The 100 Best Business Books of All Time What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-02-05
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover

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Thousands of business books are published every year- Here are the best of the best After years of reading, evaluating, and selling business books, Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten are among the most respected experts on the category. Now they have chosen and reviewed the one hundred best business titles of all time-the ones that deliver the biggest payoff for today's busy readers. The 100 Best Business Books of All Time puts each book in context so that readers can quickly find solutions to the problems they face, such as how best to spend The First 90 Days in a new job or how to take their company from Good to Great. Many of the choices are surprising-you'll find reviews of Moneyball and Orbiting the Giant Hairball, but not Jack Welch's memoir. At the end of each review, Jack and Todd direct readers to other books both inside and outside The 100 Best. And sprinkled throughout are sidebars taking the reader beyond business books, suggesting movies, novels, and even children's books that offer equally relevant insights. This guide will appeal to anyone, from entry-level to CEO, who wants to cut through the clutter and discover the brilliant books that are truly worth their investment of time and money.

Author Biography

Jack Covert (right) is the founder and president of 800-CEOREAD, a specialty business book retailer that began as a subsidiary of the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops.

Todd Sattersten (left) is the company-'s vice president. Both read countless business books every year and review many of them on their Web site and blog.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Youp. 5
Improving your life, your person, and your strengths
Flowp. 7
Getting Things Donep. 9
The Effective Executivep. 12
How to be a Star at Workp. 15
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peoplep. 18
How to Win Friends and Influence Peoplep. 21
Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alivep. 24
The Power of Intuitionp. 27
What Should I Do with My Life?p. 29
Oh, the Places You'll Go!p. 32
Chasing Daylightp. 36
Sidebars: Jack Covert Selectsp. 11
Globalization of Mannersp. 23
Business Books for Kids of All Agesp. 34
Leadershipp. 39
Inspiration. Challenge. Courage. Change.
On Becoming a Leaderp. 41
The Leadership Momentp. 43
The Leadership Challengep. 47
Leadership is an Artp. 50
The Radical Leapp. 52
Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Willp. 54
Leading Changep. 57
Questions of Characterp. 61
The Story Factorp. 63
Never Give In!p. 66
Sidebars: Leadership in Moviesp. 46
The Economistp. 60
Strategyp. 69
Eight organizational blueprints from which to draft your own.
In Search of Excellencep. 71
Good to Greatp. 74
The Innovator's Dilemmap. 78
Only the Paranoid Survivep. 82
Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?p. 85
Discovering the Soul of Servicep. 88
Executionp. 91
Competing for the Futurep. 94
Sidebars: The Best Route to an Ideap. 77
Learn From Experiencep. 81
Sales And Marketingp. 97
Approaches and pitfalls in the ongoing process of creating customers.
Influencep. 99
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mindp. 102
A New Brand Worldp. 104
Selling the Invisiblep. 108
Zagp. 111
Crossing the Chasmp. 114
Secrets of closing the Salep. 117
How to become a Rainmakerp. 121
Why We Buyp. 123
The Experience Economyp. 126
Purple Cowp. 130
The Tipping Pointp. 133
Sidebars: Best-Selling Business Booksp. 107
Selling on the Silver Screenp. 120
For Your Ears Onlyp. 129
Four [Super] Powerful Writersp. 136
Rules and scorekeepingp. 137
The all-important numbers behind the game.
Naked Economicsp. 139
Financial Intelligencep. 141
The Balanced Scorecardp. 144
Sidebars: Getting Your Bearingsp. 143
Managementp. 147
Guiding and directing the people around you.
The Essential Druckerp. 149
Out of the Crisisp. 157
Toyota Production Systemp. 161
Reengineering the Corporationp. 164
The Goalp. 167
The Great Game of Businessp. 170
First, Break all the Rulesp. 173
Now, Discover Your Strengthsp. 177
The Knowing-Doing Gapp. 180
The Five Dysfunctions of a Teamp. 183
Six Thinking Hatsp. 187
Sidebars: Peter Drucker saidp. 152
Deming's 14 Points of Managementp. 160
Choose Your Approachp. 186
Biographiesp. 191
Seven lives. Unlimited lessons.
Titanp. 193
My Years with General Motorsp. 196
The HP Wayp. 201
Personal Historyp. 204
Moments of Truthp. 207
Sam Walton: Made in America-My Storyp. 210
Losing My Virginityp. 213
Sidebars: Classicsp. 199
Entrepreneurshipp. 217
Seven guides to the passion and practicality necessary for any new venture.
The Art of the Startp. 219
The E-Myth Revisitedp. 222
The Republic of Teap. 224
The Partnership Charterp. 227
Growing a Businessp. 230
Guerrilla Marketingp. 233
The Monk and the Riddlep. 235
Sidebars: Where to...p. 232
Narrativesp. 239
Six industry tales of both fortune and failure.
McDonald'sp. 241
American Steelp. 244
The Forcep. 249
The Smartest Guys in the Roomp. 252
When Genius Failedp. 256
Moneyballp. 259
Sidebars: Found in Fictionp. 247
Industry in Depthp. 262
Innovation and creativityp. 263
Insight into the process of developing new ideas.
Orbiting the Giant Hairballp. 265
The Art of Innovationp. 268
Jump Start Your Business Brainp. 270
A Whack on the Side of the Headp. 274
The Creative Habitp. 277
The Art of Possibilityp. 279
Sidebars: Conferences to Attendp. 273
Fresh Perspectives Not in a Bookstore Near You.p. 282
Big Ideasp. 283
The future of business books lies here.
The Age of Unreasonp. 285
Out of Controlp. 288
The Rise of the Creative Classp. 292
Emotional Intelligencep. 295
Drivenp. 298
To Engineer Is Humanp. 301
The Wisdom of Crowdsp. 304
Made to Stickp. 308
Sidebars: ChangeThisp. 291
Readers' Pollp. 307
Takeawaysp. 311
What everyone is looking for.
The First 90 Daysp. 313
Up the Organizationp. 314
Beyond the Corep. 315
Little Red Book of Sellingp. 316
What the CEO Wants You to Knowp. 317
The Team Handbookp. 318
A Business and Its Beliefsp. 319
Lücky or Smart?p. 320
The Lexus and the Olive Treep. 321
Thinkertoysp. 322
More Than You Knowp. 323
The Last Wordp. 325
Acknowledgmentsp. 327
Indexp. 329
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


