This is a simple “information – fyi” blog post.
It’s hard to know what the real business best selling books are. But one list that comes out only monthly is the New York Times Hardcover Business Best Sellers list. Because it is only once a month (thus it’s not updated hourly like the Amazon list, which can make for some unexpected best-sellers with short-lived moments at the top), it might be a better representation of the true best sellers over time.
So – what does the latest (April 29) list tell us? This:
Finance/Wall Street dominates the list. Of the 15 books, 8 deal with money/Wall Street/personal finance issues. (The Big Short by Michael Lewis is number one. It is also number one on the Hardcover Nonfiction list). Of the other 7, we have presented (or will present soon) 6 at the First Friday Book Synopsis.
That leaves only one non-finance book that we have not presented or do not have scheduled: The Daily Carrot Principle, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. And this book does not quite match our usual parameters – it appears to be a “daily devotional” for time management/productivity. A good idea, but tough to do in a synopsis format.
(We seldom do finance/Wall Street books. But it is getting tougher to keep that practice… there are so many!)
Here are the books from the list we have presented, or have scheduled to present within the next two months:
# 3 on the list: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
# 4 on the list: Switch, by Chip Heath And Dan Heath.
# 6 on the list: Rework, by Jason Fried And David Heinemeier Hansson.
# 7 on the list: The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss.
# 8 on the list: Drive, by Daniel H. Pink.
# 14 on the list: Superfreakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt And Stephen J. Dubner.
Note: four of these synopses, Outliers, Switch, The 4-Hour Workweek, and Superfreakonomics, are available on our companion web site, with handout + audio, at 15minutebusinessbooks.com. The other two, ReWork and Drive, will go up on the site over the next two months.
In the early days of Hewlett-Packard (H-P), Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett devised an active management style that they called management by walking around (MBWA). Senior H-P managers were seldom at their desks. They spent most of their days visiting employees, customers, and suppliers. This direct contact with key people provided them with a solid grounding from which viable strategies could be crafted. The MBWA concept was popularized in 1985 by a book by Tom Peters and Nancy Austin. Japanese managers employ a similar system, which originated at Honda, and is sometimes called the 3 G’s (Genba, Genbutsu, and Genjitsu, which translate into “actual place”, “actual thing”, and “actual situation”).
Here is a Sunday afternoon reading suggestion. Head over to this link from Slate.com: Scenes From the British Election: Why Is Rory Stewart Campaigning in England’s Far North? by Inigo Thomas.
Rory Stewart is quite a person. He has walked – a lot – to get to know the real stories of real people.
He has served in the British army, the British foreign service, taught at Harvard, and is now running for a seat in the British Parliament. And everywhere he has been, he has taken long, people-finding walks. Including now, as he walks through the many miles of the district he apparently is soon to serve in parliament.
Where all has he walked?
In 1998, 25-year-old Rory Stewart, a former British army officer on a Foreign Office posting to Jakarta, Indonesia, took a month’s leave to walk through the jungle of Papua New Guinea. After three weeks inching through the forest, Stewart reached a village on the island’s southern shore. “One could walk from Paris to Berlin in that time with much more ease,” he later wrote. With more ease? Not many people can imply, without affectation, that the 550 miles from Paris to Berlin is a 21-day stroll.
After his Far Eastern posting, Stewart was made the British representative in Montenegro. Then he left the Foreign Office and spent two years walking from Iran to Nepal, passing through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, later writing a prize-winning book about his journey, The Places in Between. Following the invasion of Iraq, he was appointed deputy governor of two provinces in southern Iraq and afterward wrote a book, The Prince of the Marshes, which was critical of the chaotic postwar planning he witnessed. In 2006, he started the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul, Afghanistan, one of whose aims is to assist the city’s architects, masons, and artisans to rebuild the long-wrecked Afghan capital. He was made a professor at Harvard in 2008 and appointed director of the Carr Center on Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government. In 2009, he was selected as the Conservative Party candidate for Penrith in the north of England, and he continues to mark papers from his last semester at Harvard as he campaigns.
And then this key paragraph:
In a piece he wrote about Afghanistan last year, Stewart attacked American and British attempts to win over Afghans and to counter the Taliban. At fault, he said, was an obsession with the language of management; everything is perceived in terms of targets and whether they are met. Objectives are listed bullet point after bullet point, like ingredients for a shapeless recipe. There’s too much confidence among U.S. and the British forces in Kabul, Stewart argued; they’re too much persuaded by data-driven presentations and know less than they think. A year later, Stewart’s view appears to have been heard: In a New York Times report published earlier this week, a U.S. general was quoted saying that the managerial style had become a risky obsession: “It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control. Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.” Or bulletproof.
What Rory Stewart believes is that one cannot sit in an office, read management books and look at data alone, and make the right decisions. He believes in getting out with the people – the real people – in the places where they live their lives and do their work. He literally walks around, watching people live and work.
This might be a good reminder for all leaders and managers for a lazy Sunday afternoon. And what is that reminder? To manage/lead by walking around, you have to — you know — actually walk around.