So much to learn, so little time…
Books are food for our thoughts, and our thoughts inspire our conversations. I share with you a selection from my bookshelf below and I invite you to join me in stimulating conversation. If you have thoughts on these books or others that should be on the list, I welcome your comments.
Books I have blogged about
Blogging about what I read helps me to know the material enough to be able to have a conversation about it. Even then, I don’t always remember what I write, but at least I now have somewhere where I can recall what I was thinking at the time I read the book.
The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide to Positive Change
A comprehensive review. Along with the The Appreciative Inquiry Handbook, one of the few books you will need if you are looking at introducing AI to your approach. I borrowed from the book for my post on the 8 principles of Appreciative Inquiry
Mindfulness for Life
The first few chapters provide a clear articulation of mindfulness, followed by practical application to 20 life situations such as depression, addiction, sports and careers. I borrowed many thoughts from the book for a post on mindfulness here: Mindfulness defined: A resolution to consider
What does it mean to really enjoy life? Mihaly asked this same question of thousands of research participants. His results contributed to his notion of “Flow” and my blog posts here: Flow on Sideways Thoughts
Understanding Careers: The Metaphors of Working Lives
“Every conversation we have is with ourselves, and sometimes it involves others.” Scott highlights how the fierce conversation we have is as much with ourselves as it is with others. You can read more in the series I did here: Fierce Conversations on Sideways Thoughts
The Bass Handbook of Leadership
Christi-Anarchy: Discovering a Radical Spirituality of Compassion
Readings and Cases in Sustainable Marketing
Religions, Values and Peak Experiences
Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose
The Shame of Reason in Organizational Change
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The Philosophy and Practice of Coaching: Insights and issues for a new era
Seventeen articles that provide great perspectives on coaching. I particularly appreciated the approach to using appreciative inquiry and narrative psychology, which I applied to our engagement with social media in my post here: The stories we tell: Social media as narrative psychology
Prayer: Does it make any difference?
Contemporary Social Psychological Theories
This is an academic text, but it is a great summary of theories about the how and why we interact with each other and view ourselves. The book expanded my notion of identity and in particular the concept of how we perceive reality through our communication using symbolic interactionism: Symbolic Interactionism on Sideways Thoughts
Organizational Culture and Leadership
The book that opened my eyes to what we mean by organisational culture. I give a summary and apply it to the notion of shadow cultures that exist in organisations here: Edgar Schein on Sideways Thoughts
Other books I have read
This is not an exhaustive list, but what is currently on my bookshelf from a a few years of reflection. A few may make their way into blog posts, all inform my thinking in some way.
Books about other’s stories
Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning
Viktor Frankl, Jewish philosopher and holocaust survivor, took nine days after the war to capture his reflections. After facing the horrors of the German camps, his primary thought was that man’s search for meaning is his primary motivation in life. The book holds powerful lessons that no matter the situation, we always have control over our response.
Martin Seligman, pioneer in “flexible optimism” and learned behaviour, is one of the founding leaders in what is now known as positive psychology. He shares his research-based perspective and scientifically defines what makes us authentically happy.
The Medici Effect
A great summary of innovation. In particular, innovation happening at the cross-section of disparate concepts, and the need for successful execution in the right audience.
Team Roles at Work
The book contains the complete descriptions of the Belbin team roles to provide an understanding of how to analyse teams and then maximise output by using each member’s strengths. A good reference point for anyone taking teams tough the assessment, but unfortunately the book does not contain the assessment itself.
Please understand me
Describes sixteen basic personality types, argues that people try to reshape their spouses, children, friends, and coworkers into models of themselves, and discusses different styles of leadership. Very much aligned with the popular MBTI, and contains the assessment in the book.
Go Put Your Strengths to Work
Buckingham’s book is a practical application of Seligman’s research. The book provides instruction on how to discover and use strengths to find jobs appropriate to your strengths and achieve success in the workplace. Having a basis of Flow and Seligman’s work helps put the material in perspective.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
By using parable, Lencioni outlines what the five dysfunctions of a team can look like. It is easy to see others in his narrative, slightly less comfortable to see ourselves.
A practical coaching framework that focuses on three aspects of the coaching relationship: earning the right to coach, a perfect partnership, and dangerous conversations. A good model for anyone who is in a position of helping someone else realise their potential in a one-on-one relationship.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
An exceptional book with application beyond the technology startup scene. The principles can be applied to any situation that requires rapid and dynamic change in uncertain and complex environments.
