I find increasing interest among professors in schools of business to use popular and professional business books as required and optional texts in their courses. I have required Jim Collins’ Good-to-Great in my Human Behavior in Organizations course, and over the years, have required other books, and have had many students provide oral reports and written synopses of popular titles. Some business professors have required students to purchase our recorded synopses from 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
What role do these books play in a course? First, they augment textbooks that are filled with principles, variables, and concepts with real-world applications and experiences that the authors share. Second, they provide subjective viewpoints on issues that textbooks must treat in an objective manner. Third, they provide depth with corporate and industry-specific treatments of topics that textbooks must only cover in a general sense.
Consider some of the recent books at our First Friday Book Synopsis that are candidates for a business course. Why not Ask For It in a Negotiation course? How about Me to We for a Projects and Teams course? Would you consider The World is Flat for a Global Business course? If the course is entreprenurship, then Young Guns would be an excellent complement.
No, these are not academic titles. But that is exactly why they are so valuable in an academic course. They are different. They are written by and for professionals. Remember that many students in business courses are already in business! While they are students, they are also professionals. This genre of literature is highly appropriate.
How refreshing it is when students do not “have” to read a book, but instead, “want” to read one. There is a significant difference in drive, motivation, and intensity for the latter. I don’t know too many people who look forward to reading a textbook. But, put a best-seller in their hands, or a synopsis of the book in their headphones, and there is new light and a very different perspective.
In the near future, I will host a forum on this site with several business professors to discuss this issue. Look for the participants, along with the date and time in an upcoming e-mail.