Chair’s Column: Summer Reading List

As I mentioned at our membership meeting, if you have some spare time on your hands this summer, then you might consider these three books, which I’ve read, and add them to your reading list. I’m heading off on vacation myself and looking forward to some time to recharge the batteries and read some other books. So I hope you enjoy these selections (reviews by Amazon.com), and be sure to tell me what you thought, or recommend some titles yourself.

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni (my favorite)

There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are. In this book, Lencioni brings together his vast experience and many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books and delivers a first: a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of the unique advantage organizational health provides.

Simply put, an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, when its management, operations and culture are unified.  Healthy organizations outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave. Lencioni’s first non-fiction book provides leaders with a groundbreaking, approachable model for achieving organizational health—complete with stories, tips and anecdotes from his experiences consulting to some of the nation’s leading organizations. In this age of informational ubiquity and nano-second change, it is no longer enough to build a competitive advantage based on intelligence alone. The Advantage provides a foundational construct for conducting business in a new way—one that maximizes human potential and aligns the organization around a common set of principles.

Reverse Innovation: Create from Home, Win Everywhere by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble

Innovation is no longer the exclusive domain of the Silicon Valley elite. Reverse Innovation will open your eyes to the fact that the dynamics of global innovation are changing—and if you want your firm to survive, you’d better pay attention. The gap between rich nations and emerging economies is closing. No longer will innovations travel the globe in only one direction, from developed to developing nations. They will also flow in reverse. CEOs of the world’s most influential companies agree and have cited Reverse Innovation as their playbook for the next generation of global growth.

Authors Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth explain where, when, and why reverse innovation is on the rise and why the implications are so profound. Learn how to make innovation in emerging markets happen and how such innovations can unlock even greater opportunity throughout the world. You’ll follow some of the world’s leading companies (including GE, Deere & Company, P&G, and PepsiCo) through stories that illustrate exactly what works and what doesn’t.

If you’re in a Western economy, you need to accept that the future lies far from home. But the idea is not just for Western audiences. If innovation is at the heart of your company or your career, no matter where you practice business, Reverse Innovation is a phenomenon you need to understand. This book will help you do that.

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It by Joshua Cooper Ramo

Today the very ideas that made America great imperil its future. Our plans go awry and policies fail. History’s grandest war against terrorism creates more terrorists. Global capitalism, intended to improve lives, increases the gap between rich and poor. Decisions made to stem a financial crisis guarantee its worsening. Environmental strategies to protect species lead to their extinction.

The traditional physics of power has been replaced by something radically different. In The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo puts forth a revelatory new model for understanding our dangerously unpredictable world. Drawing upon history, economics, complexity theory, psychology, immunology, and the science of networks, he describes a new landscape of inherent unpredictability–and remarkable, wonderful possibility.