25 Best Business Books Ever

What makes a business book the “best”? Best-selling? Most influential? Timelessness? Categorical relevance?

Business Pundit sifted through numerous categories and resources to come up with this list of the 25 Best Business Books Ever. We didn’t concern ourselves with categories (management, sales, etc.) or timeliness of subject matter. Instead, we focused on the following question: Based on prominent reviews, academic use, and popularity, which business books would be considered “classics?” Of those, which are the best?

We think that really smart, successful businesspeople know that their education is lifelong and diverse. Nevertheless, while many corporate leaders will cite Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince as invaluable business tomes, we stuck with books written for a business-minded readership.

Also check out: The 50 Best Business Books (2012 Edition)

25. The Wealth of Nations
by Adam Smith
1991

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First published in 1776, this broad-ranging exploration of commercial and economic first principles laid the philosophical foundations for modern capitalism and the free-market economy. Smith’s central thesis is that capital can best be used to create both individual and national wealth in conditions of minimal government interference. He believed that free-market competition advances both the vitality of commercial activity and the ultimate good of all a nation’s citizens.

Click here for more information on The Wealth of Nations

24. The Functions of the Executive
by Chester I. Barnard
1968

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This collection of Barnard’s lectures on management, though dated in its language, remains relevant, notably in his promotion of clear, short communication channels and managerial morality. A successful executive himself as well as a theorist, Barnard broadened the managerial role from one that assesses, controls, and supervises, to one that nurtures the organization’s values and goals, and translates them into action, thereby defining a purpose and moral code that pervades the organization.

Click here for more information on The Functions of the Executive

23. The Principles of Scientific Management
by Frederick Winslow Taylor
1911

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In its day, this book advanced management as a discrete field requiring formal training, and systematized human work into rigorously measured, optimizable processes.

Arguing that the “inefficiency in almost all of our daily acts” can be remedied by “systematic management, rather than in searching for some unusual or extraordinary man,” Taylor aimed to determine the best practices for every job. His principles influenced working methods and managerial attitudes for most of the 20th century, particularly in mass-production industries—companies that emphasize quantity over quality.

Click here for more information on The Principles of Scientific Management

22. The Human Side of Enterprise
Douglas McGregor
1960

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Psychologist McGregor revolutionized human relations management by distinguishing the two ways managers view employees and consequently manage them, ultimately producing the accordant behavior in them. Theory X assumes that workers are inherently lazy and need to be motivated and supervised; Theory Y assumes that people are self-motivated and self-directed. “McGregor’s fundamental principles,” says author Gary Hamel, “underlie the work of modern management thinkers from Drucker to Deming to Peters, and the employment practices of the world’s most progressive and successful companies.”

Click here for more information on The Human Side of Enterprise


21. Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise

by Alfred D. Chandler
1962

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A business historian, Chandler was one of the first scholars to systematically examine the corporate structure of large companies. Considered a theoretical masterpiece, this book—namely, its now-debated conclusion that strategy should drive structure—played a leading role in the profitable decentralization of leading corporations in the 1960s and 1970s.

Click here for more information on Strategy and Structure

20. Organizational Culture and Leadership
by Edgar H. Stein
1992

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Organizational development pioneer Schein introduced, into the management debate, culture as a constantly changing force in an organization’s life—and one that must be understood for there to be successful change. In successive editions of this book, the author draws on contemporary research to redefine culture, including the notion of subcultures, and shows how to transform this abstract concept into a practical tool for understanding and influencing organizational dynamics.

Click here for more information on Organizational Culture and Leadership

19. The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
by James Surowieki
2004

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First developed in his “Financial Page” column of The New Yorker, Surowieki’s ideas contradict the long-held distrust of masses and groupthink: “Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.” The author animates his rigorous argument with pertinent anecdotes and case studies from business, social psychology, sports, and everyday life. Author Po Bronson insists, “This book should be in every thinking businessperson’s library. Without exception.”

Click here for more information on The Wisdom of Crowds

18. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
by Thomas L Friedman
2005

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New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman presents this timely, indispensable update on globalization, its successes and shortcomings, with the same urgent curiosity, panache, and illumination that has earned him three Pulitzer Prizes. With his incomparable ability to elucidate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the beginning of the 21st century, and what globalization—both an opportunity and a threat—means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals. In his 2006 hardcover update, with 100 pages of revised and expanded material, Friedman makes specific recommendations about the technical and creative training he believes will be needed to compete in the New Middle class.

