One of the most interesting phenomena occurring in the business world is the attraction to the business book. I know, I see the irony in talking about business books in a blog. More specifically, however, I am speaking about the tendency at times to grab a business book and turn it into the bible for your business. Let’s just stop and think about that for a minute. If you could simply buy a few dozen copies of the business book du jour, force your leaders to read them, and turn your business into a huge success, wouldn’t we all be surrounded by Apple’s.
The reality of the situation is that there is no magic book that will allow you to identify your hedgehog, take a linchpin across the chasm, accelerate your company from good to great, while avoiding all of the innovator’s dilemmas, searching for excellence and being highly effective and flowing without being eaten by sharks. And please, I am not trying to be disrespectful of incredibly talented authors with plenty of ideas to share. I am simply trying to point out that these books are full of great ideas, great observations and great strategies for a variety of different businesses … but not your specific business. Read them and use them as they are meant to be used.
We all need to read, explore and ingest as much information as possible. We should strive to be life-long learners and explorers of new concepts. What we must always keep in mind, however, is that we have a responsibility to synthesize this new information, cross pollinate it with information from multiple perspectives, sift out the best concepts, and apply them responsibly to our businesses to encourage positive change. Creating an assigned reading list for your leaders will likely do no more than cause confusion, misinterpretation and misalignment. Don’t make the mistake of delegating your business strategy and process improvement to an author that doesn’t know your business. Work with your team and charter your own course leveraging the best ideas available.