"Most business books are big fat bores, except for those that are skinny bores - those trite little tomes involving whales and cheese and lessons learned from kindergarten. Unless I know the author personally, I won't read a business book. If I do know the sucker, I like to drop the book on the pavement - in his presence - and back my car over it. I spent too many years reading such piffle, underlining and highlighting 'salient' points, taking notes and promptly forgetting everything I'd read within a week. Lessons from business books never stick. Much better learning tools are novels, history books and biographies. For me, at least, these can really teach. Why? I suppose it's because when your imagination is engaged, when you dig the lessons out yourself and connect them to your own life, the learning goes much deeper."Then he named the best book on entrepreneurship, business, and investment he'd read in quite some time, and it wasn't a business book per se; it came from the field of religion. The book is The Purpose Driven Church. It was written by Rick Warren. Here's what Karlgaard says about it:
"Warren - in 1980 and from scratch - launched Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif. Under his leadership, the church has become the fastest-growing one in America. (Saddleback is a Southern Baptist evangelical church, by the way.) Weekends bring in an average of 15,000 worshipers. Saddleback has spawned dozens of so-called daughter churches throughout the country. Were it a business, Saddleback would be compared with Dell, Google or Starbucks."He went on to underscore some of Warren's advice for growing a church, substituting the word business for the word church as he went along. For example:
- Don't try to make your business grow. Instead, work to make your business healthy. Because if it's healthy, it will grow.
- Don't compete for market share. Instead, compete with non consumption. "The church [business] must offer people something they cannot get anywhere else," Warren says.
- Full list here.
"Pronovost and his colleagues monitored what happened for a year afterward. The results were so dramatic that they weren’t sure whether to believe them: the ten-day line-infection rate went from eleven per cent to zero. So they followed patients for fifteen more months. Only two line infections occurred during the entire period. They calculated that, in this one hospital, the checklist had prevented forty-three infections and eight deaths, and saved two million dollars in costs."You must be a curious sort to apply the concept of knowledge arbitrage. If you are, begin by scouring the non-business landscape to find an individual, organization, or idea that has been singularly successful. You should roam far and wide. In fact, the further out you get, the better the chances you'll make a connection your competitors wouldn't think of in a million years. Here are a handful that jump out at me:
- The U.S. Army National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, CA
- The Delancey Street Foundation
- The Lewis and Clark Expedition
- The U.S. Constitutional Convention
- Alcoholics Anonymous
You can do knowledge arbitrage by yourself, but it's usually much more fun and fruitful when you involve others. Here are some suggestions for working as a group.
- Find an unusual place to hold the conversation. Use your imagination.
- Create intentionality by working on a big problem worth solving, creating a new business or reinventing an old one, transforming your culture, or some other such thing.
- Let the conversation create the path on which you travel. Roam far and wide, think abstractly, make up your own words, try not to use business jargon, make absurd connections, have fun, laugh, etc.
"A great thought begins by seeing something differently, with a shift of the mind's eye." - Albert Einstein
"I try to vary my reading diet and ensure that I read more fiction than nonfiction. I rarely read business books, except for Andy Grove’s Swimming Across, which has nothing to do with business but describes the emotional foundation of a remarkable man. I re-read from time to time T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an exquisite lyric of derring-do, the navigation of strange places and the imaginative ruses of a peculiar character. It has to be the best book ever written about leading people from atop a camel." - Michael Moritz, venture capitalist