MCG's "Must Read" book list:
How Civilizations Die
By David Goldman
Thanks to continuing declining birthrates, much of Europe (not only Spain, Italy, and Greece, but alos Germany, France, Great Britain and Scandinavia) is on a path of willed self-extinction, says David P. Goldman Not only that, but Muslim countries -- contrary to popular belief -- are experiencing similar declines in birthrates, he says, with educated Iranian women, for instance, who grew up with five or six siblings, now giving birth to one or two children. Birthrates in Muslim nations are declining faster than anywhere else — at a rate never before experienced. He says that Europe, even in its decline, may have the resources to support an aging population, if at a terrible economic and cultural cost. But in the impoverished Islamic world, an aging population means a civilization on the brink of total collapse— something Islamic terrorists know and fear.
Muslim decline poses new threats to America, he writes, "challenges we cannot even understand, much less face effectively, without a wholly new kind of political analysis that explains how desperate peoples and nations behave."
Taking People With You
By David Novak
David Novak learned long ago that you can't lead a great organization of any size without getting your people aligned, enthusiastic, and focused relentlessly on the mission. But how do you do that?
Over his fifteen years at Yum! Brands, Novak has developed a trademarked program he calls Taking People with You. He spends several weeks each year personally teaching it to thousands of managers around the world. He convinces them that they'll never make big things happen until they learn how to get people on their side. No skill in business is more important. And Yum!'s extraordinary success (at least 13 percent growth for each of the last nine years) proves his point.
Novak knows that managers don't need leadership platitudes or business school theories. So he cuts right to the chase with a step-by- step guide to setting big goals, getting people to work together, blowing past your targets, and celebrating after you shock the skeptics. And then doing it again and again until consistent excellence becomes a core element of your culture.
The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date
By Samuel Arbesman
Much of what we consider fact - because we learned it in school or read it in a book - is no longer true. Science advances, and measurement techniques improve. Though facts refuse to sit still, decision makers can stay fresh by reading omnivorously and questioning long-held assumptions. Arbesman disputes the popular argument that, by rendering information easily retrievable, the Internet is making us dumb. Would you rather consult your dusty memory vaults or online data baked fresh daily?
By Brad Szollose
Times change, people change. These days we hear a lot about how Gen X and Millennials differ from Baby Boomers. Author Brad Szollose is a "Cusp Baby Boomer" who understands generational differences. But he also knows that there are some universal laws about leadership that cut across generations. In "Liquid Leadership" Brad presents seven laws that all leaders should follow. 1) Place People First. 2) Cultivate an Environment That Is Free and Safe to Tell the Truth. 3) Nurture a Creative Culture. 4) Support Reinvention. 5) Lead by Example. 6) Take Responsibility. 7) Leave a Lasting Legacy. This advice applies to career success as much as it does to leadership success. (more...)
The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity
By Richard Florida
Great Reset is a very timely and interesting book, especially if the U.S. continues with a protracted recession of five years or more. The author is arguing that the current recession is more than an economic slump. It's actually the beginning of structural changes to the way North Americans live. He draws examples of how we moved from an agrarian society to an urban society through the long recession in the 1800's, and from an urban society to a suburban (car driven) society through the great depression. Interesting food for thought. (more…)
The Upside of the Downturn
By Geoff Colvin
As this historic downturn continues, managers are struggling to maintain profits, respond to customers, and lead their people. The old rules no longer apply. But according to Colvin, even the scariest recession has an upside. Savvy managers can take practical steps to prevail now and come out stronger when the downturn ends. Based on extensive interviews with global executives and other experts, Colvin synthesizes the ten most important guidelines for tough times.(more…)
Strategy and the Fat Smoker
By David Maister
David Maister reminds us remorselessly that knowing what your company needs to do is relatively obvious: the test for us all is actually making it happen. What is noteworthy is how similar (if not identical) most firms’ strategies really are: provide outstanding client service, act like team players, provide a good place to work, invest in your future. However, just because something is obvious doesn’t make it easy. Real strategy lies not in figuring out what to do, but in devising ways to ensure that, compared to others, we actually do more of what everybody knows they should do. (more…)
The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain times
By Scott D.Anthony
The concept of disruptive innovation, first proposed by Clayton Christensen, continues to be a powerful one, with empirical evidence that it is a real phenomenon in the evolution of organizations. Scott Anthony suggests that the current economic disruption is a useful catalyst for corporate innovation and that there is opportunity in adversity. (more…)
Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition
By Michael J.Mauboussin
Most people think that they make rational decisions, even if they do not. Michael J. Mauboussin wants to help people make better decisions. He details the most common decision-making mistakes and suggests practical techniques you can use to avoid them. We
recommend this book to people who want to increase their awareness of their own irrationality and, especially, to managers in decision-making positions, whose mistakes may have ripple effects throughout their organizations and even beyond (more…)
