The field of Conscious Business is a relatively new one, yet some of the seeds of it were sown some time ago. People have been writing about this kind of work for at least a decade.

Here are 7 books that I consider seminal in this field. There are many others of course, but these are 7 that have deeply informed my perspectives and practice.

OK, onto the list, in no particular order…

Conscious Business – Fred Kofman

Quite aside from the fact that a list of 7 seminal books on conscious books needs to include the book that’s actually called conscious business, this really is a massively important and rich book.

Fred brings his immense depth and precision to what he posits are the key capacities of someone embodying a conscious business approach, from unconditional responsibility to authentic communication. Constructive negotiation to emotional mastery.

This book had a profound impact on me when I read it, and I keep returning to Fred’s work year after year.

Good to Great – Jim Collins

Perhaps the most mainstream book in this list, ‘Good to Great’ is something I think every conscious business aspirant should read.

The thing that I think is most powerful about this book is the massive research that went into its creation. This is not about subjective opinions so much, as looking at the data that marks ‘great’ companies from ‘good’ ones. And it’s full of robust and lucid insights into what makes that difference.

It may not be explicit about the impact of consciousness in the mix, but I do think that’s what the book is really pointing to. Cracking stuff.

Anything you Want – Derek Sivers

This book is a little different. In fact it’s a lot different, but it’s still wonderful! It’s a short read (I read it in a lunch break), and tells the story of Derek’s business CD Baby, which he started by accident and then sold for $22 million.

Derek’s story is an inspiring journey through his own brand of consciously doing business (even though he wouldn’t necessarily describe it that way), full of snappy take aways, insights and philosophies.

Derek is someone who is a wonderful mix of idealism and pragmatism, and this is a must read for anyone in the conscious entrepreneurial game.

First, Break all the Rules – Marcus Buckingham

This is another one that may not typically considered to be about conscious business, but I think it’s a deeply informative book.

Based on 25 years of Gallup research, First Break all the Rules looks at what great managers do differently to ‘ordinary’ managers. The results and conclusion are wonderfully enlightening.

For me, this book nailed the fundamentals of good management and leadership. So many books go into the high level capacities of leadership, but this one goes back to basics and shines a light on the simple dynamics that mark great managers from poor ones. Some heart warming stories in it too.

Immunity to Change – Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey

This is one of the most mature and lucid explanation of change I’ve ever seen published. Kegan’s previous work was rich and deep, yet dense. In this book he and Lisa Lahey not only create simplicity out of complexity, but get super practical.

Their immunity to change process in one they’ve been using in business for some years now, and I can only imagine the traction they must have got with it. But it’s also something you as an individual can guide yourself through.

Laying the ground for conscious business means change, and this book goes to the nub of why creating change is so hard, and how to get to grips with overcoming that difficulty.

A Theory of Everything – Ken Wilber

This is the least business focused book on this list, but Wilber’s work is, I believe utterly crucial for the growth of conscious business. In this more popularist presentation of his complex theories, Wilber shows the high level values dynamics that are at play in today’s world, and why things are the way they are.

If you’ve never read Wilber’s work, this is a great place to start, and I really do encourage you to start.

Yes, his work is very high level and based on orienting generalization, but he is, I believe one of the most important writers of recent times, and he changed my life. Any conscious approach to business that doesn’t take Wilber’s work into account is going to fall very short of what’s possible in my opinion.

Synchronicity – Joseph Jaworski

Joseph Jaworski’s story of his spiritual quest into the heart of leadership is breathtaking. Everyone I know who has read this book has been deeply impacted by it.

Jaworski was a successful lawyer, when catalysed by the breakdown of his marriage, he found himself doing some major soul searching. As he goes deeper into the heart of what he feels he’s here for, strange synchronous events start to weave together a path toward his realized dream.

Synchronicity is a profound and magical book. It’s not a set of steps or models, but a capturing of what happened to one man when he really let go into what he deeply cared about.

What are some of the books that have impacted you that aren’t on this list?
What have I missed? Would love to hear your favourites!

 

38 Responses to “7 Seminal Books on Conscious Business (that you probably should read)”

  1. Some others that nearly made this list – ReWork, Primal Leadership, Requisite Organisation…

  2. Jason says:

    After I gave 'anything you want' to a mentor of mine, he bought a copy for everyone in our coaching group. Thanks for turning me onto it!

  3. Nice! Super awesome book isn't it? I keep lending my copy too – lost track of who has it :)

  4. Barry Patterson says:

    Two more — Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chouinard, and Jaworski's new book Source,

  5. Khushru says:

    zappos. Delivering happiness – Tony Hsieh

  6. janne_asmala says:

    Another recent one: Betterness by Umair Haque.

  7. Reggie Marra says:

    Hi Ewan. Thanks for this. I'd suggest Bill Joiner and Stephen Joseph's "Leadership Agility."

  8. Ah, yes I heard Jaworski had a new book out. What's it like?

  9. Yes – great book!

  10. Ewan, Thank you for this list. I recommend "Firms of Endearment." The authors make a compelling case for conscious business and identify the best and brightest leaders and companies today that are following this approach. Sudhir

  11. Oh, yes, that one nearly made the list too ;)

  12. I think we might have to do a 2nd list ;)

  13. Adam Richard says:

    Ewan, thanks for this post. I've read 2 out of the 7. Added the others to my wish list and will be reading them soon.

