My Favorite Business Novels

I was hanging out with a group of my coaching clients last week and made an off-hand remark about how much I enjoy business novels. What is a business novel? A business book focused on a specific category of business learning, packaged as a novel- or novella-length story.

Here are my favorites:

  • The (New) One Minute Manager – I first read this book in the late 80s and I think it holds up well. This is a short parable to help you learn the basics of situational leadership and giving effective feedback.
  • The Goal – I read this around 1997 when I was running the manufacturing execution system for Micron Technology. One of my internal customers, a process engineer, strongly suggested I read this book to learn more about how they approach cycle time reduction on the manufacturing line. This is a novel that conveys fairly complex mathematical and systems engineering concepts in a digestible way. You don’t need to understand the math to apply most of the principles. tl;dr: (1) find your bottleneck, (2) improve it until it is not your bottleneck anymore, (3) goto step 1.
  • The Deadline – This book is one of a small few that I would suggest every aspiring software development manager, IT manager, or project manager to read. I think he modeled his book a bit on The Goal, but who cares: it covers great concepts in traditional project management. Worth it even if you are an agilista.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a TeamAlmost made the list: Death by Meeting. Patrick Lencioni’s books are most-reads for aspring senior managers and executives.
  • The Phoenix Project – In the same family as The Goal and The Deadline, we have a protagonist thrust into a difficult new role and seeking a path to success and enlightenment. This time the subject area is the modern IT field of DevOps.
  • The Adventures of an IT Leader – I haven’t finished this book yet, but I know it will make the list. This time the protagonist (why do they always have to be men?) is thrust into a CIO role without having a technology background. I plan to use this as one of my textbooks for a class on IT management this coming fall at WOU.

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