In my gunny sack

The past week I involved both gathering and distributing resources – mainly book title, articles, and websites. There was no single event sparking this, rather each meeting (of which I had a minimum of five each day) spawned something to look up or pass on. So I thought I'd collect in one spot everything that I put in my gunny sack on during the week and see if there were any themes or patterns or whether it was just a random collection of stuff.

Note that I'm not employed by M cKinsey Quarterly and nor do I get a commission for promoting their articles but I did like four that passed through my in-box this week and I passed on the details to colleagues.

The first was on people and productivity called "Question for your HR chief: Are we using our 'people data' to create value?" Circulating this question to people has resulted in a conversation generated on how should and could we improve our methods of tying analytics and performance measures together in order to track, forecast, and look for patterns and themes that will inform how we make decisions. I'm also interested in how the organization can improve productivity (assuming we can get a handle on measuring the productivity of knowledge workers) and streamline processes. Interestingly someone in the organization has highlighted the 'cultural barrier that discourages sharing of data and using it to manage the business.'

Then there were three interviews with CEOs in very different industries, and in different countries, on leading organizational change. This seems to tie in nicely with the previous article as it is possible, likely even, that having good insight into any metrics and analytics would then enable us to change the right things to improve organizational performance and effectiveness.

"Flying people, not planes": The CEO of Bombardier on building a world-class culture
Pierre Beaudoin explains how a company driven by engineering goals learned to focus on customer expectations, teamwork, and continuous improvement.

Reinvigorating a corporate giant: An interview with the chairman of India's largest infrastructure company
A. M. Naik describes how he established a culture of value creation at one of India's leading companies.

Scaling up a transformation: An interview with Eureko's Jeroen van Breda Vriesman
A member of the executive board describes how the Dutch insurance group first transformed its health division and then started to roll out the changes across the entire company.

The final article that caught my eye this week was one in the Economist on Groupon Anxiety. Essentially this is about the viability of their business model which was the reason I paid close attention to it. I'm facilitating a session in May at the APDF Summit (Association of Professional Design Firms on Why Business Models Matter and Groupon is a good case example to talk about.

Someone asked me to recommend a basic book on Organization Development for HR Pracitioners in China who are new to the concepts and thinking. This was a good challenge for me as there are hundreds of books available on Organization Development – indeed I am writing a chapter for one that is to be published later this year – but what is there for beginners that is easy to read and not daunting in the theory? One that meets the bill is The ASTD Guide to Organization Development. It is basic and there are better approaches to Transition Management than William Bridges – but that said, his approach is easy to describe and follow. Apart from that caveat it seems as if it will meet the bill. I'll find out soon as I am going to China to work with that group.

Linked to that piece of work I found the The Consultants Big Book of OD Activity that has fifty tools in it. Again this book is useful for beginners as it gives an idea of what tools are and how they might be used. Several of them are rather too lengthy and involved and having bought it I'm not sure it will be high value to me, as they are very US centric in concepts and values, but the tools are available to download online if you have bought the book. So the few that are useful I can easily get hold of.

An interesting conversation with a colleague about 'verbal tics' that she noticed people used – for example saying "I'm confused" a lot – led me to locate a book that I'd read an extract from several years ago You Are What You Say: The Proven Program that Uses the Power of Language to Combat Stress, Anger, and Depression . It seemed to reflect the idea that she had that you could give feedback and coaching support to people partly based on the language they used.

She, in turn, recommended to me Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln as giving an excellent insight into organizational politics. So that's now on my Amazon wish list.

Finally I attended the book launch of The Primes by Chris McGoff whom I used to work with. That was a fun event as I reconnected with a number of people who I'd been out of touch with for a while. The book is a lighthearted look at how to approach organizational strategy and change work by using 24 graphic concepts that are then discussed. The academic in me has some reservations about the approach but not everyone is an academic!

I see that I've now reached my word count describing the books and articles so next week's blog will be about the websites that came new to me this week. One pattern in what I've collected this week is immediately obvious to me – I give to others references to books and articles, and I receive from others useful websites. A second pattern, revealed by a quick glance down the websites list, shows that the ones I've collected are useful productivity and sharing enhancing things rather than information imparting sites. I wonder what I'll collect in the coming week?