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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hard Facts About Business Myths

Rob May, over at Business Pundit, reviews the new book "Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense."

Of particular interest was his (and the author's take) on business books:

Rob says: "I have about 15-20 books that I think are excellent, and another 20 that are pretty good overall. The rest are like "One Minute Manager" or "Good to Great," they have a few things worth pulling out of them but people treat them as business gospel when at best they are mediocre half truths."

(BTW....Six Disciplines for Excellence is one of those excellent/pretty good books - read his review here).

A few of the author's conclusions about business books?

  • Treat Old Ideas As If They Are Old Ideas. After all, isn't bland old excellence a better fate than an exciting new failure? (!!!)
  • Be Suspicious of "Breakthrough" Ideas and Studies. Most claims of originality are testimony to ignorance and most claims of magic are testimony to hubris.
  • Celebrate and Develop Collective Brilliance, Not Lone Geniuses or Gurus. Knowledge and success typically build on what was previously done. Lone geniuses are rare in business.
  • Emphasis Virtues and Drawbacks. If someone tells you there are no drawbacks to a certain theory or idea, be very very skeptical.
  • Use Success (and Failure) Stories to Illustrate Sound Practices, Not as a Valid Research Model. This was Rob's problem with "Good to Great." Who cares what the winners did? Maybe the losers did the same thing. Did anyone check? Does anyone care as long as it sells books?
  • Take a Neutral, Dispassionate Approach to Ideologies and Theories.
BOTTOMLINE: Some great critical thinking about the hard facts about most business books. Now, go read "What The Experts Are Saying About Six Disciplines for Excellence."

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