Click here for more information on The World Is Flat

17. Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
1990

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This narrative has been called one of the most influential business books ever, as the definitive account of the largest takeover in Wall Street history at that time: the landmark leveraged buyout of the RJR Nabisco Corporation for $25 billion in 1988. Cinematic and gripping, yet remarkably judicious, this book by two skilled journalists has sold more than 500,000 copies and inspired an HBO movie. Its graphic portrayal of how financial operations at the highest levels are conducted is considered must-reading for those who want to know how the world really works.

Click here for more information on Barbarians at the Gate

16. My Years with General Motors
by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.
1963

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Sloan’s “as told to” opus still stands as the most cogent expression of the managerial philosophy that dominated American business for most of the 20th century. With insightful authority, this fabled CEO chronicles General Motors’ resurrection, under his leadership, from a nearly bankrupt enterprise in the early 1900s to the world’s greatest industrial corporation when he retired in 1956.

Particularly striking is this book’s unintentional expression of a value system: a relentless commitment to the engineering worldview of efficiency as paramount. Sloan’s simultaneous decentralization of manufacturing and centralization of corporate policy and financial controls became the basis for an organizational model that dominated American industry for more than half a century.

Click here for more information on My Years with General Motors

15. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization
by Peter M. Senge
1990

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Based on 15 years of experience putting the ideas into practice, this bestselling classic popularized the concept of the learning organization, a holistic approach that prioritizes learning—new and expansive patterns of thinking—as both an individual and a group experience. Senge argues that “changing individuals so that they produce results they care about [and] accomplish things that are important to them” faster than the competiton does is, in the long run, the only sustainable competitive advantage.

Because the learning organization requires managers to surrender their traditional spheres of power and control, and because it demands trust, involvement, and the allowance for experimentation and failure, it has rarely been converted into a reality. Nevertheless, Senge’s ideas have affected the rewards and remuneration strategies of many companies.

Click here for more information on The Fifth Discipline

14. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do about It
by Michael E. Gerber
1985

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This underground bestseller dispels the commonplace assumptions surrounding starting and running a successful small business. Two of Gerber’s most incisive observations are that (1) many entrepreneurs know considerably more about producing what they sell than about operating their business, and (2) the entrepreneur must “work on your business, not in your business.” This book intelligently and comprehensively charts an approach to systematizing a new business so that it grows beyond the capacities of its creator.

Click here for more information on The E-Myth Revisited

13. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
2000

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Drawing on a fascinating array of research findings and real-world examples, Gladwell presents a concise, elegant, erudite analysis of mass behavioral change that is strikingly counterintuitive. Regarded among marketing and sales professionals as one of the best books on the economics of popular culture, this entertaining read is, says author Jeffrey Toobin, “one of those rare books that changes the way you think about, well, everything.”

Click here for more information on The Tipping Point

12. Competing for the Future
by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad
1994

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This definitive book on contemporary business strategy criticizes the narrow mechanistic view of strategy and calls for an approach that is multifaceted, emotional as well as analytical, and concerned with meaning, purpose, and passion. The authors say their work “provides would-be revolutionaries with the tools and concepts they need to challenge the protectors of the past.” They argue that too many leaders, stuck in the day-to-day details of running their businesses, fail to prepare their companies for the future, and that crafting a strategic architecture around a company’s core competencies is the solution.

Click here for more information on Competing for the Future

11. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
by Jim Collins
2001

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Measuring sustained results over a period of 15 years, Collins identifies, from an original list of 1435, 11 well-established companies that made the leap from being “good” to being “great.”

Applicable to entrepreneurs as well as corporations, this carefully researched book singles out what Collins calls Level 5 Leadership—“a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will”—as the critical factor in those transformations. Such natural leaders “channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company,” which begins with getting the right people—those with discipline and resolve—in the right positions. Challenging the conventional notion of the outgoing, high-profile CEO, an effective leader moves with selfless determination, inspiring average performers to become great producers.

