Last year, we reviewed Walter Isaacsson’s book on Steve Jobs, a betseller and fascinating read. Isaacson is currently working on another book on the origins of the personal computer age. We will be reviewing it as soon as it is out. In the meantime, Isaacson has taken to “crowdsourcing” the book before it is finished, not in the more common form for funding, but for input and contributions to its content. As technology and the nature of books evolve, the definition of a book is changing. Isaacson has taken the plunge into the world of online collaboration in writing a book by posting parts of it on the website Medium as a forum for commentary on his writing. Medium was founded by Evan Williams (one of the founders of Twitter and a subect of our book review of Hatching Twitter.) Bloomsberg Businessweek interviewed Isaacson recently, and he said that the response was incredible and included input from some of the main players in his story. Isaacson has created a story around the story. We will keep you posted on the final result.
A recently published book that has garnered good reviews comes from the author of the New York Times column “Corner Office.” The book is titled Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on how to Create a Culture of Innovation and is Adam Bryant’s second book on his interviews with CEOs.
The main focus of the book is on the culture of companies and how CEOs can move from just letting the culture of a company happen to working on creating a culture that is positive and innovative and drives the success of the company. As the author states in a HBR interview (Jan. 7, 2014) “If the CEO can’t remember the company’s values, how will anyone else?”
Adams features many tech firm CEOs in his articles and this book, because tech firms tend to grow quickly and give their leaders cultural challenges as they expand. The challenge is to still maintain the passion and look for input from employees, which helps to foster the culture of the company. The culture of tech start-ups tend to involve all employees, which is difficult to maintain with growth. Adams cites Google’s description of the three most important habits of good managers: to meet regularly with employees; to take an interest in them personally; and to ask questions rather than providing the answers. He points out that these three points are echoed in many good CEOs.
The book also features a chapter on the importance of CEOs and managers providing a “user manual” on how they work, a description of their personality and work traits. In othe words, let your employees know who you are. This can help everyone learn how to deal with each other more effectively. Adams also writes about having “adult conversations,” being free to voice concerns right away to avoid stress and conflict. He writes extensively on the problem of email. If you can express an idea face-to-face, it is more likely to be easily understood and shared. When in doubt, skip the email.
This book is inspiring for any business leader and offers many tips and ideas on how to make the culture of your company more positive and cohesive and how to keep it that way. In addition, he offers the advice of many successful CEOs to back up his findings. Enjoy the read!