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Posted March 29, 2013 8:07 a.m. by sally-haldorson
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
POST & WIN! Post a reaction or question for Erika in one of her Thinker in Residence posts, and not only will Erika pop by for the discussion, but we'll randomly pick one participant to win a copy of Leading So People Will Follow!
In our past two Thinker in Residence posts featuring the thoughtful and motivating work of Erika Andersen, we introduced you to her newest book on leadership, Leading So People Will Follow, and also shared an in-depth Q&A with Erika about strategy. We would be remiss if we didn't also recommend her first book, Growing Great Employees, which we chose as one of the best business books written in 2007. Here's what we said:
We also asked Erika if she could give us an idea of what motivates her to do the work she does and why there is value to be found in business literature.
Q: What is the one unanswered question about business you are most interested in answering?
EA: There are two – and they’re actually the unanswered questions about life I’m most interested in answering – I just spend a good deal of my time looking for the answers in the realm of business. The questions are “How does this work?” and “How can we make it work better?” It would be fair to say that everything I’ve created or co-created in my business, and certainly all three of my books, are nothing more or less than extended efforts to answer those questions. I get tremendous satisfaction from being able to crack the code on some aspect of human behavior or organizational function, and then give people practical guidance and support for improvement.
Q: What business book has influenced your work the most?
EA: Without a doubt, Good to Great by Jim Collins. I continue to re-read parts of it over the years, and to recommend it to new generations of leaders. It really does what it purports to do: captures the essence of how to make a company great. And it’s so engaging and straightforward, and uses the power of story so well, that even people who don’t like business books in general can get a lot out of it.
Q: What is the business book you wish you had written and why?
EA: Hmmm. That’s a tough one – I’m not aware of wanting to have written a specific book that now exists. I would, however, love to write a book that doesn’t exist (and perhaps never will, sadly). I’d love to write a book that somehow magically helps senior executives fully understand how critical it is, both on a human level and a business success level, for them to be excellent managers and leaders, and (again magically) inspires them to devote the time, effort, and self-reflection required to become the best leaders and managers they’re capable of being.
We had the pleasure of including an essay by Erika in our 2007 edition of our annual review, In the Books, that we think is still quite relevant today. Here she advocates in favor of business books and gives us a lesson in their history and value.
Why We Love Business Books More Than Ever BY ERIKA ANDERSEN
Around 1500, a guy named Machievelli wrote a book called Il Principe. It could be argued that this tough-minded little volume was the first classic business book of the western world. It was a wild time: he was advising various warring Popes and secular rulers—the Jack Welches and Sumner Redstones of his time—and Machiavelli offered advice he thought would be most helpful to them in consolidating their power and creating thriving and profitable governments. Though it’s now mostly read as a cautionary tale, an example of how NOT to lead, hundreds of generations of leaders have absorbed its lessons, and the business book was born.
The next few hundred years of western civilization (this phrase always reminds me of Gandhi’s response as to his view of western civilization: “I think it would be a good idea,” he said…but I digress) produced a few other volumes of political and economic wisdom. In 1609, for instance, Hugo Grotius published Mare Liberum (The Free Sea), which helped to establish the foundations of international law by formulating the new principle that the sea was international territory and all nations should be free to
use it for seafaring trade. Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, was one of the earliest attempts to systematically study the development of industry and commerce in Europe, and offered rationales for free trade, capitalism and libertarianism. It seemed that only a handful of people felt compelled to share their thoughts about business, and that a slightly larger handful read them.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that the business book began to emerge as an actual category. In the early 1900s, two books on business became standards in the libraries of America’s captains of industry: Henry Ford’s My Life and Work, and a book by a man named Henri Fayol, called General and Industrial Management. They offered very different opinions on business and management (Henry Ford deeply distrusted managers, though he treated his front line workers much better than most of his contemporaries, while Fayol talked about management as one of the six key elements of business success), but both focused on providing personal insights into how business should be done.
Through the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, the number of books published about business gradually increased. Still, by today’s standards, business books had a relatively modest readership: in 1975, about 300 new business book titles were published in the US, with overall sales for the business category of just over a million volumes.
