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FC Book Club – Use the Tools

While I have been talking a lot this week about the magazine’s new book club, it occurs to me that many of you might want to know a little more about the five books you’ll be voting on. What makes them special? What new points do they make? How can you use them to make your worklife a bit more enjoyable?

While I have been talking a lot this week about the magazine’s new book club, it occurs to me that many of you might want to know a little more about the five books you’ll be voting on. What makes them special? What new points do they make? How can you use them to make your worklife a bit more enjoyable?

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Bob Rosner has been writing a popular syndicated column called Working Wounded for several years now. His new book, Gray Matters, combines the irreverence for which he is known with a clever comic-book-style guide to navigating the rough waters of the workplace. It may be one of the few business books able to foster a serious dialogue between senior managers and their Gen-Xer staffs. Those don’t come along every day.

It was actually the subtitle of The Map of Innovation that got to me: Creating Something Out of Nothing. How many times have we been asked to do just that, either to come up with a marketing plan in 20 minutes or to create the next big craze in ten days? The author of this book isn’t another consultant but someone who has started a number of successful businesses, including DoubleClick. His well-told story about creativity and innovation has lessons for all of us.

There seems to be no end to the number of books preaching work-life balance, but Take Back Your Time means business. This collection of call-to-action essays about America’s battle with time poverty will have you thinking twice next time you’re forced to “multitask” just to get the basics done. The editor is the national coordinator of the Take Back Your Time Day, an event scheduled for October 24, when we will have already worked as many hours as our European colleagues will put in for the entire year. Just reading that makes me mad as hell!

I started Kara Swisher’s hilarious take on AOL’s takeover of Time Warner, There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere, and couldn’t stop. But halfway through I realized that Swisher is reporting on more than just the little merger that couldn’t; she’s writing about the future of the communications industry. For those of us who read newspapers, go to the movies, or get our information from CNN, that is going to have a profound impact on our own future. I think that makes it worth more than a quick look.

With one of the most engaging covers in recent memory, Why Not? has the audacity to teach innovation by actually showing concrete examples. It’s hard to read even a single page of this book without being challenged to think about everyday products and services in a completely new way. Like Edward de Bono’s justly celebrated work on lateral thinking, I hope this book will find a permanent place on managers’ bookshelves. Read the excerpt for some specific examples of the authors’ playfulness.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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