Nothing new under the sun – business books and deforestation

Around 11,000 new business books are published every year.  Many of them promise to turn you into a leader, manager or entrepreneur and make you rich.  I have a number of deep suspicions about these books and am fascinated to know how you feel.  Here we go:

1. They say nothing new – simply because there are no new things to say

2. Many of them remain half read on your bookshelves.  You got the idea in the first couple of chapters and didn’t need to read the rest to discover what they were about
3.  They had little effect on your working practices
4. They had little effect on your productivity
5. They haven’t made you rich
6. They seemed to repeat things that you had read before
7. The better ones were simply rehashed common sense
8. You read some of them and thought “well, that’s obvious”
9. You read some of them and thought “I already know that”
10. You read some of them and thought “I could have written that
11. You still buy more…
One of the bestselling business books of all time was Stephen Covey’s 1989 publication, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It sold over 15 million copies and was published in 38 languages; it remained on the New York Times bestseller lists for 250 weeks. I have carried out a straw poll among friends, colleagues and clients.  Almost all had heard of it, most had at some point acquired a copy of it, and almost none of them had read it from cover to cover.   Like all the other business books, it sat on their shelves, partially read and made little real difference to their lives.  I am reminded of the people who put on track suits because it makes them feel fitter.  Equally, having a good array of business books on your shelves or on your Kindle probably makes you feel you are ahead of the game.
Just as self-help books don’t help unless you choose to do something, business books won’t change your life unless you apply what they suggest, and given that most of them are repeating what others suggest anyway, why not pick one you believe you will enjoy, read it from cover to cover and then start to practise what it suggests.  Then write to me in a year’s time and tell me if it made a difference.
Meanwhile, I have a crime novel to finish.

To request a business needs analysis, discuss any aspect of leadership and management development or business consultancy, call me on +44(0)161 929 4145 or email David Cotton.

I look forward to hearing from you.

David Cotton

David Cotton is an independent trainer, management consultant, facilitator and speaker with vast international experience.