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Recommended Reading

Scaling Up
by Verne Harnish

In Scaling Up, Verne Harnish and his team share practical tools and techniques for building an industry-dominating business. These approaches have been honed from over three decades of advising tens of thousands of CEOs and executives and helping them navigate the increasing complexities (and weight) that come with scaling up a venture. This book is written so everyone — from frontline employees to senior executives — can get aligned in contributing to the growth of a firm. Scaling Up focuses on the four major decision areas every company must get right: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. The book includes a series of new one-page tools including the updated One-Page Strategic Plan and the Rockefeller Habits Checklist™, which more than 40,000 firms around the globe have used to scale their companies successfully — many to $1 billion and beyond.


Blue Ocean Strategy
by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

This bestselling strategy book, written by world-renowned professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, challenges everything you thought you knew about strategic success and charts a bold new path to winning the future.

When first published in 2005, Blue Ocean Strategy challenged the basic tenets of competitive strategy and called for businesses to shift their focus from competition to creating new market spaces that would make the competition irrelevant. Instead of trying to do something better, faster, or cheaper the authors urge businesses to do something no one else is doing. It’s a refreshing look at standing out. No wonder the book has sold more than 3 million copies!


Built to Last
by Jim Collins

What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the other companies?

Built To Last examines what lies behind the extraordinary success of 18 visionary companies and which principles and ideas they’ve used to thrive for a century. Built to Last discusses concepts such as preserving a core ideology, the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) concept, owning a cult-like culture, trying new things, refusing the idea of a “great idea” to start a company, and consistent innovation.



Good to Great
by Jim Collins

The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice such as:

  • Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
  • The Hedgehog Concept: (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
  • A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it)
by Salim Ismail and Michael S. Malone

Performance is key in business and when you’re looking at performance, how you organize can be the key to growth. The Exponential Organization has revolutionized how a company can accelerate its growth by using technology. An ExO can eliminate the incremental, linear way traditional companies get bigger, leveraging assets like community, big data, algorithms, and new technology into achieving performance benchmarks ten times better than its peers. It can take a startup to a multi-national, streamline its performance, and grow to the next level.

The Founders Mentality
by Chris Zook & James Allen

Performance is key in business and when you’re looking at performance, how you organize can be the key to growth. The Exponential Organization has revolutionized how a company can accelerate its growth by using technology. An ExO can eliminate the incremental, linear way traditional companies get bigger, leveraging assets like community, big data, algorithms, and new technology into achieving performance benchmarks ten times better than its peers. It can take a startup to a multi-national, streamline its performance, and grow to the next level.


Great by Choice
by Jim Collins

Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins began to ask: why do some companies thrive in uncertainty and even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research and buttressed by rigorous analysis and engaging stories, Collins and his colleague Morten Hansen enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous and fast-moving times.

Outthink the Competition
by Kaihan Krippendorff

“Outthinkers” are entrepreneurs and corporate leaders that see opportunities others ignore, challenge dogma others accept as truth, rally resources others cannot influence, and unleash new strategies that disrupt their markets. Outthink the Competition proves that business competition is undergoing a fundamental paradigm shift and that during such revolutions, outthinkers beat traditionalists. Krippendorff uses the examples of

breakthrough companies like Apple, Google, Vistaprint, and Rosetta Stone whose stunning performances defy traditional explanation and will inspire readers to outthink the competition.


The Lords of Strategy
by Walter Kiechel

Fifty years ago many businesses made plans without understanding the underlying dynamics of competition, costs, and customers. It was like trying to design a large-scale engineering project without knowing the laws of physics. In The Lords of Strategy, Walter Kiechel tells the story of the four men who invented corporate strategy, as we know it and set in motion the modern, multibillion-dollar consulting industry: Bruce Henderson, founder of Boston Consulting Group; Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company; Fred Gluck, longtime Managing Director of McKinsey & Company; and Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor. Take a look at how these pioneers revolutionized the way we think about business and transformed the way we work.

The Lords of Strategy
by Walter Kiechel

What do Tetra aquarium supplies, Elector-Nite sensors, and Nissha touch panels have in common? They are “hidden champions”: Medium-sized, unknown companies that have quietly become world market leaders in their respective industries. By taking a deep look inside more 1000 of these “hidden champions” Simon reveals the common patterns, behaviors, and approaches that make these little-known companies successful. These companies buck today’s management fads, and pursue such common-sense strategies as focusing on core capabilities, establishing long-term relationships with customers, innovating continuously, rewarding employees for performance, and developing a global presence.

