Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
by Matthew B. Crawford
This book is primarily about restoring honor to the manual trades. Crawford writes about the “rich cognitive challenges and psychic nourishment” that come with “the experience of making things and fixing things.”
It makes sense to start with some context about the author’s career path. “I started working as an electrician’s helper shortly before I turned fourteen… When I couldn’t get a job with my college degree in physics, I was glad to have something to fall back on, and went into business for myself.” Later, Crawford went back to school and earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy. He took a job as executive director of a think tank, but he found the work dispiriting. “Despite the beautiful ties I wore, it turned out to be a more proletarian existence than I had known as a manual worker.” After only five months, he quit and opened a motorcycle repair shop. “Perhaps most surprising, I often find manual work more engaging intellectually.” Continue reading →
The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last
by Tom Peters
Tom Peters makes a renewed call to excellence in the context of an increasingly data-driven and dehumanized world. His “putting people first” mantra is even more on point than it was when his seminal work In Search of Excellence was published in 1982.
“The primary defenses against AI-driven job destruction are widespread, relatively unconstrained creativity and novel organizational arrangements designed to produce products and services that will stand out in an automated world. I unequivocally believe that such creativity is antithetical to algorithmic optimization of human affairs.”
“So what is this Excellence Dividend? In short, businesses that are committed to excellence in every aspect of their internal and external dealings are likely to be survivors. They are better and more spirited places to work. Their employees are engaged and growing and preparing for tomorrow. Their customers are happier and inclined to spread tales of their excellence far and wide. Their communities welcome them as good neighbors. Their vendors welcome them as reliable partners. That in turn translates directly into bottom-line results and growth. And, AI and robotics notwithstanding, it translates into jobs that last and the likely creation of new jobs as well.” Continue reading →
The Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Encounter
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson
This book explores the enjoyment of viewing art within the framework of flow, the psychology of optimal experience. Flow is an intrinsically rewarding feeling of total involvement in an activity. To be fully engaged in a state of flow, one must be skilled and challenged. The author studied museum professionals as a proxy for the more general art viewing population.
“The experience is one of an initial perceptual hook followed by a more detached, intellectual appreciation that returns the viewer to the work with a deeper understanding.”
“The best examples of objects containing such challenges are works whose meaning appears to be inexhaustible.” As one respondent put it, “‘A good painting will never be used up.’”
Four dimensions of aesthetic experience are explored: cognitive, perceptual, emotional, and communicative.
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
by General Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell
When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2003, he was fighting a 21st-century war with a 20th-century military. This engaging book is about the reconfiguration which led to faster decisions and greater results. McChrystal’s mission was to defeat Al Quaeda in Iraq (AQI), but his leadership insights are applicable to business as well. Continue reading →
Milton Glaser is best known as the graphic designer who created the I Love NY logo in 1975. He has also designed and illustrated album covers, book jackets, advertisements, posters, magazines and newspapers, and architectural interiors.
The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas
by David Burkus
“Creativity is the starting point for all innovation, and most organizations rely on innovation to create a competitive advantage.” In this interesting book, management professor David Burkus debunks 10 myths of creativity, citing academic research and examples from business. Continue reading →
What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Unique Potential
by Robert Steven Kaplan
“The key to achieving your aspirations lies not in ‘being a success’ but rather in working to reach your unique potential… Remember, lots of people will tell you what you should do and what you should want, but they don’t have to live your life. Chances are, moreover, that they’re not very happy with their own lives.” Continue reading →