How to Practise: The way to a meaningful life
A how-to guide that walks you through the three practices of morality, concentrated meditation, and wisdom. You don’t have to be a Buddhist (I am not) to get value from the sections on morality and meditation. It gets both philosophical and spiritual as it talks about wisdom and emptiness, but there is plenty to apply for anyone searching for meaning.
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
I struggled to get through this one. The writing I found to be rambling and repetitive and the approach overly reductionist. The book used a simple premise to explain away the complexities behind organisational success or failure and the psychology and sociology behind human motivation. I was disappointed because I believe in the underlying principle that personal and organisational purpose drives long-term success and effectiveness. Start with Why, but please follow it up with supporting structure and rigor.
The Natural Advantage of Nations
This book helped frame my perspective on the case for environmental sustainability when I worked at the Environmental Protection Agency. The book is an excellent frame for balancing Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market, the need for innovation, and the role of government as a facilitator and regulator in a free economy.
Cassandra was the daughter of Priam, the last king of Troy. Apollo bestowed upon Cassandra a special gift–the ability to see the future. But when she refused his favors, he twisted her gift with a curse that caused those who heard what she had to say to not believe her. The parallels are obvious for those concerned about the environment. Required reading when I was at the EPA and anyone who feels they are shouting in the wind.
The Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leaders of Change
Exactly what the title says, a handbook complete with sample interview guides and worksheets. Very practical, this plus The Power of Appreciative Inquiry will be what you need if you are a manager, coach, or change practitioner looking to incorporate AI principles into your approach.
Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change
Written by the originators of Appreciative Inquiry, this is a great succinct handbook that will get you quickly up to speed on the concept in under 100 pages.
Locating the Energy for Change: An Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry
An excellent introduction to Appreciative Inquiry that gives the theory as well as practical thought process behind it and a step-by-step approach. The book breaks down what happens in organisations when we project our view of the world, be it positive or negative. I also appreciated how the book positioned AI as vitally important but not a cure-all: “Appreciative inquiry is a tool of organizational and community development; it is not a substitute for management.”
Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic
I picked this up as the text for a Massive Open Online Course I participated in on how to analyse arguments. It is what the title says it is, a way to analytically dissect an argument. I didn’t get through the MOOC and skimmed past much of the book. It is good for those who want to critically dissect what other people say, which at this time is not me.
Harvard Business Review on Teams that Succeed
A collection of eight HBR articles on successful teams from 2004. Easy to digest, you can’t help but take away one or two nuggets to apply to your situation.
Writers on Organizations
Who has said what about organizations and their management? This handy compendium gives easy access to the principal ideas of the leading authorities. Brief, clear resumes bring out the main thrust of their thinking. A great quick reference for anyone ding management studies.
Abolishing Performance Appraisals
The authors separate the five discrete functions of appraisal: coaching, feedback, compensation, employee development, and legal documentation and clarify the objectives of each. They are very critical of the track record of appraisals. I used their step-by-step process for designing an alternative approach as a basis for a proposed coaching framework. Still leaves a few questions unanswered, but starts the conversation.
Social Identity Processes in Organizational Contexts
A series of fifteen academic articles that clearly define individual and group identity in organisations. Makes you realise the answer to the question “Who am I?” largely depends on who I am with at the time.
Institutions and Organizations
We often refer to people who are ingrained in a way of doing things as being “institutionalised”. All groups of people have an aspects of an institution, The book looks at what this means from different levels of values and roles that emerge in an institution.
Organizational Change Theories
The book is an academic literature review written for academics. It contains all the information about different approaches to change, but most would struggle for practical application. It is what it sets out to be, a synthesis of theories over time.
Academic text books
Global diversity management
Organisational Behaviour on the Pacific Rim
Standard academic text book, a little about everything. By the time it came across my curriculum, it was perhaps a little too little on many things but I can see how it might be a good introduction.
Modern Social Theory
I have a soft spot for this one, my first introduction to social theories. The book opened my mind to thoughts from Kant, Marx, Voltaire, Nietzsche, and more. Easy to digest and opens the door to further investigation.
My first book when I started my Master’s path. I felt my mind explode and my world open. Others I am sure do not share my experience with academic text books. That’s OK, it was good for me.
Managing change in organizations
A thorough overview of organisational change. Accessible coverage of leadership, management, theories, strategy, and process, with case studies to support. I wonder is all the popular management books on change could be distilled into a half dozen academic texts.
