I don’t read nearly as much as I would like to these days, but I try to choose the books I pick up carefully. This spring I thoroughly enjoyed and was influences by three pretty unique texts. Each overlaps with a different area of my work and I think they might be valuable to others for a variety of reasons.
Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Yes, this book is classified on the barcode as ‘self help,’ though I think at this point in time anyone who is self-aware and possesses a growth mindset is constantly in the process of self help. Plus, Burnett and Evans are connected to the more-than-admirable Stanford d:school and that is not a credential I scoff at for a second. While written as a contemporary guidebook for hunting out your next job, the authors also bring out the basic and practical concepts of design. They are part of the movement to bring design thinking into the mainstream, not just leaving it for graphic artists, fashion designers, and architects. Both the job search tips and the implications of applying design thinking to your life might resonate with you. Concepts such as failing-forwarding, ideating, and prototyping are worthy of your time and will inevitably lead you to be even more innovative during your day-to-day, in your career, and in all your pursuits.
Great Meetings! Great Results, by Kelsey & Plumb
Now this one is truly a readable textbook, comprehensively covering the ins and outs of facilitation. Complete with facilitation activities, best practices, overviews of major facilitation concepts, and clear steps to designing your next meeting or training, I can’t believe I’ve overlooked this text for more than a decade. Whether you lead your weekly staff-meeting, chair a nonprofit, or facilitate everyday, this book has the essentials and will deepen your facilitation abilities regardless of your skill level. Even if you’re incredibly familiar or use to the practices outlined in this book, I think you’ll gain from having it as a resource. I put together four train-the-trainer workshops based on these concepts and have seen their effectiveness right away with both novice and advanced facilitators.
1984, by George Orwell
Might seem a little out of left field? It is to some degree, but I actively keep my love of writing alive whenever I can. Fiction, classics, literature … help me read the world, organizations, and people in novel and useful ways. Considering when this was written (1949), the time Orwell hypothesized about (1984), and our modern day society (2018), there are some aspects that feel all-to-familiar, reminding us that we must remain engaged, informed, and creative as we build communities, design our lives, and seek to make this world a better place.