Professional Reading TimeA few weeks ago, I published a post on “Jumpstart Your Marketing Reading to Restart Your Brain.” The post was ostensibly in response to my frustration over what I view as out-of-of-tune and out-of-touch textbooks that are used in college marketing courses.

Ditto on management texts.  However, I’m still saving my diatribe on texts…and what needs to be done to dramatically improve the tools and content of management and business education for another day.

For now, I’ll focus on passing along my list of books guaranteed to rekindle your enthusiasm for the art and science of management.

Note from Art: my marketing list has a more contemporary flavor and the management list is a bit more dated, and perhaps classic.  That is by design.  I’m focusing on those elements of management that I perceive are universal truths.

Summer Management Refresher Reading:

First, I encourage you to pick from my list of marketing books.  After all, as Drucker indicated, “the goal of an enterprise is to acquire and keep customers.”  From Innovator’s Dilemma to Crossing the Chasm to Discipline of Market Leaders to Purple Cow, Duct Tape Marketing and anything by David Meerman Scott, these books provide you with a fantastic grounding on how to think about the pursuit of creating value, competing, positioning and winning in the market. The lessons of how we create value are foundational for thinking about how to manage effectively.

The Rest:

  • The Science of Success, Charles G. Koch, CEO of Koch Industries.  This little-known book is priceless for offering a systematic view of Market-Based Management.  Worth reading over and over.
  • Execution, Charam and Bossidy.  While lighter than The Science of Success, the guidance…and energy you gain from reading these two bright minds is worth the price of admission.  Pay particular attention to the content on “Robust Dialogue.”  I’ve noticed an updated version on bookstore shelves.
  • Out of the Crisis, W. Edwards Deming.  No management education is complete without Dr. Deming, and his lessons and points are every bit as relevant today as they were when he wrote this book.
  • Market Driven Strategy, George Day.  OK, I jumped back to an academic for a dated book on strategy.  Nonetheless, read this after you’ve read the marketing books that I’ve suggested and the pieces will start fitting together.  At least for me, Day’s treatment of many of the core strategy topics still resonates to this day.
  • Leading Change, John Kotter.  I find this work so important that I re-write Kotter’s 8-points for leading change next to Deming’s 14 points for managers inside the cover of everyone of my business journals.
  • Good to Great, immediately followed by How the Mighty Fall, by Jim Collins.  While many Good to Great firms are no longer great or good…and some are gone, the lessons are important. How the Mighty Fall is a great postscript to Good to Great…with some fresh thoughts on how great firms sow the seeds of their own demise while they are at their peak.
  • The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker.  Much like Deming, Drucker was a man far ahead of his time.  It is possible that since his passing, some of the collections might offer more value than this book, but I’m hard pressed to find fault with recommending this classic book from a great management thinker.

In case you are looking for more options, check out Bret L. Simmon’s Recommended Reading at his Positive Organizational Behavior blog or Wally Bock’s great Book Reviews over at Three Star Leadership. Both of these gentlemen are great management thinkers and writers and their recommendations merit your consideration.