Fun to read these books also have a serious purpose. Find out more about how teams really work, how to be more creative, how to motivate yourself and others, how to communicate and finally how to switch off.
There is an I in team: what elite athletes and coaches really know about high performance
Mark de Rond
Harvard Business Review Press, 2012
xxii, 224 pages
What can sport teach us about teams? This book sheds new light on the inherent conflict between the team and the individuals within it and the challenge, for the leader, of making a team add up to more than the sum of its parts. Using examples from the world of professional sport the author looks at issues like why the best teams rarely ever comprise the best individual performers, why likability often overrides competence even in sophisticated environments, why everyone on the team is not equal, why a focus on harmony can harm a team’s performance and why a belief in luck can itself improve performance.
Search inside yourself: the unexpected path to achieving success, happiness (and world peace)
xvi, 268 pages
This book is about the very popular personal development course at Google. The author was originally an engineer during Google’s start up phase but now, in his new post of “jolly good fellow”, helps Google employees get in touch with their feelings. The focus is on personal awareness achieved through meditation and mindfulness and on improved relations with others by gaining a better understanding of emotions and developing empathy.
inGenius: a crash course on creativity
Everything - every single word - provides an opportunity to leverage what you know to stretch your imagination. But many people have not been encouraged to think in this way. This book presents a set of tools, the “innovation engine”, taught at Stanford University, to enhance creativity. Creativity techniques are likened to the scientific method as being useful ways of formally developing everyone’s innate creative potential. Students learn how to polish their powers of observation, practice connecting and combining ideas, challenge their assumptions and reframe problems.
Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us
Daniel H. Pink
ixx, 242 pages
Money is of limited use as a motivator and can even have the effect of turning what could be fun into drudgery. This book discusses the importance of the intrinsic motivation of self direction, engagement and purpose. For the entrepreneur who needs to keep going in challenging circumstances and inspire others also, Pink provides both an understanding of motivation and a took kit to keep motivated.
Executive presence: the art of commanding respect like a CEO
McGraw Hill, 2010
Executive presence is a personal image which inspires respect. It is cultivated by self awareness, communication skills and managing perceptions. Everyone has a brand created by an amalgamation of the impressions they make on others but it is desirable to replace this "random" brand with a crafted one. This book describes how to pitch ideas, read people, manage conflict, convince others and increase one's reputation, in person and online. Practical suggestions include a seven day plan for improving one's Social IQ by focusing on a key aspect each day. Awareness of how people filter information, by their biases and previous experiences and of basic neurolinguistic techniques is critical for effective communication and obtaining buy-in.
Poke the box: when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Do You Zoom, Inc, 2011
ISBN: 978 1 936719006
This very short book by marketing guru Seth Godin encourages the reader to get started. Godin believes that a culture of compliance, established in factories for mass production and in other industries using the factory model, has robbed many people of their natural initiative. He identifies "instigation capital" as a key differentiator in the new project world; translating ideas into products or services which can "ship". The anecdotes and exhortations in the book are designed to overcome obstacles and inspire the reader with the necessary mindset to do this.
Obliquity: why our goals are best achieved indirectly
Profile Books, 2011
210 pages; ISBN: 9781846682896
John Kay, economist, business school professor and Financial Times writer, presents his new approach to problem solving - obliquity. Obliquity is the best approach whenever complex systems evolve in an uncertain environment and whenever the effects of our actions depend on the ways in which others respond to them. Instead of approaching a solution head on, Kay recommends a process of iteration and adaption, choosing from a limited set of options and then reviewing the impact. The book is full of anecdotes pointing out the failures of the direct approach and the wide use of "Franklin's Gambit", the presentation of a logical rationale for a decision after the solution has already been made using the oblique approach.
Blah, blah, blah: what to do when words don’t work
This is the new book from visual thinking expert Dan Roam, author of the Back of the napkin and Unfolding the napkin. Roam believes that words can get in the way of thinking: people can become overwhelmed by too much information or disengaged through boredom. Instead he describes how simple pictures can be much more effective at communicating complex ideas; a new grammar of vivid thinking. The key elements are: draw while talking; learn the basic elements of visual grammar, identify visually the essentials of an idea.
Rework: change the way you work forever
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
279 pages, 9780091929787
The creators of popular web-based apps for small businesses, 37signals, identify a focus on the fundamental needs of a type of customer as the core of a successful business. But the operating principles they use are in contradiction to much established practice: minimize external funding; no five year plans; cut back on meetings; say no to customer proposed enhancements; turn some business away; use just the social media to build the audience. The book describes how this has worked for them.
Sleeping with your smartphone: how to break the 24/7 habit and change the way you work.
Leslie A. Perlow
Harvard Business School Publishing, 2012
vi, 265 pages
Do you feel you always have to be available to clients and colleagues? The cycle of responsiveness, while seemingly a necessary part of life for ambitious people, in reality detracts from the quality of work. This is the story of teams of consultants from Boston Consulting Group who worked together to ensure each one had some time each week to truly disconnect from work, “predictable time off”. There are two steps to the process: agreeing a goal of the time off to be had by each team member and regular discussions each week as to how this is working in practice. Statistics showed that those teams using the method both had much higher job satisfaction and also reported significantly higher scores of collaborative team work and team efficiency.