Thought provoking books

The seven habits of highly effective people (1989) Steven R. Covey

One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for 25 years. It has transformed the lives of Presidents and CEOs, educators and parents— in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations.

Leading change (1996) John P. Kotter

This is a must read if you’re interested in change management and organizational change. Kotter’s 8 stage change process is the backbone of many approaches to change management and includes:

1) Establishing a sense of urgency

2) Creating the guiding coalition

3) Developing a vision and strategy

4) Communicating the change vision

5) Empowering employees for broad based action

6) Generating short term wins

7) Consolidating gains and producing more change

8) Anchoring new approaches in the culture

An important contribution to the change management literature!

 

Gung Ho (1996) Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles

If you are in need of learning how to make people work more productively than then this is probably a good book for you. It has interesting ideas, and isn’t too boring. It tells the story well, and is probably very helpful for people who need this information. All in all it is a good book. It’s not necessarily the classic afternoon read, but even if you’re not in charge of productivity for an entire factory, this book can give lessons that can be applied to life.

Zapp – the lightning of empowerment (1998)  William Byham & Jeff Cox

Most managers know that revitalization in their companies must occur from the ground up. But how to get that message to employees without applying the kind of pressure that makes them even less productive? The answer is empowerment. In this motivating book, you will find specific strategies designed to help you encourage responsibility, acknowledgment, and creativity so that employees feel they “own” their jobs. It’s all here, in an accessible guide for the successful managers of tomorrow.

First break all the rules (1999) by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

Buckingham and Coffman explain how the best managers select an employee for talent rather than for skills or experience; how they set expectations for him or her — they define the right outcomes rather than the right steps; how they motivate people — they build on each person’s unique strengths rather than trying to fix his weaknesses; and, finally, how great managers develop people — they find the right fit for each person, not the next rung on the ladder. And perhaps most important, this research — which initially generated thousands of different survey questions on the subject of employee opinion — finally produced the twelve simple questions that work to distinguish the strongest departments of a company from all the rest. This book is the first to present this essential measuring stick and to prove the link between employee opinions and productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and the rate of turnover.

Gaming the system (2001)- how to stop playing the organizational game and start playing the competitive game – Dr. James B. Rieley

“We spend too much time firefighting and fighting among oursleves” …”our management meetings are taking too much time, they’re just not productive anymore” …”it was a good idea, but it lacks direction. It has no day to day manager sitting abover it” …”these measures have come at the expense of innovation.” Sound familiar? These are all real statements from real employees in businesses where the organisation itself, and the priorities that it sets, have become the end and not the means. Places where people do what gets counted, and lose sight of what counts. Through the utilisation of case examples, the book shows how to identify these behaviours and develop ways in which to counteract their negative effects that will minimise the long-term personal and organisational potential. The book highlights three core-competencies that can mitigate the negative impacts of organisational gaming the system.

Love’em or lose’em – Getting good people to stay (2002) by Beverly L. Kaye & Sharon Jordan-Evans

With every employee who walks out the door costing up to 200 percent of their annual salary to replace, retention is one of the most important issues facing business today. This bestseller gives everyone from CEO to front-line supervisor solutions for keeping the employees they simply cant afford to lose. The authors show that what employees really want, even more than bigger salaries, are meaningful work, opportunities for growth, excellent bosses, and a sense of connection to the company. This thoroughly updated and revised edition includes a new managers troubleshooting guide with 26 strategies that can be used at every level and a chapter on saying thank-you in the workplace.

The Tipping point – How little things can make a big difference (2002)

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

Fish Sticks (2003) Stephen C. Lundin, John Christensen & Harry Paul

The ‘o-FISH!-al’ follow-up to the phenomenal bestselling Fish! and Fish! Tales, Fish! Sticks is a stand-alone business parable that shows you how to come up with a vision for your business and how to keep it alive, vital, and renewed through tough times, such as turnover in management and staff or a troubled economy. Using the example of a hugely successful, fictional sushi restaurant as a model for a vision of continual renewal, Fish! Sticks employs the same kind of easy-to-read story that was used in Fish! to illustrate its three major principals of continued success: Commit, Be It, and Coach It.

Changing minds –  (2004) The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds  – Howard Gardner

“Insights into One of the Greatest Mysteries of Human Behavior Minds” are exceedingly hard to change. Ask any advertiser who has tried to convince consumers to switch brands, any CEO who has tried to change a company’s culture, or any individual who has tried to heal a rift with a friend. So many aspects of life are oriented toward changing minds – yet this phenomenon is among the least understood of familiar human experiences. Now, eminent Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, whose work has revolutionized our beliefs about intelligence, creativity, and leadership, offers an original framework for understanding exactly what happens during the course of changing a mind – and how to influence that process. Drawing on decades of cognitive research and compelling case studies – from famous business and political leaders to renowned intellectuals and artists to ordinary individuals – Gardner identifies seven powerful factors that impel or thwart significant shifts from one way of thinking to a dramatically new one. Whether we are attempting to change the mind of a nation or a corporation, our spouse’s mind or our own, this book provides insights that can broaden our horizons and improve our lives.

Blink – The power o thinking without thinking (2005) Malcolm Gladwell

Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others? In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of “blink”: the election of Warren Harding; “New Coke”; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police.  Blink reveals that great decision makers aren’t those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of “thin-slicing”-filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.

Freakonomics – A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005) – Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives-;how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of … well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.

What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and-;if the right questions are asked-;is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to see through all the clutter.

