Book Group, Resources, Review

Bite-Sized Book Review: Rework

Finally! A business book that I didn’t abandon at the 40% mark. There are three main reasons for that:

  1. It’s too short to abandon. Technically 288 pages, it’s served up as bite-sized essays with lots of illustrations and a lot of white space, so I moved through it in a breeze.
  2. It’s really well written. The authors use simple, conversational language and they don’t mince words or hide behind corporate-speak.
  3. It’s full of great advice. In challenging conventional thinking about what makes copmanies successful, the authors systematically tick through (almost) everything that has struck me as backwards about business.

Intrigued? I’m talking about Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

While the target audience seems to be entrepreneurs (or “starters,” as they prefer to think of them), leaders in every organization that aspires to be innovative or agile would benefit from giving this a read. It might not contain many wildly new ideas, but serves as  a kick in the pants to think about unproductive habits, beliefs and behaviors that govern most organizations, including the assumptions that bigger is always better and growth is always the goal.

This will likely join Radical Candor as a book I recommend to every leader I coach. And I can’t wait to read their next release (coming this fall), which – based on title alone – should have a pretty immediate fan base: It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.

Nutshell: Read it. You’re welcome.

Book Group, leadership, What I'm Reading

Is TIME the biggest barrier to your development?

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Since I moved into coaching full-time, I’ve found that leaders often get a bit sheepish around me. “I know my development is important,” one recently confessed, “but I just can’t seem to find the time to focus on myself.” I assured him that he wasn’t alone – I actually hear that a lot.

In fact, just this week I was talking with a friend whose organization has been participating in a peer group for start-ups. “I don’t think we’re going to renew,” she said. “We’re just finding the time commitment to be a bit intense – it takes around 8-10 hours each month and we’re already going a mile-a-minute.”

I get it. Like going to the gym, leadership development is one of those things we know we should be doing – but it’s tough to find time for it. And also like going to the gym: if we CAN find the time, we see tangible results and become more likely to make it a habit.

I’ve been wrestling with this idea, trying to figure out how to break the cycle and make personal development an easier habit for leaders to embrace. After many conversations to test the idea, I’m excited to launch the “Bullet-Point Book Group” this fall.

Here’s the idea in a nutshell: 

  • It’s a group that meets VIRTUALLY (via laptop video) for 90 minutes each month
  • We’ll discuss one book over the course of three sessions
  • You’re encouraged to read the book, but I’ll provide a “bullet-point” summary of key ideas in case the clock gets away from you
  • Our discussion will tie the book to REAL-LIFE challenges, so each session is more about application than the book itself
  • You’ll have a chance to connect with other leaders from outside your organization through the monthly discussion
  • You’ll walk away from each session committed to trying something new on the job

In addition to keeping it “bite-sized” so it’s no a huge time commitment, I like that this format will allow people to test some ideas and report back on them. From a learning perspective, this tends to be a more effective approach than simply plowing through a book and moving on to the next thing – or even attending a two-day seminar and returning to work without a chance to apply the learnings.

Pilot Information

To test the concept and get feedback, I’m running a pilot this fall. It will just focus on a single book (as opposed to a year-long membership) and pilot memberships will be discounted to $150, which includes the book, a summary of key points, three virtual sessions, and related assignments. (Not to mention the camaraderie!)

The book I’ve selected for this is Kim Scott’s “Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.” The ideal participant for this book is a seasoned leader (or manager-of-managers) because we’ll look at not only our own personal practices, but also ways we can help our team leads become more effective in their roles.

If this sounds fun to you, please complete this form to express your interest! And if you have any feedback or thoughts on the concept, I welcome those too – just email me at alison@exploreyouredge.com.