Tag Archives: strategic reading plan

The Value of True Expertise — Knowing what’s wrong, knowing how to fix it

It’s been a bad week in the Mayeux household.  Two nights ago, I drove my wife’s car.  That evening, it would not start.  I broke the battery!  Then, I washed a load of clothes.  The washing machine would not spin.  I broke the washing machine!  And then, I used my hair dryer.  I broke the hair dryer (it just quit working!)  Yes, I am jinxed — at least this week.  Don’t let me anywhere near any piece of machinery you own!

Well, we bought a new battery.  And we had another hair dryer.  And, we called the Sears repair number, and a repair man came to fix our washing machine.  It took him about…3 seonds to figure out the problem, and on top of the flat fee, it was only a little more money, for one replacement part, to get it working.  I marveled at his instantaneous diagnosis.  I asked him how long he had being doing this.  He said about 24 years.  He knew what to look for, he found it, and he know how to fix it.  He provided a perfect example of a person with expertise.

Well, I don’t know any machine that well.  But I got to thinking — I do know one thing almost that well, and what I don’t know, my blogging team members do know (especially Bob Morris, who has reviewed over 1900 books for Amazon.com, and other sites).  Here’s what I know:  if you name a business issue, I (and my colleagues) know a book — usually, the best book — to help you with that issue.   And if you read our blog long enough, you will see plenty of titles that offer a great deal about the most pressing business issues that you are likely to face.


By the way, you might want to check out this post:
Build Your Own Strategic Reading Plan — or, How Should You Pick Which Business Book(s) to Read?

A 7-step process for reading a business book

So many books, so little time.  I assume that you are convinced that it a good thing to read business books.  But, what next?  Which books should I read?  How should I choose the next title?  And, what is the best process for reading a business book?  Here’s a 7 step process that you might find valuable.

1.            Ask – what is the next issue I need to work on?
Reading a business book flows from your agenda for improvement and development – life improvement, business skill development, business strategy development.  You read  in order to _____.  (you fill in the blank, for you).  Unlike reading for pleasure, it is part of your life and career work to read business books.  So, you start with this question:  what do I need to work on next?  After you know the answer to that question, then you…

2.            Choose the right book.
There are lots – no, really, lots – of books.  There are plenty of good books.  And there are some really bad books.  You don’t have a minute to waste on reading a book that does not deliver what you need.  So invest a few minutes up front:  read a few reviews.  (Start with Bob Morris’ review page at Amazon.  Bob is part of our blogging team, and Seth Godin calls him “a critic that matters.” If he has not reviewed it favorably, unless it is brand new and he has not read it yet, there is a likelihood that the book is not worth reading).  Ask someone that you respect which book they have read on the issue at hand.  (remember your mission – stick to the issue at hand).  And then  — start.

3.            Read the introductory and the concluding chapters carefully – and first.
The better writers give you much of the “argument,” the guts of the book, in the introduction.  And the concluding chapter will frequently help you develop your own post-reading strategy – you know, the “what am I gong to do with this knowledge” strategy.

4.            Unless you are on a Kindle or one of its competitors, read with pen in hand.
The book is yours – mark it up, especially when you find something that is truly useful.  Your own notes in the margin can become guide your next steps…

5.            Revisit the book about a week after you finish the book.
About a week after you finish reading, go back though very quickly – read the table of contents, read your margin notes…  This brief refresher (you can do it in 5-10 minutes) will help remind you of what you intended to put into practice, and cement the thoughts in your mind.

6.            Talk about the book – a lot.
If you will share what you learned with others, and talk about the best ideas from the book often – especially in the week or two after reading it – then the ideas will take hold in your own work and personal life.  You might want to summarize what you learned in an e-mail to your distribution list.  This will help others, and help you more.

7.            Repeat the process – look for the next issue to tackle.
Don’t be in too big a hurry, but as you put the ideas of the book you just finished into practice, and you see the positive results, then it is time to ask:  “what’s next?” Sadly/wonderfully, there is always a “what’s next?” This is what keeps us growing and successful.

Here is a chart I posted in Build Your Own Strategic Reading Plan — or, How Should You Pick Which Business Book(s) to Read? a few months ago that might help get you started:

A Strategic Business Book Reading Plan

If you need to: Then you might want to read:
Aim higher – personally The Other 90%
Think/work like an athlete in training Outliers

Talent is Overrated

Think like an innovator The Creative Habit

The Art of Innovation

Get better at time management Getting Things Done

The Power of Full Engagement

Become a better servant leader Servant Leadership
Nurture and build your people Encouraging the Heart
Market more effectively Waiting For Your Cat to Bark

The Tipping Point

The Long Tail

Get better connected Wikinomics


Network more effectively Never Eat Alone
Communicate more effectively Words that Work

Made to Stick

Be a (very good) generalist Reality Check
Negotiate more effectively Women Don’t Ask

Ask for It

Play well with others The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Learn to learn The Opposable Mind
Learn to tell the truth Crucial Conversations