Tag Archives: book review

Book Review – “The Shift” by Lynda Gratton

 The Shift - Cover Title The Shift:
The Future of Work is Already Here
Author(s) Lynda Gratton
Initially Published In 2011
Publisher Harper Collins
Formats Available Paperback, and Kindle
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

The Shift by Lynda Gratton looks at the forces that will change the way we work in the next fifteen years, and the key ‘shifts’ that individuals need to make to survive and thrive.

“A compendium of modern management and social science theories … the novelty of Gratton’s book is her synthesis of so many contemporary ideas about the changes to our working lives ”

— FINANCIAL TIMES (book of the year) 

Summary

The Shift takes a long and hard look at the trends that will affect work in future. The author conveys this through short ‘stories’ of individuals in the future – these scenarios include the negative as well as positive.

The Shift starts by identifying five emerging forces and the way they will impact the future of work. The five important forces identified by the author are (1) Technology (esp. the Cloud), (2) Globalization, (3) Demography & longevity, (4) Society, and (5) Energy resources. The book goes on to describe the history, trends and how these will affect our lives in the decades to come.

Part 2 of the book paints a dark picture where these five trends create fragmentation, isolation, and for some, exclusion from work altogether as they are left behind. This is projected as the ‘default future’ where the five forces shaping the future take charge of people’s descent into hell if they are not proactively crafting their future.

The next part of the book focuses on the kind of work that people who actively craft their life can possibly have. These include increase in co-creation/ collaboration, greater social engagement, and creative micro-entrepreneurship.

So what does one have to do to proactively craft one’s future of work? The Shift identifies three main themes that one needs to work on: (1) moving from being the shallow generalist to the serial master, (2) moving from being the isolated competitor to an innovative connector, and (3) moving from being a voracious consumer to an impassioned producer.

At the end there are insightful notes for children, CEOs, and governments on what they can do to move towards a better future.

Well-written and Thought Provoking

I found The Shift entertaining and thought-provoking. It is a current masterpiece on the subject of ‘the future of work’.

The pace (across the 350 odd pages) is breathless, directed and self-assured. While reading the book, the analysis appears sound.

This book helped me think about the future. Though the future may not fully match Gratton’s prediction, it sure is going to be different and some of the things that book predicts will become true.

I think the book should be read by youngsters, parents, leaders (corporate & political), and HR folks.

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“Uses historical context brilliantly to put the megatrends … into perspective … simply brilliant. Inspirational and provocative”

—  HR MAGAZINE

The Shift  by Lynda Gratton is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Check out sample pages of the book by using the “Look Inside” feature in Amazon, here. You will get a feel of the book, and you can decide whether it suits you.

About the author

Lynda Gratton, an organizational theorist, consultant, and Professor of Management Practice at London Business School, is known for her work on organisational behavior.

Gratton has worked with many of the world’s biggest companies, including Vodafone, Shell and Unilever.

In 2008 The Financial Times selected her as the business thinker most likely to make a real difference over the next decade. In 2011 she was ranked by The Times as one of the top 15 Business Thinkers in the world today. In 2011, she was also ranked number one in Human Resources Magazine’s “Top 25 HR Most Influential UK Thinkers 2011” poll.

Gratton is the founder of the Hot Spots Movement, a specialist research and consulting team that works to identify where companies can future-proof their working practice, in order to foster innovation and enhance performance.

Here is a TEDx video featuring Lynda Gratton talking about the concepts in the book.

If the video does not open, use the link https://youtu.be/VbZ3eKbFi3g

The book is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky

Making Ideas Happen - CoverGenerating new ideas is easy, it’s executing that is hard. Whether you are an individual or an organization, perseverance and perspiration are a must to transform vision into reality.

In Making Ideas Happen, the author, Scott Belsky uses his observations and insights behind successful teams at Disney, IDEO, and Google — as well as highly productive and respected individuals like John Maeda, Seth Godin, and Chris Anderson — to present essential principles and a structured set of methods for converting any idea into reality.

Title Making Ideas Happen – Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
Author(s) Scott Belsky
Initially Published In 2010
Publisher Penguin
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

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“A Swiss army knife for Ideas”

Ji Lee, Director at Google Creative Lab 

Summary

Ideas for new businesses, improving productivity or capabilities and solutions to the world’s problems  are common. So are ideas for artistic breakthroughs. However, great execution is rare. Ideas don’t happen by accident or because they are unique or great. Ideas are taken to fruition with passion, focus, and hard work.

