We often make the mistake of assuming that navigating a complex world requires complex answers. As a result we end up with even more complexity … confusion … chaos. The absurd behavior of key players in the recent meltdown of the American economy is a macrocosm of the nonsense which results from such thinking and which is ubiquitous in today’s business and social organizations, including the Local Church.
Maybe the current crisis will provide the impetus we need to cut out the nonsense. In some ways it now seems that there is developing a cultural zeitgeist in which people are demanding more common sense in our institutions [perhaps everywhere except in politics and in our churches]. It is time to re-evaluate what we are doing and how we are doing it. It is time to cut through the nonsense and do things right.
So, I heartily recommend Jack Trout’s book The Power Of Simplicity: A Management Guide to Cutting Through the Nonsense and Doing Things Right.
Trout introduces his book to us with the following quote from John Scully, “Everything we have learned in the industrial age has tended to create more and more complication. I think that more and more people are learning that you have to simplify, not complicate. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
It that sense, Trout’s book is very sophisticated. He argues his thesis straightforwardly in clear language, short chapters and concrete action steps. This book organization is not only consistent with the premise but allowed me to conveniently imbibe bite-size portions. I read it a few minutes each day over the course of a couple of weeks.
The Power Of Simplicity is composed of twenty-three mini-chapters (206 pages) and is broken into four parts; The Basics of Simplicity, Management Issues, Leadership Issues, and People Issues. That sounds like pretty standard stuff, but do NOT expect the routine business book /self-help book mumbo jumbo. Trout is a contrarian in many ways.
– He believes mission statements add needless confusion
– He believes long-term planning is just wishful thinking
– He believes that goals sound nice but accomplish little
– He believes growth can be bad for your business
Sound intriguing? Maybe, … but Trout keeps it simple.
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And, here is a reading list which he shares in an appendix to the book.
Laugh out loud funny but dead on when it comes to management fads and other nonsense.
The Practice of Management, by Peter Drucker
The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker
Managing in a Time of Great Change, by Peter Drucker
[Drucker is] The fountainhead of common sense and sound advice. Read any one of his dozens of books and you’ll be the wiser for it. These are three of our favorites.
How to Write, Speak and Think More Effectively, by Rudolph Flesch
The late Dr. Flesch staged a lifelong battle against muddy thinking and murky writing. This is one of his most significant books, packed with examples, exercises, and checklists.
The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woodridge
Two staff editors of The Economist make sense of the management gurus and debunk a lot of loony thinking. Good sections on the prophets (Peter Drucker), the evangelists (Tom Peters), and the new age preachers (Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey).
Enterprise One to One, by Don Peppers
An overly complex but useful look at how to use technology to hang onto your customers.
Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It, by Al Ries
Our ex-partner, Al Ries, lays out the case in great detail for doing what a company does best.
Fad Surfing In The Boardroom: Managing In The Age Of Instant Answers, by Eileen Shapiro
Ms. Shapiro takes deadly aim at the fads that sweep through business like waves in the ocean. Just the “fad dictionary” is worth the price.
Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut, by David Shenk
We’re being smothered by information, and it’s dulling our minds. An intelligent look at how to cope with that glut.
The late Robert Townsend wrote a classic about the foibles of corporations and how to avoid them.
Marketing Warfare: How to Use Military Principles to Develop Marketing Strategies, by Jack Trout and Al Ries
The bible on how to cope with competition. It will turn you into a killer.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!, by Jack Trout and al Ries
As we say, violate them at your own risk.
The New Positioning: The Latest on the World’s #1 Business Strategy, by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin
Important insights into differentiation and how to build perceptions in the ultimate battleground, the mind of your prospect.