Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Best Business Books Ever

Clarke Ching kicked off a discussion about the best business books ever in the cmsig and CriticalChain mailing lists at Yahoo. 800ceoread has a poll to find the 100 best business books of all time. As I write this, The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt is ranked number one.

This got me thinking about which business books that have influenced me the most. Not necessarily the best written business books I've read, but the ones which have had a strong influence of my life. Here they are:
  • Slack, by Tom DeMarco. The first really good business book I read. Made me realize that management, when it is done right, is both sensible and fun.
  • eXtreme Programming Explained, by Kent Beck. Software development is business, so I think this book qualifies. (Anyway, this is my list, so I'll add whichever book I want.) This is the book that got me interested in agile software development.
  • Lean Software Development, by Tom and Mary Poppendieck. This book sparked my interest in Lean.
  • Agile Management for Software Engineering, by David Anderson. This is the book that got me interested in the Theory of Constraints.
  • The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. An eye opener.
  • Thinking for a Change, by Lisa J. Scheinkopf. The first TOC Thinking Process I read. I have read and practiced the Thinking Process almost every day since.
  • The Logical Thinking Process, by William Dettmer. This book gave me the tools to significantly improve the work I did for a client recently, and it has had a strong influence on the strategic planning for my own company.
  • Brainpower Networking, by William Dettmer. Crawford Slip brainstorming has become one of the most used tools in my toolkit. I use it mostly for group brainstorming sessions, and sometimes to get my own thoughts organized.
  • Throughput Accounting, by Steven M. Bragg. I have found that this is one book that I often refer to while designing measurement systems for new organizations.
  • The Heart of Change, by John P. Kotter. I have had strong reservations about most change processes I have seen, but Kotter's ideas make sense. The best thing about this book is that it has opened the door for further study and learning.
Here is a suggestion:

If you've got a blog of your own, post a list of the books that have influenced you the most. Then we'll link up. Create a backlink from this post. If you haven't got a blog, just comment on this post, and list your favorites in the comment.

I have made a follow-up post with links to everyone that responded to my suggestion above. There is some good reading to be found in those lists.


SKI said...

Good stuff. I am surprised that Dettmer's "Strategic Navigation" did not make it onto your short list. I put it ahead of all other TOC books, as it explains why so few actually accomplish the impossible. Hint: It is Colonel John Boyd's OODA Loop that is missing. The "just do it" step!


Henrik said...

Hi Ski,

Two reasons for not including Strategic Navigation:

1. Embarrassing as it is, I haven't read all of it yet, just a few chapters. (I have read just enough to realize just how embarrassing it is for a management consultant not to have read it.)

2. I included only books that have lead to some change in my world view. For example, even though I liked Liker's The Toyota Way a lot, I didn't include it in the list. When I read it, I was already using Lean techniques. Had I read it before Poppendiecks's Lean Software Development, it would have been on the list.

Also, I left out some great books because they are not directly management related. Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter is an example. This is a book that made me think. It was well worth the splitting head ache...

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Henrik said...

I have removed three spam posts from Seo Linkmaster. If you happen to encounter this individual, or his so-called "marketing company", please do not buy his services, and please do not buy products from anyone using his services.

Because of him, and a few other rotten eggs, I have had to turn comment moderation on for this blog. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Thank you!