Books in the queue
I have a long list of books beckoning me from their place on my bookshelf. I have picked a few nuggets from each over the years, but I have yet to fully lose myself in their pages. Over time, I expect the list below will grow faster than the list above.
This book charts Nietzsche’s influence, both historically and thematically, across a variety of disciplines and schools of interpretation. It provides both an accessible introduction to Nietzsche’s thought and its impact and an overview of …
The Nature Of Moral Reasoning
The author discusses landscape, or environment, in which moral reasoning occurs, and the ingredients which play roles in the activity of moral reasoning.
Through an examination of people in the workplace, this book offers a look at the four factors that drive human beings and lead them to the choices that they make.
The Prince and Other Writings
The Prince and Other Writings, by Niccolo Machiavelli, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and …
Heuristics and Biases
This 2002 book compiles psychologists’ best attempts to answer important questions about intuitive judgment.
Cognitive Illusions investigates a wide range of fascinating psychological effects in the way we think, judge and remember in our everyday lives. At the beginning of each chapter, leading researchers in the field introduce the background to …
Choices, Values, and Frames
An approach to the understanding of human decision making.
The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF JUDGMENT AND DECISION MAKING offers a comprehensive introduction to the field with a strong focus on the social aspects of decision making processes. Winner of the prestigious William James Book Award, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF JUDGMENT …
How to Win Every Argument
Deals with one fallacy, explaining what the fallacy is, giving and analysing an example, outlining when/where/why the particular fallacy tends to occur and finally showing how you can perpetrate the fallacy on other people in order to win an …
Stumbling on Happiness
In this fascinating and often hilarious work – winner of the Royal Society of Science Prize 2007 – pre-eminent psychologist Daniel Gilbert shows how – and why – the majority of us have no idea how to make ourselves happy. We all want to be happy, but do we know how? When it comes to improving tomorrow at the expense of today, we’re terrible at predicting how to please our future selves.
The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success — No Nonsense, No Excuses
With the toughest economic downturn in recent history, the issue of accountability has taken center stage. However accountability is often confused with punishment, fault, blame and guilt. In this book, the author argues that the only true accountability is “personal accountability” and the only…
QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life
This remarkable and timely book provides a practical method for putting personal accountability into daily actions, with astonishing results: problems are solved, internal barriers come down, service improves, teams thrive, and people adapt…
The Psychology of Executive Coaching: Theory and Application
In this updated edition, topics reflect the latest developments in the field of executive coaching. Peltier describes several important psychological theories and how to effectively translate them into coaching strategies; essential business lessons in leadership…
Change 101: A Practical Guide to Creating Change in Life Or Therapy
Drawing on thirty years of clinical experience, Bill O’Hanlon–one of psychotherapy’s most innovative practitioners and teachers–examines this simple yet often elusive aspect of successful therapy: change…
The Diary of a Young Girl
One of the most famous accounts of living under the Nazi regime of World War II comes from the diary of a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl, Anne Frank…
Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance
A new comprehensive biography of this hugely important Christian martyr, 60 years after his execution at the hands of the Nazis…
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country…
M. K. Gandhi: An Autobiography: Or, the Story of My Experiments With Truth
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Western India in 1869. He was educated in London and later travelled to South Africa, where he experienced racism and took up the rights of Indians, instituting his first campaign of passive resistance…
Made for Goodness: And why this Makes All the Difference
In Made for Goodness, Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains that, though we sometimes act out of depravity and despair, we do know in our heart of hearts that we are not as we were meant to be, and were created to be so much more. The truth of human goodness can get hidden under the fear that we cannot live up to its demands, or it can get buried under faults or failures, or it can just get forgotten….
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde’s only novel, a classic instance of the aestheticism of the 19th century English literature. Dorian is what I would like to be ? in other ages, perhaps, said Oscar Wilde describing this novel. Basil Hallward is what I think I am. Lord Henry is what the world thinks I am…
Watership Down: A Novel
A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for more than forty years, Richard Adams’s Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home…
The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling, Start Living
Popular ideas about happiness are misleading, inaccurate, and are directly contributing to our current epidemic of stress, anxiety and depression. And unfortunately, popular psychological approaches are making it even worse! In this easy-to-read, practical and empowering self-help book…
The many people who long to draw—but feel too intimidated to try—will rejoice at the wonderful first entry in this brand-new creative series. Written by arts educator Steven Aimone, it’s packed with solid, friendly, hands-on instruction, as …