There’s been a lot of controversy about this book on Business Pundit. Is Good to Great too general, too philosophical? Is its research flawed? Have Fannie Mae and Circuit City proven Level 5 principles wrong?

The book still found its place on this list based on our selection criteria. When we compiled these books and scrutinized Good to Great, we realized that it’s not the only classic subject to pointed—and valid–critiques. If we removed Good to Great from the list based on BP’s prior post, we’d have to remove a whole bunch of other books, too.

Click here for more information on Good to Great

10. Out of the Crisis
by W. Edwards Deming
1982

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This classic on quality management reflects Deming’s experience introducing statistical methods for quality measurement and improvement to Japan in the 1960s. Aiming to transform the U.S. style of management and governmental relations with industry, the author blends statistics and common sense to challenge American business practices at almost every point, launching the quality revolution here. Citing poor management, not lazy workers, as responsible for most quality problems, this book, in simple, direct language, offers a theory of management based on Deming’s notable 14 Points of Management, and explains how to apply them to boost quality.

Click here for more information on Out of the Crisis

9. Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution
by Michael Hammer and James Champy
1993

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Though based on the relatively dry field of operations research, this book became a prominent bestseller in its heyday, replacing much of the received wisdom of the last 200 years of industrial management with a radical prescription for rebuilding businesses wholesale to achieve dramatic performance gains.

Unfortunately, this pioneering book garnered some controversy, largely because corporate cost-cutters used the concept of reengineering to justify mass layoffs. Acknowledging that reengineering can be difficult to launch and to sustain, the authors provide clear and specific guidelines, numerous examples, and in-depth case studies.

Click here for more information on Reengineering the Corporation

8. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras
1994

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Drawing on six years of innovative research, Collins and Porras identify 18 exceptional, long-lasting companies and directly compare each with one of its top competitors, over time. With entertaining case histories, they discredit the longstanding beliefs that a successful business is founded by a charismatic, visionary leader and begins with a great product. Rather, they argue, enduring organizations demonstrate core values and a core purpose that remain fixed, while their business strategies and practices adapt endlessly to a changing world. Organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, this book provides a master blueprint for building a great and enduring company.

Click here for more information on Built to Last

7. The Practice of Management
by Peter F. Drucker
1954

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Considered the foremost management and business thinker of the 20th century, Drucker was the first to depict management as a distinct function, a separate responsibility in the workplace: the work of getting work done through and with other people. This still-relevant book holds that management was one of the major social innovations of the last century, and it poses three now-classic business questions: What is our business? Who is our customer? What does our customer consider valuable?

According to author Gary Hamel, “No other writer has contributed as much to the professionalization of management as Peter Drucker. … [He] bridges the theoretical and the practical, the analytical and the emotive, the private and the social more perfectly than any other management writer.”

Click here for more information on The Practice of Management


6. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors

by Michael E. Porter
1980

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Now in its 63rd printing in English, with translations in 19 languages, this modern classic filled a void in management thinking, transforming the theory, practice, and teaching of business strategy. Strikingly accessible, Porter’s analysis of industries captures the complexity of industry competition in three generic strategies and five competitive forces that have been internalized and applied by managers, investment analysts, consultants, students, and scholars throughout the world.

This seminal book changed conventional thinking around strategy, offering a method whereby a company can examine not just its particular industry but its place in it, that is, its essential differentiation from its competitors that can be sold to the customer. Author Gary Hamel says, “[I]t is an unfailing guide to whether some particular strategy, once articulated, can be counted on to produce worthwhile profits.”

Click here for more information on Competitive Strategy

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
by Stephen R. Covey
1989

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Having developed the concept of this groundbreaking, long-term bestseller by studying literature going back more than 200 years, Covey bases his approach on relatively immutable personal human values. Unlike many a self-improvement author, however, he doesn’t promise a quick fix; rather, he calls for a paradigm shift—a revolutionary change in one’s perceptions and interpretations of how the world works. And with different thinking comes different actions that will profoundly affect one’s productivity and effectiveness.

Be proactive. Begin with an end in mind. Put first things first. Think win/win. Seek first to understand. Synergize. Renewal. With penetrating insights and cogent anecdotes, Covey presents a highly structured, holistically integrated methodology for creating balance, and hence success, in one’s personal and professional lives.

