Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box by Arbinger Institute is a must read for those interested with improving interpersonal relation...moreLeadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box by Arbinger Institute is a must read for those interested with improving interpersonal relationships and social interactions. The book is based on the teachings of a C. Terry Warner, a philosopher and the founder of Arbinger Institute. Arbinger Institute is a consulting firm that helps individuals improve their lives and large organizations increase their productivity.
Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box has a philosophical flavor to it. It's views on improving the self are very Zen like and thought provoking. You will find yourself thinking about your interactions with others differently after reading it.
The book is a very easy read. It is written in a conversational style. The main character in the book is Tom, a recently hired manager at a fictional company. His boss aided by several other characters embarks him on a journey of self discovery. Tom discovers that maybe he isn’t the best worker, husband and father. Happily, he is thoughtfully guided to becoming better at all of them.
Arbinger Institute has done an excellent job with easily helping others develop greater insight about themselves and their interpersonal interactions through this book. Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box should be on your reading short list, the small investment in time could yield large improvements both personally and on the job.(less)
Thomas Paine’sCommon Sense is a brilliant work and is considered by many as the first bestseller by an American author. Paine opens by shrewdly info...moreThomas Paine’sCommon Sense is a brilliant work and is considered by many as the first bestseller by an American author. Paine opens by shrewdly informing his readers that "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor." Then cleverly volte-faces presenting his radical arguments for independence as “simple facts” and dislodging long held ideals with this classic phrase "a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right." By using these tactics, he sidesteps issues that may have alienated important factions of his audience. Additionally, Paine is able to alter public opinion on traditional colonial principles of American society that his contemporaries were struggling with at that time through his prima facie truths arguments.
Paine’s rhetoric, although completely ostentatious at times, is compelling. For example Paine asserts, "Our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world." While this detail certainly was not true of the American colonies at that time, his arguments gave readers a reassuring confidence that it was fact. No doubt this American gem of a “pamphlet” with its brazen and confidence building declarations helped us toward independence and set the tone for the Country’s “can do” attitude. (less)
I gave this book a second chance. There were a ton of great reviews and I really wanted to be swept up in the other readers’ enthusiasm for the title....moreI gave this book a second chance. There were a ton of great reviews and I really wanted to be swept up in the other readers’ enthusiasm for the title. Unfortunately, I am still disappointed with Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness mainly because of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s relaxed research methods and limited view on achieving happiness in one’s life. The Experience Sampling Method utilized by Csikszentmihalyi seems very weak to base so many of his conclusions. Additionally, the author has a very narrow view of what constitutes happiness and who can attain it.
This time through, I found some very good observations Csikszentmihalyi makes in his book about achieving Flow in one’s daily life. These observations are not groundbreaking; in fact, life coaches preach almost the same philosophy minus a step or two. Yet I found them explained well and in an enjoyable manner because of this I raised my rating of the book to three stars.
Original Review - May 2009
I was disappointed in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’sFlow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness. Although I found the book entertaining during the first few chapters, reading it became increasingly wary as the chapters passed.
“Flow” as Mr. Csikszentmihalyi defines the term is a Zen-like state-of-mind where the experiencer is at one with their activity. Zen is a key idiom. The author has fashioned a shiny new package for an age-old behavioral paradigm.
Mr. Csikszentmihalyi describes what “Flow” is; the qualities of “Flow”; and to a lesser degree the mechanics of “Flow”. But neither the book nor its over-reaching referenced research studies gives the reader a clear path to obtain “Flow”. This is not surprising. People cannot achieve “Flow” by simply reading a book or performing Mr. Csikszentmihalyi’s techniques. The methods he illustrates are only part of the story. One’s ability to obtain “Flow” is based on a complex mixture of nurture, nature and environment.
The best way to describe the book’s inadequacy is as follows. Let’s say Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness was about painting aka Flow: The Classic Work on How to Paint. You would expect after reading this book to have the knowledge to become a good painter.
A reader would be disappointed when the book only described the qualities of good paintings and good painters. And although some techniques good painters have in common were explained, the depth of details were too shallow to be meaningful. Some readers might find this type of book interesting, but it, no matter how well written would turn any of them into good painters.