Indispensable: How to Become the Company Your Customers Can't Live Without
By Joe Calloway
When products and services become interchangeable, price becomes the ultimate determinant for consumers. Indispensable shows businesses how to break out of that cycle by using The Five Drivers-a strategy that takes companies to the next level of performance. Renowned business consultant Joe Calloway looks at how real companies have made their product or service "mission critical," and satisfied customers in the process. (more…)
Becoming a Category of One
By Joe Calloway
In this no-nonsense guide to beating the competition, Calloway offers hope to companies confronting a constantly changing and increasingly competitive marketplace. Success lies in distinguishing yourself from others and forging emotional connections with customers. Before you do anything else, he says, you must answer the question, "Who are you?" unambiguously and with fervor. If your response is vague and uninspiring, Calloway predicts failure, since a lame answer signals lack of vision, focus and commitment, elements he considers essential just to be in the running. (more…)
Jump the Curve: 50 Essential Strategies to Help Your Company Stay Ahead of Emerging Technologies
This book explores how exponential trends in information technology, biotechnology, robotics, manufacturing, material science and nanotechnology, are all converging at this unique moment in history. Uldrich’s presentation lays out ten specific strategies that executives, businesses and industries can use to navigate and survive in this era of unparalleled change. (more…)
Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers
By Geoffrey A. Moore
High-tech products are unique, argues Geoffrey Moore, because they sell well to the technically literate but have trouble crossing over to mainstream buyers. Moore explains how marketing professionals should bridge the gap by targeting specific segments rather than leaping into the market. This updated edition of the 1991 classic uses examples such as Apple, Oracle, and Sun to make its compelling case. (more...)
The Next Economy
By Elliott Ettenberg
In The Next Economy: Will You Know Where Your Customers Are? To sell more to your customers, use technology to get inside their heads. Forget conventional demographic segmentation. Instead, employ "want segmentation" - a dynamic approach that analyzes customers' purchases, values and beliefs to reveal not just what they've bought but why. (more...)
The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World
By Lawrence Lessig
Lessig's new book argues that the early days of the Internet, when innovation flourished, are being swept aside as established corporations and media companies reassert their power and invoke intellectual property rights to protect their interests and squelch the free flow of ideas. (more...)
The Innovator's Dilemma
By Clayton M. Christensen
"What do the Honda Supercub, Intel's 8088 processor, and hydraulic excavators have in common? They are all examples of disruptive technologies that helped to redefine the competitive landscape of their respective markets. These products did not come about as the result of successful companies carrying out sound business practices in established markets. In The Innovator's Dilemma, author Clayton M. Christensen shows how these and other products cut into the low end of the marketplace and eventually evolved to displace high-end competitors and their reigning technologies."
Living on the Fault Line: Managing for Shareholder Value in the Age of the Internet
By Geoffrey A. Moore
"This book is all about how to focus on BUILDING VALUE. If you've enjoyed Moore's previous work, you'll find Living on the Fault Line a must. If you've never read Moore before, get this on your bookshelf before your competition does. Engaging and highly readable, this one's a keeper."
Marketing High Technology: An Insider's View
By William H. Davidow
"Marketing is civilized warfare. And as high-tech products become increasingly standardized - practically identical, from the customer's point of view - it is marketing that spells life or death for new devices or entire firms. In a book that is as fascinating as it is pragmatic, William H. Davidow, a legend in Silicon Valley, where he was described as 'the driving force behind the micro processor explosion,' tells how to fight the marketing battle in the intensely competitive world of high-tech companies - and win."
Brand Warfare: 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand
By David F. D'Alessandro and Michele Owens
Leading at the Speed of Growth
By Katherine Catlin and Jana Matthews
In this impressive book, Catlin and Matthews show us how growing companies go through difficult, but predictable, stages of development and identify ways for CEO's to manage through these transitional 'hotspots.'
Unleashing the Ideavirus
By Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell
In Unleashing the Ideavirus, Godin describes ways to set any viable commercial concept loose among those who are most likely to catch it--and then stand aside as these recipients become infected and pass it along on to others who might do the same. "The future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other," he writes. "Ignite consumer networks and then get out of the way and let them talk."
Profit From the Core
By Chris Zook with James Allen
Ninety percent of companies worldwide failed to achieve sustained, profitable growth over the past decade. The authors argue that most growth strategies fail to deliver value - or even destroy it - primarily because they wrongly diversify from the core business. This timeless strategic precept - building market power in a well-defined core - remains the key source of competitive advantage and the most viable platform for successful expansion.
What the CEO Wants You to Know: How Your Company Really Works
By Ram Charan
The same business principles that guide the global corporation behemoth also guide the successful street vendor. By understanding the fundamentals of business, you too will be able to contribute to your company's health, regardless of your job title. This book can help every IT employee in your department generate new ideas and improve upon work processes.