How to Read a Business Book

Reading a business book is an exercise in efficiency, not literary aesthetics. You’re trying to maximize the return on time invested. For the executive, time allocation is as important as capital allocation. So, in approaching any business book, there are two goals: First, determining if the book can help you do your job; second, figuring out the quickest way to extract that value. In writing several business books — and reading more than I can count — I’ve found that, for books worth reading, the process consists of three steps: compression, absorption, and application.

But first, step back and consider the anatomy of a typical business book. The components are almost always the same:

Concepts (key ideas)
Numbers (data and statistics)
Tools (frameworks and diagnostics)
Examples (stories and case studies to illustrate application)

The job to be done is to extract insights to increase judgment and skills to increase performance.

Consider that…

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This article was written by Timothy R. Clark and originally published on