Then in the early ’80s, the whole business of business books changed—quite suddenly and dramatically: the bellwether book of this change was Tom Peters and Robert Waterman’s In Search of Excellence, which became the first bona fide business best seller. And over the past 25 years, the business book category has literally exploded: in 2006, almost 11,000 new business books were ublished in the U.S., with total business book sales of over $800,000,000.
Why this ever-increasing appetite for business books?
THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS
Part of the explanation, I believe, can be found in the current American mythology that business is the best and most reliable road to fame, fortune and happiness. In fact, this mythology seems to have largely replaced other American mythologies about achieving success, such as “the overnight star,” “marrying rich,” “being plucked by fate from the chorus line (or assembly line),” “virtue rewarded” and (my personal favorite) “persisting through terrible tribulations and being uplifted by some extremely unlikely deus ex machina.” Not that these things don’t still happen (occasionally), or that people don’t pine for them, but I’ll bet if you talked to ten college students who want to become wealthy, nine would say they’re planning to do it by starting or getting involved in some sort of lucrative business venture.
This popular mythology about business, it seems to me, is an amalgam of a number of elements. First, there’s the core American belief in the efficacy of hard work and the possibility of raising oneself up by one’s own bootstraps. This
has formed the basis of how we see ourselves since the very beginning of our nation: the idea that in America, ancestry is not destiny, and that people can become what they envision. Pushing westward, building the railroads, inventing, creating, refining: we have always believed in commerce as the great leveler of society.
Second, there is the assumption spawned by the Internet (the late-’90s bust notwithstanding) that if you just find/create the right product/service/idea at the right time and offer it online in the right way, you can achieve crazy-level financial success. Look at the Google guys. For most of us, there’s still enough mystery and magic about how the web actually works to enable us to imagine that any business having to do with new media might instantly result in thousands of rabbits from hundreds of hats.
Finally, we may no longer think that “greed is good” (in the words of Gorden Gekko, the creepy Michael Douglas character from Wall Street)—or, at least, most people don’t say it out loud—but the legacy of the eighties is this: that young, Bright-eyed men and women can aspire to do well in business without feeling like soulless sell-outs.
So, if we as a nation believe that there is both physical and psychic gold to be had by pursuing business, what better way to find out where to dig than by reading books that provide the needed maps? Unlike previous generations, who had to actually get out and do it (make your way to California, apprentice yourself to a bootmaker, sign up for the next clipper ship to China), we can sit in the comfort of our living rooms and look over the shoulders of those who’ve done it before us, trying to extract the lessons we’ll need to do it ourselves...or at least to let us dream—to convince us that we could do it if we really wanted to.
THE CELEBRIFICATION OF BUSINESS LEADERS
If you scan the business book shelves of any Barnes and Noble or Borders, you’ll see a lot more volumes with faces on them than in years past. Business books used to be serious—if boring—tomes in strong colors with impressive typefaces. Now, more often than not, the front cover shows a slick photo of Donald, Martha, Lee, Carly, Jack or whoever. What gives?
It seems to me the American fascination with celebrity has played a large part in boosting business book sales. As a culture, we seem endlessly intrigued with people who have lives of privilege and wealth, and over the past decade or so, we’ve turned some of our attention away from movie stars, athletes and royalty, and trained it on business tycoons. In fact, it seems that no matter what these celebrity business people are saying (or, in some cases, preaching) in their books, the real draw is that face on the cover.
When I was looking for an agent for my first book a few years ago, one of the people I spoke to—a woman who is agent to a few of these very mega-executives—told me that while my book was very solid and compelling, I didn’t have a “big enough platform.” A novice in these matters at the time, I asked her what she meant. “Well, to be quite blunt,” she replied, “you’re not famous enough.”
So, it’s not so much what these folks have accomplished or the clarity of their wisdom that sells their books—although that is, in some cases, very impressive—it’s quite simply that they’re well-known and therefore interesting. People buy books by “famous” business people for basically the same reason other people buy Entertainment Weekly or listen to Larry King—they want to find out more about people whose lives they find intriguing.
DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME
A few months back, when I was just beginning to think about writing this article, I was out to dinner with my 19-year-old son, and I asked him why he thought there were so many more business books being bought these days. “It’s the complexity of the undertaking,” he replied. At my quizzical look, he continued, “Imagine some guy in the Korean war. All he thinks about is getting back home and starting an auto-body shop, or a pizzeria. And when he gets home, he does it: borrows some money from his dad or the bank, rents a space, buys some stuff and starts fixing cars or making pizza. If he works hard and does good work, he hires a couple of people. Gets married, sends his kids to college. The American dream: simple.” I nodded. “Now, though, that guys’ kids want to be portfolio analysts or music producers. It’s much more complicated and shapeless. How do you do it? And they think, ‘I bet there is a bunch of books about this.’ And there is.”
I think he’s absolutely right. And I’d expand it to include the complexity of everything—not just of the undertaking. People who want to start businesses today, who want to do well in their chosen careers, or who want to figure out how to choose a career are faced with orders of complexity that would boggle the mind of that unconfused Korean war vet.
It seems to me this is the most important factor driving the exponential increase in the popularity of business books: the world—and the world of business—is a complicated place, and we want help figuring it out.
We’ve always used books to explore and to learn. Books about history to explore the past and learn the lessons of others’ mistakes; books about travel to explore distant places and learn about other cultures; books of fiction to explore invented worlds and learn about others’ experiences. Now, as we rush headlong into the 21st century, business books allow us to explore all the emerging worlds of commerce, invention and growth, and teach us how to navigate through those worlds.
Erika is the founding partner of Proteus International, a consulting and training firm that focuses on leader readiness. She serves as coach and advisor to the senior executives of such companies as GE, Time Warner Cable, TJX, NBC Universal and Union Square Hospitality Group. You can keep up with Erika on her blog (erikaandersen.com), at Forbes (blogs.forbes.com/erikaandersen/), and on Twitter (@erikaandersen).
Posted Oct. 3, 2011 9:57 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
Jack reviewed a great book a few years ago called The Management Myth: Why the “Experts” Keep Getting It Wrong. It is a serious book critiquing what the author calls "the pseudoscience of management theory," a call for us to look at management theory not as a science, but as a philosophy.
A question at the heart of that book is the efficacy of business jargon—that is, does the language we invent around business topics really produce a better understanding of those topics, or simply make the speaker of that language sound more clever, studied and imbued with expertise. The author begins the book with the story of how he, with just one "miserable summer at a fast-food restaurant" and a doctorate in nineteenth-century German philosophy under his belt, decided to try for a job in consulting. To prepare for his interview, he read the Financial Times every day for two weeks and devoured In Search of Excellence to master what he called “management speak.” And, despite his total lack of management experience or business expertise, he left that interview with a job as a management consultant. Soon he was being billed out to clients at a rate of half a million dollars per year—not because he was an expert on management, but because he could talk like one.
Now there comes a book that tackles the topic of business jargon from another, much more satirical angle, Talk Normal: Stop the Business Speak, Jargon and Waffle by Tim Phillips. This is a book for those in the trenches of the jargon war, those just trying to get through and make sense of yet another indecipherable email or memo. Phillips is the author of two previous books, Fit to Bust: How Great Companies Fail and Knockoff: The Deadly Trade in Counterfeit Goods. But why did Tim Phillips write this book? As he writes in the forward:
Talk Normal facilitates information delivery through mutilpe media formats and monetises eyeballs.
London, UK, Mar 30, 2011/TalkNormalWire — Talk Normal (http://talknormal.co.uk), the leading solution for information clarity optimisation and humour-based jargon mitigation strategies, has announced that it will henceforth facilitate information delivery through multiple media formats.
Talk Normal's chief solution advocate, Tim Phillips, commented that 'Many people ask me what this means to me. It means that I've written a book about my blog so I can earn some money.'
As you can probably tell, this book has a lot of humor (and British spelling) in it. But it's also deadly serious, providing real answers to a real problem in offices all over the world. On the one hand, if you're in business, you had better learn the language of business if you want to survive and thrive. But, on the other hand, so much of that language adds absolutely nothing of value to the conversation and obscures the issues for those involved in the process and/or just trying to figure out what the heck is actually going on. It's similar to the idea that artists must learn the rules of art before they can break them, except that the rules of art (composition, perspective, etc.) were put in place to better represent reality, whereas the rules of business jargon... well, there don't appear to be any real rules to business jargon. The author has come up with three guidelines to help:
- Try to be understood by everyone who's listening.
- Stop trying to sound clever for no reason.
- It's about attitude, not rules.
