Recommended books

For me, the most important management book of the last ten years is Thinking, Fast and Slow.

In it, psychologist and Nobel Laureate, Daniel Kahneman, explains how we really make judgements and decisions. What he reveals, based on his own research and that of others,  is by turns surprising and sometimes shocking. Definitely not a book for the beach but an absolute treasure trove of wisdom. If you don't make the effort to understand human behaviour, your competitors might.

If Daniel Kahneman helps us to understand that we are all "jumping to conclusions machines", This is service design thinkingis a terrific compendium of the tools used by designers, to think about problems and solutions in novel ways, with the customer always at the centre of the stage.

A lot of service design thinking crops up, in a very succinct way, in Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers, which seems to include just about every single group problem solving activity ever invented. If you ever need to facilitate q workshop or have ever been stuck for a way forward  in a problem-solving meeting then buy this and keep in your back pocket, to turn to for help.

In addition to advising on project and programme delivery, I do quite a lot of more general mentoring and coaching, particularly for business school students and graduates. A recurring theme is the desire to develop presence and, often, to be a more persuasive speaker. The Charisma Myth: Master the Art of Personal Magnetism is a really great book that dispels the myth that charisma is innate and gives a long list of practical, easy to apply tips, on how to develop presence. An essential read.

Are prepared to fail in order to learn? Or, when we examine ourselves closely, do we prefer to stay within our comfort zone, seeing success or failure as an absolute judgement on our innate intelligence. Standford's Professor Carol Dweck has spent her career studying these topics and has concluded that a growth mindset, versus a fixed mindset, is the critical determinant of future success. This is a must read for anyone who wants to develop themselves. It also has some important messages for parents with school age children. Her boo is: Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential

When self-development is specifically about public speaking, there is no better source than Nancy Duarte. She wrote Harvard Business Review's HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations (Harvard Business Review Guides) but in her latest book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, she has built on that book by integrating storytelling, the absolute key to persuasive presentations. If you are only going to read one book on public speaking then this is the one.

If you have time for more than one book on public speaking then I recommend Lend Me Your Ears: All you need to know about making speeches and presentationsMax Atkinson was an academic who studied the words and phrases used by politicians to engage their audiences. In a TV documentary, he helped a novice speaker to get a standing ovation at a political party conference. Before you could say, "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country", politicians were beating a path to his door for advice. Lend Me Your Ears: All you need to know about making speeches and presentations is the distillation of his wisdom and the vanguard in the fight against death by bullet-point. 

In the middle last year, I wrote a blog post about how "principles of lean thinking" can be applied to projects. For the nerdier of you, who want to go back to first principles, then the starting point has to be The Machine That Changed the World , that describes the Toyota Production System and first coined the term "lean".Further reading at: Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation

Back to projects with The Business Model CanvassThe canvass is a single page or poster that decomposes a business model into its essential constituent parts. Much loved by the lean start-up community, the canvass is available for free but there is also a beautifully produced book:. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers A great thinking tool for projects that are aiming to impact the business model.  Absolutely essential for new ventures and startups....but any project can ask: how do we affect the business model?

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