Just came back from my two weeks in Bodrum. I like doing some light reading on vacation. Business novels are especially go well under the sun since they are both enjoyable easy-reads and still can help you learn and grow.
The first business novel I read was The Goal couple of years ago. It was a great read and very thought provocative. After that I tried to find and read as many business novels as I can. Unfortunately, there are not many in this genre. I also did not find any web resources on business novels. So, today I am sharing the best business novels I have read. If you know any good ones missing below please feel free to post on the comments section.
5. Gung Ho! – Ken Blanchard
This is a great quick read that you will probably finish at one sitting. Gung-ho means “enthusiastic” in Chinese and this novel is about increasing the productivity of workers. Our hero has a mentor who shows how to accomplish this using three principles of Gung-Ho:
The Spirit of the squirrel: Worthwhile work driven by goals and values.
The Way of the Beaver: Putting workers in control of achieving the goal.
The Gift of the Goose: Cheering each other on.
I did not want to fill up the top 5 list with Goldratt, although he would certainly deserve it. Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints basically describes how to find the major constraints and critical paths in any kind of project and optimizing them. If you are a programmer, it is kind of similar to Profiling software. It happened to me many times. You first use profiling to find the slowest parts of an application, then with couple of small fixes or caches, everything suddenly runs so much smoother. Same applies to Business. You can and should optimize it. But be careful, exactly like software, premature optimizations does not work and it can actually harm your critical path. Goldratt’s books are rational but emotional, complex and very satisfying. When you finish one, you are happy and sad. Both because they are so freaking good.
I have read other books by Tom DeMarco. He has basically put his ideas into a novel and he did it well. If you are a software developer or manager, you must read the Deadline. It wouldn’t compare to Goldratt’s books though. I found the ideas and teaching great but the story was lacking. He is certainly not a novelist and it is showing.
This is a fiction about marketing and sales. Our hero literally invents the wheel. The story goes on in ancient Egypt. I was pretty skeptic about the story line but it turned out to be pretty good. It wasn’t too simplified as I was afraid of. Our heroes show how sales should differentiate depending on where your product is on the technology curve.
This is a story about Alex Rogo who manages a plant and his mentor Jonah. They have productivity and scheduling problems on the plant. So, Jonah teaches Alex how to use the Theory of Constraints to solve their problems. Instead of trying to optimize everything, the idea is to focus on finding the main constraints that optimizing them. This may sound like pretty basic stuff, but it is so easy to forget about it. The book also have pretty interesting creative problem solving techniques such as Evaporating Cloud. It is an educational, entertaining and thought provoking book. I would highly recommend it.