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ISBN 9780679734161 Published March 1992
Vintage Books USA
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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
100 Best: Todd interviews Henry Petroski, author of To Engineer is Human
Posted April 21, 2009 7:06 a.m. by jon8cr
In Audio - 800 CEO Read Blog
Tune in as Todd Sattersten interviews Henry Petroski about his book To Engineer is Human. Petroski discusses the role of failure in creativity and innovation and how success is found in the process.
Henry Petroski's book is one of the books in Jack and Todd's book The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
Today is the Day
Posted Feb. 5, 2009 5:25 p.m. by todd-sattersten
In 100 Best - 800 CEO Read Blog
Jack and I have been working on an idea for about two years. We thought it made sense to put our knowledge about business books into a book of our own.
We are going to "ask for the order". What I mean is that you have been a follower of 800-CEO-READ for any period of time, you know what we are about: we sell business books and promote great ideas.
Our book is our best effort yet at helping you find the books solutions to the problems and challenges you face, while presenting opportunities you may not have considered before.
We want each of you to buy a copy of The 100 Best.
You can also order it from us. You'll pay the full retail price of 25.95, but you will get a bag of extras that are only available through 800-CEO-READ:
- You'll received a shiny, hardcover of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time autographed by both Jack and Todd
- We will include a copy of "Conversations about The 100 Best Business Books of All Time". This is an audio CD that Jack and I did, which has 12 tracks, each about 6 minutes in length, where we talk about the books and the key concepts in each of the chapters of The 100 Best.
- You will receive a copy of In The Books 2008, our annual publication whose purpose is to highlight the best of the year in the genre of business books.
- After placing your order, we will email you "the lost chapter" from The 100 Best (it was not really lost, we ran out of room in the book). We have compiled a 39 page chapter of Industry Books that everyone in business should read. This chapter comes in a simple to download pdf document and shares all of the design characteristics of the original book.
If you need to hear from some others, here are a few:
- Eddie Evans from Reuters - "Business Books: They read them so you don't have to."
- Gloria McDonough-Taub from CNBC - "You may disagree with their selections and that's fine, we all have our favorites--BUT--they've made some really smart choices that truly help the reader, the book fans, unlike the Oscars where they always get it wrong."
- Maureen McKay at Reader's Digest - "...a strong, engaging overview of some of the best business books published in recent years."
- Andrea Learned at Learned on Women - "As Jack puts it in one of his reviews: "There are books that break new ground and then there are books that show you a new way to think about the basics." Jack and Todd's book does both (and inspires you to keep on reading...)."
- My Fireside Chat with Lisa Haneberg at Management Craft (26 minute podcast) Matt May at Elegant Solutions - "I appreciate the leg-work and diligence and pure sweat that must have gone into what would to me seems a Herculean task."
You can find the entire list of the 100 books at 100bestbiz.com. You can also download the introduction to The 100 Best and two sample reviews from The Essential Drucker and To Engineer Is Human.
A compelling offer, followed by testimonials, and finished off with free samples of the final product.
InBubbleWrap - To Engineer is Human
Posted Dec. 23, 2008 3:29 a.m. by dylan
In InBubbleWrap - 800 CEO Read Blog
We're keeping it is real as we can over on InBubbleWrap, giving away books, sharing some stories, giving away books, trying to make you laugh and cry and fall in love with us... giving away books. This week we have 25 copies of To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design.
Being an engineer, it is one of Todd's personal favorites from The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. And, although it's focus is on engineering, it's lessons are directly applicable to business. Todd explains how in the video below. After you watch the video, head on over to InBubbleWrap and win yourself a copy.