The business books genre was inadvertently invented by Tom Peters (in Search of Excellence), who is one of the good guys and should not be blamed for the excesses of the rest.

Now new books arrive by the score every week. All purporting to have “the answer”. Most have some small insight, usually in the first few chapters, then expand and replicate over the rest of the book.

This can bring a number of problems.

Look at me

First there are the authors who have made a great success of their business. Avoid them like the plague. The issue is context. Their context is not yours and cannot be. So slavishly following their path will not be possible and will cost you time and money. And achieve disappointment at best. They are good at telling you WHAT to do, and what rewards you will find at the end of the rainbow of pages. Just like the pot of gold, it’s always out of reach. They often write out of hubris, not from a desire to help others.

Big biz – is that you?

Next are those who describe large organisations and, whilst fascinating, their insights are only applicable to another large organisation. Ask yourself before you buy, is this a good fit for who I am and what I want?

How to read

Here’s the first clue for what and who to read – read purposefully. Which means having some idea about what you want to get from the book. Is its message and scope suitable for my size of business?, type of market?, does it have enough insights to make it worth my time and effort? |Has the author got form in this field?  Does the author talk about how people think and act differently, or does she just provide a series of whats, which you can’t implement?

Context and saving time

Second clue – what doesn’t work. Context again! But HOW people think about issues can have real resonance for you in your situation. The clue is to read for your own context as you go – a constant internal dialogue about how it fits with you. Read fast – skim, and get the sense, then read more slowly, picking out (writing down) what you might do. If you want to get the gist quickly and cheaply, subscribe to getAbtract or Blinklist. Then maybe buy the whole book.


Many people buy books or go on courses, get enthused, get back to their business, and ……failure to implement – FTI. Plans go awry because the day is busy and gets in the way. Good ideas get put off and never happen. If that’s you, don’t buy the book! It is you – it is all of us. It’s a natural problem, which some people overcome through force of will and others with some help.

Who will help?

That’s what Hixsons do – help you implement. After helping you with your strategy by incorporating your ideas into what fits for you in your life. So you get what you really want. It’s about helping you with HOW to think about your life and your business, not necessarily about WHAT to think.

If you want more help with how to think, see who I follow on Twitter (@NickHixsonUK) and look at some of their books. Tom Peters is on the list, as is Henry Mintzberg, Clayton Christensen and others who think more deeply and helpfully.  Stop looking for quick fixes – you know they don’t work!