Category Archives: Book

Book Review: When Coffee & Kale Compete

When Coffee & Kale Compete: Become Great at Making Products People Will BuyWhen Coffee & Kale Compete: Become Great at Making Products People Will Buy by Alan Klement

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book a month ago. That I keep going back to the book as a reference, and that I have started to use the language of the book is a testament to value and lessons in the book. On that basis alone it is worth a read.

However, I can’t give the book five starts. At times it was difficult to read. The writing is clear, but there are sections where his desire to have a dig at someone and push a parallel agenda gets the better of him. Getting personal detracts from the text, and does not add any value to me as the reader.

In those moments I felt like I was reading a blog, and not a book. If I had paid for this book (I downloaded the free ebook) I would have stopped reading.

When he stayed on topic, and served me the reader wanting to learn about JTBD, the book was easy to read and has a lot to give. (There is some irony in the fact that those sections where he diverts his focus to push his own agenda, did not help me get the Job-Done. And that in that way he did not follow his own advice.)

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Handpicked: Interns Get Fired and A Fungus Network

Articles I Saved

Building intentional networks that drive impact (part 1)

Intentional networks have shared purpose. They use network principles to design how they make decisions and coordinate projects. And they show up in the world in different ways than traditional, top-down authority structures

Continue reading Handpicked: Interns Get Fired and A Fungus Network

Handpicked: Classifications, A Listening Politician, Grown Men Cry and Leceister City

Articles I Saved

Intertwingled Book Excerpt

Benchley’s Law – there are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t – points us in the right direction. To collaborate, we must admit ambiguity and complexity, and avoid premature classification.

41bj3omn05l-_sx332_bo1204203200_Intertwingled is in my top 10 non-fiction books. I enjoyed it enough to have read it twice within 12 months.

This article is one of a series of excerpt that Peter Morville, the author, has been writing from his books.

This article covers one of the core messages in the book, classification.

I am intrigued by the idea of how we classify things. It influences our conversation and the way we see the world. Many of the difficult topics are in some sense bounded by their classification; race, religion, equality, feminism etc. are all forms of grouping. We like to believe that there are clear boundaries, but the truth is never that binary. Things are never that clear.

The real world is grey. Everything is grey. We think it’s not. That is just an illusion.

It all depends on where you start from. If you can change the way a person classifies what they see, you change how they see, and therefore how they think about it.

I work with ambiguity all day. As a business analyst you have to be comfortable with ambiguity and complexity, because that is where the truth is. Continue reading Handpicked: Classifications, A Listening Politician, Grown Men Cry and Leceister City

Handpicked: Listening, Censorship, Thresholds, and Writing

A much shorter version this week. I was travelling with work and ended up reading and listening less than I thought.


Book am I reading (Non-Fiction)

People Skills by Robert Bolton.

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The chapter I have been slow to read this week is called ‘Improving Your Reflecting Skills’.

Put another way this is about improved listening.

I won’t comment much further but leave you with a few selected quotes.

Many times a person will discuss his problems with a spouse or friend and leave without any solution in sight. The speaker will often have greater insight into the problem and the alternatives facing him. He may need time to mull over these ideas and options before moving on to a firm decision.

Though it can be frustrating for the listener to get involved with another and not see the problem resolved immediately, that kind of tension is part of the cost of being a creative listener.

That last passage gets to a question that has been on my mind reading this book, and probably gets to something I need to work on; When do you do more than listen?

He goes on:

When people are not heard and responded to, time can be saved in the short run, but in the long run, the resulting misunderstanding and alienation will often require far more time or take an enormous toll on efficiency. Experience has demonstrated that when employers do not take time to listen to employees, when salespersons do not understand their customers’ needs, and when teachers do not hear the concerns of their students, they are far less efficient in accomplishing their tasks. Listening often seems to be inefficient, but when there are strong needs, deep feelings, or important concerns, the refusal to listen is very detrimental and can result in wasted time, effort, and money.

It is hard to take the step back and listen. I find it easy at times, at work in particular. In my job I know that listening and getting it right up front pays off later in a project.

* Emphasis on those quotes is mine.

Knowledge for Action: A Guide to Overcoming Barriers to Organizational Change by Chris Argyris

Continue reading Handpicked: Listening, Censorship, Thresholds, and Writing

Handpicked: Virtual Reality, Gangrenous Fingers, Travel Agents, Brexit, and Home

A shorter, and hopefully more useful format this week. Let me know what you think.


Book am I reading (Non-Fiction)

People Skills by Robert Bolton.

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This week covered body language.

You can read more on what I learn here.

 

 

As Gerard Egan says, the averted face may mean an averted heart:

“Our approach to communication stresses the primacy of feelings. Unquestionably the content of the conversation can be very important. When the emotions are strongly engaged, however, they should normally receive primary attention. Since nonverbals are the major means of communicating emotions, they are central to understanding many of the most important things that others communicate to us.”

Honourable Fiction Book Mention

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

9969571I won’t normally mention a fiction book I am reading. Fiction is escapism for me, my evening reading when the brain needs a rest.

However, this book was mentioned in passing in a few podcasts. They never spoke about it explicitly.

It is worthy of mention here is it paints a possible future only 20 years out where Virtual Reality, in particular, has become the drug of choice. The parallels with our obsession with smartphones and Facebook are too easy to imagine. If you find yourself checking Facebook 10 times a day you could imagine yourself living a life in this alternate reality.

Continue reading Handpicked: Virtual Reality, Gangrenous Fingers, Travel Agents, Brexit, and Home

Weekly Reading: Why is Body Language so Important?

I am going to try a different approach to my regular Handpicked series. My intention with that series is to share what I have read or listened to in the past week, with a brief comment on why. However I found myself writing longer paragraphs, not a succinct useful curated post.

With that goal in mind I will keep the Handpicked posts shorter. Where I feel the urge to go into more detail on a book, article, or podcast, I will write a separate post.

Below is what would have appeared in this weeks Handpicked post in the ‘What I am reading’ section.

People Skills by Robert Bolton

I haven’t read a lot of this book this week. I made it through one chapter that covered body language.

The theme of this chapter is that we cannot NOT communicate via body language.

Whether or not we intend to our body is always saying something. Usually our feelings and emotions leak through.

I have been fascinated by body language for years and even read a couple of books on the topic back in 2002/3/4. For example I pay attention to where I sit in meeting rooms. If you sit opposite the person, across a table, that creates a barrier, whereas sitting at an angle adjacent to them is less so. It makes for a less confrontational conversation.

Continue reading Weekly Reading: Why is Body Language so Important?