Click here for more information on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

4. The One-Minute Manager
by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
1981

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Millions of managers in Fortune 500 companies and small businesses around the globe have followed the timeless principles of this first mega-bestselling business book, presented as a parable. Concisely elegant, this narrative reveals three practical management secrets: One-Minute Goals, One-Minute Praisings, and One-Minute Reprimands—a concept that has spawned numerous “One-Minute” titles, for endeavors from parenting to golfing.

Blanchard and Johnson ground their ideas in studies in medicine and the behavioral sciences to explain why the one-minute techniques work with so many people, in so many environments.

Click here for more information on The One-Minute Manager

3. How to Win Friends & Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
1937

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Having sold more than 15 million copies, this seminal self-improvement book continues to guide managers in the universal challenge of face-to-face communication.

A master of human nature, Carnegie advises that “[w]hen dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.” He argues that success is only 15% professional knowledge; the remaining 85% is “the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.”

Click here for more information on How to Win Friends & Influence People

2. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
by Clayton M. Christensen
1997

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Examining a variety of leading well-managed companies that have failed to capitalize on innovative technologies, Christensen explains, with striking clarity and style, how to manage breakthrough products successfully when customers may not be ready for them.

His argument that overdependence on customer needs, or on the most profitable products, can damage a company’s success challenges the marketing and customer service books that put customer focus at the top of the corporate agenda. Considered a paradigmatic marketing visionary, Christensen highlights the problems inherent in what appears to be sound decision making, and rigorously demonstrates that companies will fall behind if they fail to adapt or adopt new technologies that will meet customers’ unstated or future needs.

Illustrating his points with anecdotes of historical figures, business leaders, and ordinary folks, Carnegie instructs the reader in how to change people, how to win them over to your way of thinking, without causing offense or resentment, and without making them feel manipulated. He teaches these skills through the underlying principle that people want to feel important and appreciated. Carnegie was the first to create a flourishing, credible, long-term business out of his ideas.

Click here for more information on The Innovator’s Dilemma

1. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies
by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.
1982

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Highly influential when global competition, largely from Japan, had brought Western business to a low, this quintessential business book describes eight enduring management principles that made the forty-three companies surveyed “excellent.” The authors focus exclusively on big companies, namely big manufacturers, but ironically condemn the excesses of modern management practice and advocate a return to simpler virtues. They have since come to feel that their ideas are better embodied in smaller companies.

Through lively case studies, this very readable classic forces a look at the fundamentals, at “first principles” that give a company its soul: Attention to customers, an abiding concern for people (productivity through people), the celebration of trial and error. A driving force in the subsequent deluge of business books, this trailblazer established customer service as a key form of differentiation and advantage, and launched the author-as-consultant/speaker/celebrity phenomenon.

Click here for more information on In Search of Excellence

Sources: Perseus Publishing’s The Best Business Books Ever: The 100 Most Influential Management Books You’ll Never Have Time to Read, Forbes, Business Week, U.S. News & World Report, a variety of lists located around the Web, and our own subjective reading experiences.

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Comments

  1. Walonline's Gravatar Comment by Walonline on July 31st, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Normally, I enjoy reading this blog, but:

    “If we removed Good to Great from the list based on BP’s prior post, we’d have to remove a whole bunch of other books, too.”

    Doesn’t that mean that a lot of the “lessons” included in a management book are generally rubbish–more like one-off observations that only vaguely fit the situation’s context?

    I think a big problem with many popular business books is that authors too often confuse correlation of events with coincidence.

    In the case of Good-to-Great, the general idea is valid–that it takes a lot to improve marginally when you’re already a good company. Still publishing the book with an example such as Fannie Mae (who had a nasty accounting scandal recently, not to mention creation of many of these mortgage backed securities, leading to a bailout) is simply irresponsible!

    A book like this could easily be rewritten every five years with more topical examples. Maybe they could evaluate what caused the fall from “greatness” of other companies?

  2. Jenna's Gravatar Comment by Jenna on July 31st, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Speaking of The World Is Flat – his publisher, FSG, is giving away the book online this week in anticipation of his new book Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America.

    http://www.thomaslfriedman.com

  3. Mike's Gravatar Comment by Mike on July 31st, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Drea,

    A very interesting list. “In Search…” and “Reeingineering…” have largely been discredited, and I think a few others *cough*flat*cough* will not be remembered a few years from now.