The first two are rather obvious, but the third may need a bit more explanation. Phillips write of rule three:
I'm constantly contacted by amateur grammarians who want me to post something about the abuse of dangling modifiers. I don't do this because I don't really know what a dangling modifier is. I could look it up on Wikipedia and pretend that I know what I'm talking about but that would mean I was trying to sound clever for no reason (see above).
We need to think clearly to write clearly, not swallow a book about grammar. I edit some terrible articles. The first thought is that there's a problem with the grammar: then when you fix the grammar you often find that there isn't a clear train of thought underlying what they wrote. That's the problem, not the dangling modifier.
As a reviewer of business books and the managing editor of ChangeThis, I couldn't agree more.
Talk Normal is both a lot of fun and extremely practical at the same time. It will leave you laughing and thinking more clearly. And it will be released by Kogan Page later this month. Be sure to check it out
Read and Adapt
Posted May 23, 2011 11:55 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
We last covered Tim Harford here when Random House released his last book, The logic of Life, which we reviewed as a Jack Covert Selects. But you may have heard his name more recently because of the press that his new book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, has been getting.
- There was an excerpt on Slate last week entitled The Airplane That Saved the World: What the RAF's World War II Spitfire Can Teach Us About Nurturing Innovation and Radical Ideas.
- He had an article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine about The Art of Economic Complexity: A New Way To Visualize a Country’s Development that includes fascinating charts developed by César A. Hidalgo of the M.I.T. Media Lab that map "the world's 'product space' using trade data on 774 product classifications, from cotton undergarments to phenols."
- And popular blogger Andrew Sullivan linked to Andrew Exum's more obscure counterinsurgency blog Abu Muqawama at the Center for American Security website to explain the "reason we have some of [the] special operations capabilities" that finally got Osama Bin Laden.
The book deserves the attention and praise it's getting. It begins by covering ground a few other books have recently covered, laying out the evidence that expert predictions are not very good (though he doesn't go as far as Dan Gardner's Future Babble, which tells us that "Expert Predictions Are Worthless, and You Can Do Better"). But, documenting how expert advice and predictions are little better than our own is just the starting point of the book, and for a different approach. Adapt is mostly about solutions—solutions he demonstrates are best found through a trial and error process. He states it rather simply:
Whether we like it or not, trial and error is a tremendously powerful process for solving problems in a complex world, while expert leadership is not.
This can be a rather uncomfortable pill to swallow. Most of us are currently operating contrary to that concept, for not only are we uneasy with the "error" side of trial and error, we tend to look to business success stories and so-called experts for advice and guidance. Often, the best marketing a book can have is the success or expertise of the individual who wrote it—at the very least, it is lessons we feel can be gained from the success of the companies profiled. Writing of In Search of Excellence, the book that really kick-started the modern business book genre as we know it, Harford demonstrates how tricky that can be:
In 1982 ... two management consultants, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, concluded their own detailed study of business. In Search of Excellence was published to great acclaim and launched Peters's career as one of the world's most recognizable management gurus.The two authors, working with their colleagues at McKinsey, used a mixture of data and subjective judgement to settle on a list of forty-three "excellent" companies, which they then studied intensely in a bid to unlock their secrets.
Just two years later, Business Week ran a cover story entitled "Oops! Who's Excellent Now?" Out of the forty-three companies, fourteen, almost a third, were in serious financial trouble. Excellence—if that was what Peters and Waterman really found when they studied the likes of Atari and Wang Laboratories—appears to be a fleeting quality.
Perhaps fittingly, Business Week has since had its own serious financial trouble. Let's go back even further, though—not just to the beginning of the business book genre, but to the invention of the modern book itself:
The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg, a man who changed the world utterly, and produced the celebrated Gutenberg Bible in 1455. But the Gutenberg Bible was a ruinous project that put him out of business. The center of the printing industry quickly moved to Venice, where twelve companies were established by 1649. Nine of them were gone in just three years, as the industry fumbled for a profitable business model. (It eventually found one: printing pre-packaged relief from divine punishment in the form of religious indulgences.)
So not every great idea turns out a great product, excellent companies aren't often excellent for long and all empires fall. To reinforce the fleeting nature of excellence, Harford tells the story of what Leslie Hannah found when, in the late '90s, she traced the fate of what had been the world's largest companies in 1912.
