A cool overview of a rather diverse book selection. A good digest.
MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI - Flow
Flow is "the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.
Games, in the broadest sense of the word, contain those elements. Rules provide boundaries. Practice builds skills. And scoring systems offer immediate feedback on your performance.
If jobs were constructed like games, Csikszentmihalyi posits, flow would be reached more often at work. He offers surgeons as an example of workers who reliably achieve flow.
DAVID ALLEN - Getting Things Done
"The big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things when you can't do anything about them."
PETER F. DRUCKER - The Effective Executive
Time. Strengths. Contribution. Concentration. Decision making.
STEPHEN R. COVEY - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win/Win
5. Seek First to Understand . . . Then to Be Understood
7. Sharpen the Saw
HARVEY B. MACKAY - Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive
Lesson 19, "Show Me a Guy Who Thinks He's a SelfMade Man and I'll Show You the Easiest Sell in the World," is a concise chapter containing only this insight: "All you have to do is make him think it's his idea."
Management section comes Lesson 64, "The Acid Test for Hiring": "Ask yourself, How would you feel having this same person working for your competition instead of for you"
From the same section is Lesson 44, "Your Best People May Spend Their Most Productive Time Staring at the Walls": "If you discover one of your executives looking at the wall . . . instead of filling out a report, go over and congratulate him or her. . . . They're thinking. It's the hardest, most valuable task any person performs."
GARY KLEIN - The Power of Intuition
Klein found that firefighters, U.S. Marine lance corporals, and neonatal nurses don't make a conscious effort to consider all the options before taking action; instead, they quickly gather information and act. As more information becomes available, these specialists reassess and change course if needed. When asked how they came to such quick decisions, Klein's subjects used vague, mystical references like '"The Force" and "ESP" to describe their abilities.
STEVE FARBER - The Radical Leap
Extreme leadership is living in pursuit of the OS!M, a catchy acronym for an "Oh Sh*t! Moment." Edg defines OS!M as the "'natural, built-in human indicator that you are doing-or about to do-something truly significant, and you are-rightfully so-scared out of your gourd.'" Edg also teaches Steve about LEAP, which stands for: cultivate Love, generate Energy, inspire Audacity, and provide Proof.
The stories that Badaracco uses effectively move us past the rote rules most business books offer and more realistically reflect life's variability. Willy Loman from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman embodies the very real consequences dreams can have on their holders in Badaracco's chapter: "Do You Have a Good Dream" The captain in Joseph Conrad's The Secret Sharer shows how difficult it is to truly know the answer to the question "Am I Ready to Take Responsibility"
"[S]erious fiction gives us a unique, inside view of leadership."
The Story Factor
To help us rediscover our innate talent for storytelling, Simmons presents six different types of stories that have the power to influence others: Who I Am; Why I Am Here; the Vision; Teaching; Values-in-Action; and I Know What You Are Thinking.
"Values are meaningless without stories to bring them to life and engage us on a personal level."
The second reason people hold back is that "we are a bunch of control freaks. Losing yourself in the telling of your story means you are not as 'in control' as when you are reading bullet points off slides or reading from notes."
You may not win, but you can't lose. When you are in the middle of serious negotiations and dealing only with facts or rational thinking, you are actually drawing a line in the sand. This gives your opponent the opportunity to say no, to disagree, to prove you wrong. When you use stories, you can sometimes move around that obstacle, and even if you can't move around it, you can revisit the subject because there is no clear "no."
Power is power. When you tell a powerful story of influence you will feel this rush of power. You will look out at a sea of faces or even into the eyes of one enraptured face and know that you are inside the head of the person listening to you. You have gained access to a secret place where their imagination paints new realities and draws new conclusions based on the stories played there. Although you might not control the whole show, you are one of the stars.
AL RIES AND JACK TROUT - Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
"Positioning is an organized system for finding windows in the mind. It is based on the concept that communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances"
SCOTT BEDBURY WITH STEPHEN FENICHELL - A New Brand World
Bedbury helped launch the "Bo Knows" and "Just Do It" campaigns. In rich detail, he relates stories of internal tension at Nike as it moved from its previous testosterone-heavy, "wimps need not apply" attitude to a brand with enough room for the entire family, and, ultimately, to the leading sports and fitness company. "Just Do It" became a brand that isn't about sneakers or products but about values and ethos.
Want a quick prescription for adding some humanity to your brand Laugh at yourself; show genuine compassion; stand for something; listen and watch; admit your mistakes; find your soul; and become a more human employer.
MARTY NEUMEIER - Zag
For example, his depiction of "Marketing" is a man telling a woman, "I am a great lover." But "Branding" is the woman saying to the man: "I understand you are a great lover." The difference is subtle but clear: branding is all about what your customer understands about your product or message and has nothing to do with what you are telling the customer.
Neumeier presents a process for differentiation by including chapters to help you find, design, build, and renew your zag. Established companies can reposition their brand or learn where to take the brand after launching it. But, Neumeier says, to do that you need to know where your company is within the "competition cycle." He uses the child's game of Rock Paper Scissors as an analogy to show the way large, medium, and small organizations go through that cycle. Start-ups are "scissor" companies and grow because of their sharp focus. They grow by taking "white space" from larger "paper" companies because they can move more quickly to market or the large business is too busy to notice. The small business eventually morphs into a "rock" or medium-sized business. Rocks thrive by crushing scissor companies that don't have the resources to compete. Eventually, rocks become paper companies that use their network and resources to smother rock companies. The Rock Paper Scissors analogy beautifully illustrates how companies of different sizes transition between cycles and how the strengths and weaknesses of those companies change over time.
