Book Review: Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Book Review: Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers is not a business book. Nor a management book. As you read it, however, you start realising how much we don’t know ourselves as humans. Its subtitle What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Knowbecomes almost scary after having read the book and having understood how difficult it is to communicate with other people. This book by Malcolm Gladwell, author, among other works, of the book The Tipping Point, is a punch in the face. Result of three years of research, despite its title, the book is not really about strangers. Lies, misunderstandings and escalating confrontations have, after all, been known to occur even within marriages. And even in organisations. Which is why I have decided to still write this short review here, despite the book being slightly off-topic. Talking to Strangers is a typically roundabout exploration of the assumptions and mistakes we make when dealing with people we don’t know. Or that we assume we don’t know.  What we have always assumed is wrong. We all assume we would behave in specific ways in some conditions. But …

Book Review: The 7 Mental Images of National Culture by Huib Wursten

Book Review: The 7 Mental Images of National Culture by Huib Wursten

The 7 Mental Images of National Culture is a book by Huib Wursten, an Associate Partner at Hofstede Insights. The name itself of Geert Hofstede brings immediately in mind his work on Cultural Dimensions that made him the central reference on understanding cultural differences for a multitude of students and professionals around the world. I first met this theory during my first year at University, and recall how I found it a bit too academic and sterile. I had the feeling that putting entire cultures in “boxes” would not simplify their understanding, but rather induce more stereotyping.  I had to rethink this idea when I met first Huib Wursten. He did deliver some Intercultural Communication training in a Leadership Programme I had designed, and was very successful in making the work very “practical”. Instead of being pure stereotypes, Hofstede’s dimensions became a vivid tool to interpret other culture, respect diversity and be able to act in terms of communication. This book goes one step forward. Based on the many years of experience of the author, it develops a framework that clusters countries …

Book Review: An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

Book Review: An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

An Everyone Culture is another eye-opening book that focuses on how organisations should be organised to provide real meaning for their employees. Its subtitle, Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, immediately looks at the solution that the two authors, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, both faculty at Harvard University, are suggesting. I must admit that the book is not the usual business book. There’s much research behind it, both in the field (with a few case studies that are used across the book), but above all a constant reference on psychological research.  The book starts with a simple observation. Everyday… …most people are spending time and energy covering up their weaknesses, managing other people’s impressions of them, showing themselves to their best advantage, playing politics, hiding their inadequacies, hiding their uncertainties, hiding their limitations. Hiding. Robert Kegan and Lisa L. Lahey, An Everyone Culture, page 1. It’s from this observation that the research of this book starts. research shows that the single biggest cause of work burnout is not work overload, but working too long without experiencing your own personal …

Book Review: Yes to the Mess by Frank J. Barrett

Book Review: Yes to the Mess by Frank J. Barrett

Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz is a powerful book that drives its lessons from the continuous parallel between Jazz music, and specifically from how Jazz Bands operate, and the world of Management and Leadership. After attending the Herbie Hancock concert in Milan, I wrote a post on the relationship between Jazz and Leadership. I did some research on the web, and that’s how I found this book. Written by Frank J. Barrett, a professor of Management at the Naval Postgraduate School, who was also a Jazz Pianist, the book made it immediately to my reading list. I thought that reading this post deserves a bit of a soundtrack. Kind of Blue is analysed deeply in the book, so why not listening while you read this? The book is primarily focused on jazz improvisation. But also about the leadership skills needed to understand and facilitate the innovation process. It starts by considering the fact that Jazz bands are organisations designed for innovation, and that its design elements can be applied to other organizations that seek …

Book Review: Rebel Talent by Francesca Gino

Book Review: Rebel Talent by Francesca Gino

Rebel Talent is a book by Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino. Its subtitle Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life already summarises the main message that the book carries: in many situations breaking (or bending) rules can be positive both at work and in life. Of course, it depends on which rules. And the author goes to a great extent into making a case with many concrete examples from different types of organisations. Some are out of our traditional radar, like the Restaurant Osteria Francescanaof Massimo Bottura. This multi-Michelin star winning chef is not the typical chef you would expect. And becomes one of the leading examples in how “breaking the rules” of traditionalism delivers value through agility and creativity. Who is a Rebel? Rebels are defined as people who are deviants but positively and constructively. They challenge the established norms and assumptions and do things differently from the crowd. Rebels break the rules, not in a legal sense or to get into trouble. They break the rules of steadiness, the assumptions that keep organisations static. These …