The undercover economist – Exposing why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor–And why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car! (2006) Tim Harford

“The Undercover Economist” presents simple versions of several economic theories (which hardly sound like the Economics 101 that I remember), then uses real-world examples to illustrate how they work. Very well done, easy to read, strong proponent of open (capitalist, global/not protectionist) markets, progressive taxes, (relatively) hands-off policy, and what he calls “keyhole” corrections. These are the targeted fixes (imposed by gov’t. policy) necessitated when ordinary capitalistic forces are blinded by near-term profits – one example is the addition of scrubbers to coal-burning plants to clean up sulfur emissions – while the plant operators predicted doomsday if required to be clean, the ultimate bottom line was less than 2% impact on cost. He rightly concludes that boycotting Nike or Walmart won’t help the workers in Chinese sweatshops – will in fact cause them harm. His analysis of the bloated American medical system is particularly insightful.

Success Built to Last: Creating a Life that Matters (2007) Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson

Imagine discovering what successful people have in common, distilling it into a set of simple practices, and using them to transform your career and your life. That?s what Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, and Mark Thompson?leading thinkers in organizational development and self- improvement have done in Success Built to Last. Two hundred remarkable human beings from around the world are included, notably: Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, Amazon.com, Warren Buffett, Bill Clinton, Frances Hesselbein, former CEO, Girl Scouts of America, Maya Angelou, Bill Gates

Each shares how he or she harvested victories, learned from failures, and found the courage to be true to their passions. By following a set of simple principles culled from these inspiring interviews, readers can transform their business and personal lives; and discover the true meaning of success.

Outliers – The Story of Success (2008) Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.  Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

The economic Naturalist – Why Economics Explains Almost Everything (2008) Robert H. Frank

This book helps you discover the secrets behind hundreds of everyday enigmas. Why is there a light in your fridge but not in your freezer? Why do 24-hour shops bother having locks on their doors? Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets? The answer is simple: economics. Economics doesn’t just happen in classrooms or international banks. It is everywhere and influences everything we do and see, from the cinema screen to the streets. It can even explain some of life’s most intriguing enigmas. For years, economist Robert Frank has been encouraging his students to use economics to explain the strange situations they encounter in everyday life, from peculiar product design to the vagaries of sex appeal. Now he shares the most intriguing – and bizarre – questions and the economic principles that answer them to reveal why many of the most puzzling parts of everyday life actually make perfect.

Predictably Irrational  – The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (2208)      Dan Ariely

Why do our headaches persist after we take a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a fifty-cent aspirin? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup? When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we’re making smart, rational choices. But are we? In this newly revised and expanded edition of the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.

Errornomics – Why We Make Mistakes and What We Can Do to Avoid Them (2010)

Joseph T. Hallinan

In his quest to understand our imperfections, Hallinan delves into psychology, neuroscience, and economics, with forays into aviation, consumer behavior, geography, football, stock picking, and more. He discovers that some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error prone. We learn to move rapidly through the world, quickly recognizing patterns—but overlooking details. Which is why thirteen-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists miss—and why you can’t find the beer in your refrigerator.  Why We Make Mistakes is enlivened by real-life stories—of weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jail—and offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where you’ve hidden something important. You’ll learn why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women don’t, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (it’s not).

What got you here won’t get you there – How Successful People Become Even More Successful (2010)Marshall Goldsmith & Mark Reiter

America’s most sought-after executive coach shows how to climb the last few rungs of the ladder. The corporate world is filled with executives, men and women who have worked hard for years to reach the upper levels of management. They’re intelligent, skilled, and even charismatic. But only a handful of them will ever reach the pinnacle — and as executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shows in this book, subtle nuances make all the difference. These are small “transactional flaws” performed by one person against another (as simple as not saying thank you enough), which lead to negative perceptions that can hold any executive back. Using Goldsmith’s straightforward, jargon-free advice, it’s amazingly easy behavior to change.

Executives who hire Goldsmith for one-on-one coaching pay $250,000 for the privilege. With this book, his help is available for 1/10,000th of the price.

Switch How to change things when change is hard (2010) Chip & Dan Heath

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly. In Switch, the Heaths show how everyday people—employees and managers, parents and nurses—have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results:

●      The lowly medical interns who managed to defeat an entrenched, decades-old medical practice that was endangering patients.

●      The home-organizing guru who developed a simple technique for overcoming the dread of housekeeping.

●      The manager who transformed a lackadaisical customer-support team into service zealots by removing a standard tool of customer service

In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.

Redirect – The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change (2011) Timothy D. Wilson

What if there were a magic pill that could make you happier, turn you into a better parent, solve a number of your teenager’s behavior problems, reduce racial prejudice, and close the achievement gap in education? Well, there is no such magic pill-but there is a new scientifically based approach called story editing that can accomplish all of this. It works by redirecting the stories we tell about ourselves and the world around us, with subtle prompts, in ways that lead to lasting change. In Redirect, world-renowned psychologist Timothy Wilson shows how story-editing works and how you can use it in your everyday life. The other surprising news is that many existing approaches-from the multi-billion dollar self-help industry to programs that discourage drug use and drinking-don’t work at all. In fact, some even have the opposite effect. Most programs are not adequately tested, many do not work, and some even do harm. For example, there are programs that have inadvertently made people unhappy, raised the crime rate, increased teen pregnancy, and even hastened people’s deaths-in part by failing to redirect people’s stories in healthy ways. In short, Wilson shows us what works, what doesn’t, and why. Fascinating, groundbreaking, and practical, Redirect demonstrates the remarkable power small changes can have on the ways we see ourselves and the world around us, and how we can use this in our everyday lives. In the words of David G. Myers, “With wit and wisdom, Wilson shows us how to spare ourselves worthless (or worse) interventions, think smarter, and live well.”

 

 

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