At the top of the list was US Steel, a gigantic corporation even by today's standards, employing 221,000 workers. This was a company with everything going for it: it was a market leader in the largest and most dynamic economy in the world; and it was in an industry that has been of tremendous importance ever since. Yet US Steel had disappeared from the world's top hundred companies by 1995; at the time of writing, it was not even in the top five hundred.
Next on the list was Jersey Standard, which these days continues to prosper under the name Exxon. General Electric and Shell were also in the top ten in 1912 an in 1995. But none of the other top-ten titans was in the top ten by 1995. More remarkably, none of them was even in the top hundred. Names such as Pullman and Singer recall a bygone age. Others, such as J&P Coats, Anaconda and International Harvester, are barely recognizable. It is hard to imagine just how large and powerful these companies once were—the closest parallels would be the likes of Microsoft and Wal-Mart today—and how permanent their success must have seemed. And while it could be said that Pullman and Singer suffered from being market leaders in declining industries, their fate was not inevitable. Singer made sewing machines, but Toyota's origins as a manufacturer of looms were no more promising. Other former titans, such as Westinghouse Electric, Cudahy Packing and American Brands, were in the same dynamic industries as the rare success stories General Electric and Proctor & Gamble. Yet they failed.
As Harford demonstrates with great skill and storytelling throughout the book, it comes down to trial and error and figuring out what works and what doesn't as you attempt to develop your own gravity, attract talented people and loyal customers, and affect the forces of the market moving around you. And just because your excellent now doesn't mean you will be forever. It doesn't matter whether you're a local restaurant owner, General Motors, NASA, or the inventor of movable type—you have to keep finding ways to adapt.
But how do we decide what to try next? We need a constant influx of ideas, information and inspiration, to look at what others have done and are doing around us. And, regardless of the fate of the companies in In Search of Excellence, business books provide that. In Search of Excellence provides that. Tim Harford's Adapt provides that, and if you'd like to take a lesson from Harford and implement a trial and error process in your organization, Peter Sims's Little Bets provides that. You could even say the Gutenberg Bible provides that. Just keep reading. Reading leads to more reading. Reading leaves you hungry. Reading leads to the ideas, information and inspiration you need to try something new.
In the Books - Off to the Printers XII
Posted Jan. 11, 2011 7:53 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
In another installment from the annual review of business books we produced last year, we have an article from friend and former president of the company, Todd Sattersten. In it, he discusses the meta-themes in business thought that he and Jack uncovered as they spent 18 months compiling, reading, choosing and writing The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
The Five Universal Themes in Business BY TODD SATTERSTEN
What happens when you spend 18 months reading the best in business literature? In our case, two things happened—one expected, the other quite unexpected.
The expected was the creation of a list of the 100 best business books of all time, which led to a book by the same name. The unexpected came as we uncovered a number of meta-themes the books share that exist beyond any predictable grouping by subject matter. For example, Michael Useem’s The Leadership Moment has surprising connections with as Taiichi Ohno’s Toyota Production System and Gary Klein’s The Power of Intuition. Ultimately, we found five persistent meta-themes across our selection of the 100 best business books. Each meta-theme appears horizontally across traditional publishing categories, bridging such divisions as sales, management, narrative, and finance. Each meta-theme also scales in a vertical sense, applying to individuals, teams and organizations equally. So profound are these meta-themes, we argue, that these five universal insights act as the foundation for a leader dealing with any aspect of business, whether starting a new job or developing the next year’s corporate strategy.
1. Clarity of Purpose
Purpose provides direction and brings clarity to all work. For the individual in pursuit of purpose, author Po Bronson asks the ultimate question in his book, What Should I Do with My Life? Organizations struggle with the same kind of question when they craft their mission statements and massage their marketing slogans.
2. Wisdom in Decision Making
The process of making decisions is often overly deliberate or completely unconscious. In both cases, we base our decisions on past experience and judge the success of those decisions only on the success rate of the outcomes. In Influence, Robert Cialdini alerts us to how we use unconscious routine to make even the smallest decision, while in The Power of Intuition, Gary Klein provides a map to some of that scripting and shows how we can improve our gut instinct.
