People learn differently, taking in ideas, knowledge, and concepts from human interaction, printed matter, interactive media, passive technology like television and radio, and experience, as examples. My favorite way to initially engage a topic is to dive into a good book. Then, I tend to move on with the concepts, placing them into play in my everyday world…testing, probing, and seeing how ideas float in reality.
If you like to think on paper, enjoy opening a great book as you sit in the park during lunch, or write silly little notes and underlines all over your books, then you might enjoy the stuff that I read. Or, maybe it gives you an insight as to what you might like to read.
Either way, whatever side of your brain functions best, always seek knowledge and grow your own perspective on things, and I guarantee that you’ll enhance you own critical thinking processes along the way.
The Circle of Innovation
You Can't Shrink Your Way to Greatness
By Tom Peters, 1997, Knopf
Tom's tome is the best he's written, from my perspective. It encapsulates much of his other work, and even though it is more than ten years old, it still rings true. Create Waves of Lust. He suggests that we create lusted-after services in our organizations and get out of the commodity market. That's a similar message in this month's article. Sure, we can develop systems to help us track and store donor information, but it's what we do with it that makes the difference. This easy-to-read book belongs on everybody's resource shelf.
The Little Black Book of Connections
6.5 Assets to Networking Your Way to RICH Relationships
By Jeffrey Gitomer, 2006, Bard Press
This easy-to-read book is all about building relationships. It's the Yin to the critical thinking Yang. Do you have a little black book of relationships? Who can you count on? Who can count on you? Who would you call at 2 a.m. in the morning? Would they take your call? This book hinges on the fact that much of your present reputation will dictate your future fate.
A Complaint is a Gift
Using Customer Feedback as a Strategic Tool
By Janice Barlow and Claus Moller, 1996, Berrett-Koehler Publishers
This is my third time reading this book! I love the part about how we need to encourage people to complain, how we must create complaint policies that benefit complaining customers, and how the internal mindset (to looking at the complaint as a gift) is perhaps one of the most difficult and challenging things you will ever undertake, especially with top executives.
Only the Paranoid Survive
How to Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Company
By Andrew Grove, 1996, Bantam Doubleday
Andy Grove, intel's founder, spells out in simple language the way to exploit Strategic Inflection Points and create new world of opportunity for organizations, companies, and careers. Grove says, "In my career, I've never been through a tough corporate change that, when done, I hadn't wished I would have done a year earlier."
Healing American Obsession with Wealth, Fame, Power, and Perfection
By Jim Rubens, Greenleaf Press, 2008, www.oversuccess.com
A deeply researched and well-written book that wakes you up with a brisk, cold slap in the face as you glance down to your left shirt breast pocket and gaze upon the stitched man on his polo horse. And then you wonder, "Is this all worth it?"
If this book doesn't spike numerous questions about our society's hyper consumerism and fanatic yearning for what's on the cover of People magazine, then I don't know what will.
Perhaps one good outcome is relishing in the fact that we're making positive impacts in our communities through the nonprofit work we do.
New Strategies for Growth
By Robert Wayland and Paul Cole, Harvard Business School Press, 1997
This classic book requires cherry-picking some of the best-written chapters on the topics of Customer Knowledge Management and Producing and Delivering Value.
I cannot help to think that our community organizations would be so much better off if they paid more attention to CRM--customer relationship management--by more effectively leveraging the information, knowledge, and experience with their stakeholders to create a more focused approach to delivering donor value.
The authors have a point: "The words customer, knowledge, and management are highly independent. To attain full value, all three elements must come together in a closed-loop environment--one that focuses on acquiring the right knowledge of the right customer and that puts knowledge into action in ways that maximize the value of the customer relationship."
Gosh, it simply does not come any clearer than that! Yet, we face the conundrum of how to effectively deploy our limited resources (money, people, ideas) to meet this challenge.
The Creative Habit, Learn it and Use it for Life.
The Ecology of Commerce
By Twyla Tharp, Simon & Shuster, 2003
This practical guide by one of America’s greatest choreographers Twyla Tharp is a wonderful book with insights to our human creativity, on any level. Her chapter “Accidents Will Happen” is my favorite, depicting the fine line between solid, thorough planning and over planning, and how one must be prepared for creative accidents to occur and help guide the natural creative process. All too often, I see too many managers attempt to control the inherent processes in our organizations, therefore thwarting any creativity, ingenuity, or innovation. You will find your own self creativity and your own path by reading this fast reading book. Tharp is best known for her work on movies Hair, Ragtime, and Amadeus, and her Emmy awards for television and her Tony award for putting Billy Joel’s music to dance in Movin’ Out.
By Paul Hawken, HarperCollins Publishing, 1993
Native Californian Paul Hawken is a renowned ecologist and business professional who has long advocated the benefits of growing new businesses with the earth in mind. We tend not to think of ecology and commerce as compatible ideas, but Hawken’s book paves the way for balance between business (and dare I say not-for-profit organizations’) needs and the environment’s needs. Personally and professionally, I see the teasing irony of my goals to leave this earth in better shape than I found it through my work with not-for-profit (for-impact) entities and our constant degradation of our planet by those same agencies. Maybe you will find your own book about the environmental concerns we’re facing today, and how you can work toward closing the gap between a fruitful economic life and a healthy environmental life.