Ofthose, which are the best?

    We think that really smart, successful businesspeople know that their education is lifelong anddiverse. Nevertheless, while many corporate leaders will cite Sun Tzus The Art of Warand NiccolMachiavellis The Princeas invaluable business tomes, we stuck with books written for a business-minded readership.

    Also check out:The 50 Best Business Books (2012 Edition)[1]

    25 . The Wealth of Nations

    by Adam Smith



    First published in 1776, this broad-ranging exploration of commercial and economic first principleslaid the philosophical foundations for modern capitalism and the free-market economy. Smithscentral thesis is that capital can best be used to create both individual and national wealth inconditions of minimal government interference. He believed that free-market competition advancesboth the vitality of commercial activity and the ultimate good of all a nations citizens.

    Click here for more information on The Wealth of Nations


    24 . The Functions of the Executiveby Chester I . Barnard


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    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. Asuccessful executive himself as well as a theorist, Barnard broadened the managerial role from onethat assesses, controls, and supervises, to one that nurtures the organizations values and goals, andtranslates them into action, thereby defining a purpose and moral code that pervades theorganization.

    Click here for more information on The Functions of the Executive[3]

    23 . The Principles of Scientific Managem ent

    by Frederi ck Winslow Taylor



    In its day, this book advanced management as a discrete field requiring formal training, andsystematized human work into rigorously measured, optimizable processes.

    Arguing that the inefficiency in almost all of our daily acts can be remedied by systematicmanagement, rather than in searching for some unusual or extraordinary man, Taylor aimed todetermine the best practices for every job. His principles influenced working methods and managerialattitudes for most of the 20th century, particularly in mass-production industriescompanies that

    emphasize quantity over quality.

    Click here for more information on The Principles of Scientific Management[4]

    22. The Human Side of Enterprise

    Douglas McGrego r


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    Psychologist McGregor revolutionized human relations management by distinguishing the two waysmanagers view employees and consequently manage them, ultimately producing the accordantbehavior in them. Theory X assumes that workers are inherently lazy and need to be motivated andsupervised; Theory Y assumes that people are self-motivated and self-directed. McGregorsfundamental principles, says author Gary Hamel, underlie the work of modern managementthinkers from Drucker to Deming to Peters, and the employment practices of the worlds most

    progressive and successful companies.

    Click here for more information on The Hum an Side of Enter prise[5]

    21 . Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of t he I ndustr ial Enterprise

    by Alfred D. Chandler1962


    A business historian, Chandler was one of the first scholars to systematically examine the corporatestructure of large companies. Considered a theoretical masterpiece, this booknamely, itsnow-debated conclusion that strategy should drive structureplayed a leading role in the profitabledecentralization of leading corporations in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Click here for more information on Strategy and Structure[6]

    20 . Organizational Culture and Leadership

    by Edgar H. Stein


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    Organizational development pioneer Schein introduced, into the management debate, culture as aconstantly changing force in an organizations lifeand one that must be understood for there to besuccessful change. In successive editions of this book, the author draws on contemporary research toredefine culture, including the notion of subcultures, and shows how to transform this abstractconcept into a practical tool for understanding and influencing organizational dynamics.

    Click here for more information on Organizational Cultur e and Leadership[7]

    19 . The W isdom of Crowds: Why t he Many Are Smarte r Than the Few and How CollectiveW isdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies a nd Nations

    by James Surowieki



    First developed in his Financial Page column of The New Yorker, Surowiekis ideas contradict thelong-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 on The Wisdom of Crowds[8]

    18 . The W orld I s Flat: A Brief History of the Tw enty-f irst Century

    by Thom as L Friedm an


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    New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman presents this timely, indispensable update onglobalization, its successes and shortcomings, with the same urgent curiosity, panache, andillumination that has earned him three Pulitzer Prizes. With his incomparable ability to elucidatecomplex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the worldhappened at the beginning of the 21st century, and what globalizationboth an opportunity and athreatmeans 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 on The World I s Flat[9]

    17 . Barbar ians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco

    by Bryan Burr ough and John Helyar



    This narrative has been called one of the most influential business books ever, as the definitiveaccount of the largest takeover in Wall Street history at that time: the landmark leveraged buyout ofthe RJR Nabisco Corporation for $25 billion in 1988. Cinematic and gripping, yet remarkablyjudicious, 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 isconsidered must-reading for those who want to know how the world really works.

    Click here for more information on Barbarians at the Gate[10]

    16 . My Years w ith General Motorsby Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.


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    Sloans as told to opus still stands as the most cogent expression of the managerial philosophy thatdominated American business for most of the 20th century. With insightful authority, this fabled CEOchronicles General Motors resurrection, under his leadership, from a nearly bankrupt enterprise inthe 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 relentlesscommitment to the engineering worldview of efficiency as paramount. Sloans simultaneousdecentralization of manufacturing and centralization of corporate policy and financial controls becamethe basis for an organizational model that dominated American industry for more than half a century.