The Art of War
by Sun Tzu

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu, a high-ranking military general, strategist and tactician, believed to have been compiled during the late Spring and Autumn period or early Warring States period. The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare. It is commonly known to be the definitive work on military strategy and tactics of its time. It has been the most famous and influential of China’s Seven Military Classics, and for the last two thousand years it remained the most important military treatise in Asia, where even the common people knew it by name. It has had significant influence on Eastern and Western military thinking, legal strategy, and business tactics for many years.



Purple Cow
by Seth Godin

You’re either a Purple Cow or you’re not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice. What do Apple, Starbucks, Dyson and Pret a Manger have in common? How do they achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind former tried-and-true brands to gasp their last? The old checklist of P’s used by marketers: Pricing, Promotion, Publicity aren’t working anymore. The golden age of advertising is over. It’s time to add a new P: The Purple Cow. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat-out unbelievable. Seth Godin urges you to put a Purple Cow into everything you build, and everything you do, to create something truly noticeable. It’s a manifesto for anyone who wants to help create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place.


The E-Myth Revisited
by Michael Gerber

In The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. He walks you through the steps in the life of a business: from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective that is the guiding light of all truly successful businesses. He then demonstrates how to apply the lessons of franchising to anybusiness (whether or not it is a franchise). Finally, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business.




by Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood

Investor and successful entrepreneur Richard Koch and venture capitalist Greg Lockwood have spent years researching what makes successful companies—such as IKEA, Apple, Uber, and Airbnb—achieve game-changing who status. Their conclusion is that these companies simplify. In this book they unpack the strategies for simplifying and taking your business from a startup to a game changer.





Inovator’s Dilemma
by Clayton Christensen

Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller, this classic on disruptive innovation, by renowned author Clayton M. Christensen has been named by Fast Company as one of the most influential leadership books in its Leadership Hall of Fame. Best-known thought leaders from Steve Jobs to Malcolm Gladwee have cited this book that shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right—yet still lose market leadership. Christensen explains why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation—and how even successful companies with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices. Christensen offers examples of both successes and failures from leading companies and provides a framework for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.



Crossing the Chasam
by Geoffrey Moore

This has become the bible for bringing cutting-edge products to larger markets and includes insights into the realities of high-tech marketing. In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore shows that in the Technology Adoption Life Cycle—which begins with innovators and moves to early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards—there is a vast chasm between the early adopters and the early majority. The challenge for innovators and marketers is to narrow this chasm and ultimately accelerate adoption across every segment. This third edition brings Moore’s classic work up to date with dozens of new examples of successes and failures, new strategies for marketing in the digital world, and Moore’s most current insights and findings.




How Companies Win
by Rick Kash

In a world of contracting markets and diminished consumer demand, The Cambridge Group founder Rick Kash and Nielsen Company CEO David Calhoun show companies how to find new customers and bigger profits. How Companies Win makes The Cambridge Group’s proprietary demand model—a strategy which multi-million dollar corporations pay premium rates to access—available to the general public for the first time. This is a must-have for succeeding in business in the twenty-first century.


Blueprint to a Billion
by David Thomson

Building a powerhouse business doesn’t just happen. It requires solid strategy.  David Thomson’s Blueprint to a Billion shows you how to create that strategy. Joe Scarlett, Chairman of the Board, Tractor Supply Company says, “If you dream about growing your business to a billion, this is a fascinating down-to-earth study that you must read. Apply the seven essential principles to your business and you are off and running. Learn about strategy, growth, leadership, team building, and a whole lot more.” To that, Professor John Quelch, Senior Associate Dean, Harvard Business School adds, “Blueprint to a Billion is a well-researched and thoughtfully written book that quantifies the growth pattern of America’s highest growth companies.”




The Lean Start-up
by Eric Ries

Most startups fail, but many of those failures are preventable.  The Lean Startupis a new approach that changes the way companies are built and new products are launched. Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively.  Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs a way to test their vision continuously, and to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever.


