The Trueman Change team took World Book Day off last week to read a book each to enhance our personal and professional development. We read about empowering staff, running effective meetings, thinking outside the box and focusing your attention for success.
See what the team thought of their titles below.
1. People Centricity: The Incredible Power of Putting Other People First, Stephen Hewett
Paul read this title by Stephen Hewett and said “If ever there was a universal glue that held your life together and gave you the optimal chance of happiness and emotional fulfilment, People Centricity is a prime contender.”
Stephen Hewlett takes you on an expansive journey through personal, professional and commercial relationships, love, loneliness, religion and the everyday pressures of life. The author guides you through the positive benefits of putting others first.
The book encourages us to connect profoundly and meaningfully with the lives of others to achieve significant, beneficial outcomes. Stephen cites a rich vein of references including Charles Dickens, J B Priestley’s enigmatic ‘Inspector’, the Bible, George Bailey’s challenges in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, Bertrand Russell, and in a particularly powerful section, his own experience of visiting Auschwitz.
People Centricity is a principle for the modern age. With so many pressures on our time and energy to make a living, stay healthy and safe, foster relationships, enjoy leisure activities and family life – it is often too easy to neglect others.
We can easily withdraw into a narrow focus of our own ‘tribe’. I liked Stephen’s clear, non-preaching style, which really communicates his passion. My main takeaway from the book is that investment of our time in others, with a genuinely positive perspective, will ultimately reap reward for our own futures, happiness and wellbeing.
2. Six Thinking Hats, Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono’s concept of the Six Thinking Hats is one that has enlightened Benjamin’s thought process for making decisions. “Edward’s idea that people often overcrowd their thinking, trying to do multiple tasks and decide on multiple decisions, is one that rings true with me,” says Benjamin.
I particularly enjoyed his concept of ‘Parallel Thinking’ whereby all members look at an issue, problem or question from the same point of view rather than arguing from different perspectives. Parallel Thinking means that at any moment in time everybody is looking in the same direction, instead of trying to prove themselves to be right and their colleagues to be wrong.
This resonated with me as I feel most conversations in the 21st Century are competitive and instead of trying to find common ground, people are often trying to be ‘right’.
The hats are as follows:
- The White Hat, a neutral mindset focussed on data, facts and figures
- The Red Hat, an emotional mindset based on that gut feeling
- The Yellow Hat, an optimistic mindset focussing on the positives
- The Green Hat, a creative mindset motivated by new ideas
- The Blue Hat, a process driven mindset where organisation is key
- The Black Hat, a logical mindset categorised by caution and care
I think I definitely wear a Yellow Hat, as I am constantly looking on the bright side of life and trying to find a positive. However, I will be taking de Bono up of his challenge to not exclusively associate with just one hat so that you can easily change your perspective.
His method is one that reduces conflict and increases collaboration. A simple technique that I for one will be trying to implement whenever I facilitate a meeting where key decisions must be made.
3. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, Daniel Goleman
Ellie says: “I chose to read this book on World Book Day as it caught my attention in my current circumstances of managing multiple projects with several different organisations and sectors across the country.”
The main premise is the book is around the three different types of focus successful people (and leaders) need: outer, inner and other focus. These are neatly summed up as the book progressed into: systems awareness, self-awareness and empathy. Successful leaders and organisations need to combine this triple focus of attention, emotional intelligence and performance.
There are some interesting anecdotes, studies and observations used by Goleman to illustrate his points. These range from discussing a film director’s power of self-belief and insistence on full creative control paying off immensely (the director was George Lucas and his idea was Star Wars) to lessons in restraint from the Cookie Monster.
Goleman discusses areas that really resonated with Ellie. Some of these included how the modern world of communications (social media, emails, text and phone calls) can present dangerous distraction and inhibit focus. It also reinforced the importance of reflection through uninterrupted, private moments and in practicing mindfulness.
She particularly loved the concept around ‘handprints’ rather than ‘footprints’. This is illustrated through the lens of climate change and how the negative narrative around our carbon footprints is struggling to gain the traction and commitment to action needed. Reframing this into what positive actions people take to improve their handprint. It’s essentially shifting mindset and narrative from the negative to the positive and it’s inspired Ellie to do some more reading around this. She’ll no doubt be picking up one Goleman’s books on emotional intelligence very soon.
4. Rebel Ideas – The Power of Diverse Thinking, Matthew Syed
Rebel Ideas is a gripping book that had Lizzi arguing with herself out loud and furiously making notes, while at the same time not wanting to pause her reading. Syed’s central argument is that what he calls ‘cognitive diversity’ or ‘Rebel Ideas’ are not only helpful, but essential, for us to thrive and survive.
Syed shows how human psychology and homogeneous work and cultural practices not only impinge progress but even endanger our lives.
They carefully lay out, with a sound evidence base, how we need cognitive diversity to thrive individually and collectively. They also show how, by extension, cultural and social diversity is a powerful force for success in any arena.
Syed uses often startling examples from recent history to illustrate their argument. In a powerful segment, Syed destroys the idea, still sometimes heard in the world of work and politics, that increasing diversity necessitates a trade-off in performance. The oft-heard defence of ‘meritocracy’ to cover institutions that don’t reflect the diversity of thought or culture in our community, is shown to be a dangerous falsehood.
Lizzi says: “Ironically, I think the reason I warmed to this book, after initial scepticism of the blurb, was that it backs up my thoughts on the importance of some sort of blinding in hiring policies, and my concerns about the idea of hiring people because they are ‘a good fit’ in an organisation.” It’s ironic, because confirmation bias is part of the spectrum of problems so well-described by Syed! Rebel Ideas contains multifaceted, persuasive, yet simple lessons that organisations of every type should sit up and take notice of.
What did you read this World Book Day?
If you’re bookworm too, you can see about our Managing Director, Lucy Trueman’s, latest reads here.
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