OK. The ship is going down and you're paddling toward a small island, while hanging onto a mysterious trunk. When you get to the beach, you search in vain for other survivors and realize that it may be some time before you’re rescued. You remember the trunk. You haul it under a palm tree, slowly open the latch, and discover there are 10 books inside. Five of them are management books and five are not.
Setting aside ones dedicated to survival on a deserted island, which titles do you hope are present?
My list, non-business books first:
- The Bible
- Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
- Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
- Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
- The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
- Management by Peter Drucker
- 19 Stars: A Study in Military Character and Leadership by Edgar F. Puryear
- Management of the Absurd: Paradoxes in Leadership by Richard Farson
- Thinking about Management by Theodore Levitt
Put together your list and you might find what I discovered. There are management books that are quite good, but they would hardly be interesting the second, third or 15th time around. Think of the ones that have stayed with you for a while. Odds are the list is small.
Drucker’s Management is a tome but it would eat up a lot of time. His book on effective executives has various portraits of interesting personalities. So, too, does Puryear’s Study. The ones by Farson and Levitt are witty and filled with thought-provoking insights.
All in all, they could ensure a productive time on the beach.
Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.