Posted by Tom Gable
The SmartBlog on Workforce wrote that some of the most interesting conversations between business leaders tend to start with the question “what are you reading?” It created a forum that asked everyone to contribute ideas on “books that keep your forward-thinking wheels turning.”
It asked: What have you read that has made you a better leader?
The responses included classics from the field of management, war, leadership and even a few pieces of fiction. For PR, I went back through books we’ve found most helpful over the past 35 years in managing our own business and also better understanding the thinking and needs of the entrepreneurs we work with in different industries (biotech, high-tech, medical technology, renewable energy, wireless, etc.). Despite the wide variety of educational disciplines required to succeed in these different industries, several common traits emerged:
- The creative mind is always exploring beyond the boundaries of his or her areas of expertise and comfort
- There are no new ideas, just combinations of other ideas that can magically transform something as yet undefined and vague into a brilliant concept for the future
- Be prepared to fail (Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”)
- The best companies – from start ups to Fortune 100 – have both cultures that encourage creativity and established systems to keep all the elements moving forward toward measurable, desirable results
- Good systems and leadership can turn C players into B players and B players into A players
As Michael Gerber wrote in E-Myth Revisited, the systems run the business and the people run the systems. The way we implement using the systems provides a clear means of differentiating. Gerber notes that your business model can provide consistent value to your clients, employees, the community and all others you touch — beyond what they expect. So create the system where average people can achieve extraordinary results.
From that preamble, here is a shopping list of books to get your creative mind exploring new and possibly unfamiliar territories or revisiting classic concepts. The combination should stir brilliant new thoughts and perhaps a bigger vision for 2011, with new tools to make the vision a reality.
- The E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber (organization and systems for the entrepreneur, creativity and vision)
- Borrowing Brilliance, the Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others, David Kord Murray
- The 500 Year Delta, Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker
- Innovation – The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want – Curtis R. Carlson and William W. Wilmot
- The Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers
- The Innovators Solution, Clayton Christensen
- Jamming – The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, John Kao
- High Output Management, Andrew S. Grove, 1983 classic on the team ethic and the theory of assumed responsibility
- Organizing Genius, Warren Bennis
- Built to Last, James Collins and Jerry Porras
- Reputation, Charles Fombrun
- Flawless Consulting, Peter Block
- Keys to Success, Napoleon Hill