Here are four of the most read books among senior business leaders. Since these books have gained notoriety among management teams, it will help you to understand how they approach various business challenges. In turn, you’ll be better situated to anticipate their thought processes.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz
en Horowitz was the cofounder and CEO of Opsware, a B2B software company that was sold to HP for $1.6 billion. Today he is a general partner at the well-known venture fund, Andreesen Horowitz.
Three years ago, Horowitz published “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” a book revered by technology business leaders — everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Peter Thiel has endorsed it.
In the book, Horowitz drives home the need to minimize politics in the workplace. Office politics can cause rifts within organizations, and distract employees from doing their best work. In order to prevent office politics, each company must create a clear promotion policy that all employees understand.
Horowitz suggests that each position within the company have a clear job description that includes skills required to be successful in the role. Furthermore, he recommends that promotions be reviewed by a special committee to avoid inter department misalignment.
THE LEAN STARTUP’ BY ERIC RIES
“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else” this is a key takeaway of Eric Ries’s bestselling book, “The Lean Startup” Ries is the former cofounder and CTO of IMVU, which hit a $40 million run ratein 2010.
Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Andreesen have both endorsed Ries’s book as a revolutionary approach to creating an innovative business.
Ries argues that the best way to develop a product or service is to focus on finding product-market fit as quickly as possible. To do this, he suggests developing a series of minimum viable products (MVPs), which are rough examples of what a more polished version of the product or service could look like.
The fast production cycle lets them quickly get customer feedback, which prevents them from investing an inordinate amount of time in developing a product or service that customers won’t use.
HIGH OUTPUT MANAGEMENT’ BY ANDREW GROVE
While he was CEO of Intel, Andy Grove published a seminal work of business management advice, “High Output Management.” It has received glowing reviews from the Wall Street Journal and from Peter Drucker, a well-known business writer.
Grove provides ample advice for senior managers. He says that the manager’s job is to leverage her business acumen by improving the performance of her subordinates. This is the key difference between an individual contributor and a manager. A manager uses subordinates as a productivity multiplier.
Grove writes expansively about the importance of one-on-one meetings led by the subordinate. The subordinate should come prepared with a meeting outline, and the manager coaches the subordinate through challenging business decisions. In time, the subordinate will require less and less coaching, at which point, the manager will have helped to dramatically improve the productivity of this employee.
CROSSING THE CHASM’ BY GEOFFREY MOORE
The psychological makeup of people who bought the first addition of the iPhone is very different from those who waited to purchase an iPhone until the fourth or fifth generation. Geoffrey Moore presents business leaders with a framework for taking a product or service from those early adopters to the early majority in “Crossing the Chasm”.
“Crossing the Chasm” posits that the best way to break into mainstream markets is by focusing go-to-market efforts on a narrow group of prospective customers that if won, can act as reference customers within specific industries.
By winning over a few influential anchor customers, it will be considerably easier to win over similar businesses. That’s a main tenant of Moore’s book, and it has been used by successful upstarts like Wealthfront (now valued at $700 million) to disrupt billion-dollar industries.