The 5 Best Business Books I Read in 2017

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Business books are a big part of my life. I help my clients write their books and I evaluate book manuscripts for publishers. I also read books because I love the learning and the insight that I get. Here’s a list of the five best business books that I read for the first time in 2017. They’re listed in the order that I read them.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals
by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling

If you are willing to do the work and take the time and make the changes, The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a book that will help you make a dramatic improvement in your performance and your quality of work life. But beware: you’ve got to do the work and it won’t be easy. The book is about a system. You can adopt any one of the four disciplines, or improve the way you handle each one, but to get the best results, you’ve got to use them all in a coordinated way. One more thing. This book is not about principles or secrets or magic of any kind. It’s about disciplines. That’s good because it means that people like you and like me can make it work.

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives
by Tim Harford

The title of this book is somewhat misleading. It’s not about simply being messy versus being tidy. It’s about how mixing messy and tidy, ordered and disordered, planned and spontaneous, can make for a richer, more meaningful, and more effective life.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

This is a great book about creativity and about how to lead an organization. More importantly it is the very best book I’ve ever read about unleashing the initiative and creativity of people in an organization.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
by Stanley McChrystal

If you’re interested in or concerned about the ways organizations must change to be effective in a complex and fast-moving world, this book is a must-read. If you want a good study of team dynamics, this book will be worth your time. It will also be a good read for you if you’re intrigued with the military aspects of how the Joint Special Operations Task Force adapted to be more effective in Iraq. Overall, this book is the best answer I’ve seen so far to the question Gary Hamel and Bill Breen asked a decade ago when they asked us to cast our minds forward and imagine “what management will be like.”

Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age
by Greg Satell

I’ve read a lot about innovation over the years, since I helped a major oil company put together a course on it, back in the early 1990s. This is the best book I’ve read on the subject. Greg Satell does a first-rate job of covering the basic ground about innovation and innovation myths. Then he does two things that add special value and make this book unique. The Innovation Matrix gives you a quick way to sort out what kind of situation you’re facing. Then the book describes tools and activities to use with different challenges. You’ll read about familiar tools (e.g. academic partnerships, skunk works, roadmapping, Lean Launch Pad), where they fit, and how to use them to greatest effect.

Re-Reading and Re-Discovered Treasures

I re-read great books a lot. I even wrote a blog post about it. This year my big re-discovery was Max DePree’s Leadership is an Art.

Previous Top Five Lists

Best Business Books I Read in 2016

Best Business Books I Read in 2015

Best Business Books I Read in 2014

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