To Engineer Is Human HENRY PETROSKI

Reviewed by Todd

Everything fails it is just a matter of when. Parents forewarn their children that failure is common even likely, through the nursery rhymes of "Humpty Dumpty" and "Jack and Jill". Our first steps and first bike rides without the training wheels give us an idea of what failure feels like, literally. As we find our balance, scraped-up knees and bruised pride happen less frequently. Henry Petroski begins his book, To Engineer Is Human, by revisiting these same children's tales, cautioning us again, and with an engineer's eye, describing a world more reminiscent of London Bridge.

Due to their design, the pen on your desk is likely to last for months while your automobile will likely get you from point A to B for many years, their life spans governed by a balance between function, aesthetic, and economy. Engineers arbitrate those competing forces when bringing an idea into the material world. This arbitration, as Petroski describes it, is something closer to art than science. But sometimes, Petroski warns, art comes at the expense of sound engineering and construction.

The construction of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City called for a grand atrium with two walkways suspended from the ceiling by a set of rods that ran through both structures. The single rod mechanism was replaced, during early planning with two separate rods to simplify construction and utilize standard fabrication techniques. This small change left the system with barely enough strength to support the walkway; adding people proved disastrous. On July 17, 1981, the walkway collapsed, killing 114 people and injuring 200 others.

Petroski uses the Hyatt Regency story to illustrate several nuances of engineering. Many parties were simply negligent: an early ceiling collapse and comments from construction workers about instability gave engineers ample warning to reexamine the walkway plans; no changes were made. Letters to the editors of trade publications following the accident also suggested what seemed like obvious engineering alternatives.

But that is the trick. Knowing the nature of a failure provides paths to the core problem, but this is a hindsight luxury the original engineers didn't have. And there we return back to the idea of engineering as art. The unique design and construction of these walkways left engineers working in a thought space that was dangerous, more so than they realized

As much as the field of study seems to be based in fact and formula, engineering is better described as grounded in hypothesis, a working practice of individuals developing ideas that tentatively describe phenomena but need constant reevaluation. Engineers spend enormous amounts of time studying the mistakes made by their colleagues. Petroski points to an Egyptian pyramid in Dahshur, with its sudden change to a more shallow angle midway up, as an early example of a trial and error method of construction. Flying buttresses on European cathedrals indicate a similar postconstruction epiphany. Computer-aided three-dimensional drafting and finite element analysis do not protect today's engineers from failure as new designs further strain the tensions between competing factors. While unequivocally a tragedy the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse becomes a valuable case study from which future engineers can learn.

"Engineering, like poetry, is an attempt to approach perfection."

