My business
book reviews

Business books.

Brghhhhhh just the mention of them gives people the chills and understandably so. The word “dull” comes up. A lot.

A couple of key principles, dragged out over 300 hundred pages with early chapters saying things like “and you will learn more about this in chapter 7”. Get me the hell out of here.

It’s not all bad, there are real gems to be found. And lets not forget that by reading you expose yourself to different thinking, views and concepts that feed self-development. With the advent of new technology, it’s never been easier to fill your time with literature albeit listened to rather than read.

Books are also a fantastic way to create engagement in your business, for example.

  • Staff interviewing and onboarding with preferred texts
  • Learning libraries
  • Boomerang books
  • Book clubs
  • Concept dissection and discussion (The Flywheel is particularly good for this)
  • Book suggestion box

 

Personally, I love a business book (I love books full stop) and I tend I tend to agree with Mr Pacino, when he said

“I’ll look at this stuff, inundate myself with it and then hopefully some of it will reach my imagination”.

With that in mind I have reviewed a few titles for you below, with the added option of suggesting anything you think I should have a look at next.

6 + 3 =

b

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

j

Patrick Lencioni

Teamwork

In short

Get out from behind your roles, take on problems as a team, progress the business.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. Challenges you to tear down the more traditional silo lead structure of business and work as one high performing team. This was one of my must read onboarding books.

b

The E- Myth

j

Michael Gerber

Scaling

In short

Working on your business, not in it.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. Have you taken on a business to give yourself the worst job in the world? That wasn’t in the plan! This book helps you look objectively at your business now and in the future.

b

Start With Why

j

Simon Sinek

Purpose

In short

If you don’t know what your “why” is in life, and in business, nobody else is.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Simon Sinek really drones on here (like in all of his appearances) but I begrudgingly feel this is an essential read. Can’t knock the premise but bows down at great length at the alter of Apple et al.

b

BE 2.0

j

Jim Collins

Strategy, Vision

In short

A clear roadmap to creating success.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. Easy to understand concepts, practical implementation tools and very readable. Get it.

b

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

j

Stephen R. Covey

Personal development

In short

Covey lays out what it takes to succeed on a personal level.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Lord of the Rings for the business community. People make a living out of making this book easier to understand. It’s on every essential read checklist in the land but proceed with caution and don’t read before you go to sleepzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

b

Creativity Inc.

j

Ed Catmull

Feedback

In short

Involve as many as possible in the creative process, give your ideas to others to kick into shape.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Technological advancements, Steve Jobs wanting monks on fire, wiped computers, staging feedback on a huge scale and the history of Buzz. Not sure if Pixar are following the advice contained here currently.

b

Jim Collins

j

Good to Great

Success

In short

Why do some companies limp along and others hit the next level and go bananas?

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Dry as a bone but you can’t argue with the process and the huge amount of research that supports it. Answers not theory. Read it and you, like thousands of others, can endlessly talk about the Stockdale Paradox in any business scenario and feel smug.

b

Fierce Conversations

j

Susan Scott

Communication

In short

What you say and how you say it makes the difference.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. So much of this is obvious it becomes embarrassing to admit you aren’t incorporating it in your every day life. Giving and receiving feedback sections are particularly instructive along with handling conflict.

b

Will it make the boat go faster?

j

Ben Hint-Davis & Harriet Beveridge

Teamwork

In short

Create your end goal, ask yourself is every activity you undertake satisfying it.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Well handled concept (Olympic training vs relatable business scenario). Mainly covers the importance of discipline, sticking to the plan and holding your nerve when the unexpected arrives. Bizarrely unravels itself at the end but they got the gold so best pipe down……..

b

Key Person of Influence

j

Daniel Priestly

Success

In short

5 simple steps to stop being an outlier and become a big cheese in any market.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Dan comes up with his own theory to success, which I suspect is how he created success. So why shouldn’t we be able to do it either? Because we are not all Dan Priestly, that’s why! Some interesting theories to cogitate here, but we all have to write a book? Really? Leave it out Daniel!

