Coach the Person, Not the Problem

Coach the Person, Not the Problem: A Guide to Using Reflective Inquiry

by Marcia Reynolds

Marcia Reynolds trains leaders how to use a coaching approach. “Coaching should be a process of inquiry, not a series of questions. The intent of inquiry is not to find solutions but to provoke critical thinking about our own thoughts. Inquiry helps the people being coached discern gaps in their logic, evaluate their beliefs, and clarify fears and desires affecting their choices. Solutions emerge when thoughts are rearranged and expanded.”

“When people are overwhelmed, stressed, and angry, coaching reminds them of their purpose, visions, and power to move forward.”

Continue reading Coach the Person, Not the Problem

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. 

Continue reading “The Fifth Discipline”

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.” 

Continue reading “Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works”

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.

Continue reading “Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World”

When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency

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.

Continue reading “When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency”

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

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.

Continue reading “The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work”

Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism

Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism

by Tom Peters  

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.”

Continue reading “Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism”

Tom Peters Reads A LOT – Part 2

Tom Peters Reads A LOT – Part 2

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 Humanismhere 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.

Continue reading “Tom Peters Reads A LOT – Part 2”

Discover Your True North

Discover Your True North

by Bill George

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.”

Continue reading “Discover Your True North”

How to Build a Better Business Plan

How to Build a Better Business Plan: A Hands-On Action Guide for Business Owners

by Alastair Thomson

One of the primary benefits of a business plan is “finding a business model that works.” Alastair Thomson, an accountant and experienced C-level executive, guides you to think from a lender’s or investor’s perspective, whether or not you are seeking outside financing. From their side of the table, would you find your business compelling?

The completed plan becomes your “roadmap” for execution. “With the right business plan, you do your thinking up-front. You know how to take advantage when new opportunities come your way and you know exactly what problem needs solving if performance veers off-course.” Thomson encourages planning for three scenarios: best-case, worst-case, and likely outcome. “The biggest danger for a pessimist is under-resourcing their business.” Continue reading “How to Build a Better Business Plan”