The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni (Reviewed August 2012)
Published in 2002, the Five Dysfunctions is really two books in one. The first part of the book is a self-described “leadership fable.” The second is a more logical re-presentation of the same information in a more traditional, linear fashion. The second part also includes a short self-assessment tool that teams can utilize to see how they’re doing and which “dysfunction” may be causing them problems.
Good to Great and the Social Sectors, by Jim Collins (Reviewed November 2010)
Good to Great and the Social Sectors, by Jim Collins, is a 40 page document designed to read in concert with his well-known book Good to Great. Good to Great is a staple of business school syllabi for helping students identify what separates great businesses from good businesses. But having not read the related book, I can vouch for the fact that the monograph stands on its own.
The Secrets of Facilitation, by Michael Wilkinson (Reviewed August 2010)
Sometimes you know things, but don’t realize you know it. Or, more accurately, sometimes you recognize and engage in behaviors, without being able to articulate why. But then somebody comes along and articulates why and a light goes off.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini (Reviewed March and April 2010)
First released in 1984, and updated multiple times since then, Influence is a easy-to-read, chock-full-of-ideas guide to how people get other people to do things they wouldn’t automatically want to do.
Cialdini refers throughout to a “click-whirr” mental shortcuts that humans take when faced with certain stimuli.
Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant (reviewed in January 2012)
I’m a big fan of Jim Collins and his business writings. His book Good to Great wasn’t a standard book by an academic with musings about why some businesses succeed. Instead, it was the culmination of years of research that generated key lessons about why some businesses made the transition to great.
And more importantly for me, Collins wrote a 30 page monograph: Good to Great and the Social Sectors, which did a great job teasing out what lessons there are in Good to Great for nonprofits. I was excited therefore to read that two long-time students of the nonprofit sector had decided to do a similar research project that would generate conclusions about why some nonprofits thrive. After all, helping nonprofits thrive is my personal mission!
The resulting book, Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, doesn’t live up to its pedigree. It’s not, in my mind, a “must read.” However, I’m glad I read it and did come away chock full of ideas, some of which I’ve outlined below.
The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy, by Michael Wilkinson (reviewed in January 2012)
I previously reviewed Michael Wilkinson’s book, The Secrets of Facilitation. I felt the book was an excellent source of ideas for both novice and experienced facilitators.
I was excited to read Wilkinson’s subsequent book, The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy. Once again, the book didn’t disappoint, although it had a few blind spots.
Wilkinson aims to present a comprehensive guide to the process of strategic planning, applicable to a wide range of institutions, from for-profit, to government, to nonprofits. He also suggests the process applies to organizations from the largest to very small.
My bottom line assessment: the book provided this reader a few insights that are worth sharing for those who like me aim to help nonprofit organizations thrive. Those hoping to manage or play a significant role in strategic planning would benefit from reading it.
Great by Choice, by Jim Collins (reviewed in March 2012)
I previously reviewed Jim Collins’ monograph, Good to Great and the Social Sectors.
In Good to Great, Collins wrote a seminal text on what separated some corporations that became great from others that remained just good or mediocre in similar industries. In Good to Great and the Social Sectors, he extrapolated on how the lessons learned apply to nonprofit organizations.
In Great by Choice, Collins and his research team subsequently address a follow-up question: why do some organizations thrive amidst chaos. Does luck differentiate them from others that fail?
While the book is based on a study of for-profit businesses that thrive/flounder under comparable circumstances, once again Collins delivers lessons that apply to all organizations, not just those motivated by profit.