So many books — so few with fresh, powerful, and important insight. Here are books I keep on my “worth reading” bookshelf… (I’ll add new ones over time.)
- The Essential Deming: Leadership Principles from the Father of Quality, by W. Edwards Deming, Joyce Orsini, Diana Deming Cahill. When I entered the business world, Deming was the god of quality. Unfortunately, that suggests a 1-dimensional image of a statistic-crazed quality guru. He was anything but. This book of essays and speeches reveals tremendous wisdom from experience and a far broader world view than I expected. His insight starts with a truth modern business should re-learn: Over-reliance on metrics leads to perfectly managed businesses which fail.
Recent Topics: Two excellent books warn about errors in the use of data algorithms.
- Weapons of Math Destruction, by Cathy O’Neil Big data involves big dangers. This book focuses on societal dangers but the lessons apply to business – and when relying on data can be destructive or misleading. Cathy O’Neil has tremendous background in math and applying math models to finance, advertising, and society. Favorite new term: “Data Phrenology”
- The Fires, by Joe Flood
The website calls it “A revealing account of the first time computer modeling met City Hall — and the disaster that ensued.” Describes work done by the Rand Corporation for NYFD that ended up driving a decade of fires which destroyed homes of 600,000 NY residents and created the slums of the 70s/80s. Great example of how data science easily leads us astray.
And now some classics…
“Chronicle of a Death Foretold” By Gabriel García Márquez.
A “must read” for any strategist – a warning about the limitations of perspective.
Those agencies who believe they’ve moved beyond the fundamental truth found in these pages are agencies who doom their clients.
Byron Sharp has perhaps the best analytical grasp of brands and advertising that I know. He is backed by 60 years of research at the institute. And, he pairs this with a willingness to show where business and advertising herd instincts lead companies far astray.
“The Halo Effect” by Phil Rosenzweig
Rosenzweig methodically discusses 9 delusions in business. There are surprises along the way when we learn that even popular business books may have excellent ideas but often fall flat with their claims to be based on research. This is a must read book.
“The Organization Man” by William H. Whyte
It may be over 50 years old but the lessons are still fresh and important today. Unfortunately, in the battle for the soul of business the “Organization Man” won out and we’ve forgotten Whyte’s lessons about why this will be a problem.
“Shop Class as Soul Craft” By Matthew B. Crawford
Starts with how employee’s suffer in a world of randomly subjective evaluation (i.e. political life or death). It’s refreshingly stated. And he reminds us that the only jobs that truly can’t be outsourced include plumbers, electricians, contractors, and motorcycle repair.
“The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp
Fresh insights from one of the world’s greatest choreographers about the search for new insight and delivering new things. Fascinating perspective from a different creative medium.
“Building Brand with DRTV” by Doug Garnett
You didn’t think I’d leave my own book off the table did you? This is not meant to be presumptive. But whether DRTV is important to you or not, this book offers an unusual angle on the advertising business – one that can inform and surprise a wide range of readers.
Beyond these I always recommend works by David Ogilvy and echo his recommendation for Claude Hopkins’ “Scientific Advertising”. And the perceptive work of two friends: Don Dickinson’s books on Account Management and Media; Richard Rosen’s “Convergence Marketing” with his balanced sense for integrating direct and brand advertising.
Copyright 2017 – Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved
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