The Essential Management Books

by Ken Delavigne and Dan Robertson, 1994.

Buy the Leader's Handbook The Leader's Handbook: Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done by Peter Scholtes, 1997.
In an age of increasing complexity, too many leaders resort to simplistic approaches. The Leader's Handbook helps leaders understand complex systems and implement systemic improvement. An excellent resource - a true handbook that can serve as a handy reference.More details. If I was limited to one book this would be it.
cover of Toyota Talent Toyota Talent: Developing Your People the Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker and David Meier, 2005
The keys to growing top performers from within through a detailed process of preparation, training, and follow-up. The authors bring the company's proven practices to life through insight and exercises, enabling you to: define your organizational needs and objectives, create development plans for all employees, grow your top talent from within, analyze routine work and ancillary tasks, break down a job for effective training, break the cycle of poor training and results to create a cycle of continuous learning and improvement.
image of the cover of Workplace Management by Taiichi Ohno Workplace Management by Taiichi Ohno, translated by Jon Miller.
Taiichi Ohno is known as the father of the Toyota Production System (TPS), also called lean manufacturing. He dictated the text to the Japan Management Association (in a series of interviews in 1982), which gives the book a sense of listening to him talk about the ideas. I found the conversational tone made it very easy to read and reminiscent of Dr. Deming's tone in many places.
He focused a great deal on the faulty perceptions derived from cost accounting thinking. He discussed the importance of not letting your understanding be clouded by thinking with the accounting mindset. And the book also provides a background for understanding one piece flow, just in time thinking, etc... More information on Workplace Management
Buy the New Economics now The New Economics for Industry, Government, and Education by W. Edwards Deming, 1993.
A classic. Not the easiest books to read but one that pays great rewards to read and re-read over the years. Provides a framework for understanding management systems and for building up your own management beliefs. It will challenge some of your strongly held beliefs.
Read my thoughts on Deming and management. The Deming category of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog includes many thoughts on applying his ideas today.
Buy Fourth Generation Management Fourth Generation Management by Brian Joiner, 1994.
An excellent book for those who wish to begin the transformation to "Fourth Generation Management" and for the experienced as well. A very well written book that is easy to read and packed with great information. A great choice for a manager that wants to think about new ideas but might not be ready for the New Economics yet. Great knowledge packaged in a very accessible way.
cover - Lean Solutions Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers Can Create Value and Wealth Together by James Womack and Daniel Jones, 2005
Reading at least one of the books by Womack and Jones is essential (I think all of them are excellent). Lean Solutions is an excellent choice. They created the term, lean manufacturing, in their groundbreaking book: The Machine That Changed the World. Lean Solutions is the ideal book to learn about applying the Toyota Production System ideas in all types of organizations.

Six Sigma Beyond the Factory Floor by Ron Snee and Roger Hoerl.

At least one book by Russell Ackoff is required, but there are many to choose from, I would suggest: Ackoff's Best, Re-Creating the Corporation, and/or Creating the Corporate Future, Idealized Design: How to Dissolve Tomorrow's Crisis...Today and/or The Art of Problem Solving Accompanied by Ackoff's Fables.

At least one book by Clayton Christensen: The Innovators Solution - Seeing Whats Next - The Innovators Dilemma. Articles by Clayton Christensen.

The Improvement Guide: A Practical Approach to Enhancing Organizational Performance by Gerald J. Langley (Editor), Thomas W. Nolan, Lloyd P. Provost Clifford L. Norman and Kevin M. Nolan. A great practical handbook on process improvement. A tremendous reference and resource for any manager.

Obviously this short list of management books is not comprehensive and is my opinion. This short list of books can do a great deal for managers of any experience and skill level.

More excellent books

Human Side of Enterprise by Douglas McGregor. Theory x and theory y for managing people.

Profit Beyond Measure: Extraordinary Results through Attention to Work and People by H. Thomas Johnson and Anders Broms

For Working with Teams

Team Handbook, 3rd Edition, 2003 by Peter Scholtes, Brian Joiner and Barbara Streibel
Second Edition, 1996.
    Team Handbook First Edition, 1988.

Of course there are many more excellent books but these books provide an excellent start.

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