These ten books changedthe business world forever.Thousands of business books are published eachyear, most of which are destined for theremainders bin. However, there are a handful ofbusiness books that have literally changed theworld. Heres my list …………….
10. The Art of War (3rd CenturyBCE)• While militaristic thinkingsometimes leads to bizarre businessbehavior (like treating competitorsas enemies rather than potentialpartners), Sun Tzus magnumopus really isnt about war, per se.Its more about how to thinkstrategically about complex issues,as well as how to adapt thosestrategies to the often limitedreality of the human condition.• Fun fact: Sun Tzus patron testedthe strategists theories on war byasking him to organize an army ofprostitutes and have them paradearound the courtyards.
9. The Prince (1532)• While intended for monarchsrather than moguls, Machiavellisreal politic view that "the endjustifies the means" is the basisfor modern corporate ethics.Executives in publicly-ownedcompanies are constrained by lawto represent the interests of theshareholders and can only "dothe right thing" when the rightthing makes financial sense.• Fun fact: Machiavelli was acomplete failure as a military andcivil adviser, and lived to see hisideas widely ridiculed.
8. The Wealth ofNations (1776)• Written when the fastest modeof communication was a sailingship and slavery was legal in mostof the world, this book providesthe basis for popular economicthought even in the Internet age.Interest factoid: Adam Smithsoft-cited "invisible hand" onlyappears in a single sentence inthe book.• Fun fact: While Smith was aproponent of the "invisible hand"of economics, he frequentlywarned against the formation ofmonopolies.
7. How to Win Friends and InfluencePeople (1936)• Although he wrote in an era whenthe scientific world treated IQ as theonly standard of intelligence, DaleCarnegie perceived that lastinghappiness and success emerges fromrelationships rather than ideas orfacts. While parts of this book nowseem a bit quaint, his basic conceptis now a commonplace amongbusiness leaders, many of whomnow value EQ above IQ in both hiringand promoting.• Fun fact: Dale Carnegie changed hisbirth name from "Carnagey" to"Carnegie" in order to create a (false)connection with the multimillionaireAndrew Carnegie.Manish@RMS
6. Atlas Shrugged (1957)• Ayn Rands screed againstcollectivism utterly transformedhow many business leadersperceive their role in society. Priorto Rand, many executives feltapologetic for their success andresponsible (at least to someextent) for the welfare of thoseless fortunate. After Rand, manyexecutives now view themselves asheroic figures, an upper crust of"makers" amidst a herd of"takers.“• Fun fact: Ayn Rand, despite herdislike of social welfare programs,was a recipient of both Medicareand Social Security.Manish@RMS
5. The Greatest Salesman in theWorld (1968)• When this classic sales book waswritten, most people thought ofsalesmen as slick, fast-talkingcon-men. While that stereotypestill exists, most salespeople nowsee themselves the way authorOg Mandino saw them: asessentially moral people who arestriving to make the world betterand make other people happy.• Fun fact: Og Mandino flew thirtybombing missions during WorldWar II, some of them piloted byactor James Stewart (of "Its aWonderful Life" fame.)
4. The Soul of a NewMachine (1981)• Credit Tracy Kidders tome withpopularizing two now-ubiquitousbusiness concepts: 1) that trulydedicated workers should spendmost of their waking life at theoffice rather than working a mere40 hours a week, and 2) thatdecisions should be made by"empowered" employees ratherthan top down management.• Fun fact: The "we can change theworld" message in this book is allthe more poignant in that the"machine" ended up being atechnological dead end.
3. The One MinuteManager (1982)• Believe it or not, there was once atime when most businesspeoplebelieved managing people was afairly difficult job. However, that wasbefore Kenneth Blanchard andSpencer Johnson set out their simple(some say "simplistic") rules forcommon-sense management. Thesuccess of this booklet spawned anentire industry of "managementmade easy" consulting.• Fun fact: Ken Blanchard assignedhimself the title of "Chief SpiritualOfficer" of his company, an ideawhich did not spawn many imitators.
2. Guerrilla Marketing (1984)• In the Mad Men era, marketingand advertising implied a bigmoney investment. In this book,though, author Jay ConradLevinson explained howunconventional efforts can oftencreate better results at a lowercost. Amazingly, Levinson hadthis insight more than thirtyyears before social networkingand smart phone apps becamesuch a huge part of the corporatelandscape.• Fun fact: Among other things, thebook suggests tattooing yourcorporate logo on your forehead.
1. Reengineering the Corporation (1993)• Hammer and Champys"manifesto" obliterated theimplicit social contract betweenemployers and employees. Gonewere the notions of lifetimeemployment and corporateloyalty, replaced by an endlessregimen of downsizing,rightsizing, outsourcing, and off-shoring.• Fun fact: The current biz-blabterminology for "reengineering"(i.e. layoffs) is "ventilating theorganization.“
Readers, what other booksshould have made this list?Leave a comment!