Top Ten Books-Understanding Humans and Organizations
The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain, Daniel Goleman.
I find that the more time I take to bolster my thinking brain the better my decisions are in business and in the other aspects of life. Reading books from a range of authors offers me a better way to think, connect ideas and see the bigger picture.
The following list is for anyone in a professional and/or managerial role that is looking for a less bumpy way to evolve through the shift to the [connected/digital era] we are experiencing now. Some of these books were published more than twenty years ago and some were published this year. Some of the older publications have updates and you may prefer to read those. They are all related and they all provide a picture of the workplace to come. I have listed them in the order that I think will most benefit you to read but you can choose your own way through them.
(1) The Art Of Systems Thinking (1997)
Joseph O’Connor & Ian McDermott
This little book is a gem for anyone struggling to understand how and why things happen in any organization. If you want to influence the decision makers in your organization to buy on board to your workplace ideas, start with this book. Being prepared to answer the Why, What, When, Who, Where questions will be easier once you understand Systems Thinking.
(2) The Fifth Discipline (1990)
Still the best starting point to grasp a reasonable understanding of the value of knowledge in organizations. If you haven’t read this don’t wait – it is as relevant today as it was when first published.
(3) Emotional Intelligence (1995)
Since Daniel Goleman first wrote Emotional Intelligence a number of other authors have published perspectives on Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. I believe that starting with Daniel Goleman’s work offers the reader a solid place to begin to understand how EI affects many aspects of organizational success.
(4) Who Are You Meant To Be? (2013)
Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard and Anne Dranitsaris PhD
Anyone who has experienced one or more of the many personality or competency based assessment tools in their career will appreciate the work that Heather and Anne have done to bring actionable meaning to the awareness the other tools offer. If you have developed a cynical or resistent attitude towards such assessments based on past negative experiences, put it aside just long enough to understand the value offered here. Understanding this work will serve you well in any aspect of your life.
(5) Flourish (2011)
Martin E.P. Seligman
Martin Seligman has a friendly, let’s talk, way of writing about psychology. In this work he says: Coaching is a practice in search of a backbone. Two backbones, actually: a scientific, evidence-based backbone as well as a theoretical backbone. Positive psychology can provide both. And that, for this executive coach sounds like great common sense. Even if you are not a coach, this book will provide a nice little positive mood swing, something we can all benefit from.
(6) Immunity to Change (2009)
Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey
I like this book as it fits neatly into my own research and work on change and resilience. If you have responsibility for strengthening the outcomes of change in your organization it can be a useful tool to add to your toolbox. I don’t see it as the answer but it does offer some thoughts that help when working through change with diverse teams. The more tools we have to work with the less chance of falling into the ‘one size fits all’ method of change management.
(7) Clear Leadership (2001)
This is an interesting work, somewhat more complex in the ideas inside it that the title suggests. However, it is worth having on your book shelf to refer to once in a while. It has a way of offering clarity when the fog rolls in.
(8) To Sell is Human (2012)
I appreciate the work that Daniel Pink has produced, while Drive certainly struck home with many, is it possible that To Sell is Human is more practical? I think so, and I would like to know what you think once you read it.
(9) The Connected Company (2012)
Dave Gray & Thomas Vander Wal
“To keep pace with today’s connected customers, your company must become a connected company. That means deeply engaging with workers, partners, and customers, changing how work is done, how you measure success, and how performance is rewarded. It requires a new way of thinking about your company: less like a machine to be controlled, and more like a complex, dynamic system that can learn and adapt over time.” I always prefer reading authors who have tested their theories and research through their own hands on efforts, it lends a level of credibility that makes all the difference.
(10) Flat Army (2013)
An unobstructed flow of corporate commonality.
Dan has deftly connected the wisdom of many other organizational behaviour and business research authors, added his own brand of organizational dynamics, and woven in his experience of employing these ideas in currently successful businesses. A rarity in leadership writing, offering the theory, research and practical application from the cyber desk of someone who can say, I researched it and also applied it. If you are not familiar with the other works on this list, I suggest you read them first as a way to ease into the groundbreaking work offered in Flat Army.