    Click here for more information on My Years wit h General Motor s[11]

    15 . The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organizat ion

    by Peter M. Senge



    Based on 15 years of experience putting the ideas into practice, this bestselling classic popularizedthe concept of the learning organization, a holistic approach that prioritizes learningnew andexpansive patterns of thinkingas both an individual and a group experience. Senge argues thatchanging individuals so that they produce results they care about [and] accomplish things that areimportant to them faster than the competiton does is, in the long run, the only sustainablecompetitive advantage.

    Because the learning organization requires managers to surrender their traditional spheres of powerand control, and because it demands trust, involvement, and the allowance for experimentation andfailure, it has rarely been converted into a reality. Nevertheless, Senges ideas have affected therewards and remuneration strategies of many companies.

    Click here for more information on The Fift h Discipline[12]

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    14 . The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Dont W ork and W hat to Do about I t

    by Michael E. Gerber



    This underground bestseller dispels the commonplace assumptions surrounding starting and running asuccessful small business. Two of Gerbers most incisive observations are that (1) manyentrepreneurs 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 bookintelligently and comprehensively charts an approach to systematizing a new business so that itgrows beyond the capacities of its creator.

    Click here for more information on The E-Myth Revisited[13]

    13 . The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Mak e a Big Differen ceby Malcolm Gladwell



    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 ofpopular culture, this entertaining read is, says author Jeffrey Toobin, one of those rare books thatchanges the way you think about, well, everything.

    Click here for more information on The Tipping Point[14]

    12 . Competing for the Future

    by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad


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    This definitive book on contemporary business strategy criticizes the narrow mechanistic view ofstrategy and calls for an approach that is multifaceted, emotional as well as analytical, and concernedwith meaning, purpose, and passion. The authors say their work provides would-be revolutionarieswith the tools and concepts they need to challenge the protectors of the past. They argue that toomany leaders, stuck in the day-to-day details of running their businesses, fail to prepare theircompanies for the future, and that crafting a strategic architecture around a companys core

    competencies is the solution.

    Click here for more information on Competing for the Future[15]

    11 . Good to Great: Why Some Compa nies Make the Leapand Others Dont

    by Jim Collins



    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 willasthe critical factor in those transformations. Such natural leaders channel their ego needs away fromthemselves and into the larger goal of building a great company, which begins with getting the rightpeoplethose with discipline and resolvein the right positions. Challenging the conventional notionof the outgoing, high-profile CEO, an effective leader moves with selfless determination, inspiringaverage performers to become great producers.

    Theres been a lot ofcontroversy about this book[17] on Business Pundit. Is Good to Great toogeneral, too philosophical? Is its research flawed? Have Fannie Mae and Circuit City proven Level 5principles wrong?

    The book still found its place on this list based on our selection criteria. When we compiled thesebooks and scrutinized Good to Great, we realized that its not the only classic subject to pointedand

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    validcritiques. If we removed Good to Great from the list based on BPs prior post, wed have toremove a whole bunch of other books, too.

    Click here for more information on Good t o Great[16]

    10 . Out of the Crisis

    by W. Edwards Deming



    This classic on quality management reflects Demings experience introducing statistical methods forquality measurement and improvement to Japan in the 1960s. Aiming to transform the U.S. style ofmanagement and governmental relations with industry, the author blends statistics and commonsense to challenge American business practices at almost every point, launching the qualityrevolution here. Citing poor management, not lazy workers, as responsible for most qualityproblems, this book, in simple, direct language, offers a theory of management based on Demingsnotable 14 Points of Management, and explains how to apply them to boost quality.

    Click here for more information on Out of the Crisis[18]

    9. Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution

    by Michael Hammer and James Champy



    Though based on the relatively dry field of operations research, this book became a prominentbestseller in its heyday, replacing much of the received wisdom of the last 200 years of industrialmanagement with a radical prescription for rebuilding businesses wholesale to achieve dramaticperformance gains.

    Unfortunately, this pioneering book garnered some controversy, largely because corporate

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    cost-cutters used the concept of reengineering to justify mass layoffs. Acknowledging thatreengineering can be difficult to launch and to sustain, the authors provide clear and specificguidelines, numerous examples, and in-depth case studies.

    Click here for more information on Reengineering the Corporation[19]

    8. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

    by James C. Collins and Jerr y I . Porras



    Drawing on six years of innovative research, Collins and Porras identify 18 exceptional, long-lastingcompanies and directly compare each with one of its top competitors, over time. With entertainingcase histories, they discredit the longstanding beliefs that a successful business is founded by acharismatic, visionary leader and begins with a great product. Rather, they argue, enduringorganizations demonstrate core values and a core purpose that remain fixed, while their businessstrategies and practices adapt endlessly to a changing world. Organized into a coherent framework ofpractical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, this bookprovides a master blueprint for building a great and enduring company.

