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ISBN 9781578511242 Published Nov. 1999
Harvard Business School Press
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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
The Largest Gathering of 100 Best Authors West of the Mississippi
Posted Feb. 11, 2009 8:37 a.m. by curt-rosengren
In 100 Best - 800 CEO Read Blog
Last week Todd and I hosted a 100 Best event at Stanford. This was the largest gathering to date of 100 Best authors west of the Mississippi River! Joining us were Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton, authors of The Knowing-Doing Gap; Chip Heath, with Made to Stick; and Randy Komisar, with The Monk and Riddle.The gathering was held at the Stanford d. school, in a room which I liken to a kindergarten classroom for grown-ups. 10 minutes after the event started, people were crammed into the room, all eager to hear what the authors had to share. Some were standing, some were squatting near the floor and others were seated in the various chairs lined up, all surrounded by whiteboards and art supplies.
Todd, Jeffrey, Bob, Randy and Chip sat in front, perched on stools. Todd moderating in his best Charlie Rose impression as the authors shared incredible stories of business experiences, the beginnings of their books, and how their ideas relate to everyday life. Like Randy Komisar who was approached by Harvard Business School Press to write a book. They came knocking and selling him on the idea that he had a book to write. Randy said he had no clue what to write about nor how to write it. So HBP hired Kent Lineback to help Randy write (Randy, who still didn't have a story in mind and Kent, who had never written a book before). Eventually, an editor from HBP, Kent and Randy all met for one long, three-day weekend to determine a direction and crank out the book. From that point on, the book was written from start to finish SEVENTEEN times.
Jeffrey: Drive fear out of the organization.
Randy: Be passionate about what you do.
Chip: Know when to say no. Too often people say yes to everything.
Bob: Fight as if you are right, listen as if you are wrong.
It was one of those moments where everything comes together. The authors were dynamic and engaging and everyone walked out chattering about what had taken place. Thank you to those who came and to Jeffrey, Bob, Chip and Randy for sharing your stories.
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As an aside, if you happen to find yourself in the Stanford area, grab a slice of pizza from Palo Alto's Pizza My Heart.
Marty Neumeier (and Other 100 Best Authors) on ChangeThis
Posted Jan. 15, 2009 8:31 a.m. by dylan
In ChangeThis - 800 CEO Read Blog
You may have noticed that we released a new issue of ChangeThis yesterday. What you may not have realized is that Marty Neumeier, the author of The Aesthetics of Management, is also the author of Zag: The #1 Strategy of High Performance Brands, one of The 100 Best Business Books of All TIme. The manifesto is a "look at a few of the principles that artists have used successfully, [to] see how they might apply to management." If you're looking for a new and refreshing view of management, I would definitely recommend it. And when you're done with that, I'd highly recommend his new book, The Designful Company.
In no particular order, here are other 100 Best authors who have published manifestos:
Whew... when I started this list, I didn't remember all of these manifestos. I guess I have some reading to catch up on this weekend.
- Seth Godin, founder of ChangeThis and author of Purple Cow, has written many, including How to Sell a Book (or Any New Idea), Marketing Mismatch: When New Won't Work With Old, Do Less, Pushing Past the Dip: How to Become the Best in the World, Polkas, Pyrotechnics and Point D's and The Bootstrapper's Bible.
- Kevin Kelly, author of Out of Control, published Better Than Free just last month.
- Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, wrote The Talent Myth.
- Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, wrote A Creative Manifesto: Why the Place You Choose to Live is the Most Important Decision of Your Life to partner with his latest book, Who's Your City.
- Michael Useem, coauthor of The Leadership Moment, wrote Going for the Go Point to partner with his book The Go Point, which will be out in paperback in March.
- Chip Heath & Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, wrote Talking Strategy: Three Straightforward Ways to Make Your Strategy Stick for ChangeThis.
- John Kotter, author of Leading Change, wrote It All Starts With A Sense of Urgency.
- Bob Sutton, coauthor of The Knowing-Doing Gap, has written two manifestos: Management Advice: Which 90% is Crap? and The Upside of Assholes: Is there Virtue in Bad Workplace Behavior?, which went with his book The No Asshole Rule.
- Jay Conrad Levinson, author of Guerrilla Marketing, wrote a manifesto of the same name, Guerrilla Marketing.
- Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of the Start, also wrote a manifesto of the same name, The Art of the Start.
- Michael Mauboussin, author of More Than You Know, wrote Getting Out of Embed: The Role of Social Context in Decision Making.
The Wall Street Journal Business Gurus List
Posted May 6, 2008 7:38 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In Lists - 800 CEO Read Blog
The Wall Street Journal yesterday had a major feature titled "New Breed of Business Gurus Rises." The article provides a ranking of the thought leaders in business today. The ranking system is based on the 2003 book What's the Big Idea? : Creating and Capitalizing on the Best New Management Thinking by Thomas Davenport. Davenport compiled the rankings using data from Google mentions, Lexus-Nexus media hits, and academic citations.
