Some Great Books from 2008
Posted by Mark Bennett on December 31, 2008
Here are ten books that are very good and if you haven’t read them yet, you might want to check them out. The list is restricted to books published in 2008 that I read (there are several others published in 2008 that I have on my reading list). The list is somewhat in order of recommendation, although since the topics vary, you should let that be your main deciding factor.
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li
Excellent survey of what’s been going on in Social Media, both in between companies and consumers as well as between companies and employees. It presents some good frameworks for structuring your thinking about how to best approach social media and has lots of real world examples.
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
This is a small, but thought-provoking book with some fresh thinking covering the well-worn topic of leadership. It focuses on how we can all be leaders and it’s whether we are willing to step up and create change, as there are people everywhere, more accessible than ever, willing to follow.
PZ is an inspiring book that shows how to break out of the “Death by PowerPoint” presentation mode. It’s an easy, fun read that guides you towards how to think about and structure your presentation such that your audience is engaged and retains the major points you are trying to get across.
This book doesn’t just tell you how to draw pictures to get your point across; in fact isn’t really about drawing. It dives deeper into how visualization and thinking about problems visually helps you not only get your point across, but it is central to helping you understand the problem better so that you develop a better solution that in turn you can better present to your client.
This is chock full of real-life case studies about ways companies were able to implement Web 2.0 technologies to solve particular business problems. The case studies are backed by strong analysis of business models and comparisons to other approaches.
Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty by Peter Cappelli
This book is an excellent overview of the general problem of Talent Management, starting with a historical perspective, before there ever was HR, and taking us through the various changes in the business landscape in terms of regulation, technology, globalization, etc., showing how those factors affected the way Talent was viewed and managed, both in terms of acquisition and retention as well as training and development, all based on the supply and demand economics of the time and industry. It then lays out four major principles to act as guides for companies to address their Talent needs.
slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte
An excellent companion to Presentation Zen, this book is a deeper dive into the specifics of creating a presentation (color choices, layouts, graphics, etc.). Whereas PZ is more the kind of book you’d read straight through and then occasionally refer to refresh your memory about it’s way of thinking, slide:ology is more of a reference manual you would go to for help on particular design questions.
Links the concepts from psychology research brought up in books like “Predictable Irrationality” (e.g. Recency Effect, Anchoring Rule, etc.) to the agendas of major institutions like business, government and media and how they use those effects to further their aims. Does a great job showing how statistics are warped and misrepresented to push the populations and markets towards actions they’d otherwise not take, mostly through fear, one of our strongest evolutionary survival traits.
A clear, well-structured approach to the problem of figuring out which of the actions that you are taking with your workforce are actually giving you the results you are looking for. It takes a “systems thinking” view of the problem, designing a blueprint for the problem and then building the system from there.
Financial Intelligence for HR Professionals: What You Really Need to Know About the Numbers (Financial Intelligence) by Karen Berman, Joe Knight, and John Case
Despite the drab title, this book is actually quite fun to read (really!) and since HR has been told that speaking the language of business is key to being a strategic partner, this is a great way to start learning. It’s written in a friendly style that comes right out and tells the HR reader which things matter, how they matter, and which things really aren’t as crucial to know so you don’t get distracted by them. Each section is loaded with examples from recent history (especially scandals) linking HR areas of responsibility to financial problems for companies.