    Mike

  4. Stuart Finlay's Gravatar Comment by Stuart Finlay on August 1st, 2008 at 12:48 am

    I would be interested to know how many people actually change their habits or do anything different after reading these types of books. They can often spark a person to ponder or think of ways of doing things differently, I just wonder if ultimately they ever make a real difference.
    Not intended as a cynical question, I recently published a book called What Would Churchill Do? Which analyses the skills Churchill used to help win WW2 and applies them to modern business? After selling 000′s of copies online and signing 000′s of copies on a recent book tour of the UK, I get lots of great feedback about how much people enjoyed my book, I just wonder that other than fattening my bank account and giving people an entertaining read do people actually change/improve as a result.

  5. Anthony Kuhn's Gravatar Comment by Anthony Kuhn on August 1st, 2008 at 10:18 am

    You’ve bitten off a large chunk to chew on, but after reading your list, I recommended the readers of my blog to come to BusinessPundit.com and check out your list. I also exhorted them to dust off their library cards and run to the nearest branch and check some of these out for end-of-summer reading! Thanks for the great selections, Drea!

  6. Tara Joyce's Gravatar Comment by Tara Joyce on August 1st, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    A good list. But I found a better one recently. The 77 Best Business Books in print.

    They break the list down by categories. For example, innovation or entrepreneurship. I found it to be a very comprehensive and useful list.

  7. Francisco Alvarez Cano's Gravatar Comment by Francisco Alvarez Cano on August 4th, 2008 at 6:31 am

    I wonder if Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim&Mauborgne) should be here instead, for instance, than In Search of Excellence. I have had the opportunity of talking to both Mr Peters and Ms Mauborgne (and also Mr. Porter) and I do think these kind of books get prestige according to the prestige the companies that follow the models these books describe may sustain themselves as leaders of their markets. I cannot remember at least one of the firms Peters mention in his first BS that mainteins its domain role; Kim&Mauborge analize this phenomenon, and concludes that it is not about the companies but the products where the excellence should be searched…

  8. Jack's Gravatar Comment by Jack on September 3rd, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I’m sure that these books contain something worth learning or imitating BUT very few of us can change or improve greatly. Why? Because we simply can’t become someone else. Because we can’t change our destiny that was given to us at birth. Stop for a while to think of what I just said and you’ll understand. Still confused? Please write to me.

  9. Stephen Partridge's Gravatar Comment by Stephen Partridge on October 3rd, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Interesting list – I might quibble about a few but that’s what these lists are for. I agree with the previous comment about Blue Ocean Strategy deserving a place – if only for the strategy canvas tool. That said – I haven’t found anything brilliant in the book that wasn’t already in the (very brilliant) HBR articles.
    I would also add the best business book I’ve read this year – “The Momentum Effect” by J C Larreche who teaches at the same school as Kim and Mauborgne. Unlike many management books (eg BOS) which are really a couple of good articles stretched to fill a book, this one is full of intelligent, and convincing arguments synthesised into a simple framework that can be applied to virtually any business. It definitely makes my top 25, maybe even top ten.

  10. Julie's Gravatar Comment by Julie on October 13th, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Jack, Why can’t we change the destiny that you say was given to us at Birth? Don’t you think that there are many individuals in the world that wrote their own destiny as they went along? We change when we change. All of the books listed have no doubt many many useful ideas for change, the real fundamental problem is not reading an inspirational book and hoping for change it is reading an inspirational book and ACTING upon what you have learned in order to move toward change or your goals. Most people get stuck at the motivation it takes once the book has been put down and it is time to act.

  11. Stuart Finlay's Gravatar Comment by Stuart Finlay on October 14th, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Folks

    One thing is certain the business book I have written is not going to make it onto this list.

    However it has had some great reviews one I have attached a link for.

    My book is called What Would Churchill Do? – Business advice from the man who saved the world. It takes Churchill’s talent for managing the events of WW2 and applies them to modern business.

    Whilst it wont make it onto the list it will make you think.

    Review Link
    http://www.genuinecuriosity.com/genuinecuriosity/2008/09/wwcd—what-wou.html

    You can listen to me reading it on You-Tube
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=KHQihWjr3V8

  12. Olivier's Gravatar Comment by Olivier on November 26th, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Hello,

    Thanks for this list. I personally started a crazy project : read 52 of the best businesses books in 52 weeks in an attemp to pass the Personal MBA (a MBA for less than 1 500$) in one year ( see my blog http://www.books-that-can-change-your-life.net/2008/my-crazy-project-read-52-of-the-best-business-books-in-52-weeks-and-post-a-weekly-review-here-on-my-blog/ )

    The Personal MBA is a comprehensive list of 77 books (93 with the supplements) in 12 categories that is intended to deliver the 20% of the knowledge given in an MBA that give 80% of the results.

    Only a few books are common between your liste and the PMBA one, so i think it is a great complement. Thanks for that :)

  13. james's Gravatar Comment by james on December 5th, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Interesting list… on the usefullness front, i have just bought a book, thats never leaving my shelf – BusinessBrief from http://www.knowledgebrief.com – overviews of business concepts, quality.

  14. Bud's Gravatar Comment by Bud on December 12th, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    “The Four Filters Invention of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger” ( amazon.com/dp/0615241298 ) is a business book that examines each of the basic steps they perform in “framing and making” an investment decision. This book is a focused look into this amazing invention within “Behavioral Finance” that has been underappreciated by both the business and academic communities. The genius of Buffett and Munger’s four filters process was to “capture all the important stakeholders” in a “multi-variable” equation or formula. Imagine…Products, Enduring Customers, Managers, and Margin-of-Safety… all in one mixed “qual + quant” formula. In rolling two die for double-sixes, the gambler’s odds are 1/36 and the house odds are 35/36 or 97%. When Buffett and Munger make a bet, they do so with house odds. http://www.youtube.com/v/isB6geS_OQE

  15. Jocelyn's Gravatar Comment by Jocelyn on December 15th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I agree, Blue Ocean Strategy deserves a spot. Another book which has for some reason evaded the publicity it deserves is Millionaire Manager (http://www.amazon.com/Millionaire-Manager-Carole-Symonds/dp/0963105647/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229365488&sr=8-1). One promising review comes from the Harvard Business Review–but seriously, I think more people should have their hands on this invaluable resource.

    This book is a business MUST-HAVE. It totally transformed my view of finance and profitability–making these fundamental ideas clear, simple and easy to understand. Also a quick and delightful read.

  16. Sumit's Gravatar Comment by Sumit on January 1st, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    While I realize that narrowing down the top business books to a mere list of 25 is a difficult task, another book that should be included is “The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari”. An earlier reply mentioned “very few of us can change”. Well, I partially agree with this statement. I feel very few actually change, but most people have the potential within them to change. That’s why I feel this book should be added to the list. Most business books focus largely on historical research, changing environment, strategy, etc…While all this is very important, without actually taking these businesss tools and adapting a sustainable philosophy of living, all these principles and theories go in then out. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. It’s an easy read, written very straightforward in a way most can relate to. Simple, but very deep. Nonetheless, great list overall! I’ve currently read about a dozen or so of the books on your list and will check out some others. Thanks!

  17. ru's Gravatar Comment by ru on January 8th, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    i dont like these books. dry, boring, out of date

  18. M.Rafiq Alam's Gravatar Comment by M.Rafiq Alam on February 2nd, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    I really appreciate u on this precious kn0wledge u people gave me . thanks alot , it d0ne really alot to me. thanks

  19. Tom's Gravatar Comment by Tom on February 5th, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Walonline, you do realize that Good to Great was produced well before the downfall of Fannie Mae right? Not to mention that the base of his research of that company was on a different CEO whom had a very selfless agenda. The funny thing that people whom “know what they are talking about” are not quite understanding in this fiasco with bailout companies and their bonus structure is that these bonuses are commissions. No, they are not tax dollars from bailouts. No they are not being given to those whom do not produce. They are simply based off of the percentage of profits that a certain employee rakes in for the company and that company must honor that commission percentage as it is legally bound in contract. In other words, if we have 10 executives and 3 make $10,000,000 profit for the company each (which has been the case for these so called tyrants), and the executive is bound to a contract to receive 25% of the profit as a commission… do the math. Were they to not produce, then they would simply be booted by shareholders at little to no cost. Those tax dollars are going toward a different cause than to pay commission based execs. It’s called research…

  20. YH's Gravatar Comment by YH on February 7th, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Good list. I will add them to my site: Best Business Book

  21. Dan's Gravatar Comment by Dan on February 21st, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”

    -Probably one of the worse books ever. Common sense put into over 100 plus pages of dry & hard to read material. I would put “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, “Freakanomics”, “Hot Flat & Crowded” & “Buffetology” definitely above most these books.

