Amanda’s Top Ten Business Books
Amanda’s Top Ten Books About What Happens in the World of Work
Over the years, I have read so many business-related books, but it was not always the pure business books that taught me about business. Current affairs books often give more valuable insight into the real world of work, for example, Conspiracy of Fools, a book about the Enron scandal taught me more about organisational politics than any business book. This is a list of my absolute favourites. Books that I have read again and again over the years and every time gained new insights.
Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple
I read this book at the beginning of my career and it sparked a lifelong interest in workplace performance. John Sculley was recruited to replace Steve Jobs at Apple. This book tells the story of Apple’s initial rise and then the events that lead to Steve Jobs leaving the company. I was fascinated to learn how a genius like Steve Jobs ended up leaving his own company and why the company did not really do better under his replacement.
Does IT Matter
Nicholas Carr’s book questioned the competitive value of IT at a time that many technologies were becoming commoditised and it was such a prophetic read. Working on the edge of the IT industry over the years made me go back again and again to this book and every time more of what he said had become apparent in organisations. Ever since I have read his book I have been aware of what truly differentiates a company and what it really just a utility for modern organisations.
Conspiracy of Fools
The story of what really happened at Enron. If this was fiction, it would have been a best seller, because it is so well written and the story is so compelling. If you ever wondered how things go wrong in large organisations and how events like the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Barings Bank collapse and the Challenger shuttle explosion can happen in organisations that are large and supposedly well governed, you need to read this book. There are plenty of insights into the mechanics and politics of large corporates.
Geraint Anderson left his job in the city after he wrote this book and no wonder, the book exposes the underbelly of the Financial Industry in the City of London in all its gory details. Geraint exposes the corrupt and immoral practices that were rife in London’s financial sector in the 90s. A must-read for any youngster thinking about a career in finances.
Too Big To Fail
Another book that exposes the shady dealings in the global financial markets is Too Big To Fail. This book is a riveting blow-by-blow account of the events leading up to the crash of Global Markets in 2008. It documents one of the most significant events in our lifetimes – the causes, effects and consequences.
The Fifth Discipline
The Fifth Discipline made a big impact on my career. Senge’s theory that in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition, convinced me early in my career that as an individual I too had to keep on learning. I also determined to develop an understanding of the five disciplines that make an organisation a true learning organisation – shared vision, mental models, team learning, personal mastery and systems thinking – a journey that continues to this day.
Ken Segall was the creative director at Apple and close associate of Steve Jobs. In this book he explains the obsession with simplicity that drove Apple’s products to achieve such iconic status. “To Steve Jobs, Simplicity wasn’t just a design principle. It was a religion and a weapon.” This book presents a valuable learning opportunity for all of us about how to move towards simplicity in our products, services and work in general.
The World is Flat
I regard this book as my primer on Globalisation. It was only when I read this book that I developed a real perspective on the nature of economic change happening in the world and the rate of this change. Thomas lists ten ‘flatteners’ that are the driving forces for Globalisation 3.0. Some of these include uploading, outsourcing, insourcing and off-shoring. All activities that I experienced during my career.
Black Box Thinking
This is a phenomenal book dealing with performance in organisations and the direct link between ‘learning organisations’ and performance. He juxtaposes the performance of the Aviation and Healthcare industries, one of which has been an exemplary learner and as a result, many fewer fatalities have occurred. It may surprise you to know which industry is the better learner.
I am a big Tom Peters fan and I loved this book! Every idea in the book was challenging and many of them were years ahead of their time. In the book, Tom challenges bureaucratic organisations and societies that still try to apply old-school thinking to the modern world. He is on a mission to re-invent the modern organisation in an effort to empower their employees to achieve success.