- The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt.
(June 19, 2018) This is a stunning book, first published in 2012, that probably escapes attention due to it seemingly provocative title (to say nothing of the original cover for the UK version). I came late to discovering and reading it, especially since reviews described it as, “An eye-opening and deceptively ambitious bestseller … undoubtedly one of the most talked-about books of the year” (WSJ), and “A landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself” (NYT Book Review). Haidt takes the reader along a deliberately paced (it’s an easy, enjoyable read) development of Moral Foundations Theory and the six foundations upon which systems of Values are built (referred to as moral matrices, valid for all cultures). The net result is a challenge to our conventional (and narrow) thinking about morality, politics, and religion. Haidt explains why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and demonstrates why each side is actually right about out many of its concerns. Understanding the theory should help all of us realize how value systems arise, where ours came from, recognize other’s value systems and what they are built upon, and be able to constructively dialog for the benefit of overall society while maintaining and respecting our individuality and values. Without the book, we can’t; with the book, we should. With a bit of effort.
- Games People Play by Eric Meade.
(June 2, 2012) First published in the 1960s, this primarily analyzes the negative games and destructive behaviors that people play with each other or in groups. Includes games such as, Wooden Leg, Debtor, Alcoholic, Kick Me, NIGYSOB, If It Weren’t for You, Ain’t It Awful, Schlemiel, Why Don’t You – Yes But, Stupid, and others.
- Game Theory and the Humanities by Steven J. Brams.
(May 24, 2012) A reasonably approachable discussion (but one will have to work at this) of the use of Game Theory in analyzing classic situations from life and literature including the Bible (God and Abraham), Shakespeare (Macbeth), Theology (Pascal’s Wager), the Civil War, the New Deal, and Jury Selection, to name more than a few. Probably best first to read a number of warm-up exercises on the internet through a Google search on Game Theory.
- The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong by Lawrence Peters and Raymond Hull.
(April 11, 2012) The book that explains why we constantly encounter incompetence in the workplace and nearly everywhere else. Still valid 40 years after its first publication.
- Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs.
(April 30, 2012) Explains the difference between an argument (persuasion) and a fight (attack) and the tools and skills to distinguish between them. The three available verbal “tenses” used turn out to dovetail perfectly with the Games People Play [upcoming FP]: Past tense (fix the blame, negative sum game); Present tense (establish values, zero sum game); and Future tense (establish advantageous choices, positive sum game). (For a shorter synopsis, see the Article below).
- Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson.
(May 1, 2012) Once I read in the book review that the “ignorance hypothesis” – the assumption that people in power would do right by their citizens if only they knew better – “still rules supreme among most economists and in Western policy making circles,” this had to go on my must read list. The authors’ thesis is that “nations fail because those who have power make choices that create poverty. They get it wrong not by mistake or ignorance but on purpose.” Sounds like Incompetent People Managers straight out of The Peter Principle practicing the First Commandment of Hierarchies. In any case, it confirms my suspicions that The Peter Principle is more prevalent than thought, and extends well beyond the workplace.
- It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, by Colin Powell and Tony Koltz
(July 13, 2012) Particularly useful are his comments on information, decision making, and passing bad news to the boss (do it sooner rather than later: “bad news, unlike wine, doesn’t get better with time”), and leaders should never shoot the messenger.
- The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen.
(January 15, 2013) First published in 1997 when, as a trade version of Dr. Christensen’s doctoral thesis, it jumped onto the New York Times Best Seller list. It relates the journey of discovery into why well managed and outstanding market-leading companies very often miss out on new waves of innovation (disruptive technologies) and fail at retaining their profitability and market leadership. Provocative is my potential insight as I read that the discoveries presented here are much more broadly applicable in scope and should be elaborated.
- Jay Heinrich’s Powers of Persuasion
Excellent article from Businessweek about the tools of rhetoric applied to persuasion, which is exactly what one wants to do when one is interacting with people (especially through one of the three Games People Play). (For the book, see Thank You for Arguing, in Books above).
- Colin Powell’s It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership
Excerpts from Powell’s book. Particularly useful are his comments on information, decision making, and passing bad news to the boss.