Category Archives: Book reviews

November 15

What you could learn from ‘Building successful communities of practice’ by Emily Webber (2016, 70 pages)

Emily argues that to be a resilient and happy organisation you must invest in the learning and development of its people as a whole.  In her book, she argues that communities of practice are the best way to encourage learning and development. “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or passion […]

November 01

Product leadership part 3 – leadership

Leadership is a highly ambiguous and contested topic.  If you want to explore leadership, and how it’s meaning has changed over time, see here.  Briefly, in a dynamic environment with highly skilled people (i.e., at Monese), leaders need to support and guide their followers, rather than tell them what to do.  However, leaders need to ensure that people are […]

October 26

What you could learn from ‘The Age of Agile’ by Steve Denning (2018, 264 pages)

How have companies like Google, Spotify, Netflix and Facebook managed to continue to innovate despite their global scale? Steve Denning in his book ‘The Age of Agile’ argues that the competitive advantage of these companies is the ability to get teams focusing on bringing value to the customer and the priority of flow through the system […]

October 25

What you could learn from ‘Powerful’ by Patty McCord (2018, 148 pages)

Netflix is now the global superpower of streaming.  How did they get there, and how did they out-compete Google and Amazon? Patty McCord in her book ‘Powerful’ suggests that the Netflix culture and a strong HR team, under her guidance, played an enormous part in that success. In the book, Patty divides advice into nine […]

October 18

What you could learn from ‘Drive’ by Daniel Pink (2011, 256 pages)

Why do people leave one company for another?  Why do people dedicate their lives to work or the pursuit of a life-long goal?  Motivation theory has evolved a long way since Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see here).  In his book ‘Drive’ Daniel Pink argues that there are three drivers of motivation: Autonomy Mastery Purpose   Autonomy […]

October 05

What you could learn from Barbra Minto’s The Pyramid Principle (2009, 172 pages)

Few books are required reading at McKinsey, the Pyramid Principle is one of the books that most people read during their time. Consulting and leadership are about convincing others to change.  While a leader often has positional authority, consultants do not.  McKinsey consultants found that Barbar’s framework helped them influence clients by building a well structured […]

September 28

What you could learn from ‘Thinking fast and slow’ by Daniel Kahneman (2012, 300 pages)

What is intuition?  How do humans think?  Are humans rational or irrational and can we predict them? In the past economist built models that assumed that human beings are perfectly rational (what behavioural scientists joking refer to as ‘Homo Economicus’).  Daniel Kahneman, a Noble Prize-winning author, showed that Homo Economicus does not exist and that […]

September 07

Leadership hack 026 – the three steps to mastery

“Learn to ski on piste before you ski off-piste” Army Ski Instructor   One of the biggest problems I face when teaching and coaching is that people often try to do too much too soon.  Without a mastery of the basics I find some of the following problems occur: Paralysis of decision-making.  When someone is […]

September 06

My top business of 2017

I try to read a book a week.  In 2017 I only managed to read 21, well short of my goal.  To be fair in 2017 I left McKinsey to put myself through a Coding Boot Camp and built a bank. Of the 21 books I did read, these are my top five: How Google […]

August 24

What you could learn from ‘Change by Design’ by Tim Brown (2009, 242 pages)

Customers are changing.  Brands and companies have repeatedly experienced shifts from consumption to participation.   Many products are now co-created with customers, be it choosing the fabric and colours on your next pair of trainers, or curating and sharing playlists on Spotify. Tim Brown in his book ‘Change by Design’ suggest that companies need to adapt by focusing […]

August 03

What you could learn from Scrum 101 by Lowe, Wyllie and Vara (2017, 126 pages)

Scrum 101 is a refreshingly clear, helpful guide to Scrum.  The book starts by explaining the Agile manifesto and principles directly and thankfully will little interpretation.  The book then situates Scrum within Agile by describing it as a framework for achieving the values and goal of Agile (a great description).  The book also outlines the […]

August 02

Leadership hack 027 – as a leader you need to change when the problem changes

We all know there are different types of problems.  Noble prize winners in physics solve different problems to firefighters rescuing people from a burning building.  David Snowdon attempted to categorise problems into four types of simple, complicated, complex and chaotic. Leaders need to adjust their approach based on the problem they face.  The first thing […]

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