I was over at Chris Brogan’s site, catching up on my reading, and ran across a post by him called The 3 Book Diet is Upon Us. The idea is to select 3 books as the only books that you’ll read for a year. Limiting yourself to just three books forces you to dive deep into the books, and rather than just skim the content, think deeply about the book and apply its lessons.
Sounds like a great idea. Voracious reader that I am, I struggled to limit myself to 3 books. But here they are, in no particular order:
This is an oldie but goody. Crosby invented some of the core concepts in quality management, including Zero Defects, Doing it right the first time and the Quality Management Maturity Grid. Other than books by W. Edwards Deming, which I find impenetrable, this book and the follow on books Quality Is Still Free and Quality Without Tears are the most influential books every written about quality management. Crosby is also an interesting writer. He writes in a very conversational tone and he explains complex concepts in an easy to understand manner.
Crosby wasn’t just a theoretician. He was the quality control manager in charge of the Pershing Missile program, reducing defects by 25% and contributing some of the thinking that went into the Apollo program’s quality efforts. Later in his career, he was quality control manager for ITT, before founding his own consulting firm.
I had never heard of this book until a fellow adjunct professor gave me a copy. Gino Wickman turned around, grew and sold his family business, and he takes the lessons he learned and documents them for the small business owner. He describes what he calls the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), which consists of six components: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process and Traction. If it sounds fairly straightforward, that’s because it is. It also looks like it has a number of exercises with a lot of practical advice, which I value.
This book starts with the statement that managers are paid not for what they do, but for the performance of their people. This shouldn’t be controversial, but in these days of overpaid CEOs with gigantic egos, it’s a refreshing bit of candor. He starts with seven principles of leadership:
- You need your people more than they need you
- Follow the golden rule
- You are always on stage
- People don’t do dumb things on purpose
- People do things for their reasons, not yours
- Change behaviors, not beliefs or styles
- You are not normal
He then describes five levers of leadership to connect with people, earn their trust and get them to follow you.
So that’s my 3 books. There were a number of others I considered. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh and The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor. All of these are good books, and I’d like to study them at some point, but the others seemed more relevant to my particular circumstances over the next year.
What about you? What 3 books will you select for the 3 book diet?