After having read and reviewed so many business books, I now share brief comments about what I consider to be the 25 most valuable business insights and identify the books in which they are either introduced or (one man’s opinion) best explained. Here are the first five:
1. Analytics: With rare exception, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. It is imperative to select criteria (metrics) that are relevant, inclusive, comprehensive, etc. and then apply them consistently.
Best Source: Competing of Analytics: The New Science of Winning co-authored by Tom Davenport and Jeanne Harris.
2. Branding: Over time a brand has evolved from what is burned into the hide of cattle to a name, then a logo, then a positive association and now an experience. Today, marketing creates or increases demand with the promise of what (preferably) a multi-sensory, pleasurable experience.
Best Source: Bern Schmidt’s Experiential Marketing: How to Get Customers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act, and Relate to Your Company and Brands
3. Business Narrative (Storytelling): The powder and value of this genre has only recently been recognized. Basically, the business narrative focuses on a specific situation in which various “characters” proceed through a sequence of events (plot). Issues are raised, conflicts develop, and eventually there is a resolution (climax). Most of the best business presentations are in the form of a narrative. Why? Because they entertain as well as inform and thus are more convincing. More to the point, they anchor the material in hum an experience with which an audience can identify.
Best Source: Stephen Denning’s The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative
4. Coaching: Like ice cream, coaches come in a wide variety of flavors. The most effective are those who have highly-developed expertise in the given subject(s) as well as emotional intelligence (i.e. people skills), communicate clearly, and (like gardeners) are masters at “growing” human development.
Best Source: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, written by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter and Verne Hornish’s Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm
5. Creativity: The general viewpoint is that innovation makes something better whereas creativity makes something new. However, in my opinion, developing a creative mindset that is always active is far more important than the occasional “something” it produces. The mindset is “open” in that it is receptive to what is unfamiliar or to what emerges from an unexpected source; it challenges assumptions and premises (especially those that result from what James O’Toole characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of comfort”); and it has highly-developed integrative thinking.
Best Sources: Guy Claxton, Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less, Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, and Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking