The information sources listed below are a mix of old and new, including some works that are focused singularly on one aspect of business along with others that tackle topics far broader than business. The collection isn’t supposed to be a ‘Top 10’ list or an opinion of how you should invest your time. Instead it represents some of the works which have informed, impacted, and inspired us. Our hope is that whether you lean towards the academic, love a good guide book, enjoy theories from intelligent and thoughtful people, or maybe just constantly seek new perspectives that you find something of value. Sharpen the saw!
If you have ever wondered about how to get the most from yourself when facing complex challenges, you may want to give this a read.Read More
For those seeking real insight into our biases and how they affect our decisions this is a great resource.Read More
If you are someone who believes that multi-tasking is a necessary competency in the modern workplace you should take a few minutes to read this brief research paper.Read More
Valuable understanding into the most important element of success in business, our people, can be gained from this authoritative survey on employee engagement and its impact within the workplace.Read More
If your firm is struggling to implement its strategy, this survey indicates that you are not alone.Read More
Making big data tangible is a must for anyone in the knowledge economy and Everybody Lies offers significant clarity and insight on the topic.Read More
Within an ever-expanding universe of books on self-improvement, this one stands the test of time.Read More
When looking for perspective neatly packaged in pamphlet form, look no further than the Enchiridion.Read More
If you have ever wondered about how to get the most from yourself when facing complex challenges, you may want to give this a read. In a business environment inundated with increasing distraction and team-based approaches, Cal Newport points out the key role played by the individual in driving progress (e.g. strategy development). He argues that the ability for us to focus our thinking and to go deep is critical for success in the new economy. The book contains some great examples of prominent people in business, and history, and their methods to drive personal productivity. It also provides recommendations of how we can build our discipline to perform deep work more frequently and effectively.
Consistently engaging in focused, dedicated thinking is an important skill for knowledge workers and for the success of their companies. The perspective we gained from Deep Work has influenced not only how we have structured the strategic framework we offer our clients but also how we think about organizational design and job architecture across the enterprise.
For those seeking real insight into our biases and how they affect our decisions this is a great resource. Not only do these biases influence our decisions materially but they do so in ways that are beyond our consciousness. The book offers many helpful examples which make these biases knowable and suggests pragmatic steps to improve decision making as an individual and at the group level. Additionally, specific advice for negotiating and investment management is included which is illuminating. Detailed and intensive in places this is a good read for someone who likes to roll up their sleeves and is interested in the psychology of judgment and how to improve decision making in the workplace.
Making effective decisions is fundamental in business and integral within our Results Paradigm. The understanding gained from this book allowed us to enhance our techniques which drive high confidence decision-making with our clients. This is particularly relevant within our Actionable Strategy practice.
If you are someone who believes that multi-tasking is a necessary competency in the modern workplace you should take a few minutes to read this brief research paper. Although we have known for a long time that cognitive multitasking is not a capability our species possesses, the idea that it can be developed as a skill persists. Built upon significant research itself, Ophir, Nass, and Wagner demonstrate that not only is multi-tasking not a skill to be developed but that those who attempt it are more likely to have trouble focusing. In fact, the more we attempt to multi-task the more distracted our minds become. This leads us to the stark realization that in our frenzied lives where we often try to do many things at once, we are really favoring being busy over being productive.
The battle between focus and distraction is a key theme in our practice. As such we are constantly looking for hard evidence to better understand how distraction manifests and to quantify its destructive impact on results. This particular research helps our clients to see the current workplace environment for what it is and to take accountability for changing it.
Valuable understanding into the most important element of success in business, our people, can be gained from this authoritative survey on employee engagement and its impact within the workplace. Gallup’s work on employee engagement is thorough and continues to deepen over time. The work cited here is focused on the American workplace but rich data with a regional and global perspective is also available. Insights from the data include the importance of benefits, the influence of physical work environment, the impact of matrix environments, the prevailing needs from different generations, and much more. Whether you are considering how to better hire or retain people or just considering how to increase performance, this is a worthwhile resource to leverage.
The primary elements of our practice are Strategy, Execution, and Transformation. The approaches and techniques we utilize in each have to drive greater engagement in order to drive success so Gallup’s work in this field provides us with an important guidepost.
If your firm is struggling to implement its strategy, this survey indicates that you are not alone. This work done by The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed companies to understand better the challenges of strategy delivery and the practices firms are employing to overcome them. Among the findings are that while there is no single challenge which most commonly thwarts strategy delivery, many of the challenges are related to the tendency for strategy to be created in isolation. This can occur in two main forms. One is that those driving strategy are not part of its implementation meaning that much of the context and intent around the strategy is not provided to the delivery team. The other is that those who live in the world of day-to-day implementation do not participate in strategy creation allowing for the development of a strategy which is not properly informed by the reality on the ground.
Based on this survey we revised our thinking in areas of our practice related to strategy and execution including the roles required for both, the detailed outputs of strategy, and our approach to specifying the investments and ramifications of strategy.
Making big data tangible is a must for anyone in the knowledge economy and Everybody Lies offers significant clarity and insight on the topic. While big data has been a catchphrase for some time, questions concerning what big data truly is, what opportunities it creates, and what we should do to capitalize upon it, still remain largely unanswered for many of us. One of the key concepts highlighted by Stephens-Davidowitz is that big data doesn’t represent more data for us to pour over and review. Instead big data allows us to discover the fine slices of data which now exist at a suitable scale to provide insights previously unavailable. Intriguingly, he explores the duality between how we strive to present ourselves and what we truly think. He also illuminates many new possibilities using the vast amount of behavioral data available from our interactions with search engines and online service providers that are transforming social science into a hard science.
Everybody Lies has given us insight into how we can support our clients in gaining important insights during strategy creation. In addition it has spawned many ideas and furthered our thinking about how to best leverage Data Scientists and how big data opportunities might actually reduce reporting efforts.
Within an ever-expanding universe of books on self-improvement, this one stands the test of time. By detailing the habits required to progress how we manage ourselves and how we engage with the rest of the world, Covey lays out a framework of personal development which is clear and practical. He illustrates his concepts and techniques with solid examples that include impactful personal accounts. Firmly but respectfully we are asked to look hard in the mirror and to be accountable not only for who we are but also for how we are striving to develop ourselves. With millions upon millions of people having read the 7 Habits, it might seem unnecessary to include it on the list. We strive to be pragmatic and focus on the fundamentals which means sometimes we state the straightforward. If you haven’t read it, then we encourage you to do so. If you have read it, then consider coming back to it every few years.
We keep coming back this book as it provides a solid foundation as we continue our journey. And since who we are as people defines who we are at work, the 7 Habits also serves to remind us of the traits and behaviors prevalent in the workplace, offering tools to manage them effectively.
When looking for perspective neatly packaged in pamphlet form, look no further than the Enchiridion. Born as a slave in the 1st century A.D. and living in the Roman empire, Epictetus developed a set of principles to help navigate an oppressive world. While we don’t encounter his challenges in our work lives (hopefully), we do have plenty to deal with including muddled decision rights, ever changing priorities, office politics, and staggering workloads. At times our focus can become fixated on things which are unmovable and unchangeable (at least by our own hands). Epictetus counsels us to avoid agonizing about the way of the world and instead to benefit from our understanding of the way of the world. When we know the way of the world, we can predict the world. When we can predict the world, we should be able to manage it.
The Enchiridion provides us with valuable perspective to discern between the aggressive, achievable challenge and the quixotic windmill. As consultants, this frame of reference is very useful as we partner with our clients to determine what to undertake to drive the most impactful results.