b

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy

j

Richard P. Rumelt

Strategy

In short

Stories about strategies that did and didn’t work.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Good Book, Bad Book more like. You start off thinking the former and eventually give in to the latter. Lots of grand examples that will not resonate unless your are in your 70s and love a bit of Cold War nostalgia. No real practical applications. Old school in everyway.

b

Blue Ocean Strategy

j

W.Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne

Different thinking

In short

Stop competing in your current “red ocean” market and look beyond your customers to create new “blue ocean” markets.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. A book that challenges you to think differently about your decision makers, to stop competing and to stop thinking in straight lines . Becomes example heavy, but the premise is sound and universally applicable. If you are not in a room at least once a year and running through this process, somebody else in your market is.

b

Grit

j

Angela Duckworth

Resilience

In short

What makes people stay the course.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Yes it’s a good premise, yes there is some science in there and yes I always recommend chapter 4 to people. It does however stretch the concept too far and fills the gaps with non-stop corporate examples. Good but grates.

b

Rebel Ideas

j

Matthew Syed

Different thinking

In short

Want different results but keep doing the same thing?

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. The ping pong master comes very, very good. Bring different minded people together under one cause and get them to go to work on your biggest challenges. It’s not always a winning formula but a great methodology to get the brain moving.

b

Coaching For Performance

j

Sir John Witmore

Coaching

In short

Key Coaching Principles.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. The man that started it all, the veritable Don Corleone of coaching transcribes his theories. Written back in 1992, and the fact that it has stood the test of time and is still used and cited today, says it all. Excellent starting place to understand the key principles of coaching and how it can be applied in all aspects of life.

b

Turn the Ship Around

j

L. David Marquet

Leadership

In short

Thinking differently depsite huge barriers.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. The book tells the story of a hierarchical manager finding himself in a system where his personal skills and knowledge suddenly are worth very little. A fantastic insight into military life and the application of process, empowerment and ownership.

b

Alchemy

j

Rory Sutherland

Creative thinking

In short

The surprising power of ideas that don’t make sense.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

No doubt about it a very interesting read. I treated as a stop gap between books as it became a bit one note. Rory knows his nuts there’s no doubt about it and discusses how the turning of ideas on their head can achieve amazing results. Amazing examples throughout. Inspiring.

b

Co-Active Coaching

j

Kimsey-House, Sandahl & Whitworth

Coaching

In short

Coahing the whole person, not just the problem.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read . The OTHER non-negotiable coaching read. Everything you need to be a great exploratory coach is right here between these pages. Sits in my bag most of the time.

b

What Got You Here Won't Get You There

j

Marshall Goldsmith

Personal development

In short

Understand who you are to understand how you can be holding yourself back.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. Marshall is an undoubtable and worthy legend in the coaching world and this book is the logical insertion to summarise his voluminous years of research. Marsh keeps it simple and breaks down his findings around “it’s us, not them” that becomes dismantler of our ambition if we do not adapt and change. It’s another “it’s so obvious I’m obviously an idiot” affair. Let’s get awkward.

b

Factfulness

j

Hans Rosling

Facts

In short

Things in the world aren’t as bad as you might think.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. The media has had a bad rap in recent years, and quite rightly so. The moment there was a correlation between clicks and enjoyment, media agencies began to reposition themselves to factor in this level of consumer approval and commercialisation. It’s so obviously wrong, and drives some horrendously alarmist behaviour. Hans takes the time to cut through the noise and present you with an alternative fact-based narrative. Read this and revaluate how your digest your information.

b

Spin Selling

j

Neil Rackham

Sales

In short

Break the goddam process down!

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. When I ran a sales team of twenty, reading and presenting this book back, was one of three objectives new starters were given in their first month. This book is easy to understand, lays out a clear process to follow and demystifies the basics of selling with just enough room to all ow you to put your own personality in the mix. Give it a shot.

b

NLP at Work

j

Sue Knight

Different thinking

In short

Dismantling bias and thinking through language.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

What is this voodoo magic? Well it’s not magic at all. This book has been around for donkey’s years because of its clear approach to NLP and application into the everyday and business scenario. Some (all) of the analogies left me a bit cold and I preferred to keep an eye on the practical applications. Keep in mind NLP is a behavioural approach that can be incorporated into a coaching style with ease. Worth it.

b

Wooden: A lifetime of observations and reflections on and off the court

j

John Wooden

Coaching

In short

Stay true to your beliefs and be the best you can be.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. Google “best sports coach in the world” and you will usually find this mans name in the number one spot, every time. Wooden’s approach to life and sport is 100% applicable to business and this book provides you with finite, simple methods to cut through the moronic methodologies being slung around out there. He’s from another era in time but man you’d want 10 minutes in the pub with this guy. PS I have zero interest in basketball, don’t let it put you off!

b

You Look Like A Thing and I Love You

j

Janelle Shane

Arificial Intelligence

In short

What is it and how does it work.

What's The Big Clear Idea?

‘Worrying about artificial superintelligence taking over is akin to worrying about overpopulation on Mars’. Janelle pulls this Andrew Ng quote out to set the scene and proceeds to break down this subject/concept/drama (see Factfulness) and makes it digestible to the everyday non AI (human). Overwrought in places but always interesting, this book is a great starting point and something to bounce off the head of the pub conspiracy theorist.

b

The Strategy Book

j

Max McKeown

Strategy

In short

What is strategy and how to apply it

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. Okay, this is a good book. Max gives us a clear account of how to apply strategy to your business in a completely practical way. The chapters are well laid out, you’re set a bit of homework and successfully sells in concepts with relatable stories. Would recommend!

b

My Life and Rugby

j

Eddie Jones

Team Management

In short

How do you create the pressure cooker and then learn to live in it?

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Great insights on how to manage teams and the immense amount of pressure that elite sports entails, both on and off the pitch. How do you get it right again and again and again in front of a global audience? Good read from a controversial, outspoken yet brilliant figure.

b

Challenging Coaching

j

John Blakey

Coaching

In short

A shake-up of coaching and its methods

What's The Big Clear Idea?

The first coaching book I read way back when! In retrospect I didn’t know what it was  being challenged! Maybe I should have read Witmore first. This book has undeniably influenced my style in coaching and business in general. A key introduction of the FACTS model and re-introduction of ZOUD which look at turning conventional coaching methods into something new and fresh. Big fan of this book and John Blakey as a speaker, look him up.

b

Traction

j

Gino Wickman

Business systems

In short

How to systemise and control your business

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. A well explained, simple framework to run your business by. I always recommend the Vision section to my clients. If you want to go further then all the better.

b

The Power of Ted

j

David Emerald

Personal development

In short

Tools to frame situations and outcomes

What's The Big Clear Idea?

This is not about TED talks! I enjoyed this book, it provides a sound philosophy on how to position yourself in key moments of your life. An easy read, again with multiple applications to the business landscape.

b

Time to Think

j

Nancy Kline

Silence

In short

The lost art of shutting up and letting people think

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Essential read. The power and positive influence of learning to listen is explored in thorough detail here. The effects this simple skill can bring to your organisation is incredible. Part 2 should be an obligatory read for any forward thinking organisations and the whole book for the planet as a whole!

b

Relentless

j

Alistair Brownlee

Optimal performance

In short

Understanding how elite performance is sustained by seemingly ordinary people

What's The Big Clear Idea?

Alistair, one of the most prolific athletes Great Britain has produced interviews other high-performing sports folk and breaks down their individual motivations and methods. A fascinating read that made a mention in one my articles here. 100% business applicable.

b

Positive Intelligence

j

Shirzad Chamine

Success

In short

You are you own worst enemy, stop it

What's The Big Clear Idea?

I struggled with this book. The naming conventions are absolutely out of control. That being said, the premise is sound and rounds itself nicely on the concept of challenging your thoughts to achieve personal and business excellence. Not for me but may be for you. Divisive.

b

The 7 Secrets of Happiness

j

Gyles Brandreth

Human happiness

In short

What is it that actually makes us happy

What's The Big Clear Idea?

If you only know Giles as the guy who wore outlandish jumpers on daytime TV then you need to let go of that assumption stat! A serious, well-researched read that provides a blueprint for us to use at a personal and business level. Makes a great gift for any grumpy colleagues/friends!