It seems that every week a new set of business books arrives, each claiming to be the innovative answer to every manager's needs. Consultants are supposed to know about these books but how is one supposed to do the triage needed to pick ones useful for our clients?
Yes, there are a lot of new business books and, yes, most of them are variations on an existing theme. What a good consultant needs is a way to vet these books and use them to refine his or her working set of theories, principles and practical approaches to client service (or marketing, practice management, etc.). As we know, change is not about wholesale rejection of the old for the sake of the new. New business concepts are likely to provide a new slant or nuance on an existing idea and, as such, their innovations can be added to your current solutions book, not require you to rewrite it.
If you have been in the consulting business for more than about five years and have been evaluating your approaches and performance, you will have developed a pretty good set of documented approaches and solutions on which you base your client work. Ask your colleagues which business books pass the logic (and laugh) test before reading them (better yet, read business book summaries or reviews to get the gist). You can't pick over every new book, and you don't have to if your current methodologies are sound. Tip:
Business journals often review the best business books of the year in which they sometimes lay out what is useful and what is not. Harvard Business Review publishes the top ideas of the past year. Sometimes a journal or magazine (See Entrepreneur Magazine
) looks back at books written years earlier (maybe you haven’t read them?) and gives the good and bad about why they are important. The point is that it is OK to wait a bit to see if a book or concept flames out within the year before you commit its revolutionary approach to memory.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA