I am frequently asked what has been the best book, the most influential book, and the most enjoyable book that I have read for the First Friday Book Synopsis over the 17 years we have been conducting the program. I entertained that question as recently as last night, as I distributed fliers for our August 1 program in Dallas.
The best book was Good to Great by Jim Collins.(New York: Harper Business, 2001). The most influential book was Winning the Global Game by Jeffrey Rosensweig (New York: Free Press, 1998). But, those explanations are for other posts.
In today’s post, I will cover the most enjoyable book.
Novel-like in its presentation, this book took you inside the operations of the company as well as inside the brain of its author. The book makes you feel as if you were celebrating with the author in good times, and struggling with him to feel the anger and pain in hard times.
In every event covered in the book, you not only read the facts, but also, the attitude and feelings that accompany them. Most striking was the story of a leaked e-Mail that found its way to the Internet, jeopardizing the future of the company. Another was the anger that Schultz expressed when he wanted his shops to smell like coffee, not burnt cheese, causing him to ask if they were going to start serving hash browns.
The story of VIA was captivating, as were the issues of expanding the business internationally.
Starbucks has been the subject of many books, articles, and posts over the years. The company’s success speaks for itself. But you will find nothing that takes you inside nearly as much as this book.
I sometimes wish that Schultz would keep his mouth shut. When he speaks out about politics, education, and other social issues, I visualize boycotts, picket lines, and lost customers. But, he can’t do it. He is outspoken and opinionated. And, he has enough money to cut his losses. There is no question that this book would not have been my choice for the most entertaining work had Schultz been modest and laid-back. That is simply not him.
It is dated now. Starbucks has moved on. Schultz and the company have solved many of the problems you read in this book, and they have been replaced by new challenges.
However, history is history. And this one is fun. Perhaps that is because I am a customer and have experienced in the stores much of what I read here. But, what makes it fun is going inside the boardroom, operations, and brain of its author.
For a period of time, this book was # 1 on the best-seller lists, such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
You can read a review of this book written by Bob Morris on our blog by clicking here.
I will explain why I selected the best book and most influential book in future posts.
Here you go – this is my list of the Best of 2011 in a number of categories.
Best Business Book: The 3rd Alternative by Stephen Covey (New York: Free Press) – this book explains and promotes a tired “win-win” philosophy in a fresh way, opening up applications in multiple contexts for many people who give lip service to the concept likely have never thought of before. It didn’t stay on the best-seller lists long enough.
Best Non-Fiction Book: The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough (New York: Simon & Schuster) – I didn’t think he could ever top the biography he wrote called Truman, but this is a highly readable, novel-like approach of an important segment of American history, as played out overseas.
A close second: Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews (New York: Simon & Schuster) – I’ve read a lot of books about JFK, and many a lot longer than this one, but I have never learned so much as I did with this account. Lots of inside information from an outside perspective by this MSNBC giant.
Best Fiction Book: 11-22-63 by Stephen King (New York: Scribner) – A fantasy about a high school teacher who travels back in time, attempting to change history, with the first stop in 1958. Quite a story! The picture of the author on the inside cover makes him look so intense!
Best Movie: Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. directed by Steve McQueen (Fox Searchlight films) – this is not entertaining, and a very difficult movie to watch, but it demonstrates the challenges that 3-5 million Americans with sex addictions face better than any documentary ever has or could.
Best Sporting News: Paterno and Penn State Fall – this is not a happy story, but time unravels strange tales, and a giant in a successful program faces the music, and we cannot ignore it; at the Ticket City Bowl on Monday, I saw two t-shirts: one said, “Joe Knows Football,” and another, “What Does Joe Know?” Unfortunately, with his diminishing physical condition, we may never find out.
Best Entertainer: Taylor Swift – a 22-year old captivates audiences and the music world with original songs from the heart, and she bonds with her listeners of all ages at concerts in ways that we have not seen since the Beatles; the song Story of Us will resonate with many people who have had heartbreaking relationships
Best Television Program: Friday Night Lights – when its final episode aired this spring, I realized how good it was, and how much I will miss it; if you never saw it, purchase the series on DVD’s.
Best News Story: Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami in May – riveting images of horror and sorrow followed by amazing stories of international and personal help and relief show the greatest contrast in bad and good that you could ask to see, and there still remains a lot of work to do.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it.
Many of you will enjoy the new insights and data about teamwork that I will present on Friday at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas from The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton (Free Press, 2010). If you miss the synopsis or live outside of our area, you can find it soon on our companion site, 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
As always, I am impressed by the research methodology employed in books like this. The findings and recommendations from this book come from a 350,000 person survey conducted by the Best Companies Group (BCG), which has been instrumental in establishing “Best Places to Work” programs.
One item that is missing from this book, as is true of most that I have read on teamwork, is the fundamental question of how teams “work” when they “work as teams.” I am asked all the time what a group needs to do in order to work as a team. And my answer is they must do their work as a team!
What I mean is that the work that everyone does must be interdependent, not independent. You cannot have teams if the work that participants do is not designed so that they work together. Therefore, teamwork depends upon the fact that at minimum, there is an extra set of eyes, or an extra set of input to everything the participants do and contribute.
Throwing independent contributions together into a package is not teamwork. Assembling interdependent contributions together into a package is teamwork. This is because the result comes from the blended aggregation of each person’s input. And, when you have teamwork, you have great difficulty identifying “who did what,” because the product belongs to the team, not any individual. That is why MVP (most valuable player) of a team has never made any sense to me – you can have one for a league, but you should not have one for a team!
So, if you want teamwork, you must design the work where you accomplish it in teams. The work must be interdependent, not independent. If you fail to do this, you will only have a group, and not a team
How do you see this issue? Let’s talk about it soon!