My old friend Rob Tyrie (@RobTyrie) Twittered a couple of weeks or so ago that he'd like me to share my top 10 business books. I think he's baiting me. But that won't stop me.
He's egging me on because I've mentioned being a little put-off by the rubbish I've seen on some people's lists. I'm not opposed to business advice based anecdotal evidence, as long as it comes from very seasoned entrepreneurs. Otherwise, I have a preference for credible researchers. If you've written a business book to prop-up your speaker's fees and have focused on correlation ("I saw this happen at one company and they seem successful this year - therefore you must do this to succeed"), rather than causation (using iterative research methodologies to prove/disprove your results) then you won't reach me. You'll still probably sell a gazillion books...just not to me.
Today's, off the top of my head list (not in any order):
- The Essential Drucker, (or almost anything Peter Drucker has written)
- The Human Equation, Jeffrey Pfeffer (or anything Pfeffer has written/co-written)
- The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge
- Beyond Budgeting, Jeremy Hope and Robin Fraser
- Service Breakthroughs, James L. Heskett (or anything Heskett has written)
- The Ultimate Question, Fred Reichheld (or anything Reichheld has written)
- Toyota Production System, Taiichi Ohno
- Certain to Win, Chet Richards
- When Sparks Fly, Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap
- The Innovator's Dilemma/Solution/etc, Clayton Christensen et al.
- What Customers Want, Anthony Ulwick
- Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath
- Awake at Work/The Mindful Leader, Michael Carroll
- Adaptive Enterprise, Stephan Haeckel
- Managing, Henry Mintzberg (or anything by Mintzberg)
Is that ten? No, I guess it isn't. But those are the top-of-mind books that stand out and up in my view. I've undoubtedly forgotten some other good ones. And sure, I'll read the odd trashy business-book-page-turner like Outliers, but I'll hardly ever admit to it and I'd never recommend them to a friend.
There are very few things more helpful than a good reference from a friend.