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…
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.
When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency
by Roger L. Martin
Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto from 1998 to 2013, writes about a fragile imbalance in the U.S. economy and the erosion of the middle class. Major themes include efficiency vs. resilience, reductionist thinking vs. complex adaptive systems, and gaming the system. He cites examples of companies where an obsession with efficiency was catastrophic, and conversely, where slack is the secret sauce. He offers policy solutions in such areas as antitrust, taxation, stockholder voting rights, and education.
Brand Naming: The Complete Guide to Creating a Name for Your Company, Product, or Service
by Rob Meyerson
Which sounds more appetizing: Antarctic toothfish or Chilean seabass? Although they are the same thing, the latter sells much better. Likewise, a brand name can make a positive first impression or set the wrong tone. “‘Tronc to change name back to Tribune Publishing after years of ridicule,’ read one headline in June 2018… A mere 15 months after its announcement, Consignia was returned to sender, replaced by Royal Mail Group.”
Brand naming expert Rob Meyerson shares a process that balances creativity with discipline to avoid such disasters and arrive at “just one deliverable: a strategically optimal, legally available, linguistically viable, client-approved brand name.”
Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud
by Martin Gayford
Art critic and author Martin Gayford sat for two portraits by Lucian Freud: a painting which took 40 sittings spanning eight months (November 2003 to July 2004) and an etching over a similar period of time (August 2004 to April 2005). Through the author’s observations and conversations with the artist over many hours working and dining together, this fascinating book describes the studio set up, the artist’s process and quirks, as well as Freud’s views on art and various other artists.
Famous for his Star Trek role as Commander Sulu, George Takei tells the real-life story of his family’s experience as Japanese Americans during World War II. The book is in the format of a graphic novel.
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work
by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer
“Inner work life influences people’s performance on four dimensions: creativity, productivity, work commitment, and collegiality… Inner work life matters for companies because, no matter how brilliant a company’s strategy might be, the strategy’s execution depends on great performance by people inside the organization.”
“To a great extent, inner work life rises and falls with progress and setbacks in the work. This is the progress principle and, although it may be most obvious on the best and worst days at work, it operates every day.”
The Progress Principle is the result of primary research by two psychologists who studied 238 knowledge workers from 26 teams in 7 companies representing 3 industries over the course of a team project—generally about 4 months. Participants submitted daily diary forms to the researchers confidentially. The authors cite some positive and negative scenarios, using pseudonyms to disguise the individuals and their employers.
Nearly 40 years after the publication of the über-bestseller In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters has written his 19th book. His insights on organizational effectiveness (and dysfunction) are as relevant as ever.
“In In Search of Excellence, we defined Excellence in terms of long-term performance. But that begs a/the question. How do you achieve that long-term super-effectiveness? … Excellence is not an ‘aspiration.’ Excellence is not a ‘hill to climb.’ Excellence is the next five minutes.”
Given that Peters has two engineering degrees, an MBA, and a PhD in business, you might be surprised by his findings. “Enterprise excellence is about just two things: People. Service. Excellence = Service. Service to one’s teammates, service to one’s customers and vendors, service to our communities.”
In 2018 I reviewed The Excellence Dividend by Tom Peters. One thing I was struck with while reading that book was the astonishing number of books and articles cited throughout the text. I compiled a list of the 137 books and did a companion post called Tom Peters Reads A LOT.
Fast-forward to 2021, I just finished reading Tom’s latest book, Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism—here is my review. I’ve counted 121 books quoted or recommended in the text, listed below in order of first mention. I’ve only read 10 of these. Titles in bold link to my review. Others link to Amazon.com.