Here’s a short excerpt of my recommended reading list that I frequently suggest to clients and other professionals. Some of the texts don’t necessarily speak directly to day-to-day business, but the applications of them to business are profound in many ways. This list represents some of the most helpful books to my own professional growth as well as the most enjoyable to read. An asterisk marks those I regard most remarkable. I will update this list from time to time.
By far, some of the best business books are biographies about the successes and failures of people in diverse arenas.
by Edmund Morris
John Adams *
by David McCullough
The Education of Henry Adams *
By Henry Addams
MY BRAIN IS OPEN: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos
by Bruce Schechter
A Beautiful Mind
By Sylvia Nasar
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel*
by Rebecca Goldstein
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin *
by Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
by Walter Isaacson
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War *
by Robert Coram
Few people understand that there is a well understood science behind effective decision making. If you learn this methodology, you will always make a good decision. Over time you will increase the likelihood of experiencing desirable outcomes, too.
Decision Traps *
by Dr. J. Edward Russo and Dr. Paul J. H. Schoemaker
Few people have the training they need to make good decisions consistently. Becoming a good decision-maker is like training to be a top athlete: Just as the best coaches use training methods to help athletes develop proper techniques and avoid mistakes, Dr. J. Edward Russo and Dr. Paul J. H. Schoemaker have developed a program that can help you avoid "decision traps" -- the ten common decision-making errors that most people make over and over again. It is extremely well written and simple, yet it is very powerful. The basic concept of the book is: if you want to mess things up, then think this way.
Smart Choices : A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions*
by John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, Howard Raiffa
Combining solid research with common sense and practical experience, this user-friendly guide shows readers how to assess deep-seated objectives, create a comprehensive set of alternatives, determine likely consequences, make tradeoffs, and grapple with uncertainty. Not only will readers learn how to make decisions, they will learn how to make the smartest decisions. For anyone caught at a confusing crossroad–whether you’re choosing between mutual funds or deciding where to retire–the Smart Choices program will improve your decision-making abilities immediately, and make your life more rewarding and fulfilling. Look for other works by the authors. They are some of the thought leaders in DA. This book is DA 101, but I use it as a reference all the time. I also use it as a primer with people making personal decisions. Introduces a little math, but nothing complex.
Value-Focused Thinking: A Path to Creative Decisionmaking*
by Ralph L. Keeney
This book is a little more in-depth than Smart Choices. It’s basic idea is that every decision should be framed in part by goals and values of the stakeholders involved. Everything by this guy is worth reading. The material is important and profound, but his writing is clear, lucid, and free of jargon. Keeney gets into some mathematics that may scare some people off, but it is no more than algebra. For the most part, you can even skip the chapters that deal with math.
Making Hard Decisions: An Introduction to Decision Analysis (2nd Ed.)
by Robert T. Clemen
This best-selling and up-to-date survey of decision analysis concepts and techniques is accessible to a wide range of backgrounds. This is the Pentateuch of decision analysis. You must read this before you can enter the Temple.
Introduction to Decision Analysis (2nd Edition)
by David C. Skinner
David Skinner shares the wealth of his experience and expertise about decision making in a clear, practical way. This book is an excellent resource for managers, technical professionals, and decision analysts, regardless of your experience level with decision analysis. It tells you how you make the theory practical in collaborative decision-making environments.
Why Can't You Just Give Me The Number? An Executive's Guide to Using Probabilistic Thinking to Manage Risk and to Make Better Decisions
by Patrick Leach
An excellent book to give to your boss to explain why probabilistic reasoning is so important and powerful for generating deep insights and creative solutions.
Organizational Learning and Management
How to learn and lead within any organization is one of the keys to personal and professional success.
Overcoming Organizational Defenses: Facilitating Organizational Learning
by Chris Argyris
Flawed Advice and the Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They're Getting Good Advice and When They're Not
by Chris Argyris
Reasons and Rationalizations: The Limits to Organizational Knowledge
by Chris Argyris
The Trusted Advisor
By David Maister
Economics & Economic History
We live in an economic universe: unlimited demands on limited supply. It’s good to think about how best to allocate resources to achieve one’s goals. It’s also good to know how people can destroy good economic practice, especially through good intentions.
The Wealth of Nations
Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy
by Joseph A. Schumpeter
The Road to Serfdom (Fiftieth Anniversary Edition) *
by F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman
Free to Choose *
by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New Edition
by Jared Diamond
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk
by Peter L. Bernstein
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets *
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Armchair Economist: Economics And Everyday Experience
by Steven E. Landsburg
Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life
by David D. Friedman
Basic Economics: A Citizens Guide to the Economy, Revised and Expanded *
by Thomas Sowell
Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One *
by Thomas Sowell
The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism *
By Michael Novak
The Long Tail
by Chris Anderson
Analysis for Financial Management
by Robert C. Higgins
If you don’t know where you want to go, how, and why, you probably won’t get there.
by Michael E. Porter
THE Bible on strategy. No other substitute.
Certain To Win: The Strategy Of John Boyd, Applied To Business
by Chet Richards
Ender’s Game *
By Orson Scott Card
This is a science fiction novel, but Card accurately demonstrates in a compelling narrative how maneuver theory works.
Understanding how people think and perceive their environment and how this differs among individuals (even in abnormal and pathological ways) is critical to understanding how to work with people in organizations.
An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales
by Oliver Sacks
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales
by Oliver Sacks
Thinking In Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism
by Temple Grandin
Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
by Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson