Good for you! While everyone else is running around the mall searching for the perfect gift, you are taking an easier route choosing informative and timely books to please everyone on your list. Here are six books to supply any business curmudgeon with an "I'm glad I opened this" holiday smile.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don't by Jim Collins is a thought-provoking challenge to American business. The author of the best-selling Built to Last, Collins now explores the most difficult test any company faces how to take a "good" business, with average profits and satisfied stock holders, and make that company "great." Based on a study of 11 companies who made the leap and sustained greatness for more than 15 years, Good to Great is THE gift for a manager or boss who wrestles with strategy issues and wants to know how to make a change.
Another sure pick is The Chastening: Inside the Crisis that Rocked the Global Financial System and Humbled the IMF by Paul Blustein. Technically, this is a public policy book that unabashedly spills the beans on how and why the Asian financial crisis caught the International Monetary Fund with its pants down.
Compelling and immediately spell-binding, The Chastening reveals inherent weaknesses in the global financial system. A perfect gift for policy wonks and market analysts as well as anyone in international trade.
Pick up The Natural Laws of Business by Richard Koch for anyone on your list who loves to think about theoretical issues in business. Does your boss pour over The Economist each month? Have a friend who delights in reading The Harvard Business Review? This intriguing book by the author of The 80/20 Principle applies scientific insight in physics, natural sciences and economics toward business success. Its result? A thought-provoking book that exercises the brain and limbers the innovation muscle.
I know, not everyone on your holiday list thinks the future looks bright for American business. For the pragmatist in every company (and you'll usually find them behind the door marked "Finance") buy The Agenda: What Every Business Must Do to Dominate the Next Decade by Michael Hammer. It's a thought-provoking, get-real-about-your-business kind of book with a "tough times are coming" approach to the next 10 years. "It's time for business to get serious again," says Hammer. Recent weeks prove he's right. Just for fun, grab Dictionary of the Future by Faith Popcorn and Adam Hanft for that funky someone on your shopping list. This intriguing "dictionary" is full of terms that trend guru Faith Popcorn believes will have an impact on business in the near future. The book is divided into subjects like biology and technology, demographics and new behaviors, with words and meanings listed in each subject. Do you know what a Circle of Poison is? Or where your Content Room is? Get with it! A totally fascinating sourcebook for anyone with futurist tendencies, its main drawback is that once you start browsing the pages, you won't want to stop.
Tried and true, books on how to make a portfolio achieve better results are always popular. The 100 Best Stocks to Own in America, Seventh Edition by Gene Walden is one of those good presents to unwrap. This updated edition features easy to understand analysis of 100 time-tested stocks with a simple and clear economic presentation of each. Walden annually selects stocks with earnings and stock growth potential, consistency and a good dividend yield. His advice will guide first-time investors as well as portfolio-savvy traders in the search for a strong portfolio return.
Sharon Secor is a business writer based in Minneapolis.