Management Book of the Year 2012 – Judgement Day

As the shortlist for CMI’s Management Book of the Year 2012 is announced, one of our judges, Karen McArthur MCMI, shares her experience of mining for management gold from this year’s contenders:


Having five books to read in a relatively short timescale is a little daunting, so I always start with the book that I believe will be quickest to get through. It makes me feel good to know that I have got one under my belt early on, and also sets the benchmark by which the others are judged.


I travel an hour by train to work and so use this time in the morning to read, but only when I get a seat.  Hanging on to the tube strap while wobbling in high heels is not conducive to effective reviewing!


As the deadline date draws close, I inevitably have to give over a weekend to a mammoth reading session and then it’s a blitz to get the reviews written.  I make notes as I go along but always recheck and calibrate once I have read them all – sometimes this means that high scores given to the first books get moderated when they are put in context with the others.


As ever, the calibre of books entered this year was a mixed bag. Some were a really interesting read and I might have gone out and bought them myself.   Some go heavy on the academic references, some more on tools and tips.  Every now and then I come across something which is new to me and that’s great – it shows that at every level of management you can still learn something new.  Within the box of books, there is almost always a duff read - the sort of book that makes you look at the earlier reviews, scratch your head and ask “why did this get through?!” If it hasn’t come up to scratch by the halfway mark,  I stop reading word-for-word and just do more of a skim read to make sure that there are no hidden nuggets. I guess the lesson for authors here is: grab the reader’s attention early or don’t bother!


The first round of reviews is interesting and we are initially all very polite - we have to trust each other’s judgement and it can be hard to fight the corner for your books versus others that you haven’t read. The second round is always harder as there are potentially more books to read in a shorter timescale and here the process gets more heated as we are all judging the same book. If there isn’t a stand-out winner, there is potential for significant debate at this point. Passions run high, but there has yet to be any bloodshed – who knows, perhaps this will be the first year!


The shortlist for CMI’s Management Book of the Year is available here. The category and overall winners will be unveiled at the British Library Conference Centre on 28 January 2013.