Books about business

This is one of those amazing stories about a man recruited into an organisation with a massive culture discrepancy. It’s funny, and at times Lyons goes through Kafka-esque experiences due to the bizarre practices at the company. It’s way out there, but still thought-provoking to make you reflect on what happens at your work, and if something needs fixing.

What sticks out most in my mind about this book by the past SVP of People Operations at Google, is the scientific approach that was taken to measuring performance. They found that rather being a normal distribution, performance conforms to a power law, which, if true elsewhere, invalidates the standard approach to performance management in many companies. Well, it’s one measure of invalidation amongst other (IMHO). Interesting insights into how Google was run, maybe with some lessons we could apply in our workplaces.

Business (it seems) are always looking for the next big bang, the great leap, something to impress the bosses. The author’s contention is that if you have a clear strategy and commit to ongoing incremental change, you won’t be caught in the bureaucratic quagmire, where no one can make the Big Decision, so nothing happens.

Campbell talks about people he has known personally, or interviewed, from politics, business, and sport. He picks out those character traits and behaviours that have turned them into winners. It’s an interesting read, with attitudes and actions that we can all learn from. The book is well written, but, as with so many business oriented books, a bit wordy in places. You get the feeling that the same thing is being said, using different words, just to get the word count up. Nevertheless there are places where it rattles along, and the end result is a thoughtful worthwhile read.