1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don't, by Jim Collins, HarperBusiness, 2001
Many business books start by asserting that some new precept or technique will lead to success. Then they try to prove their point. This book started from a different direction: It studied only companies whose stock performance, over a 15-year period, went from being nondescript to outpacing the general market. Collins and his team of researchers found only 11 companies that achieved this out of the 1,435 they examined; the many counterintuitive findings on why these companies made the leap from good to great are sure to spur dialogue for decades to come.
2. The Social Life of Information, by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, Harvard Business School Press, 2000
Failed or low-impact knowledge-management efforts within companies make the practice easy to dismiss. But, in The Social Life of Information, authors Seely Brown and Duguid go beyond mere criticism to explain what really went wrong with knowledge management. They argue that information acquires its value only within a social context; they give us a theory that adeptly links information, knowledge, and learning, while keeping humans squarely in the middle.
3. Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People, by Charles A. O'Reilly III and Jeffrey Pfeffer, Harvard Business School Press, 2000
This inspirational book challenges the conventional wisdom that companies are engaged in a “war” for talent. Instead, the authors argue the challenge is hiring people you know you want to keep and cultivating their talent. You won’t get vague prescriptions here; O’Reilly and Pfeffer make their case with compelling stories of maverick companies, from Southwest Airlines, AES, and Cisco Systems to Men’s Wearhouse and New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMMI).
4. The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment, by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, Harvard Business School Press, 2001
In the latest entry in their series on the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Kaplan and Norton describe in detail how private- and public-sector organizations have used the BSC to translate strategy into operational terms and align the organization with it. This is much more than a performance-measurement tool — the authors show how the BSC is an essential communications tool.
5. The Essential Drucker: In One Volume the Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management, by Peter F. Drucker, HarperBusiness, 2001
A collection of 26 excerpts organized in three sections (Individual, Management, and Society) from 10 of the management master's 30-plus books. The book may not be quite as comprehensive as the subtitle suggests, but it is a single volume packed with useful insights.
6. Strategic Thinking for the Next Economy, edited by Michael A. Cusumano and Constantinos C. Markides, Jossey-Bass, 2001
A first-rate collection of essays from a new MIT Sloan Management Review-sponsored series, commendable for its diversity of subject matter and consistent brilliance. Contributors C.K. Prahalad, Sumantra Ghoshal, Christopher Bartlett, Henry Mintzberg, and other business thought leaders examine the fundamentals of strategy and value creation, strategic flexibility in a volatile world, strategy marketing in uncertain times, and strategies for growth in fast-paced markets.
7. Corporate Boards: New Strategies for Adding Value at the Top, by Jay A. Conger, Edward E. Lawler III, and David L. Finegold, Jossey-Bass, 2001
A comprehensive look at the evolution of corporate governance reforms in the United States over the past 20 years, with practical recommendations for making the corporate board a more effective resource for companies.
8. The End of Shareholder Value: Corporations at the Crossroads, by Allan A. Kennedy, Perseus Publishing, 2000