  14. Kim Clarke says:

    The Anatomy of Peace (by The Arbinger Institute)

  15. Nice – hope you enjoy them!

  16. Thanks. 3 more from me:
    'Action Inquiry – the secret of timely and transformational leadership' – By Bill Torbert and Associates
    'The Fifth Discipline' – By Peter Senge
    'Small is Beautiful – a study of economics as if people mattered' – By E.F.Schumacher

  17. David Stanica says:

    Theory U by Otto Scharmer might make it, maybe.

  18. David Stanica says:

    Art of Possibility – Benjamin Zander

  19. Barrett C Brown says:

    If you read Spanish or Portugese, then Fred Kofman's Conscious Business book was originally written as a three-volume set called MetaManagement. It is not available in English, though. I've read them all…actually helped Fred translate all three into what became Conscious Business…and they are dynamite.

  20. Ingunn Grande says:

    Yes, of course Theory U has to be on the list, and maybe also Presence by Otto Scharmer, Peter Senge, Jaworski and Flowers.

  21. ulrich gerndt says:

    cool list. may wanna add j. garvey berger's "changing on the job"
    uli

  22. Jeroen Maes says:

    Great old one for me was "the fifth Discipline" from Peter Senge 1991

  23. Karen Van Eden says:

    Thank youso much for this list. Synchronicity brought you/this to me – and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you :)

  24. Phil Todd says:

    Hi Jason. this may be off topic but I would love to hear more about your coaching group and how it was started. Any references I could look into? Thanks!

  25. diederickjanse says:

    A few other ones that I think are worth reading on this topic:

    Firms of Endearment, by Raj Sisodia (this is up there with Fred's book for me)
    The Future of Management, by Gary Hamel (this is awesome, too)
    What Matters Now, by Gary Hamel (reading this now)
    The Way We're Working Isn't Working, by Tony Schwartz (on engagement and vitality in the workplace)
    Getting Things Done, by David Allen (on getting work done, consciously)
    Drive, by Daniel Pink (on intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation)
    Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly (on the conditions that allow us to get into flow)

    I love this thread :-)

  26. Peter Smith says:

    I was surprised to find i had 5 of the 7 books you had recommended, must be doing something right! Good to hear about other books recommended. I agree with others who also suggested, which i think are essential reading: Theory U, Action Inquiry, Leadership Agility and i would also add Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar. Less directly business oriented and yet which espouse profound principles that go to the heart of Conscious Business i would recommend: Power and Love by Adam Kahane and The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh.

  27. Our pleasure Karen!

  28. Indeed Peter :) Thanks for the further suggestions, don't know the Nayer book – sounds great!

  29. Would LOVE to read the full 3 book set!

  30. Sue says:

    I agree with your great list — and also agree that Conscious Business is at the very top!
    Also agree that Flow, Power and Love, Presencing, Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, Theory U, Drive, and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People should make the 2nd list.
    Thanks you guys.

  31. Sergio says:

    Hi again, Porter is also writing about similar things he calls it Creating Shared Value here is an article from HBR http://hbr.org/2011/01/the-big-idea-creating-shar
    Enjoy
    Sergio

  32. I want to read them all! looks like I will just have to get a kindle ):

  33. marianne says:

    Don't forget Margaret Wheatley with books such as
    Finding our Way, Leadership for an Uncertain Time
    The New Science of Leadership
    and many more
    Marianne

  34. Jenny Bailey says:

    HI Ewan
    I jumped on your website to send you an email to talk about Requisite Organisation. I have been listening to your teleseries which I have found awesome but have been continually surprised that no-one has mentioned Requisite Organisation. I have implemented this methodology and it made much more difference to org culture than any of the culture change programs around. I can recommend both Elliott Jacques original text on Requisite Organisation, or Managerial Leadership by Nancy Lee (which I use in my executive coaching) and also a paper by Herb Elliott. You should be able to download this from http://www.globalro.org.
    Keep up the good work
    PS I has also occurred to me that you both would benefit in your careers to change organisations by working in a large corporation for a time. I notice that you are both very young and clearly thinking at high levels (RO has a development model as well). This experience would help you greatly in what will be impactful careers.
    thanks
    Jenny Bailey

  35. Jeroen_Maes says:

    Hello Jenny,
    We know of the work of Elliott Jacque. Requisite organisation was not a book easy to come by. I did not know of Nancy Lee. I will check it out!
    Jeroen

  36. David Slade says:

    How about Sex Ecology and Spirituality (I am just reading it now).
    or Aravind, that book opened my eyes and mind and my heart. It is a story of a family business, which I am interested in as the owner of Family Tree Care llc, and the story of great social/financial success lead by one man and his vision of curing blindness for the poor and his work and enrollment of his family.

    I also think about collaborative structures that support mutual success, specifically legal documents that support mutual benefit and penalize singular screw the other guy thinking. An enlightened container llc partnership requiring work and valuing contribution. What could happen if any two or more people felt free enough (due to a strong faith in the legal agreement they have) to trust each other and work together to solve problems thus creating value?

    How do we create holarchical structures in business? In govt?
    Can we join as collaborative groups around common causes as business?
    How about a gifting perspective, gifting and trusting? I am training to lead Family Constellations and imagine gifting my services as a way to not only spread this deep healing process of working with the soul but also to learn and develop my craft and my skill at releasing love within family systems, I would trust that I would receive value back for the value I create.

  37. I will try to get a copy of atleast two books out of the seven that you have mentioned. I need new insight and perspective into the evolving family business outlooks due to social media and the growth of social entrepreneurship.

  38. essay editor says:

    It is the simple truth is an awesome and as well worthwhile bit of facts. I’m fulfilled that you can contributed this sort of helpful facts all around. You should keep people up to date such as this. With thanks suitable for unveiling.