Following a public question posted by my Egyptian colleague Rafik Zahy https://www.linkedin.com/in/rafik-adel-zahy-160b463a/ on LinkedIn last week, as we near the end of 2017, I was interested to learn from my immediate and extended network / #PLN what books have you read in 2017 and which have had the most impact on you and why?
For me, the following books have been truly inspiring, all read during the second half of 2017 and all of which have helped challenge my thinking, shape my own practice and given me a reinforced sense of direction.
At the same time, I have been blessed to have had the ability to extend my personal network, many of whom I have met either virtually or in person and who make up a fantastic, wide ranging and increasingly diverse network of people that were not in my life in 2016.
To that end I tweeted last weekend about the idea of setting up a virtual book club with the Twitter hashtag #6in6club where anyone can share their top takeaways from books read within the past 6 months with my personal focus being on the future of work and any allied topics – interested?
Following some initial support of this idea, here is a rundown of my main takeaways from my last 6 reads within the past 6 months #6in6club
Transformational HR by Perry Timms –@PerryTimms
Perry is a high energy, highly engaging and inspiring people consultant who has acted informally, as a mentor to myself as I have delved further into the future of work during 2017. Thank you Perry 😊 His personal purpose is “to change the world of work one conversation at a time.”
His approach is anything but traditional when looking at the world of people and organisational development. I had the pleasure of seeing Perrys book journey evolve into what I can personally and genuinely describe as THE must have book around people development and future ways of working that is out right now.
Although Perrys book is titled Transformational HR, it is much more than a HR book and offers insight and a futuristic view on people structures of the future that any CEO or People Director would do well to read.
Perry, through some engaging storytelling, offers a detailed summary of HRs journey over the past 30 years which makes for an interesting contextual opener.
As he reviews, reflects and challenges, respectfully may I add, many of the current established people practices, Perry offers some detailed, forward-looking, user friendly alternatives to these increasingly out of date practices, namely through his T-HR model and 4-zone transformational model.
The true added value of this book for me, which I have rarely seen before, is that Perry offers input from 18 people from across his network (including me bizarrely! for which I am grateful) and a range of real life case studies where he evidences the move towards ‘pair working’ and more agile ways of designing and collaborating more effectively. Such organisations include Widen, Menlo Innovations and Competo, some of which are WorldBlu freedom at work certified.
At the end of every chapter Perry offers some reflective questions for the reader to work through to help them understand how transformational, or not, they or their organisation are and what they can do to become more transformational.
If you have any interest at all in the future of work and what it could look like, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Exponential Organisations by Salim Ismail @salimismail
Salim who is ex COO of Yahoo and co-founder, I believe, of the Singularity University, gives a deeply insightful and understandable introduction to exponential tech and the impact it is having now, but also how it will impact us all and society at large in the future.
Through reading this book one can see and understand why AirBnB, Uber and Deliveroo have become the tech behemoths that they have, in such a short space of time.
One incredible reflection is that within 23 years, if technology and the sun are harnessed effectively together, the world could run on solar alone!
I have promoted the use of his SCALE/IDEAS ExO model which highlights the key internal and external factors to consider (imagine a supercharged 21st century SWOT analysis) to a few people that I believe could benefit from it including using this to design a crowd-sourced volunteer project called Breaking Bias (work in progress). A critical component of an ExO however underpinning SCALE & IDEAS is its MTP or Massive Transformational Purpose.
If you are interested in the impact of tech in the future, this is a riveting read.
Open Book Management (OBM) by John Case
A recommendation from the OBM activity badge in the WorldBlu Freedom Centred Leadership programme, this book was written in 1996 (yes over two decades ago) yet it offers a range of solutions to some of our biggest 21st century challenges, primarily around designing organisations in such a way that we help move every single colleague into the mind-set of a ‘business owner’ and away from feeling just like a ‘hired hand.’
How? Agree the 5 ‘essential numbers’ of your business and ensure that everyone, literally everyone regardless of position or role, can understand them and work them out for themselves.
