book+review category archives

It's a short book, meant to be a quick read and guide to start thinking about thinking. Or maybe, more accurately, to get people doing something differently about thinking. The tone is light, but insistent - change the way you think to create fantastic new solutions.
Clarke Ching's "Rolling Rocks Downhill" is a great business novel, primarily about TOC and Agile. I like how it combines a number of perspectives and shows how real value can be obtained in surprisingly short time horizons. That said, it helps when there is outside pressure.
Kevin Fox's book, Aligned & Engaged, talks about creating effective teamwork in an organization. He provides 29 practices that will help any leader create more and more alignment and engagement in order to improve the bottom line.
Gary Klein's decision-making research is centered around the idea of intuition - what he calls "recognition primed decisions." Intuition is a key element of decision-making. It's not that analysis is wrong, but analysis alone is often insufficient to make good decisions. And how to develop intuition? Develop expertise through experience and guided learning situation.
Stephen Bungay's "The Art of Action" brings together ideas around how people and organizations should be led, based on the study of Carl von Clausewitz and other military thinkers around how they deal with the fact of life: we can't know everything before we must act.
"The CIO's Guide to Breakthrough Project Portfolio Performance: Applying the Best of Critical Chain, Agile, and Lean" by Michael Hannan, Wolfram Muller, and Hilbert Robinson is a good, short description of how to take ideas from several disciplines and apply them to an overall portfolio management approach.
"Pride and Joy" by Alex Knight is a Theory of Constraints business novel about a hospital in chaos and a way of thinking that can help move beyond the chaos to a truly patient-centric, high quality environment.
Freek Vermeulen's "Business Exposed" is a great read that debunk a lot of common practice and common beliefs within business. He brings in a variety of business research to back up his sometimes surprising observations.
Yishai Ashlag's new book, TOC Thinking: Removing Constraints for Business Growth, is a good overview of the Theory of Constraints approach to thinking about running organizations.
Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business has a lot of familiar material in it. Duhigg puts it together in a compelling story that talks about why we get stuck in ruts - in personal life and in business life - and the paths to breaking out of the rut.
Jason Jennings' book Less is More: The main idea: focus. Focus on one thing - one thing for the long term, not one thing this quarter. And that one thing is the big idea of the organization - why is the organization on the planet? That big idea sets the direction and the yardstick by which everything is measured.
"With everything you do you should train yourself to question your repeated behaviors." Is one version of the summary of this book.
Blue Ocean Strategy is a ten-year-old book that is still relevant today. How do you craft a business strategy that moves you to a new mode of operation - away from the competition and setting your own destiny? I also see a lot of Viable Vision in this book.
I read the 20-year-old Raving Fans recently. It has some great ideas that help people think about how to grow and develop your business. The key is to turn your customers into raving fans.
The book in two sentences: "There are two alternatives: one is to bitch about reality and the other is to harvest the gifts it just gave us. This is what I call the freedom of choice."
"Bare Bones Change Management" by Bob Lewis is pretty much what it says it is: The basics of change management. The underlying premise of Lewis’ discussion in the book is around the old yarn that people (employees) resist change because they are stupid / dumb / uninformed / don’t understand. His claim, employees resist change because they’re smart.
"Look before you lean" by Employee X is an interesting study of a Lean implementation from the perspective of someone on the inside who didn't like what he saw.
I re-read Goldratt's book on the TOC approach to project management, Critical Chain. Some interesting food for thought here, even for a guy who does quite a bit of CCPM work.
John Kotter's A Sense of Urgency is completely focused on the first of his eight step change model. The book describes the basic problem (too much complacency and false urgency; not enough urgency), describes a high level strategy to create urgency, and gives four tactics to help increase urgency.
I picked up Steve Tendon and Wolfram Muller's Tame the Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Management shortly after the TOCICO conference in June, and every time I pick it up I glean a different take on the embedded ideas. I enjoyed the thinking here, particularly since I am seeing more and more project management that is all about managing the flow of knowledge work.
"Were you reading a business book written as a graphic novel?" Yep. It was _Commitment_ by Olav Maassen, Chris Matts, and Chris Geary. It is an interesting take on project management with a focus on real options, a topic that I've been obliquely aware of.
After the TOC ICO conference, I picked up Yuji Kishira's Wa - Transformation Management by Harmony, based on a conversation with him and other attendees. It is a fun take on Theory of Constraints, change management and other topics.
My review of "The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win" by Gene Kim and gang. I enjoyed it, and ended up staying up late to finish it. The structure of the book is quite familiar: business novel; looming disaster; averted with the determination of the protagonist (and colleagues) and the help of a wacky "guru." There are some new-to-me concepts that fit neatly with my current worldview.
