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Books I’ve read – November 2009

A fair number of people who read my blog posts also end up consulting the list of books I’ve read in recent years. Based on their reaction, I’ve come to realize that the organization of my virtual bookshelf could be improved. Moving forward, I will publish a monthly post on the books I’ve read during the previous month – this is the first of such posts.

Meeting Facilitation

In preparation for our Strategic Café I read the following two books. I’m working on a post describing the process which should come out in the next few weeks.

The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter

My Rating:

A few words on this book: This is a great book if you are looking to start meaningful conversations on topics that are close to people’s heart. The book covers the requirements to organize a successful World Café.

The World Café is a flexible, easy-to-use process for fostering collaborative dialogue, sharing collective knowledge, and discovering new opportunities for action. World Café originators Juanita Brown and David Isaacs outline seven core design principles and provide practical tips and tools for convening and hosting “conversations that matter,” even with very large groups. Each chapter features actual stories of Café dialogues from business, education, government, and community organizations across the globe, demonstrating how the World Café approach can be adapted to many different settings and cultures. Based on living systems thinking, this is a proven approach for fostering authentic dialogue and creating dynamic networks of conversation around your organization or community’s real work and critical questions––improving both personal relationships and people’s capacity to shape the future together.

Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future

Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future

My Rating:

A few words on this book: Margaret Wheatley wrote the foreword to the The World Cafe book and as such I assumed this book would be a good complement. Unfortunately, this book focuses much more on “restoring hope” than it does on initiating conversations. From my perspective, the book is more about the soft side and the philosophical aspect of conversations.

“I believe we can change the world if we start talking to one another again.”

With this simple declaration, Margaret Wheatley proposes that people band together with their colleagues and friends to create the solutions for real social change, both locally and globally, that are so badly needed. Such change will not come from governments or corporations, she argues, but from the ageless process of thinking together in conversation.

Leadership and Stewardship

The Right Use of Power (The Inner Art of Business Series)

My Rating:

A few words on this book: Although I listened to Peter Block’s audiobook a few months ago, I decided to invest another 3 hours to better understand the philosophical aspects behind stewardship. My friend François told me he listened to this audiobook 6 or 7 times and he has been greatly influenced by it.

The words of Peter Block convey the essence of his revolutionary message. On “The Right Use of Power,” this bestselling author and distinguished management consultant fast forwards us to the business model of the future: a self-governing, accountable organization where power is shared equally and work has meaning far beyond conventional measures. Join this business visionary as he explores:

The “community” of workers and how faith, service and communication redefine success

How to retain the best co-workers and why it has little to do with money

The “high control, low adaptive” organization and its roots in the parent-child relationship

What the philosopher-artist can teach us about pure motivation

The “controlling” boss: the surprising truth about why they do it

Spirituality in the workplace and the hidden strengths of our co-workers

Performance appraisal: obsolete artifact or necessary evil?

Breaking the cycle of “unfulfillable expectations” in the workplace through the partnership model

The “Great Questions” technique for building skillful communications and trust at work

If we redistribute power do we have to redistribute wealth, too?

Compelling real-life examples of the power of stewardship, gained from Peter Block’s years of work in both the public and private sectors

Concluding with a tough question-and-answer session with Peter Block, “The Right Use of Power” will help prepare you for the changes, challenges and rewards coming in the new era of business — an era that has already begun.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

My Rating:

A few words on this book: I read this book in 2002 a few months after it came out. After listening to The Right Use of Power I wanted to go back to Collins’ book to find if there were any similarities between the concepts brought forward in these 2 books – and there are. I will document them further in an upcoming blog post.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. If you’re a fan of “Good to Great”, you should read “The Halo Effect”. Rozenzweig essentially attacks Collin’s use of warmed over, generic ideas and total lack of research backing his examples and claims.

    It’s very well written and eye opening. It’s a great mental exercise to see ideas you believe in taken apart. It may or may not change your opinion on the ideas, but it will make you more sophisticated in dealing with people who present deeply flawed logic. In order for the lessons to be really meaningful, it helps if you really believe the logic presented.

    For example, Collins looks at successful companies and then tries to discover what made them successful. This survivorship bias blinds one from seeing whether unsuccessful companies were doing exactly the same things, but failed. Collins doesn’t considers this possibility, but that is deeply troubling if you’re thinking you’ll go from good to great by adopting his strategies.

    What’s even more troubling and a point Collins has equally never addressed since publishing “Good to Great” is what happened to his examples after the time frame he considered. For most of his examples, it’s a pretty sad story.

    You’ll probably still agree with many of Collins’ ideas, but reading “The Halo Effect” will make you much more sophisticated in looking at how people present arguments.

    December 5, 2009
    • Thanks for your suggestion Andrew. I haven’t read “The Halo Effect” yet but your description sure makes me want to. I have added it to my shopping cart with a few other books. I’ll post some comment on my blog once I read it.

      December 5, 2009
  2. Cool. I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s a great book, especially if you really bought into Collin’s arguments. I certainly did. Very eye opening.

    All my best,


    December 7, 2009

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  1. Books I have read – December 2009 | Pyxis blog

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