The best business books according to Intercomp top managers

The new work year traditionally begins at Intercomp with development strategy discussions held within the company as well as within each division and department.

At the height of the planning season, we asked our top managers to tell us about the books that helped them make, verify and justify decisions, as well as about the authors that should be read to learn how to evaluate consequences and assess risks. We also asked them to tell us about the books that could confidently be offered to colleagues and partners, as well as about the publications that could take a worthy place in corporate libraries.

The books included in the final selection should be useful to professional sellers and ordinary customers, financial and marketing specialists, senior managers, and those who are just beginning their career in management.

Below you will find the top 10 business books as selected by Intercomp top managers.

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Recommended by Ilya Panteleev, General Director of Intercomp Russian and CIS

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“Do not pay attention to the book “marketing” title, because this book in terms of “breakthrough” is on a par with Antifragile by Taleb and The Goal by Goldratt. Everyone interested in mixing sociology and economy whether for work or not and those who need to make important and fast decisions should read this book.”

“If you read only one book this year – read this one” writes the Boston Globe on the book back cover. Last year, this book became an indispensable guide for all managers at Intercomp.

In this book, Daniel Kahneman, who is a psychologist, professor and Nobel Prize in economics laureate, describes in detail the decision-making mechanism by introducing the concepts of System 1 and System 2 where System 1 is fast, instinctive and emotional using quick “template” solutions by analogy, and System 2 is slower, more deliberative and more logical using analysis and comparison.

You can find out in Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow which systems are used by the brain when making important decisions, as well as how to distinguish and control them.

2. The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

Recommended by Alexander Gurevich, Commercial Director at Intercomp

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“This book is based on practical research. The behavioral models for sales staff were built on the experience of hundreds of companies. The authors not only describe these models in detail, but also explain how to grow to become the “highest performer” of each of the described types. This stimulating and informative book provides a number of interesting solutions to achieve sales targets. Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson wrote an excellent guide to assist ordinary managers in becoming a sales “champion”.

The small chapter “Look in the mirror” is prominent as it broaches one of the most important topics, i.e. how companies distinguish themselves from others. This chapter highlights that companies describe in their advertising materials, such as website, presentations, etc. their experience, clients, individual approach, new developments, etc. instead of emphasizing the main thing, i.e. what clients receive and gain when working with them.”

Who are these “champions” and how to train them? What do clients really want from a manager: compliant fulfilment of requirements or persistent commitment to top results? This book answers these and other key questions.

3. Confessions of the Pricing Man: How Price Affects Everything by Hermann Simon

Recommended by Stanislav Skakun, Head of Finance at Intercomp

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“This is one of the rare books on pricing which adds significant points to university microeconomics courses. This book can be recommended to any financial professionals who need to justify or check their pricing decisions.”

Professor of business management and chairman of a consulting firm, Hermann Simon offers in his book a detailed range of factors, mechanisms and conditions for pricing.

Hermann Simon presents the ground-breaking research in neuro-pricing that sellers should take into account when developing their pricing strategy. He describes the modern “freemium” model, considers the effect of “price anchor” and touches upon the particularities of competitive pricing.

This book will be of interest to both curious buyers and progressive sellers, developing or implementing a pricing policy.

4. Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy by Phil Barden

Recommended by Maria Paysina, Head of Marketing Department at Intercomp

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“This will be an interesting read even for people who are not marketing professionals. Actually, this will be an interesting read ESPECIALLY if you are not a marketing specialist! Why is it that a particular juice packaging seems bigger than another although their volume is the same? Is “tender chicken with spicy sauce” really tastier to our brain (and stomach) than “chicken with ketchup”? Why do we outrageously overpay for a coffee from Starbucks? Why are we not willing to provide for a comfortable old age and instead give in to instant gratifications, and how are we nevertheless made to spend money on something far-off and abstract such as retirement savings?

Even if you feel smug and think now that you cannot be fooled, Phil Barden will still come up with something that will surprise you. It is indeed impossible to approach each purchase consciously and deliberately. Most of them are made “in autopilot mode”, by giving in to the “heart” or “intuition”, and marketing specialists know perfectly well how to manipulate “intuition” or anyone “in autopilot mode”. Phil gives a lot of examples. With pictures!”