The methodology creates a systematic way of measuring popularity, but it seems problematic. Take the case of Bill Gates at #3 on the list. For the man who created Microsoft, people are constantly talking about him in the media, online, and in academia. It seems a stretch that business people look to Gates for advice.
Outside of Gates, the folks at the top are no huge surprise to folks who follow business books. Gary Hamel, Tom Friedman, Gates, Malcolm Galdwell, and Howard Gardner round out the top five. Below is a list of the gurus with their 2008 rankings and one of their noteworthy books:
|Gary Hamel||1||Competing for The Future|
|Thomas Friedman||2||The World is Flat|
|Bill Gates||3||Business @ The Speed of Thought|
|Malcolm Galdwell||4||Tipping Point|
|Howard Gardner||5||Frames of Mind|
|Phillip Kotler||6||Marketing Management|
|Daniel Goleman||8||Emotional Intelligence|
|Henry Mintzberg||9||Mintzberg On Management|
|Stephen Covey||10||Seven Habits For Highly Effective People|
|Jeffrey Pfeffer||11||The Knowing Doing Gap|
|Peter Senge||12||The Fifth Discipline|
|Richard Branson||13||Losing My Virginity|
|Michael Porter||14||Competitive Strategy|
|Michael Dell||15||Direct From Dell|
|Geert Hofstede||16||Culture's Consequences|
|Clayton Christensen||17||The Innovator's Dilemma|
|Tom Peters||19||In Search of Excellence|
|Ikujiro Nonako||20||The Knowledge Creating Company|
There are some gurus listed here who we have not given much attention to. Anybody read much on Hofstede or Nonaka? We will do some research as well.
P.S. Rebecca also has a post on the side conversation going on at wsj.com about the lack of women on the list.
Excerpt: Strategy and the Fat Smoker
Posted Jan. 2, 2008 8:11 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
In Excerpts and Essays - 800 CEO Read Blog
Strategy and the Fat Smoker is David Maister's latest book (among a history of many books). From a different perspective, he approaches the subject covered in The Knowing-Doing Gap by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton back in 2000. Originally, each chapter was written as a separate article, so you can pick and choose where to start.
Here's the introduction to the book.
: : : : :
As I explain in the title chapter of this book, we often (or even usually) know what we should be doing in both personal and professional life. We also know why we should be doing it and (often) how to do it. Figuring all that out is not too difficult.
What is very hard is actually doing what you know to be good for you in the long-run, in spite of short-run temptations. The same is true for organizations. In 2000, Pfeffer and Sutton explored the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it in a terrific book called The Knowing-Doing Gap. I explore the same phenomenon, but from different perspectives.
In the past two-and-a-half decades, I have been trusted to see a large number of strategic plans from a wide variety of professional firms around the world, including direct competitors. What is immediately noteworthy is how similar (if not identical) they all are.
This is not because anyone is being stupid, but because everyone is smart. Every competitor is smart enough to analyze the market and spot which sectors are growing and which are in decline. Few competitors get it wrong. Everyone—absolutely everyone—can see which services and products are "hot" and which are becoming commodities.
What is more, everyone understands the basics of business success: provide outstanding client service, act like team players, provide a good place to work, invest in your future. No sensible firm (or person) would enunciate a strategy that advocated anything else.
The words and slogans may change over the years (from "Outstanding Client Care," to "Trusted Advisor," to "Loyalty" or "Client-Centricity", for example), but the underlying ideas remain the same around the world, over time, and from competitor to competitor.
However, just because something is obvious doesn't make it easy. Real strategy lies not in figuring out what to do, but in devising ways to ensure that, compared to others, we actually do more of what everybody knows they should do.
This simple insight, if accepted, has profound implications for:
- how organizations should think about strategy
- how they should think about clients, marketing, and selling
- how they should think about management
As a general outline, that's how this book is organized. Chapters 1 through 5 are explicitly about strategy: what strategy is and how individuals and organizations should go about developing their strategies.
Chapters 6 through 8 dig more deeply into an aspect of strategy frequently advocated but seldom achieved: excellence in client relationships.
Chapters 9 through 14 are about management: how organizations can run themselves to overcome the barriers and temptations of the Fat Smoker syndrome.
In the final section "Putting it Together,"--chapters 15 through 19--I examine some of the barriers to organizational cohesion, the policies of some widely admired firms and, finally, offer some summary thoughts about what it takes to stay true to your strategic goals and ambitions.
The chapters in this book were written (and made available on my website) between 2005 and 2007. However, with one or two exceptions, this book represents their first appearance in print. While originally written as separate articles, I have tried here to integrate my arguments into a coherent flow. Nevertheless, it does not have to be read at one sitting from beginning to end.Feel free to "dip into" the book at any point, according to the sections and chapters that seem of greatest interest to you.
: : : : :
Excerpt from Strategy and the Fat Smoker by David Maister, 2008, The Spangle Press, 9780979845710.