The State of Business Books

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BooksIn 1980, the first business books hit the best seller lists. I’m talking about Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson’s The One Minute Manager and Bob Waterman and Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellence. That was the start of “The Age of the Guru.”

Today, anyone who aspires to gurudom must write a book. Many of those books are a single compelling insight spread thinly over a couple of hundred pages. Many others are poorly reasoned, poorly researched, poorly written, and just plain wrong. That’s why I think you are starting to see articles like the two below, by people who actually know what they’re talking about. As they say at the poker table: “Read ‘em and weep.”

From Freek Vermeulen: Fallen for a management guru? You can do better

“Beware the quackery. Quite often these books are written with panache. And the authors — aspiring ‘management thinkers’ and ‘gurus’ (never scientists) — have an excellent sense of the pulse of the business public. They are neither crooks nor charlatans; they write what they believe. But that doesn’t make their beliefs right. People can believe vigorously in voodooism, homeopathy, and creationism.”

From Jeffrey Pfeffer: Getting beyond the BS of leadership literature

“Management books and commentaries often oversimplify, seldom providing useful guidance about the skills and behavior needed to get things done. Here’s a better reading list for leaders.”

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