From time to time on the Draper blog, we will be sharing books that have inspired us, affected how we approach business, or that we think our dealers and customers would enjoy. Think of it as an occasional Draper book report!

The first person to step up to the plate and share is Neal Turner, CSI, CCPR, LEED®AP. Neal is our Gym Equipment Manager.

As a person who reads about 15 to 20 books per year and having done so for many years, when I was first asked to share my thoughts on a couple of books that have inspired me, I thought it would be really easy to come up with something new and relevant. I read almost all non-fiction with most books being related to history, sports or business, so there had to be something that I had read in the last few months that has profoundly impacted my business and/or personal thoughts and practice. That is what one might think! I have read some new and inspiring books, but as I racked my brain about books that impact my thought processes, I kept coming back to two books that I read more than 15 years ago.

built-to-lastThe first book is BUILT TO LAST by Jim Collins (best known for a later work “GOOD TO GREAT”) and Jerry Porras. It was published in late 1994 and I read it sometime in 1997. In BUILT TO LAST, the authors compare and contrast a list of highly successful companies to competitors, with an eye toward reasons why one company was more successful than the other. There were many reasons discussed and presented for why companies were more successful than their competitors, but my take away from this book was that often it came down to how the most successful organizations handled relationships. Those relationships might be with customers, suppliers, employees, competitors, or all of the above. Generally the companies that treated others in a fair manner, like they themselves would want to be treated, were more successful. In my opinion, the way Drapers handles its relationships is a large component of its long and successful history, and definitely one of the reasons why I chose to leave a competitor and come to work here in 1999.

the-goalThe next book, which happens to be one of the few fiction pieces I have read in the past 25 years, is THE GOAL by Eliyahu Goldratt. The book was published in 1984, but I did not read it until sometime around 1998. THE GOAL is really a constraint management text book disguised as a novel in which you follow Alex Rogo, a production manager at a small plant that is part of a larger company as he tries to figure out how to best utilize his available resource and manage his constraints–also referred to as bottlenecks. Alex’s “ah-ha” moment comes on a scouting troop hike, as he tries to figure out where to put his slowest scout. I regularly go back to the lessons in this book as I try and figure out how to how to best utilize Draper’s resources to allow us to maximize our gymnasium equipment sales and shipments. People who work with me will attest that I have said more than once that something is our bottleneck, so we need to figure out how to manage it better.

While these books both have some age on them, their messages and lessons still hold up today. Both books are still available in print, so you might want to check them out as I consider finding my old copies, dusting them off, and reading them again.