    Click here for more information on Built to Last[20]

    7. The Practice of Managem ent

    by Peter F. Drucker



    Considered the foremost management and business thinker of the 20th century, Drucker was the firstto depict management as a distinct function, a separate responsibility in the workplace: the work ofgetting work done through and with other people. This still-relevant book holds that managementwas one of the major social innovations of the last century, and it poses three now-classic businessquestions: 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 professionalizationof management as Peter Drucker. [He] bridges the theoretical and the practical, the analytical andthe emotive, the private and the social more perfectly than any other management writer.

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    Click here for more information on The Practice of Management[21]

    6. Competitive Strat egy: Techniques for Analyzing I ndustries and Compet itors

    by Michael E. Porter



    Now in its 63rd printing in English, with translations in 19 languages, this modern classic filled a voidin management thinking, transforming the theory, practice, and teaching of business strategy.Strikingly accessible, Porters analysis of industries captures the complexity of industry competition inthree generic strategies and five competitive forces that have been internalized and applied bymanagers, investment analysts, consultants, students, and scholars throughout the world.

    This seminal book changed conventional thinking around strategy, offering a method whereby acompany can examine not just its particular industry but its place in it, that is, its essentialdifferentiation from its competitors that can be sold to the customer. Author Gary Hamel says, [I]t isan unfailing guide to whether some particular strategy, once articulated, can be counted on toproduce worthwhile profits.

    Click here for more information on Competit ive Strategy[22]

    5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Pow erful Lessons in Personal Changeby Stephen R. Covey



    Having developed the concept of this groundbreaking, long-term bestseller by studying literaturegoing back more than 200 years, Covey bases his approach on relatively immutable personal humanvalues. Unlike many a self-improvement author, however, he doesnt promise a quick fix; rather, hecalls for a paradigm shifta revolutionary change in ones perceptions and interpretations of how theworld works. And with different thinking comes different actions that will profoundly affect onesproductivity 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 highlystructured, holistically integrated methodology for creating balance, and hence success, in ones

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    personal and professional lives.

    Click here for more information on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People[23]

    4. The One-Minute Manager

    by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson



    Millions of managers in Fortune 500 companies and small businesses around the globe have followedthe timeless principles of this first mega-bestselling business book, presented as a parable. Conciselyelegant, this narrative reveals three practical management secrets: One-Minute Goals, One-MinutePraisings, 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 toexplain why the one-minute techniques work with so many people, in so many environments.

    Click here for more information on The One-Minute Manager[24]

    3. How to Win Friends & I nf luence People

    by Dale Carnegie1937


    Having sold more than 15 million copies, this seminal self-improvement book continues to guidemanagers in the universal challenge of face-to-face communication.

    A master of human nature, Carnegie advises that [w]hen dealing with people, remember you arenot 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; theremaining 85% is the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasmamong people.

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    Click here for more information on How t o Win Friends & I nfluence People[25]

    2. The I nnovators Dilemm a: When New Technologies Cause Great Firm s to Fail

    by Clayt on M. Christensen



    Examining a variety of leading well-managed companies that have failed to capitalize on innovativetechnologies, Christensen explains, with striking clarity and style, how to manage breakthroughproducts successfully when customers may not be ready for them.

    His argument that overdependence on customer needs, or on the most profitable products, candamage a companys success challenges the marketing and customer service books that putcustomer 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, andrigorously demonstrates that companies will fall behind if they fail to adapt or adopt new technologiesthat 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 ofthinking, without causing offense or resentment, and without making them feel manipulated. Heteaches these skills through the underlying principle that people want to feel important andappreciated. Carnegie was the first to create a flourishing, credible, long-term business out of hisideas.

    Click here for more information on The Innovators Dilem m a

    1. I n Search of Excellence: Lessons from Am ericas Best-Run Companies

    by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.



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    Highly influential when global competition, largely from Japan, had brought Western business to alow, this quintessential business book describes eight enduring management principles that made theforty-three companies surveyed excellent. The authors focus exclusively on big companies, namelybig manufacturers, but ironically condemn the excesses of modern management practice andadvocate a return to simpler virtues. They have since come to feel that their ideas are betterembodied in smaller companies.

    Through lively case studies, this very readable classic forces a look at the fundamentals, at firstprinciples 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 subsequentdeluge of business books, this trailblazer established customer service as a key form of differentiationand advantage, and launched the author-as-consultant/speaker/celebrity phenomenon.

    Click here for more information on In Search of Excellence[27]

    Sources:Perseus Publishings The Best Business Books Eve r: The 100 Most I nfluent ial Managem ent

    Books Youll Never Have Tim e to Read, Forbes, Business Week, U.S. News & World Report , a var iety

    of lists located around t he Web, and our own subjectiv e reading exper iences.

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