  22. Anthony Spencer's Gravatar Comment by Anthony Spencer on March 12th, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I always look for great business books as many are not really written in a “human friendly” language. Just recently I read “Digimarketing” which I enjoyed for its current examples and the fact that most of us need a little help keeping up with the digital world. Another book that I enjoyed recently was “A Journey with Mac: Rediscovering the Fundamentals of Business” that made me really think of my own business, I reconnected with the very basics that I forgot a long time ago. Reading it triggered some great ideas that I was able to implement in my two businesses. Unfortunately, many great business books do not even make it on fancy lists unless they are written by prominent authors.

  23. Bruce Saxton's Gravatar Comment by Bruce Saxton on April 24th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Wisdom of the ages.
    Best stuff ever!!!

    I have benifited from many of these books.
    Out of the Crisis revoultionized my world in the 80s……..really.

    One minute manager in the 90s & Built to Last inthe new century. All a complete diruption to the current path.

    I love them all!

    The previous writer who said these books were boing and out of date is blind and should switch over to the Marvel or DC site.

    This is a “Business” site

    Thanks for the list

  24. Ndengo S.T's Gravatar Comment by Ndengo S.T on May 12th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    have appreciated the list no 5 can tress it as most best book, also i will like to add yes you can by Jack Collis

  25. Vic's Gravatar Comment by Vic on June 11th, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Great list. I’ve been searching for this list for sometime in the web world. But I think business books that are more theoretical and inspirational should also be listed since they are the fundamentals, and they are the first application before we decide and act anything related in business.

  26. Arjun's Gravatar Comment by Arjun on June 24th, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Very impressive and useful list. This list of course has to be edited constantly every 6 months atleast since the top list always changes as new books keep coming up in the market.

    Some of the books like Age of Nations, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and How to Win Friends will remain timeless classics.

    We would like to inform readers from India that a lot of these books are availble on http://www.bookadda.com.

  27. Caleb's Gravatar Comment by Caleb on July 14th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Some great books there. Thanks for that list. I’ve got a number of additional ones on my best business books list. http://blog.freedoma.com/2009/06/12/the-best-10-business-books-to-read/- enjoy ;)

  28. Fisher Outreach's Gravatar Comment by Fisher Outreach on July 23rd, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Interesting book review. As a Fisher Investments employee, I think another must-read investment book is by Philip Fisher’s son, Ken Fisher, called The Only Three Questions that Count. In it, Ken outlines the important questions investors should be asking themselves prior to investing in the market. It was well received by both independent investors and people in the financial services trade.

  29. Chad Turner's Gravatar Comment by Chad Turner on September 3rd, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Great review. http://www.YoungEntrepreneurCoaching.com will be releasing our TOP 10 BOOKS FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS shortly!

  30. Jan Thomas's Gravatar Comment by Jan Thomas on October 14th, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I would consider Wired for Thought (by Jeffrey Stibel and published by Harvard in September). It just came out but the central thesis is that technology evolves and business needs to follow suite. it is specific to the Internet but in many ways it is applicable to a broader spectrum of businesses.

  31. Irwin Gray's Gravatar Comment by Irwin Gray on November 14th, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Please include in your list, the “father” book that, in 1916, laid out management (from the top down) as a process consisting of planning, organizing, coordination, commanding, and controlling. This process is exercised through people (the workforce of the firm) to get the work done. The exercise of the process is done according to the 14 points laid out by the author (including such items as, discipline, esprit de corps, and others) which are by now so familiar we completely forget from where they came. I am referring to: Henri Fayol, General and Industrial Management now in a revised edition that I produced for IEEE Press and others. This is your true origin of the process of management.

