Great Books on Business

Business Books

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” — Henry Ford

This is a list of my favorite, noteworthy, and best business books.

I organized this list of the best books on business into categories so that you can easily compare against your own library of business books.

You can also use the categories to explore the various business books in a more relevant way.

10 Great Books on Business

1. Business Model Generation

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Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder and and Yves Pgneur,  is a book to help visionaries, game changers, and challengers reimagine business models.

It’s a simple framework that explores nine building blocks that cover an organization’s customers, offers, infrastructure, and financial viability.

The 9 building blocks are:

  1. Customer segments
  2. Value propositions
  3. Channels
  4. Customer relationships
  5. Revenue streams
  6. Key resources
  7. Key activities
  8. Key partnerships
  9. Cost structure

The authors also share 4 catalysts that trigger new business models:

  1. A decision to make greater use of underutilized assets.
  2. A new offer to customers.
  3. A change in customer service.
  4. A finance-related innovation.

What I like about this book is that it feels fun and friendly.  But even better, it’s one of the most effective frameworks for building a better business, and it’s a great tool for creating clarity.

2. Flawless Execution

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Flawless Execution, by James Murphy, shares the best of what he learned about making things happen in the military, and translates that framework to business.

How cool is it to have a book that shares lessons from fighter pilots to help win the battles of the business world?

Learn how to share a vision, in vivid detail, by creating a Future Picture using 12 key descriptors.

Learn the flawless execution: the Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief-Win cycle.

Learn the six steps to mission planning.

3. Good to Great

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Good to Great, by Jim Collins is a book about how companies make giant jumps in their market performance.

Collins and his team researched 1,435 companies to find 11 companies that made huge improvements in their performance over time.

What did the 11 companies have in common?

Discipline.

They demonstrated discipline in people, thought, and action.

This is the book that made the Hedgehog concept famous.

The Hedgehog concept is the intersection of three circles:

  1. What can you be the best in the world at?
  2. What drives your economic engine?
  3. What are you deeply passionate about?

4. In Search of Excellence

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In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters and

Learn how the best companies do their best work.

Tom Peter’s driving goal was to prove how crucial people are to business success, and to release business from the “tyranny of the bean counters”.

Peters and Waterman analyzed 43 of Fortune’s top performing companies at the time.  They used the McKinsey 7-S model as their platform:

  1. structure
  2. strategy
  3. systems
  4. style of management
  5. skills
  6. staff
  7. shared values

According to Peters, the essential message of In Search for Excellence is:

  • People
  • Customers
  • Action

Here are the 8 themes that are the backbone (and chapters) of In Search for Excellence:

  1. A bias for action
  2. Close to the customer
  3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship
  4. Productivity through people
  5. Hands-on, value-driven
  6. Stick to the knitting
  7. Simple form, lean staff
  8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties

5. Mojo

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Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It, by Marshall Goldsmith, teaches you how to create more Mojo in your life, maintain it, and recapture it when you need it.

Mojo is the moment when we do something that’s purposeful, powerful, and positive and the rest of the world recognizes it.

According to Goldsmith, our professional and personal Mojo is impacted by 4 key factors:

  1. identity (who do you think you are)
  2. achievement (what have you done lately?)
  3. reputation (who do other people think you are–and what have you done lately?)
  4. acceptance (what can you change–and when do you need to just “let it go”?).

6. The 100 Best Business Books of All Time

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The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, Is a work of art that picks out the best books among the sea of business books.

The authors take you on a fast waltz through the best books they found the most relevant, most revealing, and most useful books in business history.

With each book they cover, you get a glimpse into its unique value through key takeaways and highlights.

Covert and Sattersten include books you expect, books you might not expect, and some books you might never have heard of.

They group the books by the following themes:

  1. You
  2. Leadership
  3. Strategy
  4. Sales and Marketing
  5. Rules and Scorekeeping
  6. Management
  7. Biographies
  8. Entrepreneurship
  9. Narratives
  10. Innovation and Creativity
  11. Big Ideas

 

7. The Advantage

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The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, by Patrick Lencioni, is a book about how building healthy organizations is a business advantage.

Lencioni argues that it’s not superior strategy, faster innovation or smarter employees.

It’s a healthy organization free of politics and confusion, and an environment where star performers never want to leave.

According to Lencioni, an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, when its management, operations and culture are unified.

Learn how to drive business in a way that maximizes human potential and aligns the organization around a common set of principles.

8. The Art of the Long View

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The Art of the Long View, by Peter Schwartz, is a book about preparing for your future.

While you may not be able to predict the future, you can play out multiple possibilities so that when a scenario starts to come true, you are ready for it.

Schwartz teaches you how to use scenarios to develop a strategic vision within your business.

9.  The Essential Drucker

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The Essential Drucker, by Peter Drucker, is a book of his best practices for management.

The purpose of a business is to create a customer.  Drucker reminds us that “a business has failed it it does not supply goods and services desired by the consumer at a price the consumer is willing to pay.”

According to Drucker there are three core tasks of management: 1) establish the purpose and mission for the institution, 2) make work productive and the worker effective, and 3) manage social impacts and social responsibilities.

And he reminds us that a company can only make a social contribution if it is highly profitable.

It started as a book to answer the question, “Where do I start reading Drucker?”, but turned into an incredibly comprehensive introduction to management.

10.  The Living Company

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The Living Company, by Arie De Geus, is a book that answers the question, “What does it take for an organization to survive the test of time?”

Organizations survive and renew based on four elements:
1.  Ability to learn and adapt
2.  Ability to create a community
3.  Ability to build relationships with other entities
4.  Ability to govern growth and evolution

Organizations die because their managers focus on the economics of their products and forget they really are a community of humans exchanging value.

Great Books on Business by Category

With the top 10 business books in mind, now here is a list of the best business books sorted by categories.

Getting Started

Branding

Business, Business Models, Value Chains

Change, Change Management

Competition

Culture

Customer Focus, Service Delivery

CxO, Executive

Decision Making

Effectiveness

Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups

Excellence

Execution

Finance

Globalization

Innovation

Knowledge Management, Performance Management, Training

Leadership

Management

Marketing, Sales

Motivation

Negotiation

Organizational Change, Design

Outsourcing

Productivity

Strategy, Purpose

Strengths

Survival, Longevity

Systems

Teamwork

Trust

Vision, Mission, Values

Work-Life Balance