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.
Whether you are an artist or art appreciator who is curious about the process, this short book provides an interesting explanation of color dynamics using 16 pastel drawings of ocean waves as examples of the system in action. Newberry notes that his color theory was developed after writing about Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Monet for his book Evolution Through Art. “One of the things these artists did was to emphasize the color of vibrations of the air between them and the scene—like looking through a semi-transparent screen window.”
“Valuable ideas take many directions—ideas for new or improved products, marketing strategies, advertising slogans, manufacturing processes, television show formats and move plots, to name a few.”
“The law of ideas is the area of law involving employees, customers, inventors, and authors, who submit ideas capable of being reduced to practical application to business. It is a somewhat amorphous amalgam of contract law, property law, and tort law precedents that has been stitched together by courts over the years.”
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
by David Epstein
“The response, in every field, to a ballooning library of human knowledge and an interconnected world has been to exalt increasingly narrow focus… Both training and professional incentives are aligning to accelerate specialization, creating intellectual archipelagos.”
In Range, David Epstein examines the advantages of having a range of experiences, a broader perspective, an interdisciplinary approach, and the value of flexible thinking and reasoning in a world full complexity and uncertainty where precise, deterministic solutions are unknowable.
The Profession: a Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America
by Bill Bratton with Peter Knobler
Bill Bratton was sworn in as a Boston police officer in 1970 and rose to become chief or commissioner of six major police departments in three different states. He deserves a lot of credit for dramatically reducing crime, most notably as New York City Transit Police chief in the early 1990s and as commissioner of the NYPD in the mid-1990s.
Chapters two through six cover Bratton’s career through his first stint as NYPD commissioner until his falling out with Mayor Giuliani—basically a retelling of Bratton’s first book, Turnaround. Chapter seven covers his years as chief of LAPD; the writers were sloppy with the details in this chapter. Chapter eight is about Bratton’s second turn as NYPD commissioner under Mayor de Blasio.
The remainder of the book deals with contemporary issues related to race, implicit bias, terrorism, and the defund-the-police movement. I imagine Bratton wrote this book out of frustration with the anti-police climate and the resulting unraveling of 25+ years of crime reduction. It is extremely informative and he offers a valuable perspective. I read all 476 pages with great interest.
Go Luck Yourself: 40 Ways to Stack the Odds in Your Brand’s Favour
by Andy Nairn
“After almost 30 years in advertising, I’ve often been struck by the pivotal role that chance plays… Luck remains a dirty secret because it’s seen to undermine the virtues of hard work, talent, and intelligence that are at the heart of any successful business culture… I believe that luck exists—and also that you can improve it.”
Andy Nairn is co-founder of Lucky Generals, a creative agency in the UK whose clients include Yorkshire Tea and the Co-op. His book consists of 40 bite-sized chapters divided into to four sections:
The term True North refers to “the internal compass that guides you successfully through life… It is derived from your most deeply held beliefs, your values, and the principles you lead by.” Quoting Warren Bennis, “Leadership is character.”
Everybody develops their own True North. “Today authenticity is seen as the gold standard for leadership… The reality is that no one can be authentic by trying to be like someone else. You can learn from others’ experiences, but you cannot be successful trying to be like them. People will only trust you when you are genuine and authentic.”