Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Library of the Living Dead

Elizabeth Spiers wrote a great article for Fast Company, April 2008 issue. I wholeheartedly agree with her position and am thrilled that someone finally put some intelligent thoughts behind the matter. Here is some of her observations (bolding is mine) -

"So many books promise financial riches and personal professional growth, as long as we abide by the rules. 'There is a formula,' Donald Trump assures the reader in his book, Think Big and Kick Ass (No. 8), 'a recipe for success that the top 2% live by and that you can follow to be successful.' Naturally, Trump's formula isn't the same as Suze Orman's (No. 7) or John Kotter's (No. 14). So which road leads to success?

The answer is that, sadly, none of them do. When managers buy those books in bulk for their employees, there may be some well-intentioned hope that the books will provide a useful framework for solving problems. But the real utility of 7 Habits and 12 Disciplines and 50 Ways is that they create the illusion of progress simply by adding another layer of busyness.

Business books let us amble zombielike through our careers, freeing us from responsibility for the quality of our own decision making. Better to delegate that responsibility to other people -- Jack Welch, perhaps. It's a fresh spin on the old saw that no one ever got fired for buying IBM: No one will ever get canned for leaning on something with a Ken Blanchard blurb on the front cover. The alternative, too frightening to contemplate, is to admit that problems are usually too complex to be reduced to one-size-fits-all solutions, to train ourselves to do our own analysis, and to be a little more skeptical when the shrieking man on TV tells us to buy shares of Google right this very minute. If we can't do that, let's at least reshelve business best sellers where they belong -- in the self-help section."

Well said, Ms. Spiers!

No comments: