Author Margaret Hefferman, who has been a CEO at five companies, is weary of the glut of business books -- 11,000 a year and counting.
For years now, there has been a marked increase in what I think of as recipe books for managers: A few short steps and you can cook up a stunning success. Such works follow firmly in the footsteps of cooking, diet and fitness books, appearing to offer total transformation in a few quick and easy methods.We just want it easy, whether it's losing weight or gaining market share. This is the great American tradition that has provided employment for legions of snake oil salesmen and late night TV pitchers.
I'm thinking of writing a book using our drawer of plastic food containers as a metaphor for success in business. Something like: The Errant Lid -- Make the Most of Your Competitive Leftovers. Okay, I'll work on it.
Just because the bookstores are bulging with quick fixes doesn't mean that they work, only that such flimsy remedies play to a fantasy that a quick purchase will cure all ills. We don't need to dumb down our understanding of business and markets; we urgently need to give ourselves time to understand them, to conduct low risk experiments, to reflect on what works and what doesn't. and to take stock of which changes matter and which do not.She proposes a daring idea: companies need to actually think.
Perhaps the humorist Ambrose Bierce was holding a business book when he quipped, "The covers of this book are too far apart."