Secrets of Closing the Sale
Why We Buy
Twenty-five years ago, self-proclaimed urban geographer and retail anthropologist Paco Underhill founded a company called Envirosell that basically observes people shopping. His company then advises organizations, from banks to The Gap, on how to best communicate with their customers and ultimately sell more "stuff," the goal for all retail organizations. Underhill's science of shopping involves "trackers," whom he calls the field researchers of the science. These trackers stealthily follow shoppers through a store, noting on a paper form everything the shopper does. With the help of video, they personally measure "close to nine hundred different aspects of shopper-store interaction." Their findings are then factored into store design, signage, and product placement. Underhill took this rich material and wrote Why We Buy based on the mechanics, demographics, and, finally, the dynamics of shopping.
The only way you are going to grow your business, get the job you want, or see your cause get traction is to be remarkable, to stand out from the herd.
How many experiences did you have today that you are going to tell your five closest friends about One None Now, think about the experiences your customers had today. Will they be raving to their friends If your answer to the question is not a confident "yes," then it's time to do something remarkable.
The Tipping Point
In social epidemics, Gladwell presents three essentials to the phenomenon: the Law of the Few; the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. The Law of the Few introduces us to three social groups; the Mavens, the Connectors, and the Salesmen. The Mavens are the "databank," brilliant people to whom we look for answers; Connectors are the "social glue," those people who know people; and Salesmen are the people who have "the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the tipping of word-of-mouth epidemics as the other two groups."
To explain the second essential, the Stickiness Factor, Gladwell offers examples that include my favorite about the television show Blue's Clues. To make sure the show resonates with the audience, researchers test every show three times before it goes on air, meeting with preschoolers every week to tweak the scripts. I just love the concept of going directly to your audience and using
the data to create a product that is memorable, even if the changes are small.
The Broken Windows theory is an example of the third essential, the Power of Context, which argues that an epidemic does not occur in a vacuum. In the Broken Window theory, if a window of a building is broken and left unrepaired, people will conclude that nobody cares, nobody is in charge, and, as a result, more windows will be broken, leading to more crime in the vicinity. Gladwell uses David Gunn's work in overseeing a multibillion-dollar reclamation of the New York City subway system to show the reversal of just such a trend. In the 1980s, crime in NYC was at its highest level in history. The subway system was in a shambles, the cars were often covered with graffiti, and people were afraid to use the system. One of the first things David Gunn did was set up a plan to clean the graffiti off the subway cars and keep it off. The transit workers became
almost obsessive about removing the graffiti: no car with graffiti would leave the yard.This cleaning of the cars showed riders that the system, the "broken window," was being fixed and the momentum of crime was interrupted.
"The Tipping Point is the biography of an idea, and the idea is very simple."
As people try to stay in step with a rapidly evolving business landscape, they are turning to journalistic books that bring the big picture into focus, like Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat, Gladwell's next book, Blink, and Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakonomics.
KAREN BERMAN AND JOE KNIGHT WITH JOHN CASE
The Knowing-Doing Gap
JEFFREY PFEFFER AND ROBERT I. SUTTON
Hear one, see one, do one."
That's how surgical residents learn new procedures. The final step of performing the operation proves that knowledge has been acquired and transferred. This training construct matches one used by the U.S. military during simulated drills and livefire exercises to prepare soldiers for combat. Airline pilots, ocean freighter captains, and professional athletes follow the same strategy, but business practitioners seem to favor theory over practice.
Six Thinking Hats
EDWARD DE BONO
White is neutral and objective. The white hat is concerned with objective facts and figures.
Red suggests anger (seeing red), rage, and emotions. The red hat gives the emotional view.
Black is somber and serious. The black hat is cautious and careful. It points out the weaknesses in an idea.
Yellow is sunny and positive. The yellow hat is optimistic and covers hope and positive thinking.
Green is grass, vegetation, and abundant, fertile growth. The green hat indicates creativity and new ideas.
Blue is cool, and it is also the color of the sky, which is above everything else. The blue hat is concerned with control, the organization of the thinking process, and the use of other hats.
The Art of the Start 2.0
For example, in a list of ways to avoid hiring mistakes, he gives us the Top Ten lies job candidates use, including:
Lie: "I've never been with a company for more than a year because I get bored easily."
Truth: "It takes people about a year to figure out that I'm a bozo."
Lie: "I am a vice president, but no one reports to me."
Truth: "Any bozo can become a vice president at my company."
More Than You Know
MICHAEL J. MAUBOUSSIN
"The Consilient Observer." Consillience-the idea that all knowledge can be unified into a single working system-has heavily influenced Mauboussin's investing philosophy. Breadth of knowledge creates, rather than opposes, depth of knowledge.
Each essay ties an accessible metaphor to a piece of specific research and its implications for investors. Don't be scared off by the financial angle. The essence of Mauboussin's work lingers on investigating how humans can make better decisions-something we can all use help with. To dismiss the work as not in your purview would be to miss the richness of sources Mauboussin draws from and miss the very point of using a broader base of knowledge to make better decisions.
"There are too many layers of interactions in the brain. The parts don't explain the whole."
Mauboussin unveils other unpredictable musings through the book: What can Tupperware parties teach us about influence What can the evolution of Tiger Woods's golf swing say about finding optimal solutions The breadth of subjects Mauboussin draws from and his central message that we should never put limits on what we know should inspire each of us to develop more numerous sources of inspiration as we try to make better sense of what we do and of the greater world around us.