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February 17, 2007



Hi Phil,

What impresses me with Collin's books is that they seem to be the first that tried to apply any research rigor to begin with. The average business bestseller has all the mystic and validity of the Oracles of Delphi but Collin's at least made the attempt to isolate the variables that drive performance.

What books impress you in the business category? The only other author I can think of is Marcus Buckingham's "First, Break All the Rules."

Phil Rosenzweig

Thanks for the comment, Steve. No question, Jim Collins's books present themselves as serious research, having gathered large amounts of data. But the quality of the data are suspect, and the conclusions are faulty. I'm not sure if you've read my book, but I talk about this at length in Chapters 6 and 7. Collins's claims of scientific rigor are unfounded--and no one has called him on the basic problem, which is the quality of his data.

There are many very good studies that meet the test of rigorous research (as I show in Chapter 8) and these can be found in many serious research journals. But the findings don't make loud claims about achieving great performance, and therefore aren't the stuff of best-sellers. As for good business books, I like several, for which I provide links in the section about further reading. To this list, I would add Clayton Christensen's two excellent books, The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution, plus Michael Porter on Strategy and Jay Galbraith on Organization Design. I also have a soft spot for Larry Bossidy's Execution, which is a bit overblown, but of practical value for managers. Perhaps my favorite that blends an understanding of strategy as decision making under uncertainty, but leadership as the need to inspire with confidence, is Andy Grove's Only the Paranoid Survive.

Steve Barnard

I have just finished your book, purchased yesterday after I read the review in USA Today. Previous reading included "Fooled by Randomness", but your book took many of the themes of that book and brought them into a business setting.

Having read "Built to Last", "Good to Great", "In Search of Excellence", etc. I sensed that many of their messages seemed simplistic. Your book has enlightened me. I understand better why I believed that something wasn't quite right about their points. You have made a new fan! I look forward to your next book.

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