What business people are reading today

In a country where government has been seduced by the majesty of free-markets, it's tempting to think that business leaders have somehow cracked the code when it comes to tackling the challenges we face as a society. They have not. In fact, business leaders are as clueless about defining excellence and understanding how to make effective decisions as your crazy uncle. The only difference is, they get paid millions to carry out their charade of competence.

To get a glimpse of just how muddled the state of business thinking is today, take a look at this week's business best sellers according to the New York Times.

I have to read stuff like this as part of my day job, and I will tell you without hesitation, it ain't a pretty sight. Sure there are nuggets of knowledge here and there (I found Kahneman's book especially interesting), but for the most part, what these authors do best is make money selling books.

The list

The Power of Habit. A Times reporter's account of the science behind how we form and break habits.

Steve Jobs. A biography.

Thinking, Fast and Slow. An Nobel laureate in economics discusses how we make choices in business and in our personal lives, and when we can't trust our intuitions.

Imagine. An account of the science of creativity argues that is not a fife but a though process than can be learned

The Start-Up of You. Managing your career as if it were a start up.

Becoming China's Bitch. Solutions to the challenges that threaten America.

Great by Choice. The characteristics of companies that succeed in hard times.

Seeing the Big Picture. Viewing day-to-day decisions as keys to your company's success.

Strengths-based Leadership. Three keys to being a more effective leader.

Doing More With Less. Frugality and industriousness as the ways to wealth.


Back in the 90's

I went through a phase where I gobbled up numerous books on manufacturing and personnel management, and you're right. A few nuggets of applicable ideas and a whole lot of fluff.

I also found many of these authors dead wrong when it came to maximising the potential of employees. Making assumptions and declarations that are obviously in conflict with basic human nature. That's what comes from trying to make a name for yourself, without any real experience to back it up.

The problem with all these "how to" books is that "the boss"

reads one and gets fixated on what he thinks is a good, applicable idea and starts implementing it without looking at the bigger picture and realizing that what may be good in one business is not so much for another.

When I worked for IBM we had a VP of Marketing that would go visit a customer or two every few months. He'd come back all fired up with his new and half-vast knowledge of what was going on in the "real world" and suddenly everything had to fit the mold of his new found knowledge/experience. He was a tyrant and an idiot...and it's no wonder his Division went slowly south...while he blamed everyone/everything but himself.

Stan Bozarth