Mastering the 7 Essentials of High Growth Companies
by David Thomson

What are America’s recession-proof, highest growth companies doing differently? What are the values, fundamentals, and actions that will make the difference between failure, or just surviving and thriving? The answer to these questions is, what Thomson calls, The 7 Essentials-value proposition, high growth market segment, marquee customers, big brother alliances, exponential returns, inside/outside leadership, and essential board experts.

Growth companies are especially defined by their ability to grow through recession and recovery periods to become the new growth leaders. The case studies and the numbers in this book prove it. This reliable resource extends the insights from Thomson’s bestselling book, Blueprint to a Billion: 7 Essentials to Achieve Exponential Growth to apply the 7 Essentials to all companies. Thomson is known as America’s growth expert on what it takes to transform a small business into a billion dollar one.


Playing to Win
A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin

Strategy is not complex. But it is hard because it forces people and organizations to make specific choices about their future. That’s something most companies don’t do. In this book, two of today’s best-known business thinkers get to the heart of strategy—explaining what it’s for, how to think about it, why you need it, and how to get it done. And they use one of the most successful corporate turnarounds of the past century, which they achieved together, to prove their point.Lafley and Martin have created a set of five essential strategic choices that, when addressed in an integrated way, will move you ahead of your competitors.

XLR8 (Accelerate)
by John Kotter

Many organizations respond to a new competitive threat or an emerging opportunity by quickly creating a strategic initiative and putting their best people in charge or making change happen. Too often, however the response is neither fast enough nor effective enough.  In XLR8 (Accelerate), leadership and change management expert John Kotter provides a powerful new framework for competing and winning in a world of constant turbulence and disruption. XLR8 vividly illustrates the five core principles essential to dealing with this disruption, and highlights eight accelerators that drive it. If you’re a a leader who knows that bold change is necessary to survive and thrive in an ever-changing world, this book will help you accelerate into a better, more profitable future.



The Decision Book
by Mikhael Krogerus

Whether you’re a newly minted MBA, a chronic second-guesser, or someone eager for a new vantage point, The Decision Bookpresents fifty models for better structuring, understanding, and meeting life’s constant challenges. This interactive, illustrated workbook offers succinct summaries of popular strategies. It’s also packed with familiar tools like the Pareto Principle, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and an unusual exercise inspired by Warren Buffet. The Decision Bookis an ideal reference for flexible thinkers.





Your Strategy Needs a Strategy
by Martin Reeves

It’s not enough to simply have a strategy. It’s essential to have the rightstrategy. In a business environment that is changing faster and becoming more uncertain and complex almost by the day, it’s never been more important—or more difficult—to choose the right approach to strategy. The Boston Consulting Group’s Martin Reeves, Knut Haanæs, and Janmejaya Sinha tackle this issue with insightful questions such as:

  • What replaces planning when the annual cycle is obsolete?
  • When can we—and when should we—shape the game to our advantage?
  • How do we simultaneously implement different strategic approaches for different business units?
  • How do we manage the inherent contradictions in formulating and executing different strategies across multiple businesses and geographies?


Made To Stick
By Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Why do some ideas thrive while others die? How can you improve your idea’s chances—especially in an era of “fake news.”

Mark Twain once quipped, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” That’s never been truer than it is today. Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus news stories circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas—entrepreneurs, teachers, politicians, and journalists—struggle to make them “stick.”

In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps. Along the way, you’ll discover that sticky messages of all kinds draw their power from the same six traits. Made to Stick can transform the way you communicate.


Third Wave
By Steve Case

Disruption is simply a part of business culture today. And yet, one of America’s most accomplished entrepreneurs—a co-founder of America Online (AOL) who made the Internet part of everyday life and orchestrated the largest merger in the history of business—shares a roadmap for how anyone can succeed in a world of rapidly changing technology.

In The Third Wave, which pays homage to the work of the futurist Alvin Toffler (from whom Case has borrowed the title, and whose work inspired him as a young man), Case takes us behind the scenes of some of the most consequential and riveting business decisions of our time while offering illuminating insights from decades of working as an entrepreneur, an investor, a philanthropist, and an advocate for sensible bipartisan policies.

Case explains that we are entering what’s being called the “Third Wave” of the Internet: a period in which entrepreneurs will vastly transform major “real world” sectors like health, education, transportation, energy, and food—and in the process change the way we live our daily lives. But success in the Third Wave will require a different skill set.


By Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way, he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.




Appreciative Inquiry Handbook
By David l. Cooperrider and Diana Whitley

One of today’s most popular change methods, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) has been used to undertake transformational initiatives in dozens of organizations, ranging from McDonald’s to the U.S. Navy to Save the Children. The assumption of AI is simple: Every organization has something that works right—things that give it life when it is vital, effective, and successful. AI begins by identifying this positive core and connecting organizational visions, plans, and structures to it in ways that heighten energy and inspire action for change. The Appreciative Inquiry Handbook contains everything you need to launch any kind of AI initiative, including sample project plans, designs, agendas, course outlines, interview guidelines, participant worksheets, a list of resources, and more.



Billion Dollar Lessons
By Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui

According to IBM lore, in the early 1960s CEO Tom Watson, Jr. called an executive to headquarters who had been responsible for a venture that had cost the corporation $10 million. When Watson asked the executive if he knew why he’d been summoned, the man replied that he assumed he was being fired. Watson’s response was iconic. “Fired? Hell, I spent $10 million educating you. I just want to be sure you learned the right lessons.”

Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars on education and instruction, American businesses are reluctant to learn from their failures. Billion Dollar Lessons is about how executives can learn from their mistakes (and the mistakes of others) by regularly doing “after-action analysis” the way that organizations dealing with life-and-death situations (military, hospitals, and airlines) do.


How the Mighty Fall
By Jim Collins

Plenty of massive, influential, mighty companies have fallen on hard times. But Jim Collins maintains that detected, avoided, and even reversed. Collins explores how the mighty fall, and how far a company can fall before their path becomes irreversible. And he looks at how companies can reverse course. Decline, Collins maintains, is largely self-inflicted, and the path to recovery lies largely within our own hands and not determined by circumstances, history, or even staggering defeats.


Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great
By Jim Collins

The key to business success is not a single innovation or a single strategic plan. It is the act of turning the flywheel, slowly gaining momentum and eventually reaching a breakthrough. Building upon the flywheel concept introduced in his groundbreaking classic Good to Great, Jim Collins shows how to create your own flywheel, how to accelerate the flywheel’s momentum, and how to stay on the flywheel in shifting markets and during times of turbulence. Combining research from his Good to Greatlabs and case studies from organizations such as Amazon, Vanguard, and the Cleveland Clinic which have turned their flywheels with outstanding results, Collins demonstrates that successful organizations can disrupt the world around them—and reach unprecedented success.


The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time
By Verne Harnish

Decisions drive success. Nothing happens until decisions are made. And while millions of business decisions are made every day, once in a great while a leader makes a truly game-changing decision that shifts the strategy of a company and changes how everyone does business. These big decisions are counterintuitive and go against conventional wisdom. Management consultant Verne Harnish, the CEO of Gazelles, along with Fortune’seditors provide the background stories behind some of the greatest business decisions of all time and provide a glimpse into the thought processes leading up to these groundbreaking moments.



Business Model Canvas

Start-ups, entrepreneurial endeavors, and transformed companies have exploded on the business scene. Without a solid plan, however, these explosive efforts can result in nothing more than burned-out wreckage. This guide explores and explains the Business Model Canvas and how it can increase your value proposition and improve your company. In just 50 minutes you will be able to:

•Identify the nine factors affected by the Business Model Canvas and why they are important
•Analyze concrete applications of the Business Model Canvas with real-life case studies
•Learn more about the limits and criticism of the tool, so that you can apply the BMC effectively and use it alongside other complementary tools

The Value Proposition Design
By Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, Alan Smith

Value Proposition Design helps you tackle the core challenge of every business — creating compelling products and services customers want to buy by teaching you the processes and tools you need to create products that sell. Using the same stunning visual format as the authors’ global bestseller, Business Model Generation, this sequel explains how to use the “Value Proposition Canvas” to design, test, create, and manage products and services customers actually want. A great book for anyone who has been frustrated by new product meetings based on hunches and intuitions—only to watch an expensive new product launch fail in the market. Instead, this book will help you understand the patterns of great value propositions, get closer to customers, and avoid wasting time with ideas that won’t work.


