Books I Read in September

Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar –

This is four year memior of Nayar's transition into CEO of IT-services provider HLCT. The book has an almost-fable like quality to it with its simple and direct language and the narrative arc of Nayar's journey in his new role. The exact details and failures are sometime glossed over in favor of the big picture, but the book works as story of one's CEO journey to bring needed change to his organization.

Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo –

Gray and company start with the premise that many problems lack a clear, definable solution. To reach fuzzy goals you need to use a different set of tools based on gameplay.The book provides over 80 games that can be used in generate ideas, explore ideas, and decide which idea move us closer. The book also describes the qualities games have so that readers can develop their own games to match the situation. A great update to the idea generation literature.

Hacking Work by Bill Jensen and Josh Klein –

The idea here is that processes and procedures of large organizations are stopping good work from happening and the smart one are finding hacks to get the work done better and more efficiently. I found myself thinking back to a variety of times I have hacked work. The book successfully advocates hacking, even discusses the white hat/black hat dilemmas one can find themselves in, but lack the utility for how we can become better hackers.

I live in the future & here's how it works by Nick Bilton –

Bilton's book is the latest in a line of prognostication about how technology will impact the future. When you read, start with the manifesto-like epilogue that strangely feels like it should have started the book. Bilton starts to gain steam about halfway through, his chapter on suggestion and swarms being my favorite and ends with both commentary on various segments of media and reporting some of the protoyping he did while working in the New York Times R&D lab. Technophiles may be frustrated by the early going but rewarded for sticking with it.

The Mesh by Lisa Gansky –

As Lisa's friend Seth Godin said this book at Long Tail potential.The idea that we have gone from using the internet to sharing bits to sharing atoms whether that be spare rooms in our house to unused cars sitting in our driveway to charging others for idle hours in our day is very provocative. The companies that build these networks increase the number of transactions with customers, learning more and find ways to better serve them. Sharing means a completely different design mentality, one that emphasizes sturdy construction for repeated use and flexibility for varied usage. Gansky doesn't have Chris Anderson's platform but I hope her bringing together these ideas under one roof helps this insight find a wider audience.

Pleased But Not Satisfied by Dave Sokol –

This self-published book was written by one of Warren Buffet's top lieutants. and got quite a bump through a recent profile of Sokol in Fortune magazine. The message is basic with have emphasis on planning, budgeting, goal setting, and then executing. Sokol over and over stresses how often overly-optimistic assumptions will destroy projects and acquisitions. The book delivers on the utility side, but is weak on the unexpected. Sokol uses this book to familiarize managers with how he operate and I would expect that being surprising was not an important part of creating the book. For many managers, it would be worth tracking down a copy and spend couple of hours with the 100 or so pages.

What's Mine Is Yours by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers –

This book "shares" precisely in the same space at The Mesh. Botsman and Rogers take a more corporate approach to their treatment of the topic using language like product service systems, redistribution markets and collaborative lifestyles. Fortune 500 types are going to dig this book more because it speaks their language and is more throughly researched. If you like square corners, go with this version.

Where Good Ideas Come Fr
by Steven Johnson –

This is my favorite book of the fall. Anyone who reads business books should read this one. I am going to save my extended review for the October newsletter. If you would commentary on Where Good Ideas Come From and what makes the book work so well, sign up at the top of this page.

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