What books have changed my thinking this year? by Bob Corlett
As a staffing consigliere, I’m endlessly curious about how economic forces are reshaping our business environment. Fascinated by what makes change initiatives succeed or fail. Eager to learn what makes people engage and do good work. But rarely do books make me reexamine what I “know” like these four did.
Myths of innovation: (Scott Berkun)
Much of what I thought I knew about innovation was wrong and counterproductive. Berkun looks past the simplistic and superficial stories we tell (“Watson come quickly!”) to reveal the hard work and process behind innovation. For example: “You can say ‘innovative’ as many times as you want, but it won’t make you an innovator….I know from my studies, if you are in the room when something that is later called an innovation is being made, the language is always much simpler. Words like problem, solution, goal, experiment and prototype—simple workman-like words—are the language you’ll hear.” His perspective has been profoundly helpful to me as I continue to wrestle with how to improve the hiring process for small companies.
Flash Foresight: (Daniel Burrus)
A flash foresight is a “blinding flash of the future obvious.” Hard trends are reshaping our world and much of the old economic order is giving way, creating both huge uncertainty and huge opportunity. Unlike the old economy where using a resource (like oil) depletes the resource, knowledge increases when you share it. This creates an entirely new set of dynamics in the business world—an economy based on abundance, not scarcity. This book made me reexamine my understanding of economics and better understand what is yet to come.
Start with Why: (Simon Sinek)
How do some companies consistently outperform others? Why are some leaders more inspiring than others? It turns out that great leaders and companies think, act and communicate in a different way than others. Key message: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This deceptively simple concept was incredibly disruptive to most of what I learned in business school. (Not big on reading? Take 20 minutes and watch his TED talk.)
Switch: (Chip and Dan Heath)
Leading change is not just about being inspirational—there are hard realities most executives overlook. This is easily the most practical, useful book on leading change that I’ve ever read. Key quotes: “Big picture, hands-off leadership isn’t likely to work in a change situation, because the hardest part of change—the paralyzing part—is precisely in the details ….What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity…Ambiguity is exhausting …What looks like a person problem is often a situation problem.” Written with vivid examples, you’ll easily remember the lessons of the book after a quick read. I’ve quoted this book more often than any other.