I’ve recently finished a book written by my colleague Youngme Moon. I’m about as biased an observer as there can be when it comes to Youngme, but I don’t want that to get in the way of my recommendation. Youngme’s book Different is easily the best business book I’ve ever read. It made me smarter, more observant and more insightful. If you’re thinking about how to differentiate a business in an increasingly competitive landscape, here is your handbook — no, here is your inspiration. For a taste, take a look at this introduction to Different on YouTube.
I’m often asked to provide a reading list on how to compete on service excellence. There are some great public sources out there. Below is a first cut (if you want more focused recommendations, please let me know), and I will plan to update this post on a regular basis.
Harvard Business Review Articles
- The Four Things a Service Business Must Get Right – if you’ll indulge me, I’ll start with my own article on how to design for service excellence.
- The Contribution Revolution – Scott Cook on how to more heavily involve customers in performing a company’s work.
- Companies and the Customers Who Hate Them – Gail McGovern and Youngme Moon on how companies can avoid antagonizing their customers.
- Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work – Alfie Kohn’s somewhat controversial argument on why monetary incentives send the wrong signal in a corporation.
- The Ownership Quotient – A book about getting employees and customers to behave like owners from the authors of The Service Profit Chain (which revolutionized service management).
- Customer Mania – A book about building a customer-focused company by Ken Blanchard and co-authors.
- Competing on Analytics – A book about using the ever-increasing data accumulating in firms in smart and creative ways from Tom Davenport and Jeanne Harris.