The result? Highly empowered, engaged, motivated human beings that bring their whole self to work and do not need to change who they are when they clock in at 9am, as can be the case in some organisations. One possible societal result in my view, that was likely unforeseen in 1996, could be the reversal of the worrying trend in diagnosed mental health issues as work becomes more purposeful through OBM.
Do you know, understand and could fully calculate yourself, the 5 key essential numbers within your organisation? Could you communicate these to a new starter in customer service, engineering, HR or reception? I am challenging myself with these questions again right now – 3 for sure but not 5
The Future is Now by Matt O Neill – @mattoneill
I have had the pleasure of being introduced to Matt this year via the ProFinda Workforce of the Future thought leadership group. Another connection made via @PerryTimms
Matt is a very interesting character who is not only a futurist, but also runs his own design and creative agency. In his book he takes a futuristic look into the societal and macroeconomic shifts that are starting and are expected to continue within the next years.
The focus on sustainable food production and reduction in waste (a major personal frustration of mine) could be that we need to get used to protein rich, insect farms in the future instead of the current reliance on meat, for example. I’m a celebrity becoming commonplace…….?
How about Algae becoming an abundant source of food and energy?
Also how about leadership truly becoming about being a servant to your people rather than dictating/directing from up high/afar?
This is starting to change already, but it is clear that these changes will further accelerate as purpose working and decentralised accountability and transparency becomes more prevalent.
If any of these topics appeal, I fully recommend this book.
Scrum by John Sutherland – @jeffsutherland
Having heard a lot recently about Agile / Scrum working and having attended my first #Hackathons with Lara Plaxton @_Lara_HR at FDM Group led by Perry Timms, I was keen to better understand the origins of Scrum working which started in software development but can now be used in every possible way if the mind is open.
In a nutshell, imagine that you chucked your current meeting regime and team structures (personal and organisational) out of the window and swapped these for focussed ‘sprints’ of activity of say 30 mins, each focussed on a single, essential topic.
Seeing the innovation, creativity and energy of a room full of people without ego, hidden agenda or politics is like nothing I have ever experienced before. Just by moving meetings and organisations to more of an agile, scrum approach I am confident, as the book states, that we could get 100% more done in half of the time.
Why am I so sure? I took the lessons from the book and from Perrys leadership of the Hackathons and used this approach (4 x 30 mins ‘sprints’ focussing on one single question/topic each time) when leading my organisations Self Awareness and Assertiveness L&D module which resulted in the delegates from all different areas of the business, co-creating a definition, deeper understanding and application of self-awareness and a range of personal and work based solutions within 4 hours, offering actionable takeaways and insight that colleagues have evidenced to be of value within 7 days of the session.
The results of these Scrum style sessions are as follows:
Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes – @LewisHowes
Lewis talks about 9 masks that men wear ranging from the Stoic, Athlete and Joker masks through to Invincible, Know-it-all and Sexual mask.
I felt that I did not wear protective masks in general terms, however reading this book made me realise that actually, there are masks that do show up more than I would of liked to admit such as the Stoic and Joker masks.
This is an invaluable read particularly for men, but also for women, around better understanding of our fears, what challenges or possible childhood traumas we are covering up and how that covering up is driving the behaviours that we show to the rest of the world right now.
Being bullied as I was at the age of 12&13 and having my ‘mini meltdown’ mid 2016 have shown up to me, through reading this book, to be key reasons why my Stoic and Jokers masks attach at times.
To be able to connect these dots has not only been helpful, but necessary for me to be able to live my life in the fullest and most engaging way possible which I finally feel that I am doing more in 2017 and thus I have the absolute belief that despite the volatile world we live in, there is a lot of good going on too so the more this amplifies, the more that the tide of negativity and polarity WILL change but we all need to be more truthful with ourselves and those around us to make this happen.
I hope that this summary of my book reading during H2 2017 is of interest to people out there and should anyone wish to have a deeper/wider chat about any of my main takeaways, I am happy to share that openly in case it helps you on your own journey of self discovery.
I look forward to learning about you inspiring reads and takeaways.
PS – If for some unforeseen reason you are not following Perry Timms or WorldBlu, I strongly recommend that you start today as my ability to see deep meaning and opportunity in the future of work has been heavily influenced by them both in 2017.