I re-read Eli Goldratt's The Goal. I enjoyed reading it again for the nuggets embedded throughout and the reminder that this is a solid way to help people and organizations think differently about their situation.
I've had the Stop Starting, Start Finishing brochure / comic from Arne Rock and his team sitting in my briefcase ever since the Lean Kanban conference last spring. It's a fun read about how Justin (Time) does a Kanban implementation.
I read Bob Sproull's _Epiphanized_ in just a few days and found it told a gripping story of TOC transformation, even if the writing style was sometimes off-putting.
Thomas Corbett's _Throughput Accounting_ is a quick read and very familiar for someone who has been in the Theory of Constraints world. I wonder if anyone comes to TOC via this route, rather than through The Goal and some of the other business novels.
This book is a collection of 122 management f/laws described by Ackoff and compiled and updated by Herbert Addison. Good fun.
I just finished reading David Byrne's somewhat autobiographical research, How Music Works. I found Talking Heads and some of his other projects playing on the stereo much more frequently than usual.
Portia Tung has a choose-your-own adventure version of a business novel, this time about going into a client as an Agile Coach (consultant) with five days to turn things around.
The latest read from my backlog is David Anderson's 2004 look at "Agile Management for Software Engineering: Applying the Theory of Constraints for Business Results." It's a great combination of two of my interest areas today.
The New Social Learning by Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner is a great primer for thinking about using social media within organizations, with a focus around how these tools enhance organizational learning capacity.
I recently finished an interesting set of books that seemed to share a theme. Or at least a thread of the familiar: Betterness by Umair Haque; The Elastic Enterprise by Nicholas Vitalari and Haydn Shaughnessy; Abundance by Peter H Diamandis and Steven Kotler; and At Home by Bill Bryson.
Overall, David Weinberger's new book, Too Big to Know, is an interesting study of knowledge and where the networked world is taking us.
I breezed through Jim Benson's short and informative Why Plans Fail: Cognitive Bias, Decision Making, and Your Business. As you can see from the subtitle, it isn't about blaming someone else for why plans fail. It's about helping us see how our own thinking gets us in this mess.
Euan Semple's "Organizations Don't Tweet People Do" compiles his great thinking on helping organizations make the shift to being more human.
To create change we have to move people to a new way of acting with each other (behaviors). The concept behind Viral Change is to make those behaviors infection: spread, copy, reinforce, and spread more.
Christopher Avery's "Teamwork is an Individual Skill" may be ten years old, but it is a great resource. The short summary: I am responsible for the success of any venture in which I choose to participate
Review of Eric Von Hippel's "Democratizing Innovation" which looks at the spread of user-inspired and user-created innovations throughout all industries. What creates it? What sustains it?
Trying to make a decision and feel stuck between two options? Or is your organization struggling with the classic don't spend money but then overspend to "hit the numbers." Evaporating clouds to the rescue.
I read Tom DeMarco's _Slack_. Short review: read the book, even if it is ten years old. Long review: read this entry.
The Power of the 2x2 Matrix by Alex Lowy and Phil Hood gives some excellent material around problem solving and analytical thinking that goes into 2x2 matrices. Read the first two sections in detail and save the examples in Part 3 for reference material.
Rob Newbold's "The Billion Dollar Solution" is a good buy for anyone who is interested in doing CCPM - either as an implementer / consultant or as the company for which CCPM is the way to run projects.
Overview of Larry Leach's "Lead Project Leadership" in which he blends CCPM with other improvement perspectives and straight up Project Management skills.
Andreas Scherer's business novel, Be Fast or Be Gone, was a very fast read for me. I thought it did a great job of describing how Critical Chain Project Management might be introduced to an organization without going into the gory detail of what-is-CCPM.
I review Kate Pugh's new book on Sharing Hidden Know-How and the Knowledge Jam. Good stuff.
If you are interested ideas about computer supported collaborative work (CSCW) and what might happen with smart technologies in everyone's pocket, have a look at Smart Mobs from Howard Rheingold.
Mark White has published an eBook as your very own "Get Out of Jail Free" card - information jail. It's an interesting three-week program to help someone change their relationship to their own overload.
Carla O'Dell and Cindy Hubert's new book _The New Edge in Knowledge_ covers a lot of ground on describing what organizations are doing with knowledge management.
My thoughts on "Nudge" by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, a book about designing the world in which real people live and play. And where they make decisions that could be better.

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