According to Making Ideas Happen, the three essential elements behind successful implementation of ideas are:

  1. Organization and Execution
  2. Leveraging the Forces of Community
  3. Leadership

‘Organization and Execution’ includes details of the ‘Action Method’, which covers management of lists (e.g., action steps, back-burner items, and references), prioritization, managing constraints, tolerance for change, with a focus on ‘always moving forward.’

Harnessing the forces of the community through sharing of ideas, processing feedback, transparency, commitment to others, and using the power of the network is the second essential element of success. The book also covers the benefit of physical shared space and self-marketing.

The third essential element is leadership that one needs to drive a team. Motivation, rewards, weeding out of ideas, engagement, decision making (e.g., ‘don’t be burdened by consensus’, ‘leaders talk last’) are some of the aspects covered. Self-leadership is also covered in detail – this includes aspects of handling ambiguity, failures, and conflicts and also being a deviant.

The essence of the book is depicted in this diagram reproduced from the book:

Making Ideas Happen - Equation

Worth Reading (More than Once)

The book is extremely well-written and easy to read and fast to absorb. It is around 240 pages, including the Appendices. The structuring of the book is also done very well, with three major sections and chapters within them. Once you have read the book, it is easy to refresh the concepts by just going through the table of contents.

There are diagrams and tables used to explain or reinforce concepts, wherever needed.

The book was on the bestseller lists for a long time. I recommend this book for entrepreneurs, managers, and anyone unable to start on his/ her pet ideas.

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“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. This book helps you with the hard part.”

— Guy Kawasaki, former Apple guru and author of
The Art of the Start

Making Ideas Happen  by Scott Belsky is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Check out sample pages of the book by using the “Look Inside” feature in Amazon, here. You will get a feel of the book, and you can decide whether it suits you.

About the author

Scott Belsky is a speaker, writer, and entrepreneur with a focus on the creative industries. As the founder and CEO of Behance (https://www.behance.net/), he oversees the Behance Network, the world’s leading platform for creative professionals with millions of visitors every month. He also looks after ‘The 99%’ (http://99u.com/), a think tank and annual conference devoted to execution in creative teams and Action Method, a popular online/mobile productivity application and line of organizational paper products.

Here is a TEDx video featuring Scott Belsky talking about the concepts in the book.

If the video does not open, use the link https://youtu.be/lsQtptwMCFI

The book is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).

 


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

More on Multitasking

This is a continuation from the previous post titled: Is Multitasking Still a Skill to Boast About? Click here if you have not yet read it.

Books on Multitasking

Here are some good, easy-to-read books that explain more of the concepts and can also help you manage the situation better:

 The One Thing Book Cover The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller Amazon.com,
Amazon.in,
Flipkart
The Myth of Multi-Tasking Book Cover The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done by Dave Crenshaw Amazon.com,
Amazon.in,
Flipkart

Other Articles on the Internet

Read more about the uselessness of multitasking in the articles listed below (links provided):

Videos on Multitasking

Here is a video that talks about why we can’t multitask efficiently.

If the video does not load use this link: https://youtu.be/BpD3PxrgICU

Here is another short video:


If the video does not load use this link: https://youtu.be/MJuXV6AD93s

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available. You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper” by John Allen Paulos

This is the book from which I had adopted two puzzles that I used in the last few posts.

A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper Cover

Title A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper: Making Sense of Numbers in the Headlines
Author John Allen Paulos
Publishing Date 1995
Publisher First by Basic Books, then by Penguin
Formats Available Paperback, Kindle
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart.

Here is an example of mistaken precision quoted in the book:

“…museum guard who claimed the dinosaur on exhibit was 65,000,038 years old. When pressed about the precision of the number, the guard says that a scientist told him the dinosaur was 65 million years old when he was hired 38 years before”

In this book, John Allen Paulos takes us through the various sections of the newspapers and explains how math and numbers are key elements behind every story that we read. The book is quirky, perceptive, and uses a ‘light’ approach. Each chapter is very short (about 2 to 3 pages) and covers one topic or one segment of the newspaper. He keeps using analytical thinking and logic together with numbers and simple formulae to keep us hooked. Surprisingly, I found that the longer chapters were more engrossing than the shorter ones.

There are sections on population, taxes, horoscopes, sports, literacy, SAT scores, gender issues, rodent population, rate of technological changes, health care plans, drug approvals, the super collider, and other such topics that we read in the newspapers every day.

Here is something I found interesting in his coverage on obituaries:

“I wonder about the relationships among the obituary’s length, L; the deceased’s achievements, A; his or her fame, F (which is largely independent of achievement); the interval between these and death, I; and the number of other “important” deaths that day, D. Maybe it’s something roughly like L = (A X FXF)/ Sqrt (I X D)….”

Another interesting concept was how minor differences between two populations can seem huge when we consider the behaviour at the extremes of the populations. For example, if we compare student admission percentages to top colleges across different communities, we may find that a minor difference in education levels in the two communities can result in huge differences in the number of admissions, because we are looking at the extremely talented population of both communities.

And through many examples, he illustrates that human beings do not have an intuitive grasp of probability. For example, we are likely to get many continuous sequences of heads (or tails) in real flips of a coin, than we expect (we expect the results to keep changing from head to tail more frequently).

Having read this delightful book, I think I will end up applying a bit more critical thinking to newspaper articles I read from now on…

About the author

John Allen Paulos is an American professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Professor Paulos is famous for his work on mathematical literacy and illiteracy.

Other books by Paulos are Innumeracy, Mathematics and Humor, Irreligion, I Think, Therefore I Laugh, Beyond Numeracy, A Mathematician Plays The Stock Market, and Once Upon A Number.

You can also view this rather long video where the author talks about randomness and many mistakes we make while dealing with it (uploaded on youtube):

If the clip does not load click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__-S2WXmJwU

The book is available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart.

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “Made To Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The messages from this book have ‘stuck’ to me over seven years. I remember this book very well and have been implicitly and explicitly guided by concepts that I learnt when I read the book long ago.

The authors have managed to implement what they are trying to teach :-)!

The full title of the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck – makes the intent of the authors very clear. It is about conveying ideas and messages more effectively to achieve whatever you are trying to achieve Anyway, here is a passage from the Introduction of the book:

“We wrote this book to help you make your ideas stick. By ‘stick’, we mean that your ideas are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact – they change your audience’s opinions and behavior.”

 — Introduction: What Sticks? – Made to Stick

Details of Made to Stick

Made to Stick Book Cover
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck

Authors: Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Publishing Date: 2007

Publisher: Arrow Books

Formats Available In: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

This book is an entertaining, practical guide to effective communication. Extremely well-written, it uses the principles that are proposed in the book for effectively making ideas stick with the audience. It continues with the idea of ‘stickiness’ earlier popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point.

The book contains a number of examples, cases, urban legends, personal stories, and analysis that are used to support the principles of effective communication proposed by the authors. The “Clinic” in each Chapter is used to illustrate the application of the principles discussed to a specific case study or idea.

According to the book, there are six principles of effective communication that combine to form the acronym SUCCES (the last S from “success” is absent). These six principles are:

  • Simplicity. Strip an idea to its core. Keep prioritizing the ideas till you have something simple and profound.
  • Unexpectedness. Use surprise to grab the audience’s attention.
  • Concreteness. Avoid the abstract. Avoid ambiguity. Use vivid images.
  • Credibility. Use whatever will make people believe in the idea. This could be the ‘messenger’ or the way the message is conveyed. (“For instance, if you have the security contract for Fort Knox, you are in the running for any security contract“)
  • Emotional. Form an association between something they do care about to connect to things they don’t yet care about. (The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments – ‘the world’s best seed!’ – that they forget to tell us why we should buy it  – ‘to have the world’s best lawn!‘)
  • Stories. People remember stories compared to abstract messages. (For example, Subway used the story of a man who lost a lot of weight while eating their diet sandwich instead of providing data on calories and fat content of the sandwich).

There are over a hundred examples of successful messaging to illustrate each of the six principles. The book is extremely easy to read and difficult to put down once you start.

I strongly recommend at least one read of the book to following professionals – they can keep the principles in mind while crafting messages and campaigns:

  • Executive management
  • Marketing/ sales folks
  • HR Policy makers
  • Consultants/ Trainers
  • People trying to handle change management

The book is available in multiple formats at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart. The book should be equally readable in all the formats – I read the paperback format.