3. Bias for Action
Tom Peters and Bob Waterman pointed out in In Search of Excellence that a quality of excellent companies was “the bias for action.” This assertion that action trumps all appears in many great books, so what keeps us from taking action? Author David Allen (Getting Things Done) would say a person’s focus is misplaced on time and priority, rather than action. Authors Jeffery Pfeffer and Bob Sutton (The Knowing-Doing Gap) would say organizations suffer from a gap between knowing and doing.
4. Openness to Change
Understanding change is essential because change affects individuals and organizations constantly. Sales is about change. Marketing is about change. Corporate strategy about is about change. Lou Gerstner says it was changing IBM’s entitlement culture that was his biggest challenge. In The First 90 Days, new job guru Michael Watkins describes the waves of change that new managers must instigate. In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffery Moore shows how products are adopted and what different constituents need to accept change.
5. Giving and Getting
Feedback Imagine throwing a baseball in a dark room. You would miss seeing the trajectory the ball took or where it landed. Our success depends on feed-back. Did we make the right choice? Did the action have the intended effect? Are things changing? Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) says self-reflection is a form of feedback and an essential piece of emotional intelligence. Engineering professor Henry Petroski, author of To Engineer is Human, says failure is a critical part of learning. And in Secrets of Closing the Sale, Zig Ziglar says listening is the most important part of selling.
These themes are likely to persist as business and business literature evolves further, because companies continually fail to absorb the simple lessons: Find a clear purpose. Be aware that past experience and a mass of information can interfere with wise decisions. Maintain a bias toward action. Be open to change. Seek feedback. These behaviors link together: Clarity of purpose provides wisdom in decision making, which informs action, which in turn, creates change, while feedback informs them all.
PREVIOUS POSTS FROM IN THE BOOKS
- I: Financial Markets: Their Promise and Failure (and Promise) BY DYLAN SCHLEICHER
- II: When Ecology and Economy Meet BY KATE MYTTY
- III: Why We Love Business Books More Than Ever BY ERIKA ANDERSEN
- IV: Odd Intersections: Fiction Captures the Complexities of Business BY REBECCA SCHLEI HARTMAN
- V: Explorations Into the Human Psyche BY ROBBIE HARTMAN
- VI: For Women Only? A Look at Trends in Business Books Written by Women BY SALLY HALDORSON
- VII: Real-World Lessons in Leadership BY ROBERT MORRIS
- VIII: We the Internet BY DYLAN SCHLEICHER
- IX: The Shifting Landscape of Moving Ideas: The Art of Publishing in a Socially Empowered World BY JON MUELLER
- X: The Information Age
- XI: Finding Opportunities: Re-examining Personal and Organizational Strength in Challenging Times BY JON MUELLER
Business Book Humiliations
Posted Aug. 3, 2010 3:43 a.m. by sally-haldorson
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
Penguin's Portfolio imprint specializes in business books, and their Portfolio Javelin blog ("Business, Business Books, and the Business of Books") is a great read for any of us business book geeks. Yesterday, Will Weisser, Vice President and Associate Editor of Portfolio, wrote an entry inspired by a post in the Guardian's blog in which the author, Robert McCrum, confessed, despite his education and exposure to great books, that he had never read Middlemarch by George Eliot (if you too have not read Middlemarch, I highly recommend remedying that this summer--it's one of my favorites.) McCrum then invites readers to share their book humiliations by listing the books that they regret never having read.
In his post, Weisser agrees to play along, but specifies that he has "focused on the business category for 15 years but still haven’t read some of the most acclaimed and influential business books, the ones we use as benchmarks and role models."
Weisser's list of regrets:
Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart
In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clay Christensen
Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove
Why We Buy by Paco Underhill
The HP Way by David Packard
Then he was kind enough to mention our book, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, as a great resource for determining which books you've missed out on. (When preparing the "lost chapter" of The 100 Best, we added Barbarians at the Gate by Burrough and Helyar, and it would be the perfect book to take on vacation yet this summer.)
Intrigued by this challenge, I posed the question to Jack, our in-house encyclopedia of business books, what Business Book Humiliations he may still have. He replied that Michael Porter (author of Competitive Advantage and Competitive Strategy comes to mind. Personal History by Katharine Graham was Dylan's choice. If I had to choose one, it would be Men and Women of the Corporation by Rosabeth Moss Kanter.
What's your business book humiliation, the one business book you most regret never having read?