A Broader Spectrum of Business Novels

I recently recapped the “business novels” I’ve covered here on A Storied Career and then received an e-mail from Omar Adams with a link to 50 All-Time Best Business Novels.

I thus realized that perhaps I need to more specifically define the kind of business novel I’ve written about here. I write about novels that employ a story, parable, or fable to convey business principles or lessons. Of course, there are plenty of novels in business settings, but most aren’t explicitly trying to teach a lesson. On the list Omar shared with me, “my” kind of business novel is called “Business ‘Parable’ Novels, written by well-known business experts and consultants, aim to illustrate principles of success.” Interestingly, not one of the titles in this category has appeared in my previous entries about business novels.

Other list categories include Tales From The 18th and 19th Century; Novels With Philosophical Perspective; Stories of Personal Crisis, Disillusionment, and Sometimes Redemption; Business Novels With A Touch of Romance; and Business Novels With Mystery and Suspense. All worthy categories and examples of storytelling, but perhaps not applied storytelling.

Here are the parable-type novels from the list Omar shared:

The Goal Written in a how-to, piecemeal style wrapped in narrative fiction, Eliyahu Goldratt’s novel is able to delineate his philosophy through the story of a man who tries to build his marriage and business.

It’s Not Luck This is the sequel to Eliyahu Goldratt’s The Goal. Alex Rojo, the main character, must figure out the most profitable way to sell his companies while trying to manage his personal life.

Getting Naked Patrick Lencioni tells the story of fictitious consultant Jack Bauer. He learns to use the “naked service”model for his business, which changes his life forever.

Critical Chain Eliyahu Goldratt continues his series of business novels, building on the Theory of Constraints. This novel again questions the theories of conventional management.

Necessary but not Sufficient This is another novel by Eliyahu Goldratt about the Theory of Constraints. It discusses many of the pressures and challenges of high-tech companies.

The Deadline Consultant Tom DeMarco uses creativity with deep insight to deliver this story commenting on the principles that affect software development. Mr. Tompkins, the main character, divides his company into eighteen teams and force them to compete with each other and a deadline.

Selling the Wheel Business novel bestseller Jeff Cox uses a narrative approach to give advice on how to best sell a company to customers. Told from the point of view of Max, this story tells how four different types of business men help him reach success.

The Small Business Billionaire Frank Mills is struggling with his restaurant when a robbery takes place. Fortunately, a young millionaire comes along to give him advice.

The Cure The widget company Essential is on the verge of losing clients because of incompatibility between its employees. Will the three main players join forces just in time?

Under the Gun Jack Griffin is a young entrepreneur satiated with the sudden success of his company. However, will the same things that brought about his success bring consequences later down the line?

The Time Seller This hilarious quick read talks about selling time in a bottle.

Miller’s Bolt Jim Manion is a good worker, but he doesn’t seem to be appreciated by his co-workers. Fortunately, Peter is willing to help save his career.

Jack’s Notebook Jack Huber’s daydreams about starting his own business as a professional photographer. Unfortunately, he’s not too experienced–until a mentor comes along.

The Venture Michael DiGabriel’s video production group has been downsized. They decide to build their own production company while learning a lot on the way.

The Squeeze This novel tells about the struggle of a small family-owned Midwest manufacturer. Fortunately, he learns about sustainability.

Meanwhile, I came across yet another one, The Ginger Bread Man, “the story of a young man who leaves a faceless job in a cubicle to pursue the personal craft of baking. He faces several everyday challenges that help him follow his heart and grow into a life he truly enjoys. At its root the book is about learning who you are and finding joy in a career that suits your skills and personality. … The Ginger Bread Man is about our quest to live up to that creativity in our daily lives. … The book also contains several discussion questions suitable for book clubs and classroom use.” (The several typos in the book’s Web page, corrected here, concern me a bit about the book.)