About the authors

Chip Heath is a Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. His research examines why certain ideas – ranging from urban legends to folk medical cures, from Chicken Soup for the Soul stories to business strategy myths – survive and prosper in the social marketplace of ideas.

Dan Heath is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports entrepreneurs who are fighting for social good.

Chip and Dan Heath have jointly co-authored another book Switch: How to change things when change is hard.

You can also view this 4:44 min video where the authors Chip and Dan Heath are being interviewed (uploaded on youtube):

If the clip does not load click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zlld9TA-Vg

The book is available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

Quick Quiz

In the two you tube clips below, can you figure out which of the principles of SUCCES are most prominently used?

Clip-1: Series of “You Don’t Mess With Texas” ads used to address littering in the state of Texas with celebrities conveying the message

If the clip does not load, use http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYp1gc5joQg&list=PLilaP-sCTPd2aCHcVHdnNpNT7AXXKXxO5

Clip-2: A “Belt Up” ad that won a lot of awards

If the clip does not load, use http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ2EKswyTao

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz

I had read this book around four years ago, and had liked it. So posting a review of the book on this blog has been on my list for a while now.

The full title of the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (How the Culture of Abundance Robs Us of Satisfaction) makes the author’s thesis / proposal pretty clear. Anyway, here is a passage from the book that contains the key theme:

“Freedom and autonomy are critical to our well-being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefitting from it psychologically.”

Chapter 5- The Paradox of Choice

This engagingly written, semi-academic book on consumer psychology brings in new insights into impact of excessive choices available to consumers in terms of speed of decision making (and whether a decision is made at all), and the statisfaction with the decision after it is made. The book also looks at two types of people – the ‘maximizers’ and the ‘satisficers’ in the context of decision making (when faced with many choices).

The gist is as follows:

  • The universal assumption that more choice is always better is not correct.
  • When people are given too many choices, they get paralyzed and often don’t make any decision. Shwartz quotes multiple studies to support his theory.
    [One such example: At a luxury food store, researchers set up a table offering samples of jam. Sometimes, there were six different flavors to choose from. At other times, there were 24. People could taste the jam before they purchased it. The sales when there were six flavours to choose from were singnificantly higher than when there were 24 flavours (subsequently there have been doubts expressed on the design of the experiment, sampling and possibility of random variation and other factors that may explain the difference)]
  • When we make a decision after evaluating many choices, we are more likely to be unhappy/ anxious about our decision, than if we had fewer choices to evaluate.
    [Example: Students from a photography course were allowed to keep one of their prints. Half of the students were later allowed to change the print they had earlier selected, the other half were not given such a choice. Even though very few of the students who were permitted a trade actually exchanged the print they had had earlier selected, the group that was not given an option to trade was happier with their print than the group that was given a second choice]
  • Decison making is a stressfull process, and when there are too many choices, the stress and anxiety levels increase (reviewer’s note: maybe that is why pre-plated meals are so popular!), during the decision making process and after it.
  • There are two types people – the ‘maximizers’ and the ‘satisficers’.
  • Maximizers try to take the best decision, and they try to make sure that they have evaluated all possible options. Maximizers tend to be slow in decision making and are more anxious about their choice even after the decison is made.
  • Satisficers make their decision as soon as they find an option that is satisfactory and stop looking at other choices. They normally do not keep validating that their decision was the right one. They are less stressed during and after their decision making.
  • Shwartz also provides some practical steps to derive more satisfaction from the choices that we make.

The book presents a new way of looking at decision making. Though availability of choices is empowering to the decision maker, too many choices are paralyzing, time-consuming, stressful, and eventually disatisfying. Excessive choices is a phenomenon of the developed nations in the West and this phenomenon is slowly spreading to all parts of the world. Shwatrz makes a plea to increase the choices for ‘have nots’ and reduce them for the ‘haves’, so that everyone is happier. The book does not say how to determine the right number of choices.

The book is written in a mix of academic and racy/ popular styles. Also, many of the concepts are repeated with multiple examples. In spite of that the book is engrossing and engaging.

I strongly recommend at least one read of the book to following professionals – they can keep the principles in mind while providing choices to their managers, staff, and customers:

  • Product and service designers
  • Process designers
  • HR Policy makers
  • Marketing/ Sales folk

The book is available in multiple formats (you have to make a decision :-)!) at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart. The book should be equally readable in all the formats – I read the paperback format.

About the author

Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. In addition to the Paradox of Choice, he has authored/ co-authored many other books like Psychology of Learning and Behavior and The Costs of Living. He frequently publishes editorials in the New York Times applying his research in psychology to current events.

Here are some details, if you want to get a copy of the book:

Paradox of Choice Book Cover
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (How the Culture of Abundance Robs us of Satisfaction)

Author: Barry Schwartz

Publishing Date: 2004

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Formats Available In: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

You can also view this 20 min video where the author Barry Schwartz explains the concepts in the book in his TED talk (uploaded on youtube):

The book is available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Aligning Ferret (by Swapna Kishore and Rajesh Naik) is now available on Amazon as a Kindle eBook

Aligning Ferret Book Cover
Aligning Ferret: How an Organization Meets Extraordinary Challenges (a business novel) by Swapna Kishore and Rajesh Naik has been published (at last :)) as a Kindle eBook on Amazon.

 

Click here to buy or view details on Amazon.com (or on Amazon.in).

 

About the Book

Aligning Ferret is a business novel (in the style of The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt) that uses an engrossing story to illustrate the implementation of organizational strategy, performance alignment, and people management in a fictitious, but realistically portrayed organization.

The story is narrated by Sunil Chinnappa (Sunny), a manager at a Bangalore-based software firm, Ferret. Sunil has just completed the implementation of world-class processes to deliver high-quality software at Ferret. But his self-congratulatory mood is cut short when Jim, the COO of the firm that owns Ferret, blasts Ferret for poor performance and threatens it with closure.

 

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“Ferret revenue and profits are totally off target,” says Jim. “And I can’t see your plans.”
“Plans?” My boss, Rajiv, looks stunned. “You have project-wise data and—”
“Plans, Rajiv. Overall plans, like your direction of growth, the sort of projects you’ll execute, and how much of our outsourced work you’ll undertake.” Jim sounds irritated.
Rajiv’s forehead creases. “We’ve improved our processes. Our focus is to execute PTI work better and—”
“Really? Ferret handles only 5% of our outsourced IT work.” Jim’s voice is sharp. “We acquired you to reduce our costs but we still have to use other IT vendors—expensive ones. If that’s all you can execute—”
“Jim—” Rajiv wipes his brow.
“I may acquire another firm in India or China instead of using Ferret.”

[Intrigued already? Click here to view details/ buy on Amazon. or Amazon.in 🙂 ]

Through Aligning Ferret, you will participate in Ferret’s effort to achieve the extraordinary growth Jim demands of Ferret. You will see how, led by Sunny, the managers at Ferret learn and apply relevant concepts, models and frameworks. They focus on performance management systems and on competencies to achieve overambitious targets. Models/ concepts they consider include strategy maps, Balanced Scorecard, and People CMM®. You will see the managers handle this strategy-alignment related effort in addition to coping with ongoing project deadlines, high attrition rates, and ongoing glitches and conflicts.

An aligned organization knows its objectives and focuses on achieving them. Strategy and alignment are not confined to top honchos deciding policy in boardrooms. All employees need to understand these concepts to work effectively within the organizational framework. Aligning Ferret’s engrossing and realistic story makes strategy, alignment, performance management, and related concepts a quick grasp for readers.

[To jump to Amazon and check the book out, click here]

We had released the paperback version of this book some time ago. Many readers had suggested that we also release a eBook version, but we got busy with other stuff, and hey, we wanted to first sell off the paperback copies :).

The book (paperback version) was well-received and perceived as useful by many readers, sometimes in ways that were unexpected / unintended! Most readers could relate the story to their own lives, to situations they have encountered, and to people they work with (including unreasonable bosses!). See comments from over sixty readers here.

The book was also reviewed in the media (magazines, journals, etc.). You may check out these review comments here.

This book has been successfully used by organizations as a supplementary reading to their Leadership Development Programs.

Aligning Ferret is also listed under “references” in The People CMM: A Framework for Human Capital Management (2nd Edition) (This book is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.in)

We have made some changes from the paperback version.