  32. RazViSiONa's Gravatar Comment by RazViSiONa on January 4th, 2010 at 9:32 am

    A good list, but in my opinion there is one book missing in here… “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter :)

  33. opadoyin kayode's Gravatar Comment by opadoyin kayode on May 13th, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I was just thinking about rich dad poor dad and I read you post RazViSiONa. I think you are very right. Robert has a wonderful idea and well presented in that book. Thanks.

  34. Clint's Gravatar Comment by Clint on June 17th, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    What about Running with the Bulls? isnt that considered a Business Book? Really liked it.

  35. Paul's Gravatar Comment by Paul on June 25th, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Pretty good list but the problem with many of the books in the list is they all expound theories. In my opinion the book with the single most profound result and impression on my business life is Dale Carnegies’s masterpiece ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’

    Peter Drucker maybe good but he’s a boring writer.

  36. whoknows's Gravatar Comment by whoknows on August 17th, 2010 at 12:04 am

    what about “who moved the cheese”

  37. Dan Auito's Gravatar Comment by Dan Auito on October 29th, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Well it looks like I have about 12 more books to read, thanks for that Drea! LOL Actually based upon the responses to the list I think Drea did an admirable job of listing 25 books that no doubt are worthy of taking time to read and execute with. (Nicely done) I also appreciate the insights of everyone who was compelled to comment in giving me additional books to investigate. Thanks goes to all for a worthwhile topic.

  38. afrey's Gravatar Comment by afrey on November 3rd, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    There’s a new book out from Fisher Investments CEO, Ken Fisher: “Debunkery: Learn It, Do It, and Profit From It”. In the book, Ken Fisher debunks common investing fallacies. I’m a Fisher Investments employee and for more on Debunkery use the following links:
    Ken Fisher’s Debunkery official website: http://www.ken-fisher-debunkery.com
    Ken Fisher’s Debunkery Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ken-Fishers-Debunkery/159215550768209

  39. Jay ~'s Gravatar Comment by Jay ~ on December 11th, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Would somebody please provide a brief insight on the book, The Tipping Point (Serial 13)?

  40. Luke's Gravatar Comment by Luke on December 19th, 2010 at 4:48 am

    What can you say about “Acres of Diamonds” by Russell H. Conwell? I think this is the best one. For those who want to emigrate…

  41. Rami's Gravatar Comment by Rami on February 8th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Hi all,

    Nice list, im a person who is very intrested in management, and obtained several certficates in management(Businees, HR, Building and leading a team).
    Do you know any good book to start the career with, as a manager or officer in the field of HR, please advice me, and also what books i need to have a good insight into business.
    Thanks in advance.

  42. BA SIMPSON's Gravatar Comment by BA SIMPSON on March 7th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    GREEETINGS TO EVERY 1
    Could’nt be an better list, we are 1 group who are very intrested in management, and obtained some major certficates in management(Businees, HR, Building and leading a team, risque management etc. in that courses).
    Do you know any good book to start the ‘conform-the skills within, as a manager or officer in the field of HR/CRM/SERV/LEADING, please advice us, and also what books sources we need to have a good insight into/above business.
    Thanks in advance in the name of our companies RSC (research center) http://www.mgtgroup.com + http://www.ymggroup.com + http://www.paidpiper.co.uk + http://www.ramo.ch.pn.

  43. Latesh's Gravatar Comment by Latesh on July 21st, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Good list guys, I think one must also include “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt. A must read for all the managers.
    Latesh

  44. Vivek Singh's Gravatar Comment by Vivek Singh on February 2nd, 2012 at 3:37 am

    My top ten (in no particular order) would be the following:

    1. Undercover Boss by Lambert & Holzman.
    2. The Trustworthy Leader by Amy Lyman.
    3. The Performance Pipeline by Drotter.
    4. Twitter for Good by Claire Diaz-Ortiz.
    5. Visual Meetings by David Sibbet.
    6. Business Model Generation by Osterwalder.
    7. The Dragonfly Effect by Smith & Aaker.
    8. Markets Never Forget by Fisher.
    9. John Adair’s 100 Greatest Leadership Ideas.
    10. The Great Workplace by Jennifer Robin.

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