Perhaps, that’s too strong of an analogy, I’m sure it might make some them into good house painters.(less)
Good to Great is Jim Collins’s follow-up to Built to Last, the 1994 management classic, which he co-wrote with Jerry Porras. Like Built to Last, G...moreGood to Great is Jim Collins’s follow-up to Built to Last, the 1994 management classic, which he co-wrote with Jerry Porras. Like Built to Last, Good to Great is built on Collins’s research. In fact, Collins spent five years of research assisted by 20 business school students, who analyzed 1,435 public companies for this book. Their findings - just 11 companies from were able to sustainable their good to great efforts.
Many experts have problems with the way Collins and his team performed their “research.” And they may have a point. Some argue that the work is bias and his “greatness model” does pass the replicable test. Others argue that Collins’s measure for greatness is flawed. Additionally, Collins’s work fails to be classified as true research because it does not follow scientific method. These arguments may be a bit unfair because some of the variables in business do not lend themselves well to true research; greatness is a subjective quality; and the amount of immeasurable historical variables for this particular project is so immense. If research of this nature was an easy task, we should have written tried and tested formulas for perfect businesses, leaders, schools, cities, et alia during our 3,000 plus years of civilization.
Good to Great may not be perfect research but it is a good start in that direction. Unlike many business books that are based on hype and after-market consulting services, Good to Great is mainly based on good old fashion business principles. Sure, Collins renames some of them with gimmicky names like Hedgehog Concept and The Flywheel. And Level 5 Leadership smells of after-market money. But for the most part, Collins’s book has some sound principles in it that the reader shouldn’t necessarily take as a game plan, but rather a starting point for conversation, reflection and inspiration both for themselves and their team.
Collins's words can be very inspirational. Many groups outside of the business world use the book to motivate their people to aspire for greatness. Good to Great can be a useful tool when its principles are adapted to the user’s unique situation and variables. It can get the conversation moving in the right direction for deadlocked teams. And this is where the book truly shines - Good to Great gets you thinking and motivates you to take action.
Collins states that good is the enemy of great. Time will only tell if he believes his own advice. Good to Great is a very good book. We will have to see if its success inspires Collins forward to write a great business book or undoes Collins’s own quest for excellence.(less)
Is there a formula to becoming a corporate performance juggernaut? Built to Last, the management classic written by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in...moreIs there a formula to becoming a corporate performance juggernaut? Built to Last, the management classic written by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in 1994, takes a crack at answering just that question. The book is a summary of authors’ and their Stanford Graduate School of Business team's six year research project “to identify underlying characteristics that are common to highly visionary companies” and “to effectively communicate findings so they can influence management.”
Built to Last is well written, easy to digest and entertaining. There’s plenty of history and plain old good storytelling in this book. Collins and Porras identified 18 companies through their research that they felt were “visionary”. They compare these “visionary” companies, their leaders and their practices with a control group of second-tier companies. Additionally, they reveal their conclusions on the common ideological threads the visionary companies have in common, but are absent in the other companies. One of my favorite visionary tactics is called "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" or BHAGs for short. A BHAG is a long-term vision that is supposed to be so audacious in its scope as to seem virtually impossible.
Although, Built to Last tries to offer an "ingredient list" for running a visionary, long-haul, powerhouse business, it's fails to deliver the perfect recipe for success. First, more than half the companies in the visionary 18 have faltered since the book was originally published. Secondly, the yardstick used to measure success was market performance. A better measure might have been return on assets or a blended ratio matrix. Additionally, the book does not take into account that some things that make a business successful are hard to measure.
I should have been more skeptical of a book titled How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less, but unfortunately for me I wasn’t. I found the...moreI should have been more skeptical of a book titled How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less, but unfortunately for me I wasn’t. I found the book about 170 pages too long. The helpful material was the making of a pamphlet, not a book. There is very little in this work that is truly unique. Most material on this subject matter is usually a repackaging of Dale Carnegie’s 1930’s teachings and writings with some statistical information de jour tacked on to it. So, I’m going against the grain of the national reviewers and not recommend this book unless you have no social skills or common sense.
I hate to be so hard on this title because I admire its author, Nicholas Boothman. He is very likable. Boothman, an ex-photographer, has made a career stemming from this book which is an amazing feat in itself. Additionally, he is an active speaker and quite good at it.
Company’s love this sort of stuff... complicated topics with simple answers. Do you remember Fish! or Who Moved My Cheese? These titles though were playful and short. How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less could have taken a lesson from them.