  • The consolidation exercises that were at the end of each chapter (in the paperback) have been moved in the eBook to an Appendix; this maintains the story flow, while the exercises remain available to readers who want to think more about the concepts covered in the book.
  • We have also tweaked some words and phrases to make the story more accessible for readers outside India.
  • Since this is an eBook format, we have been able to include hyperlinks for navigation within the book.

Here are some details, if you want to get a copy of the book:

[By the way, you DON’T need a Kindle device to read a Kindle ebook.]

Aligning Ferret Book Cover
Title: Aligning Ferret: How an Organization Meets Extraordinary Challenges

Authors: Swapna Kishore and Rajesh Naik

Publishing Date: Kindle Edition: May 2013 [Earlier Paperback in 2008]

Language: English

ASIN: B00CZA94XC

Available at: Amazon.com and Amazon.com.

 

[By the way, you DON’T need a Kindle device to read a Kindle ebook.]

You can also view a book trailer below:

Please feel free to to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.
You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

My List of Books for Implementing People CMM®

I am often asked – “which book should I use for understanding People CMM®?” I have, on several occasions, provided names of different books related to topics under discussion. So, this time when someone asked me, I decided to create a comprehensive list of books and articles that I have found useful.

I have over time referred many books, and the list below is a combination that I found useful to get more insights into generic and some specific aspects of the model.

The list is not a result of a comprehensive survey and evaluation. There are likely to be other books that are better for specific topics; and a different combination of books may work as well or better.

Anyway, here goes:
PCMM Book Cover“The People CMM® (Second Edition): A Framework for Human Capital Management” by Bill Curtis, William Hefley, and Sally Miller. Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in and Flipkart-India .

Well,  if you want to understand the model, you need a copy of the definitive book. Without this book, other books will provide fragmented insights and will not make holistic sense. And if you are serious about understanding or implementing the model, I suggest that you get a printed version in addition to downloading a free softcopy pdf version (from SEI/ CMMI Institute site), for quick searches of specific topics and keywords.

PCMM Book of Rajesh NaikDIVERSION: You can see an image of my dog-eared copy of the paperback version. It has been with me since 2003 (an older edition). It has witnessed (if books can witness :-)) many appraisals (both pre-SCAMPI as well as SCAMPI), and many training courses. If you get really close to the book, you can smell Dalian, Manila, Riga, Bratislava, London, Colombo, Mauritius, Bangkok, Pittsburg, Austin, and many Indian cities – Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, NCR, Hyderabad, Pune, Indore, and Mysore. There are stains on different pages – coffee, tea, cranberry preserve, sambhar, apple juice – you get the picture. Someday, I hope it acquires a historic and antique value; until then I will continue to use it (and also accumulate more history :-)).

Other books that I found useful:

Human Resource Champions Cover
1) “Human Resource Champions” by David Ulrich provides an approach to HR that shifts the focus from activities to be done to outcomes to achieve. The book helped me to look at HR as a business partner with an enhanced role as a strategic player, administrative expert, employee champion, and change agent.
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

From the Ground UP Cover
2) “From the Ground Up” by Edward Lawler III provides six principles for organizational transformation. I found it very useful for handling the change management that People CMM® implementation requires.
Available at Amazon.com,Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

Competitive Advantage Cover
3) “Competitive Advantage Through People” by Jeffrey Pfeffer explores how effective people management practices enable organizations to achieve superior performance, by using examples of successful companies that treat their workforce as “assets/ investments” instead of “costs/ expenses”.
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

Balanced Scorecard Cover
4) “The Balanced Scorecard” by Robert Kaplan and David Norton. I found it useful for process areas of Performance Management and Organizational Performance Alignment.
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

Strategy Maps Cover
5) “Strategy Maps”, once again by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, helps me in generating ideas for the process area Organizational Performance Alignment.
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

Competence at Work Cover
6) “Competence At Work” by Lyle Spencer and Signe Spencer is the classic for setting up a competency framework and competency assessments. I keep going back to this book for the process areas – Competency Analysis and Competency Development.
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

HR Scorecard Cover
7) “The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance” by Dave Ulrich, Mark A. Huselid, Brian E. Becker provides the framework for setting up a robust measurement program for tracking performance and effectiveness of HR/ People management in organizations. This book has been useful to me to set up the “measurement” related practices of People CMM® across many process areas.
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