5. Managing the Professional Service Firm by David Maister

Recommended by Marina Makarenko, Director of Intercomp Kiev

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“This book is based on specific and real experience. In a structured and easy manner, Maister explains not only why managers should constantly pay close attention to the allocation of people to projects, the most efficient marketing techniques, work with existing and potential clients, quality improvement, motivation, staff supervision and appraisal, growth and development strategies, but he also provides specific advice and recommendations on the best way to do all this.

This book will be more useful to those who are new in the field of provision of professional services.”

A world-class consultant and research, David Maister has compiled in this book his highlights of many years of research and consulting together with the experience of various companies. The real examples given by Maister help to avoid typical mistakes and achieve success using proven business solutions.

6. Funky Business: Talent Makes Capital Dance by Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale

Recommended by Ruslan Aligadzhiev, Head of Intercomp Branch in St. Petersburg

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“This book is not new, and many probably have already read it, but in my opinion, it offers great insights into modern world trends, in particular, that intellectual capital prevails over other resources.”

“Funky Business” is a manifesto about a new free international business world where creative ideas come to being easily, and where creative thinking people thrive.

This book is full of optimism and invites readers to break away from standard patterns that prevent achieving success in a fast funky world.

The original ideas put forward by Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale, two doctors of science from Stockholm, have been useful for several years now and help managers broaden their thinking and find new ways to resolve business challenges.

7. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Recommended by Erik Ashkenov, Director of Intercomp Kazakhstan

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“This book is based on a 5-year research the sole purpose of which was to find out why some companies become great and continue growing, while others go through standard life cycles.”

This book helps looking at companies from a new perspective, how they operate and their goals. We find out what distinguishes Abbott, Kimberly-Clark, and Phillip Morris from less fortunate companies, and how to ensure that companies reach their full “greatness”.

Jim Collins is a business consultant known worldwide, and in this book, he suggests a number of specific tools, ideas and solutions that can make a company successful regardless of its field of activity.

8. The Ideal Executive: Why You Cannot be One and What to Do About It by Ichak Kalderon Adizes

Recommended by Andrey Kozlov, Organizational Development and Quality Director at Intercomp

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“This book is a real page-turner. Based on specific examples, the author humorously proves that there is no ideal executive and that only a team of managers with complementary qualities can effectively manage a company. This is therefore a useful read for anyone interested in corporate management.”

Not departing from conventional modern management solutions, in his book, Ichak Kalderon Adizes puts forward a number of ideas and unusual approaches to management of companies. Adizes takes a close look at management functions and selects not only professional but also personal qualities that each manager of the best team should have.

How is the myth of the “ideal” boss harmful? Why is a company executive not a “soldier”? How to create an ideal team of real top managers? These as well as many other interesting questions are addressed in Ichak Kalderon Adizes’s book.

9. Re-imagine! by Tom Peters

Recommended by Ivan Katyshev, Head of Legal Services Group at Intercomp

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“This is a fascinating book which colorfully describes the pros and cons of certain marketing strategies. The author’s entertaining style has you engrossed in his book which is a real page-turner.”

A world-renowned guru in management consulting, Tom Peters writes books full of optimism and brilliant ideas. Starting from its unconventional content to its stylish design, this book is truly inspiring. It is a really nice read, and this book will brighten up the fanciest business library.

If you want to “reach for the stars” and aspire to be involved in WOW-projects, then you will take to Tom’s philosophy of “business-dreams” right away. This book is a tribute to brave people who are able to dream, imagine and think beautiful and extraordinary things.

10. Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Recommended by Ilya Panteleev, General Director of Intercomp Russian and CIS

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“This is, in my opinion, one of the best business books of the last five years. I am sure that the “breakthrough” of the “Black Swan” concept and the discussion of the effect of low-probability fatal consequences on companies have helped many entrepreneurs avoiding making incorrect decisions.”

Professor, economist, and trader, Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers in his book practical solutions for surviving in conditions of chaos and uncertainty. He urges businessmen pursuing profits not to turn a blind eye to problems, but to anticipate their occurrence and separate them in terms of their severity.

Taleb suggests applying the “barbell strategy” which consists in avoiding averaging. The importance of the crossbar is negligible in comparison with the weight at the end of it. Antifragile is created from the combination of invulnerability to great risks, negative “Black Swans”, on the one hand, and acceptance of small stresses, positive “Black Swans” on the other.