Dave Hitz, the CTO of NetApp, has published a book that may very well be the best business book I’ve read. I’ve recommended to several people, all of whom have bought it, sent it to a few of our CEOs and sent a copy to my father for his birthday.
The book,How to Castrate a Bull: Unexpected Lessons on Risk, Growth, and Success in Business, covers the rise of NetApp, a key provider of storage solutions to Fortune 500 companies. (Incidentally, the link to the book is an affiliate link. I’m running a test of how influence and monetization work. I bough the Kindle version and read it in a few days)
What makes this book great are the lessons Dave conveys from his experience. He parallels many lessons he learned at Deep Springs, the university/ranch he attended (hence the title of the book), and his watch of the rise of NetApp.
Some of these lessons focus on leadership and building consensus. From his point of view, politics is the art of getting groups of people to come to a common conclusion by developing consensus. Consensus is a state where all are willing to provide their consent for a decision to take place – not necessarily reaching total agreement, but allowing for the process to go forward.
Other chapters focus on risk, including evaluating the risk of entering new markets, of changing corporate culture and attitudes, and of changing CEOs.
When I first started working in venture capital, I tried to read as many different things as I could about the industry to prepare myself. Truth be told there isn’t much that one can read to prepare. It’s learned by doing.
Entrepreneurship is very much the same way. When I started my company, there wasn’t much I could have read that would have prepared me for the journey. But reading this book, with its anecdotes and insightful perceptions would have given me more comfort in the uncertainty and some additional perspective that few other tomes can.
To get the story behind the title, I’ll leave you to read the book.