The Best Business Books of 2006?

How to Save the World 3
My ‘How to Save the World’ actions list
Armed with the list of the 46 nominees for best business book from S+B magazine, I recently made my annual trek  to the book mega-store to browse the nominated tomes (my twelve selections from a year ago, for 2005, are here). S+B’s lists cover the following categories: The Future, Economics, Marketing, Media, Negotiation, Strategy, Governance, Management, The Business of Defense, Fiction, and Leadership. I’d browsed most of the nominees earlier in the year, and bought only one of them: Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers, which S+B has in its ‘The Future’ category. The few I hadn’t already seen didn’t produce any more winners, so the entire exercise was pretty depressing. In fact, it’s quite a stretch to call The Weather Makers and the fiction nominees ‘business books’ at all. And where are the books on innovation, entrepreneurship, information and technology?

But if ‘fiction’ and ‘the future’ qualify as business subjects, maybe I don’t have to end this article the way I had planned to (saying that 2006 produced not a single quality business book). Rather than reading the hackneyed books by egomaniacal CEOs and their sycophants on ‘leadership’ and ‘management’, those who want to understand and succeed in business would be much better off trying some of these books:

What’s Really Going On in the World:

  • The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery — what global warming will wreak in the coming years
  • Heat by George Monbiot — how to stop global warming by reducing CO2 by 90%
  • The Great Turning by David Korten — principles for a Living Economy
  • Waiting for the Macaws by Terry Glavin — how we’re precipitating the Sixth Great Extinction
  • The Place You Love is Gone by Melissa Pierson — how the loss of place, and our sense of it, impoverishes our culture
  • Made to Break by Giles Slate — planned obsolescence and the economic necessity for a throw-away culture
  • On the Rampage by Robert Weissman and Russell Mokhiber — “71 trenchant essays on corporate soulessness from two of America’s leading reporters on corporate misbehavior” (says Dennis Kucinich)

Entrepreneurship, and Living & Working Responsibly:

  • To Be of Use by Dave Smith — how and why to be an entrepreneur and of service to humanity at the same time
  • The Small-Mart Revolution by Michael Shuman — diagnosing the reasons entrepreneurial businesses face an uneven playing field and an unfair competitive disadvantage versus the multinational corporatist oligopolies, and what to do about it
  • Values-Driven Business by Ben Cohen & Mal Warwick — why putting principles before profit is not only right, but sustainable as well
  • The Logic of Sufficiency by Thomas Princen — why an economy based on collective, networked community-based self-management, optimizing the well-being of all life, balancing all interests and appreciating natural constraints, and producing and distributing only, but generously, what is needed, just makes sense

Research, Information & Technology:

  • Knowing Knowledge by George Siemens — How technology and complexity are changing the nature of knowledge, connection and learning (my review coming shortly); available for download free
  • The Shangri-La Diet by Seth Roberts — not a diet book as much as a book on self-experimentation as a fundamental mechanism for primary research, and also, because it became a best-seller by stealth, also a great case study in viral marketing

Market Intelligence: Understanding Human Behaviour:

  • American Backlash by Michael Adams — how Americans (as consumers and citizens) are diverging more and more from those living in other affluent nations
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert — why you’re less likely to be happy in the future than you think

So there you have it. The 15 best ‘business books’ of 2006. Don’t look for them in the business section of your bookstore. In fact, don’t waste your time in the business section at all, at least until the publishers stop recycling the nonsense of the last century and come clean about what’s really going on in the corporate world. I’m not holding my breath. The emperor has no clothes, yet the publishers are making a fortune selling emperors and emperor-wannabes ‘invisible cloth’. If you buy it, better hope you’ve got nothing to hide.

In the meantime, the 15 books above are worth an investment of your time and money. If you’re thinking of starting your own business, they’ll give you knowledge that will put you in good stead. And if you’re still working for corporatists, they might give you the courage to break free and become part of thesolution instead of part of the problem.

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4 Responses to The Best Business Books of 2006?

  1. Avi Solomon says:

    I would add ‘Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day’ by David St Lawrence to the list:

  2. Great list, Dave. I’d add Barry C. Lynn’s “End of the Line,” which looks at the real impact of globalization on work and the world and the responsibilities our government has to intervene in a trend that is focused on short-term profits at the expense of long-term capacity-building.

  3. Theresa says:

    That looks like a good list. I am going to see if I can try to find some of those books, thanks.

  4. chaux cedric says:

    good list, good website. I like your vision of enterpreneurship. That’s exactly why I want to become an enterpreneur. I m still searching for my ideas, but I certainly find my inspiration in place like here.Take our responsabilities! Even if it means working for a corporate before te earn experience ;)I wonder how common business , corporations can be trully responsible and a part of a sustainable world. Public Communcation and marketing on ethic to buy a new image are only the first step or a fake move from them ?

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