Well-chosen business books are both intellectual pleasures and powerful tools. Those described here are the ones we constantly recommend to customers, pull out when we hold training sessions, and include on reading lists when we teach at the university. Most are available as ebooks, and all are readable enough to displace Angry Birds the next time you find yourself on a train or in a waiting room.
Sharpening Your Usual Competitive Intelligence Approaches and Techniques
Because sometimes, the freshest insights come from minor additions of perspective, our first category of books focuses on new twists to familiar best practices:
- The Thinker’s Toolkit (MD Jones). This great short read is full of bite-size critical-thinking techniques that can help you avoid being derailed by inaccuracies, biases, and wrong assumptions—your own and those of others.
- Profiting from Uncertainty (PJH Schoemaker and RE Gunther). Scenario planning reveals the futures a competitor is betting on, success factors they need to get there, and how that could box your company in.
- Intelligence Analysis: A Target-Centric Approach (R Clark). Here is a rare success at bridging the gap to apply techniques from the public-sector intelligence community in the private sector.
Understanding Patterns to Help Innovation Pay Off
Innovation only creates success if properly directed. This second group of books gets to the heart of how detecting patterns in the market is the key to coaxing true business value out of innovation:
- Crossing the Chasm (GA Moore). Recognizing the patterns discussed in this book can help you avoid the failed trajectory of high-tech products that appeal to early adopters but never get mainstream traction.
- Innovator’s Dilemma (CM Christensen). Written almost in the style of a suspense thriller, this book shows why and how businesses need to capitalize on disruptive innovation to avoid becoming extinct.
Seeing the Insights that Are All Around You
The building blocks of success have already been provided for you, and this last set of books shows how to build on the successes of those who came before you, avoid their mistakes, and receive guidance from the wisdom of crowds:
- Lords of Strategy (W Kiechel and R Dean). To deeply understand the frameworks we use to interpret the competitive landscape, learn the stories of the four corporate visionaries who pioneered them.
- Stall Points (MS Olson and D van Bever). This data-rich narrative illustrates how stalls in growth lead to the downfall of successful companies, and then reveals how to recognize root causes and avoid that fate.
- Oracles: How Prediction Markets Turn Employees into Visionaries (DN Thompson). A collection of case studies shows how companies can tap prediction markets and employee insights to fuel better decision making.
By Sean Campbell
By Scot Swigart