The APQC Blog

5 Books Every Business Professional Must Read

There is one quality that all successful business professionals share--regardless of their industry, talent or background--they read. So, whether you’re just starting out in your career, or consider yourself a seasoned professional, here’s a shortlist of five must-reads that are guaranteed to make you more effective in the workplace.


5. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Lean. Six Sigma. Agile. These are buzzwords in business for a reason. This book will walk you through what it means to operate a business or develop a product using lean principles. Using examples of the adoption of lean practices by the software development industry, this book outlines effective tactics and gives practical, actionable advice on how to use iterative development techniques, continual feedback loops, development of minimal viable products (MVP) and the concept of continual improvement to deliver better products and services faster than ever before. Adding the lessons of this book to your arsenal is guaranteed to shorten development time, reduce cost and overall make your team more effective at shipping.


4. Tribes by Seth Godin

What is a company without culture? This book is sure to have you understanding your team, co-workers and business partners better than ever before. Have you ever wondered what gets people motivated? How you can ignite the passion in your team to deliver? Seth Godin will explain all that and more in just 147 pages. Read this and you’re sure to develop a deeper understanding of your team, become a stronger leader and unite your team better than ever before.


3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Every. Company/Product/Service. Should. Do. This. ALWAYS. I hope I emphasized that enough. Simon Sinek turns “traditional”, boring business conventions upside-down and demands that you rethink the way you approach any and all aspects of business. Too often we get caught up in the “how” to do “what”. In business we plan and plot strategy and tactics and dissect market trends and analyze fads and run SWOT analysis….but how often do we stop and ask ourselves, “Why?” Why build the product? Why offer the service? Why does our company exist? This book will alter the way you think about your entire business and will help you think deeper about the purpose and nature of your business. If you take the time to understand the Why--the who, what, when and how will become so easy.


2. The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker

This book is not like the other titles on the list--it must be studied, not simply read. The Toyota Way lays out the 14 principles that became the father of the lean movement and are the foundation of the Toyota Production System (TPS). Walking through the development of the TPS and Toyota’s manufacturing process, this book gives you insight into what makes one of the world’s greatest companies great and also offers practical advice on how the Toyota Way principles can be adjusted and applied to any type of business, regardless of industry.


1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Though it may not be considered a ‘business book’ per se, this book should actually be required reading for everyone regardless of profession. How to Win Friends will provide you with invaluable soft skills that will make all interactions, meetings, projects and every other facet of work (and even home life) smoother and more pleasant. Mr. Carnegie promises and delivers on how to make you a better communicator, presenter and leader. Even though I consider all of these titles “must-read”, if there’s only one you have time for, I’d pick this classic and carry it around in your pocket.


Other Suggested Content:

How Smart Leaders Leverage and Grow Experts in the Professional and Business Services Industry

Employees Demand Flexibility in When, Where, and How Work Gets Done

Please note that some pieces are available to nonmembers of APQC, while some are only available to members. APQC membership gives you access to so much more. See if your organization is a member and register today!

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