The Year’s Best

December 19, 2012 by Bill Bradley

HOT READS FOR THE PRACTITIONER

Title: My List of the Best Books, Articles, Websites, and Videos Reviewed in 2012

Competencies: customer service, conflict management, leadership, ethics, trustworthiness, creativity/innovation, self-development, accountability, and more

Who benefits: everyone who works for a living and those interested in the topics

Consultant Usage: stay up-to-date with the most important information in your field

What’s it about? Near the end of each year I enjoy going back and picking out the 10 best articles, books, websites or videos of the year.  Totally subjective, totally fun.  Still I find some value in putting the best-of-the-best in one place in hopes you will find it useful and perhaps create your own list for further exploration and your education and development .

Books:

Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business

This is an easy choice for number 1 book of the year.  As far as I am concerned, it is the finest book on customer service ever written.  If you are in the customer service biz, and who isn’t, then you need to know and practice the four service truths.

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves

We all lie and that is the truth.  Who do you think we lie to most often?  Hint: “Mirror, mirror on the wall….”  We live in an era of moral climate ambiguity and wishful-blindness reality.  Companies cut corners.  Individuals cut corners.  You and I cut corners.  But if you are honest enough to admit it, there is hope.  Read this book about restoring honesty, integrity and ethics.  This book is number 2 on my must read list.

Have A Nice Conflict

This book qualifies as the number 3 book of the year.  Having a nice conflict means preventing and managing work and personal conflicts in a way that actually strengthens a relationship.  Presented in story format.  Entertaining as well as instructive.  And from personal experience I know it works!!!

The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today

This is an excellent book on leadership.  Great leaders with organizational support (in this case the President AND Congress) can achieve greatness.  Witness the rebuilding of Europe after WWII.  Mediocre leaders (self-serving) without organizational support (President AND Congress) produce mediocre results at best.  Witness Viet Nam.  Military news in the past 3 months have again validated why there is a dearth of great leadership in today’s military.  But the lessons here are universal.

Imagine: How Creativity Works

A gifted storyteller writes about imagination that appeals to your imagination and uses words to create in the reader a desire to create.

Clueless

If you are in management or are a coach and have people who just “don’t get it”, this is an absolute must read.  Practical and backed by sound theory.  (Disclosure, the writers of this book are connected to this Blog. The owners of this website also occasionally pay me, but it such a pittance that I wouldn’t do this endorsement unless I believed this to be both a great and useful book.)

Thinking, Fast and Slow

This book will provide amazing insight into understanding what goes on inside that workaholic brain of yours.  It will change how you think about thinking.  It was a top ten book in 2011 from the New York Times Book Review, also The Economist, The Wall Street Journal’s Best Nonfiction Books of the Year and Winner of the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest.  I am putting it on my 2012 list because my brain works mainly in “Slow”.  But it is not too late.  Give it a read.

Articles:

What Ever Happened to Accountability?

This is the short Blog version of the book The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today.  Don’t be fooled by the book title.  This is all about accountability and leadership in any organization.  If you don’t have time for the book, by all means read this post.  #1 article of the year.

Desperately Seeking Simplicity

Complexity has become the #1 killer of an organization’s durability and success.  The road to enduring existence is simplicity.  This article is extraordinarily important to understanding organizations.  If you read carefully, maybe you will also get some personal insight too.

Websites:

Coursera

I hope if you are a regular reader that this website is no surprise.  I have been preaching its merits for months now.  It is the FREE On-line University with some of the best professors and best school in the world.  As of this writing there are 34 participating universities, more than 200 courses being offered, and about 2,000,000 students enrolled worldwide (including me for 6 courses).  All this in 12 months.  Coming in the future, more courses in other languages, and university credit to add to its innovative concepts.  For now you must settle for a superior education and certificates (in most courses) if you complete the requirements.  And for seniors, it is the holy grail of continuing education.

Videos:

Daphne Koller: What we’re learning from online education

Ted Talk on Coursera: Want to be inspired?  Want some good news about the future?  Give yourself a 20 minute gift.  “Daphne Koller is enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free — not just as a service, but as a way to research how people learn. With Coursera, each keystroke, quiz, peer-to-peer discussion and self-graded assignment builds an unprecedented pool of data on how knowledge is processed.”

Well, there you have it, my Top Ten of the Year (okay, if you are counting, top 11, but when they are this good, who is counting?).  How about a New Year’s resolution to read or watch some of these gems.

Happy New Year!

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Engagement, Leadership Development

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  • Superb list Bill. I will hang on to this review so I follow through on most of it. Coincidentally, we just bought Thinking, Fast and Slow. I loved Imagine but not sure one can still get it. Once it was discovered that he wrote about Bob Dylan without citing his source, the book was taken off the shelf…it was a good one, though. Happy new year. Hope that 2012 is a healthy and fulfilling one for you.

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