The Fifth Discipline

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

by Peter M. Senge

Senge writes, “I believe that, the prevailing system of management is, at its core, dedicated to mediocrity. It forces people to work harder and harder to compensate for failing to tap the spirit and collective intelligence that characterizes working together at their best.”

The subtitle is about the learning organization, but the book is also very much about systems thinking. 

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WBCN and the American Revolution

WBCN and the American Revolution: How a Radio Station Defined Politics, Counterculture, and Rock and Roll

by Bill Lichtenstein  

WBCN was a Boston rock and roll radio station from 1968 to 2009. It was instrumental (pun intended) in launching the careers of major bands. It was also part of the social fabric of the Boston college scene. This book and a companion video documentary tell the story of the early years of the station in the context of the era.

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Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions

Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions

by Gerd Gigerenzer

Gigerenzer makes a distinction between risk and uncertainty. He uses the term risk “for a world where all alternatives, consequences, and probabilities are known… Most of the time, however, we live in a changing world where some of these are unknown: where we face unknown risks, or uncertainty. The world of uncertainty is huge compared to that of risk… We have to deal with ‘unknown unknowns.’”

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Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin

Former P&G chairman A.G. Lafley and former dean of University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management Roger Martin explain, “in our terms, a strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of five choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities, and management systems.” 

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How I Paint

How I Paint: Secrets of a Sunday Painter

by Thomas S. Buechner

Paintings by Thomas Buechner (1926-2010) hang in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This book is primarily about technique, featuring dozens of the author’s still lifes, landscapes, portraits, and figures along with commentary about the process. “One purpose of this book is to make looking at pictures, at the surface of the original work, a source of insight and pleasure.”

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How Finance Works

How Finance Works: The HBR Guide to Thinking Smart About the Numbers

by Mihir A. Desai

This is an outstanding book which presents some complicated topics in a clear, well-organized manner with real-world examples. The author, a professor of finance and taxation at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, includes some sidebar commentary from two CFOs, an investment banker, and a hedge fund manager.

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Does It Fart?

Does It Fart? The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence

by Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti, Illustrated by Ethan Kocak 

This book is about “flatology, or the study of flatulence.” The authors are postdoctoral researchers with expertise in ecology and zoology, although they note that their life’s work is not dedicated to fart science. The book features 80 animals, each with one page of engrossing (or just gross) facts about their digestive process, including whether or not they fart.  For example…

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Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall 

Conventional management practices are based on a mindset of conformity and control. The authors, in contrast, argue the key to optimum performance is encouraging individuals make the most of their idiosyncratic strengths. The authors study team performance and employee engagement for ADP Research Institute and Cisco respectively.

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