Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


A very detailed and interesting look at the way our brain functions and how we make decisions.  Quite heavy going in places Рlots of examples and probability questions to go through. Unsurprisingly for a Nobel Prize winner this is detailed and thought out stuff not something jotted down on the back of an envelope. Kahneman references Nudge quite a bit for how to use some of these ideas on a practical level but it was nice to read this one too in order to see where many of these ideas first came from.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell


Success is less about talent and more about opportunity. That’s the basic thrust of Gladwell’s argument. He’s lined up a whole list of people we would associate as outliers – super successful businesspeople, lawyers, sportspeople, etc and explained their success. by listing all the breaks they got along the way. There are two types of opportunity identified – access (to people, resources, etc) and timing (being born in the right month or the right year). It’s an interesting argument and well delivered. At times the editorialising gets in the way – and the final section about his own history is interesting but perhaps less relevant to the rest of the book – but overall a good read and worth checking out.

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


I’m not even going to try and pronounce this guy’s name! Flow speaks to the feeling we have when doing something we enjoy and attempts to explain it in more detail. Ultimately it seems to boil down to the enjoyment you gain from the act itself rather than the results. So, for example, you make gain some pleasure from reading a book but flow is only achieved from the act of reading itself. There are lots of examples littered throughout the book (all of them far better than my rather poor attempt just then). It’s an easy read and an interesting argument but perhaps a few too many examples to explain a point you’ve probably already got.

The Fifth Discipline by Peter M. Senge


My CIPD course at the moment centres on Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning. One of the gurus in this area is Senge and his book The Fifth Discipline. Senge sets out how he believes organisations can ‘learn’ and how it is what he calls Systems Thinking that is the crucial fifth discipline that ties it all together. The book is very interesting and puts forward some great ideas about how to help design learning interventions that stimulate thought and creativity. My version proclaimed 100 new pages and to be honest they weren’t really needed – it would have been a more enjoyable read without them.

Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson


Moving on from Dan Pink and it’s taking it to the next level with a concept known as Results Only Working Environment. The basic concept is simple – rather than be judged by how you work it’s what you do that matters. As long as you deliver it doesn’t matter whether you work 40 hours a week or 4. Come in to the office, work from home, work from a beach in the Seychelles – you choose! It was certainly a radical concept that the authors created and used at Best Buy. While the book seems slightly overlong and repetitive it did make some compelling arguments. Again, would my work be willing to be so bold? I highly doubt it. But I do know some people these concepts would resonate with so let’s get that conversation started.


Drive by Daniel H. Pink


I’ve used Dan Pink’s work in training before but was eager to pick up this book. On the day it arrived I was in a meeting with someone who referenced it so pity it hadn’t arrived a day or so before. Anyway, when I finally got to read it I found it to be thought provoking. The three key ideas were that people are motivated by Autonomy, Purpose and Mastery rather the more traditional ideas of how to manage people. It certainly resonated and I think could be a useful tool for training discussions. Is everyone at my work ready for the true implications of all this? Perhaps not but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.

Quiet by Susan Cain


I’m going to lie. The reason I initially picked this book up in the shop was because of the cover. Maybe it’s the association with Apple, maybe it’s the Beatles, but there’s something about that plain white cover that stood out for its sheer understatedness (not sure that’s a real word but it should be). As a read the description I got intrigued. As I read the book I found myself really enjoying it. It was different to every other book like this I’ve read. As Cain states we’re told to think that being outgoing, extrovert, a networking etc is the way to get ahead. In my own work as a trainer it’s those skills we often try to get people to improve in. But this was about a different way of going about it all. Certainly thought provoking and contains some ideas I am going to think about incorporating in my training.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg


Hmmm….not sure what happened here but I posted this and then it disappeared. So let’s try again. This book was recommended in a tweet by someone I work with so I thought I’d pick it up. It’s another one of those books that’s useful in work conversations – particularly when I’m facilitating training sessions. Some of the arguments and examples are stronger than others but overall it’s a good read. I found the model around how habits are created to be particularly useful.

Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice by Matthew Syed

BounceA change of direction for the next book and away from history. Bounce started off as an interesting read but sadly couldn’t maintain it throughout the whole book. The initial theory was that there’s no such thing as talent and that what separates the best from the rest is merely the amount of practice they’ve put in. It was certainly a thought provoking thesis and may come in handy during conversations in my training sessions at work. It wasn’t 100% convincing but then Syed comes across as what he is – a sportsman turned journalist who is writing a popularised version of other people’s ideas. I’m sure the many people he quotes (at length) provide better backing. The final section though was a meandering disappointment of opinion pieces of sporting hot topics. They didn’t really bring anything to the party other than to pad out the book and bring it all to a rather disappointing conclusion.