Learning from the Best: 5 Must-Reads (not only) for Startups

Learning from the Best: 5 Must-Reads (not only) for Startups

From marketing to business management, the annual number of business books and guides is huge. But which are really worth reading? To help you navigate the sea of business books, we will feature books on the subjects of marketing, service, innovation and management, all of them read  and deemed recommendable by our Marmind team. Have fun discovering old and new classics of business literature.

Frances Frei & Anne Morriss:
Uncommon Service. How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business

Published: 2012
The authors, a Harvard professor and an experienced consultant, present a clear and focused framework for a powerful service culture centered around customer needs. The main message: Companies can not excel at everything – and excelling at something that customers don’t care about is a waste of money. Therefore, the authors advocate for focusing on premium service around a strong customer need and aligning the organization with it.
Why we like it: An innovative, clear and to the point approach with many interesting insights into the service culture of successful companies.  

Rob Cross & Andrew Parker
The Hidden Power of Social Networks.
Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations

Published: 2004
The often invisible networks of informal contacts and information flows are in the focus of this often densely written book. The authors Cross and Parker even go so far as to depict them in charts – and provide a step-by-step guide on how managers can make these networks visible and utilize them to make collaboration more productive. As opposed to other business literature, this book not only sells a concept, but also provides practical implementation tools as well.
Why we like it: Invaluable read for managers who want to effectively analyze informal company structures and improve collaboration as well as productiveness.

Verne Harnish and the team at Gazelles
Scaling Up. How a Few Companies Make it… and Why the Rest Don´t

Published: 2014
Most start-ups fail or keep operating on a small scale, remaining so-called “mice”. But how do some manage to become “gazelles” that overcome the $ 1 million barrier and continue to grow until they even become “unicorns”? Founder, investor and Forbes columnist Vernes Harnish offers a compendium of contemporary strategy, leadership and employee development. He focuses on the areas of employee, strategy, execution and cash. His findings are supplemented by worksheets, charts and graphics.
Why we like it: A very intense book, recommended especially for CEOs and executives of rapidly growing companies.

Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
The Goal
Published: 1984
In this classic of business literature, the authors Goldratt and Cox explore the Theory of Constraints and the continuous improvement of processes in the form of a novel. The plot: UniCo’s manager, Alex Rogo, gets an ultimatum from his supervisor: turning the plant he manages around in 3 months, or be closed down. Rogo faces the challenge, analyzes the (bad) starting position, searches for bottlenecks and how to solve them, encounters resistance and overcomes it, makes mistakes, gets better. All of this is revealed step by step and in an easily digestible, simple narrative.
Why we like it: An easy read, The Goal realistically conveys the topic of throughput management and is a timeless classic in business reading.

Clayton M. Christensen
Competing Against Luck
Published: 2016
What do customers want and what are they willing to pay premium for? Which new products and services have the greatest chance of success? These are crucial questions for every startup. Harvard Professor Christensen and his co-authors offer surprisingly simple and clearly structured answers with their “jobs theory”, which transforms products into achievements, so-called “jobs” that help the target audience reach their desired goal. It’s less about the product than about the best possible experience for the customer. These innovations, according to Christensen, are not conceived on the drawing board, but discovered in the everyday life of the target group with all its minor and major challenges.
Why we like it: A well-founded theory about finding gaps in the market, easily explained and supported by interesting case studies about innovations that make a really successful difference. A must for startups!