Uncommon Service
By Francis Frei

Most companies treat service as a low-priority business operation, keeping it out of the spotlight until a customer complains. Then service makes a brief appearance—for as long as it takes to calm the customer down and fix whatever foul-up jeopardized the relationship. In Uncommon Service, Frances Frei and Anne Morriss show how, in a disruptive economy where the old rules of strategic advantage no longer hold true, service must become a competitive weapon, rather than a damage-control function. That means weaving service tightly into every core decision your company makes.

The authors reveal a transformed view of service and an operating model built on tough choices organizations must make by asking tough questions such as:

• How do customers define “excellence” in your offering? Is it convenience? Friendliness? Flexible choices? Price?

• How will you get paid for that excellence? Will you charge customers more? Get them to handle more service tasks themselves?

• How will you empower your employees to deliver excellence? What will your recruiting, selection, training, and job design practices look like? What about your organizational culture?

• How will you get your customers to behave? For example, what do you need to do to get them to treat your employees with respect? Do you need to make it easier for them to use new technology?


The Inside Advantage
By Robert Bloom

Robert H. Bloom discovered that every enterprise has at least one strategic asset—an existing strength that can form the foundation for future growth. He calls this an inside advantage. This strength often goes unrecognized in an activity the business is currently performing or in a concept or an idea that the business already owns. Finding this hidden potential and becoming well known for it will grow the business.

This strategy reflects Bloom’s 45 years of experience in growing businesses and brands of every size and type, including famous companies such as Southwest Airlines, T-Mobile, T.G.I. Friday’s, Zales, Nestlé, and L’Oréal, as well as not-so-famous B2B firms, not-for-profit organizations, and start-ups. This book helps those who know their business but don’t know how to craft a growth strategy. Inside Advantage will help you to do what you’re good at and do it better than anyone else. When your customers select your product or service over those of your competitors is what gives you a true business advantage.


Good to Great to Gone
By Alan Wurtzel

How did Circuit City go from a Mom and Pop store with a mere $13,000 investment, to the best performing Fortune 500 Company for any 15-year period between 1965 and 1995, to bankruptcy and liquidation in 2009? Learn what leaders must do to take a business from good to great, and then to avoid plummeting from great to gone in a constantly evolving marketplace. former CEO Alan Wurtzel shares the rare perspective of a company insider in the role of an outsider looking in. Wurtzel believes that there is no single formula for strategy and emphasizes the “Habits of Mind” that influence critical management decisions. He offers guidance to ensure any business stays on track, even in the wake of disruption, a changing consumer landscape, and new competitors.



The Brand Promise
By Duane Knap

There is a lot of talk about the importance of a company’s brand. Brand success, however, rests on three principles:

1) Provide a unique experience with products or services that enhance your customer’s lives

2) Inspire employee partnership, passion, and support

3) Create a perception of exceptional value and distinctive benefits and deliver on your promise.

Great brands make a promise and keep it. This promise begins with a mindset that goes beyond “business as usual.”  It’s about more than just “doing a good job.” It’s about optimizing the emotional and functional benefits from a customer’s perspective.

The principles in The Brand Promise apply to every type of organization, from associations, philanthropic enterprises, and personal brands, to professional service firms, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and member-centric businesses. Knapp provides insights from a wide range of executives and leaders with in-depth analyses of many “Genuine Brands”, including Ketel One, Costco, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Annika Sorenstam, Bartell Hotels, and more.


By Peter Diamandis

In Abundance, space entrepreneur turned innovation pioneer Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler document how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, digital manufacturing synthetic biology, and other exponentially growing technologies will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous 200 years—including the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every person on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. Diamandis and Kotler introduce us to innovators and industry captains making tremendous strides in each area. “Not only is Abundance a riveting page-turner…but it’s a book that gives us a future worth fighting for” (The Christian Science Monitor).



The Sales Playbook
By Jack Daly and Dan Larson

How much time do you, as a salesperson, learning and practicing the proven sales techniques from your company’s top producers? How much time does your Sales Manager spend helping you develop those high-performing techniques and processes? Put another way: Are you teaching your salespeople how to fish, or are you just telling them how many fish they need to bring in to meet quota? The Sales Playbook for Hyper Sales Growth delves into the necessity of developing these processes within a company but also provides valuable techniques, tools, and procedures that sales teams can begin implementing immediately.