Workforce Scorecard Cover
8) “The Workforce Scorecard: Managing Human Capital To Execute Strategy” by Mark Huselid, Brian Becker, and Richard Beatty – this book (in addition to the HR Scorecard book) gave me more insights in designing effective metrics for People CMM® implementation. The book also enlightened me on how behaviors, competencies, and culture impact organizational performance.
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

Designing Team Based Organizations Cover
9) “Designing Team-Based Organizations: New Forms for Knowledge Work” by Susan Albers Mohrman, Susan G. Cohen, Allan M. Mohrman Jr. This book provided me greater understanding of the process areas – Empowered Wokgroups, Workgroup Development and (to some extent) Competency Integration.
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

Workforce of One Cover
10) “Workforce of One” by Susan Cantrell and David Smith enabled me to look at the aspect of customization of HR practices to meet the requirements of multiple segments of people. This is now increasingly possible because of the availability of automation for administering flexible policies. You can read a detailed review of this book on another post here .
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart-India.

Here are two papers (not books) that have been extremely useful to me, in addition to the list above (besides, they are “classics”) .

  • The Core Competence of the Corporation by C K Prahalad, and Gary Hamel (Amazon-Digital version)
  • Fighting the War for Talent is Hazardous to Your Organization’s Health by Jeffrey Pfeffer (Free Download here).

This is my list  for People CMM®. Please use the comment/ reply facililty to add your own list of useful books for understanding/ implementing the model – a small write-up on what the book addresses and how it is useful in the context of People CMM® will help other readers.

Some book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “Service Management” by James Fitzsimmons and Mona Fitzsimmons

In the early days of CMMI® – SVC, around 4 years ago, I purchased this book on the recommendation of my colleague Chinmay Pradhan . The money and time spent with this book have been rewarding. I now strongly recommend it to anyone who asks me for a book to understand the services context for implementation of CMMI® for Services.

Some relevant information about the book:

  • The book is designed as a comprehensive standard text for management students in service oriented industries.
  • It has been used as reference book for many years – the first edition is dated 1994. The book has been updated frequently and has survived almost 2 decades.
  • The book (5th Edition) has 3 parts and 17 Chapters.
  • The Chapters on “The Nature of Services” and “Service Strategy” (in Part 1) are especially useful to structure your approach to a service oriented organization.
  • There are interesting Chapters (in Part 2) dedicated to development of new services, service quality, and continuous improvement.
  • Part 3 titled Managing Service Operations has a lot of material devoted to demand forecasting, capacity management, managing queues, and service supply relationship – this section is useful for approaching the high maturity practices of the CMMI®.
  • Concepts are supported with diagrams, tables, examples and case studies from a wide range of service industries. The range is so vast that based on reading the book, it is easy to extend the concepts to a completely new service industry/ organization.
  • Each chapter ends with questions for the readers to work on (and consolidate their understanding of the concepts).
  • The book may not be suitable in a Kindle version (I think the big illustrations and tables in the book are not suitable currently for the Kindle format).
  • The print version (5th Edition) that I have is close to 600 pages – just slightly smaller than the A4 size – so it is pretty big to carry around.

I recommend this book very strongly to:

  • Consultants, trainers, auditors and appraisers working with CMMI® for Services (CMMI® – SVC)
  • Process improvement professionals in any service oriented organization, especially those supporting the implementation of CMMI® for Services (CMMI® – SVC)
  • Executive management of service oriented organizations

If you belong to one the above category of folks, in addition to reading the book, you will find it useful to have a copy for reference on a more constant basis.
The book has multiple editions (the 8th edition seems to be the latest) and multiple versions/ configurations (hardcover/paperback, with student CD/ without student CD) – the price varies significantly based on the edition, versions and configurations. My review is based on a paperback copy of the 5th edition, without the student CD. If you are planning to purchase a copy, keep in mind that the price is dependent on some of the factors just discussed.

About the authors

James A Fitzsimmons is a BSE in industrial engineering (Univ of Michigan), an MBA (Western Michigan Univ) and a PhD (UCLA). He has consulted several organizations, including large government bodies. He has edited and co-authored many books and journals.

Mona J Fitzsimmons is a graduate from the University of Michigan, did her graduate work in geology. She has been a teacher and an author. Her activities/ interests include wildlife rehabilitation, environmental issues and health care.

Here are some details, if you want to get a copy of the book:

Service Management Book Cover
Title: Service Management: Operations, Strategy, Information Technology

Author: James A Fitzimmons and Mona J Fitzsimmons

Publishing Date: Initially around 1994, Currently 8th Edition

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel feel to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle ebook

Till a few months ago I had not registered the fact that I could read ebooks on other devices (like my laptop) and didn’t need a Kindle device. This was in spite of my wife’s constantly telling me so for years.

Last month, though, the coin dropped and I took aside an hour to set up my laptop to read Kindle ebooks. Then I felt that it may be worthwhile to have a blog entry on this topic because I suspect there may be a few (or many?) others like me who dismiss the very idea of reading Kindle ebooks because they don’t have a Kindle device. So I invited my wife, Swapna Kishore, to write this post for AlignMentor

[Brief intro: Swapna Kishore is an author of technical books and speculative fiction. She also maintains a comprehensive website to support dementia daregivers in India. She blogs here.

Over to Swapna…

Read Kindle ebooks within minutes on your laptop, mobile, or tablet – by Swapna Kishore

The world of instant information is just a few keystrokes away now because we can buy and start reading ebooks within minutes –  the latest books from across the world. Amazon, for example, has a vast number of ebooks in its Kindle store.

But wait…are you availing this opportunity? Or have you brushed it aside saying, “I don’t have a Kindle (device).”

Because, you see, you don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle ebook. You can read Kindle ebooks on your laptop, mobile, tablet, or even in your browser. It takes just a few minutes enable any of these devices to read Kindle eBooks. Really.

A quick way to understand this is

  • A Kindle e-reader is a physical device that you can hold in your hands. You can use it to read documents in a number of formats. You can read Kindle ebooks. You can also read other stuff (PDF files, DOC files, etc., depending on which Kindle e-reader you have). You can also do other tasks, but that’s irrelevant for our discussion.
  • A Kindle book (ebook) is an electronic counterpart of a book. It is the digital version of the book, a file using a particular format. You can read this file on any device that can interpret the format and display the content (the book). A Kindle ebook can be read on the Kindle e-reader device.  And if you install the appropriate Kindle Reader App (software) on another device, a Kindle book can also be read on that device.

So, if you want to read a Kindle ebook on your laptop, it’s easy – install the app for your version of Windows or Mac, and then use it to read ebooks. The process is the same for other devices; Kindle ebooks can be read on your laptop, smartphone, iPad or Android device, or even your browser.  What’s more, you can read the same book on multiple devices. Read it on your laptop. Then, if you are in the car (and someone else is driving it) and you want to continue, you can resume the reading on your iPad or iPhone or Blackberry. You can even synchronize to pick up reading at the point you left it. It’s that simple.

The download links and procedures for the required apps are available at the Amazon site. So all you need to do is:

  • Decide which device(s) you want to read your ebook on (your iPad? your Android device? your laptop? one device? more devices?)
  • For each device, download and install the relevant free Kindle reading app. Apps are free, and downloadable from Amazon (for Kindle ebooks). Check the Kindle section on Amazon for “Free Reading Apps”(currently here.)
  • Test it out:
    • Buy a Kindle ebook and make it available on the device(s) you want to read it on (using wireless or download and USB transfer). For testing the app, you can “buy” a free ebook: Check for Kindle ebooks, using Sort –> Price Low to High
    • Start the “Kindle reader” on that device and read the book

Now that your device(s) is set up to read Kindle ebooks, next time you can just buy the ebook, deliver/ download it to the device, and start reading. You can also read a sample of a Kindle book before you buy it. Every Kindle ebook is just a few clicks (and a few rupees/ dollars) away.

I have been using my laptop to read Kindle ebooks for over two years. In fact, I read ebooks from all ebook vendors on my laptop (they all have ways for you to read their ebooks on multiple devices). I bought a Kindle e-reader some months ago, and I use that sometimes, but even now, I often read ebooks on my laptop. (I can check my email and Facebook on the side, see 🙂 Or even draft a blog post like this one 🙂

And now, just in case you didn’t feel like reading the above:Kindle Device Schematic

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available at the top of this article/ post.

By the way, if all this has made you feel that you need to seriously consider a Kindle device, then click here.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).

Book reviews uploaded on the same blog:


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.