Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

by Geoff Colvin

“The number of people who wrongly believed they could never be replaced by a computer keeps growing.” So what are the skills in which humans can maintain a competitive advantage over machines?

“Skills of interaction are becoming the key to success… Now, as technology drives forward more powerfully every year, the transition to the newly valuable skills of empathizing, collaborating, creating, leading, and building relationships is happening faster than corporations, governments, education systems, or most human psyches can keep up with.”  Continue reading “Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will”

Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency

Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency

by Tom DeMarco

Slack is an outstanding management book full of wisdom about corporate culture, change, failure, learning, quality, risk management, productivity, and managing people.

“You can’t grow if you can’t change at all.” Slack is “the lubricant of change… Slack represents operational capacity sacrificed in the interests of long-term health… Learning to think of it that way (instead of as waste) is what distinguishes organizations that are ‘in business’ from those that are merely busy.”

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The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success

The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success

by Rich Karlgaard

It is noteworthy that a prominent business journalist from Silicon Valley—where technology and IPOs dominate headlines—wrote a book about the human factors of business success. “The yin and yang of effective management has always been about the search for the right spot between data truth and human truth.”

“Hard-edge execution is all about managing exactly to the numbers. The people who live on the hard edge of business are good at making the trains run on time. They focus on profit. Their language is time, money, and numbers. Every company in the world needs these employees.”

“Soft-edge excellence—in trust, smarts, teams, taste, and story—tends to attract loyal customers and committed employees.” Karlgaard says the soft edge is “the heart and soul” of your company. Continue reading “The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success”

The Responsible Company

The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years

by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley

We hear a lot about sustainability, but the authors contend “no human economic activity is yet sustainable… Responsible seems to us the apt, more modest, word to use… The term itself is necessary shorthand; there is no responsible company, only responsible companies of varying degrees, who act strategically to do less harm while improving, not sacrificing, the health of the business.”

Doing good and seeking profit are not incompatible. Wal-Mart’s initial environmental efforts were motivated by reputation management, “but removing excess packaging from deodorant sticks, concentrating laundry detergent in small bottles, and installing auxiliary power units in their trucks to reduce idling time turned out to save them millions of dollars.”

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Humble Inquiry

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

by Edgar H. Schein

Retired MIT Sloan School of Management professor Edgar Schein asserts, “Without good upward communication, organizations can be neither effective nor safe… Your organization may be underperforming because various employees or groups do not recognize the degree to which they are, in fact, interdependent.” The gist of this book is about creating a trusting environment with open communication across hierarchical boundaries. This entails less telling, more asking, and better listening.

“The U.S. culture is strongly built on the tacit assumptions of pragmatism, individualism, and status through achievement… Given those cultural biases, doing and telling are inevitably valued more than asking and relationship building. However, as tasks become more complex and interdependent, collaboration, teamwork, and relationship building will become more necessary. That, in turn, will require leaders to become more skilled in humble inquiry.”

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Team of Teams

team-of-teams

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 “Team of Teams”

The B Corp Handbook

the-b-corp-handbook

The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good

by Ryan Honeyman

What is a B Corp? B Corporations are for-profit organizations which serve a variety of stakeholders rather than to enrich shareholders exclusively. Stakeholders include employees, the community, the environment, as well as the firm’s owners. B stands for benefit.

The term applies in two contexts: Certified B Corps and a form of incorporation offered by several U.S. states. The majority of this book is about the former. The latter is addressed at the end of this summary. Continue reading “The B Corp Handbook”