Petroski's expertise in failure analysis provides important lessons for those in business. Formulas for organizational success, whether self-determined or suggested, are, like design, better described as hypothesis, accurate under some conditions and always open for reexamination. What engineers call a "factor of safety " and inventory analysts call "safety stock" deals with the parallel uncertainty of real world conditions on a rope or a distribution system. Businesses have their own versions of engineering's "factor of safety," whether it concerns extra boxes of inventory under the expeditor's desk or adding a few days to a customer promise for variation in the distribution center, but they'd better make sure those safety factors don t inflate and allow sloppy business practices.

Much lip service is given to accepting failure in business as a natural phase in the learning process yet internalizing the idea seems a little more difficult. Shareholders don't show sympathy for failed products. Customers expect their product to arrive when promised and in pristine condition. Most of the other books featured in these pages detail the workings of successful companies, while Petroski's book tells a more complicated tale of failure, one in which business practitioners can find wisdom. The most important lesson has to be appreciating failure as a learning opportunity. Failure is common. Not learning from failure forces companies to repeat the same mistakes. In engineering, that repetition can cost lives; in business, our livelihood.

The Essential Drucker PETER F. DRUCKER

Reviewed by Jack

When we were choosing the books for the management section of our 100 Best list, we both knew that Peter F. Drucker had to be represented. But which book to include? Though his name is often bandied about in business thought circles, Drucker's books are often considered too dense to tackle in order to access his invaluable ideas and observations. Since Drucker wrote thirty-nine volumes on everything from business management to entrepreneurship to nonprofits, the options can be somewhat overwhelming.

Now, as a music fan (some might say obsessed music fan), I would never recommend purchasing a "Greatest Hits" CD. The problem with these types of collections is that they miss the nuances of the complete package the artist intended when he or she created the original album. I find this to be true of iTunes and other "singles" sources too, because listeners can pick and choose the tracks they already know. Many times I have found my favorite track only after listening to an entire CD multiple times—and I highly value that opportunity for discovery. Regardless, The Essential Drucker, indeed a "Greatest Hits" collection of sorts, is a must-read because the entire body of Drucker's work is a tall mountain to scale. While I, as a self-described music snob, may not run out to buy The Best of Mahler, there is something to be said for making academic literature accessible to the common reader, and that is what The Essential Drucker does for this brilliant man's work.

The genesis of The Essential Drucker occurred when Drucker's longtime

Japanese editor and good friend Atsuo Ueda, who had retired from publishing and gone into teaching, needed an abridged version for his students to read. The resulting collection was published in Japan in 2000. However, even abridged, it ran three volumes. The American edition published in 2001 was edited down to one volume. Mr. Drucker approved of the edited compilation as a good overview of his work.

The Essential Drucker is organized around the three emphases that Drucker focused on throughout his career: Management, the Individual, and Society. He was intensely interested in the role people play in organizations. Each chapter within these sections is derived from a single Drucker book, and a curious reader will be able go back to the source book to delve more deeply into the subject. While excerpting from only ten of Drucker's thirty-nine books, the editor acknowledges that there are five other books that could have been included but which are more technical, and therefore not included in a book meant to introduce Drucker essentials.

"Business management must always, in every decision and action, put economic performance first."

Clearly, the man was prolific, but what makes the late Mr. Drucker's writings so important? I read a ton of business books, but reading Drucker is a different kind of experience. His passages require multiple readings, not because the writing is hard to understand but because every single word is chosen with care to optimize the point he wishes to make. His sentences are sculpted, and the thoughts are read-out-loud important.

If you usually read a book with a highlighter to help remember key thoughts, you might be better served to only highlight the words that you don't want to remember, because there are far fewer of those and you will save money on pens.

For example, Drucker says that the purpose of a business is to create a customer. Simple. He states that a business enterprise has only two basic functions" marketing and innovation. Important. In the chapter on time management, he presents a strategy I have used many times when writing reviews or other important memos, and I have found it very effective. He suggests that when you have a large writing project, you should go heads down and write a "zero draft"—which is very rough—even before the first draft. The "zero draft" will generally take much less time, and then you can edit and revise the piece in short chunks of time—which are always easier to find. Practical. Yes, these are simple concepts, but the meat is in the implementation. As managers and leaders, we realize that every business has a different way of going to market, but this little volume offers essential concepts everyone can implement in their individual organizations.

Ask those you know who have a business degree and you will be astonished by the number who say they have not read Drucker. Beginning his career as a journalist, this was a man who never stopped writing, never stopped observing, and his insights were always well-founded in industry dynamics. This is not to say his books aren't daunting, and that is why we recommend The Essential Drucker as an access point to a world of unparalleled reflection on this pursuit we call business.

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