3 stimulating and mind changing books, by Frédérik Barbieux
Last weekend I lost a close friend after fighting leukemia for 6 years. He spent most of his life sharing his values, knowledge and experience with everyone around him and he influenced a great amount of people teaching, training and coaching.
He believed everyone had positive intentions, he believed greatness could be found everywhere and that to grow, we often ought to change our way of thinking.
In remembrance of him, I would like, with this post, to share 3 mind changing books he often referred to and recommended.
Start with why by Simon Sinek
The title says it all and if you want to take a first step before going further with this book, the video from Ted will give you a great insight in less than 20’. The key idea is that in order to communicate effectively and to engage others, to inspire them, one should first be crystal clear about the Why, then about the How and finally about the What to do. And this order matters to be successful.
Furthermore, Sinek states that once your Why isn’t fuzzy, what you do can be almost anything, as long as it follows the line. As an example, the Walt Disney Company vision statement is ‘to make people happy’. It has been their Why for almost a century. And it is precisely What they have been doing with their theme parks, hotels, retail stores, cartoons… Such diverse activities under the umbrella of a single company make sense to everyone because they all participate to the same Why.
He also mentions that great leaders, if they inspire people with a clear Why, need one extra key tool to succeed: great doers who know How to bring the inspiring ideas to life. They are those who can translate a vision into meaningful organisations and actionable commands.
Are you looking for redefining the core of your company and engaging employees behind it? Do you want to develop your sales offer and the way you position it? Are you embarked on a quest to define your life purpose? At least in these cases, I recommend you read this book, which can enlighten your journey in making sense of what you do and how you do it.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
This second book is a well documented description of epidemics, the phenomena that for example makes an idea spread widely or a product sell big. According to Gladwell’s work, three elements are to be taken into account to reach a proper viral effect: the law of the few, the stickiness factor and the power of context.
The law of the few states that social epidemics will depend on the involvement of a few people who have special abilities to influence others. He portrays the different profiles that can have such an impact and what strategy each of them uses. By the way, we heard about this book because Simon Sinek mentioned it in ‘Start with Why’ and I would definitely rank Sinek into the category Gladwell calls ‘mavens’.
The stickiness factor describes a key characteristic a message should have in order to become viral: we can’t avoid remembering it. Now there is no readymade recipe for creating such a stickiness effect and Gladwell mostly gives us clues on how we can engineer this, depending on our objective, our message, our target and other similar issues to take into account.
The last one, the power of context, indicates how the environment influences us or, quoting Malcolm Gladwell that “our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances”. He reports many experiments that would show how much our surrounding has an impact on us.
I find 2 very interesting aspects in this book. First, there are many counterintuitive findings that helped me making sense of situations I could not understand before. Then, it is written in such a way that you can easily find how to use its content in your daily work and life.
The future of management by Gary Hamel
If you don’t know Gary Hamel, I suggest you have a look at the web site of one of his projects, the MIX. You’ll see there what his focus is: alternate management practices and management innovation, which is exactly what you will find in the book.
Hamel first takes us through a list of reasons that could motivate us to change the way we perceive management. For example, we can see that technology and business in general have drastically evolved since the beginning of the last century, while our organisations and the way we manage is still close to the principles and practices set by Frederick Winslow Taylor. Innovation in management is quite rare and could be needed to drive innovation, to increase freedom, to reduce bureaucracy… All topics discussed have the same purpose of developing people and allowing them to give their best.
He then presents 3 practical and already implemented examples of radical different management. The companies mentioned are Whole Foods Market, Gore (Gore-tex manufacturer) and Google. These case studies are well documented and analysed in such a way that we can extrapolate from them what we could adapt in our own environment.
The last part of Hamel’s work guides us through all the changes we can apply in our companies in order to unleash the potential of our employees and to become part of the future of management. This book is handy in a way that it makes you think about new perspectives and it gives you all the clues needed to become a management innovator.
To finish I have good news if you needed any: you won’t feel like going back to school with these books because they are easy to read, very practical and actually quite fun and refreshing. At the same time, they could change the way you see the world and the way you can have an impact on it.
In fond memory of Thierry.