Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Recommended Reading and Viewing

“Whom the gods wish to destroy, they send 40 years of success” - an old proverb

Recently, I have been thinking about this old proverb which I read many years ago in a book. Too many times, as people and organizations become successful, they limit the scope of what they are learning and instead focus more on doing the same thing repeatedly. Over time, they become blind to their surroundings and blind to the problems that are surfacing internally. They tell themselves that what has worked in the past will continue to work in the future. Perfection and doing becomes more important than progress and learning.

For those of us who want sustainable success, there are many opportunities to gain new perspectives and insights this spring. Here is a sampling of some excellent reading and on-line videos that I have discovered and enjoyed recently.

First, there is an wonderful article in the May 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review called “Being More Productive” which is an interview of David Allen, author of Getting Things Done and Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement and Be Excellent at Anything. Both authors have been discussed at past From Vision to Action Executive Roundtables so I was delighted to read this interview of them. Given both authors are two of the world’s foremost authorities on increasing personal efficiency, it was great to read this edited conversation with the HBR, particular the way they discuss their own approaches and what they’ve learned from each other’s work.

As the article explains, “Allen has developed a system of time management that encourages workers to regularly make to-do lists - and helps them blast through the items on them. Breaking down big tasks into smaller “next actions” can help people stay focused and productive, he argues, and multi-tasking is avoided at all costs.”

Schwartz, on the other hand, “focuses on workers’ attitudes and how organizations can help them achieve a mental state that keeps their energy high. People should work for 90 minutes and then take a break to recover...”

Overall, it is a good article. Here is a link to the on-line version: http://hbr.org//2011/05/being-more-productive/ar/1

Second, I enjoyed a great on-line article called “Leadership begins with an inner journey” by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, authors of numerous books including, A Leader’s Legacy. Jossey-Bass, 2006, from the Spring 2011 issue of Leader To Leader magazine published by the Leader to Leader Institute. The title of this article says it all and the article is marvelous and thought-provoking. Here is the link and happy reading: http://www.leadertoleader.org/knowledgecenter/journal.aspx?ArticleID=864

Third, for those of you who are fans of the work of John Kotter and his 8 Step model of organizational change, I encourage you to check out his blog at the Forbes magazine web site. Here is the link: http://blogs.forbes.com/johnkotter/. His April 27th entry called “The Biggest Mistake I see: Strategy First, Urgency Second” is well worth the time to read and discuss with your team. There even is a video post if you would like to hear him speak!

Fourth, there is a great video post called “How Top CEOs Cope with Constant Change” on the Harvard Business Review website of an interview with Justin Menkes, author of Better Under Pressure, about how today’s leaders need realistic optimism, subservience to purpose and the ability to find order in chaos. If you are not a CEO, it is still worth the time to watch this video post. Good thinking about a very important topic.

Finally, on Jim Collin’s website is a delightful video post about the concept of “Preserve the Core - Stimulate Progress” from his first book that he co-authored with Jerry Porras called Built To Last. If you have not heard him speak, this is a great way to learn his material. Click on the following link and you will find multiple video and audio options for your review: http://www.jimcollins.com/media_topics/all.html

Enjoy the above learning opportunities and keep seeking a sustainable definition of success.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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