Top 11 books for a badass consultant

Once you finish university you hope to be done with learning once and for all. As you may have guessed that’s unfortunately not gone happen, especially if you change industry or your area of work every 1-2 years. A badass consultant is a constant learner. This means that you have to read a ton of books, articles, presentations. I wish I had read more when I was younger and had more time on my hands to waste. You are most likely not as old as me and you can take advantage of my mistakes 🙂

Below I present you my pick of books that I believe you have to read to kick asses while doing consulting projects. There you will find not only things that will give you specific knowledge but also skills and some glimpses of experience from the real world. Hope you will like it and if you have any request just shoot me an email or leave a comment below:

  1. The McKinsey Mind. Gives you a good idea what is the approach of typical management consulting company – covers the first 1-2 years in consulting.  A bit naïve and could be summarized on smaller number of pages bust still worth going through. After all written, it is written on the basis of the great McKinsey 😉  In your 2nd or 3rd year you should have developed your own methods how to tackle different subjects. Check my presentation summarizing the toolbox of methods I use. If you are still a student and you are considering joining the ranks of sleepy consultants working 24/7 then also check the presentation on management consulting cases – very useful for the first interviews and the 1st  year of work
  2. Competitive Advantage. This is a phenomenal summary of strategic choices faced by most companies; a must read if you want to understand traditional business models. Better than the strategic bullshit they teach at school and you actually see how it is interconnected. I read it when I was 30 years old with 6 years of experience. I wish I had been introduced to this book much earlier. Would save me a lot of my attempts to reinvent the wheel.
  3. Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies – shows how value is created (this happens rarely in practice) and destroyed (more often) in the company and how to measure it in Excel. Written by guys who worked in consulting as well as CFO, COO so it is a good mix of theory and practice. Again not something that you will read during breakfast but gives you a view on the business from the financial point of view. This is a must read if you want to switch later on to PE, VC or investment banking. If more CEO were also familiar with this book we would have less shitty investment and takeovers on our hands. Then again this would mean less work for us – badass consultants 😉 Long live the ignorance! Still, you better learn this book by hear.
  4. Operation Management for Competitive Advantage. Gives you a good start into the operational side of the businesses. Shows overview of the most important operational issues: production and logistic optimization, capacity management, supply chain management etc. It’s not something that you read in one shot. You pick parts of it when needed. Treat it as bible that will serve you the pieces of wisdom when you will need them without the usual fluff designed to show that the author knows storytelling and many complicated words. This book is more of an encyclopedia but a good one 🙂
  5. The Gold Mine: A novel about Lean Turnaround. This books covers not only lean methods in a nice way but also gives you a good idea about managing people in efficient manner. Again something that I came across too late. The book really shows you how optimization looks in practice. There are no slides, Excels, long meeting but hands-on approach, taking small, baby steps to slowly but surely improve the firm. People get pissed, call you liar and some of them quit. Others endure and help you grow the business. All those flavors of the real world are shown in the book along with the main concepts from lean manufacturing that you should master. I read it in 2 days and must say that ROI on those 2 days was astronomical 🙂 For more on the lean later check my presentation Essential Lean Manufacturing.
  6. The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter. Another good book about how you should approach difficult situation and adjust your approach. It shows how to behave in startup, restructuring, performance improvement situations during your first 3 months in the new job. This book you should read when you move to a managing position. Being a manager and being a business analysts / specialist are 2 different roles and you have to understand the difference and make the switch. The book shows you the discrepancy between those 2 roles and gives you some hints how to switch between them without killing half of your team in the process or gaining extra 30 kg of fat. Trust me this is not an easy switch.
  7. Business Model Generation – shows you how to modify business models using the relatively new framework of the canva model. Great for innovation, startups and strategy creation. A more appropriate for startup version of can be found in Running Lean. For quick overview of on-line business models go through this presentation. If you are doing something with startups, innovation, online businesses or you have to change the business model dramatically then this book is a must read.
  8. The Goal – process of ongoing improvement. This covers theory of constraints which is constitutes the fundamentals of the critical chain method used for managing projects. Another must read if you are doing any sort of performance improvements, especially when it comes to operations, logistics, production etc. A fast read and written in an engaging matter. Again you will get from this book a bit of flavor of how implementation projects looks like and why there are so difficult.
  9. The Minto Piramid Principle. It is about thinking clearly and not bullshitting yourself or others (unless you want to 😉
  10. Learning to see. This book shows you how to use lean manufacturing principles in practice – perfect for all sorts of operational projects. There are more details here and it is more hands on. No fluff, a lot of examples and calculations. If you have to implement lean manufacturing in practice check also my online course Lean Manufacturing for Management Consultants
  11. Lean Analytics. Shows how to look at the companies via KPIs and metrics and how they differ depending on the stage on which you are and your business models. This concentrates only on online business but the approach can be used in many other business as well. It is a must read if you do startups or an online businesses
  12. Dream Big – the story of the Brazilian Trio. This is one of the best overview of how to do performance improvement, turn-arounds and how to scale your businss from a small local producer to number 1 worldwide. The book discuss the success of Jorge Leman and his 3G Capital firm that dominated the beer industry

When it comes to more practical hands on things read also my presentation mentioned below:

If you prefer a grouped version of my recommendations below a presentations with a little bit longer choice of books:

That’s it for today. Stay tuned and in the meantime read as if there was no tomorrow




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