06 – March 17, 2019
First things first, thank you for your interest in reading content at CFO Bookshelf.
1. What I’m Reading
- I’m a raving fan of John Williams, the CEO of Burlington Medical. He recommended The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson several years ago. I’ve read two other books by
Larson,but had put off on reading this one because I really don’t like reading books about serial killers. Do you? I gave in, finally. What I liked most was learning about the impossible odds of the 1893 World’s Fair being pulled off in spite of lack of money, lack of time, lack of great landscape conditions, and so much more. I can’t wait to ask a senior project manager about the stress levels a similar person would have endured back then in overseeing such a massive project.
- My track record in liking books that Bill Gates loves is terrible. I know why. He’s a brainiac. I’m, well, never mind. But I’m enjoying Educated by Tara Westover. I’m about 25% through the book. I’m anxious to learn how grit, determination, and limited cognitive abilities at the time augmented her learning process. If you do not know the Westover story, this 3-minute clip between Gates and the author is a starting point.
- Do you view your department as a product, one that evolves over time as business problems grow or compress during its seasons of life, or as opportunities expand? Because of my interest and fascination with product management, I’m speed reading the book, The Secret Product Manager Handbook. More on this little guide in an upcoming blog post.
2. What I’m Writing
Are you a mind mapping guru? This week I shared my mind mapping notes on the book Strategic Planning for Dummies. I mapped it some 10 years ago, and the process has led to strong retention on many of the key points Erica Olsen makes in her book. Speaking of mind mapping, I’m checking out The Brain.
3. The Word on Analytics Books, Not So Good
How many books on business analytics have you read? How many do you own? Me? I’ve read none from cover to cover, and I have 4 in my Kindle library. I have two where I’ll periodically read parts of a chapter at a time and try to replicate what I’ve learned either in Quantrix or Tableau, whichever is applicable.
Out of curiosity, I randomly selected some 30 books on business analytics capturing the number of reviews and overall ratings at Amazon and Goodreads.The results are not generous to the authors of these books. Care to guess why?
4. What I’ve Been Contemplating
This week, after you order and receive the physical version of The Daily Drucker, read the passage on page 84, Balancing Objectives and Measurement (the March 16th entry). The chapter heading says it all – balance profit and objectives. Emphasis on profit only, “misdirects managers to the point where they may endanger the survival of the company.”
Drucker wrote those words 42 years before Norton and Kaplan published The Balanced Scorecard.
5. What I’m Reading Beyond Books
I enjoyed reading a long-form story about the demise of Sears last week in the WSJ. As a former retail controller for a Midwestern chain of nearly 160 stores at the time, I was glued to every word. That prompted me to read a few other articles about the collapse of the brick and mortar retail industry many of us grew up with during the past century.
Then I found this little article in Business Insider. If you run a discount chain, chances of surviving and even thriving are good. Dollar General is just starting Act II of its growth plan. What does this tell us about our current socioeconomic environment at a macro level?
6. Who I’ve Been Talking To
Have you ever read a book you liked so much that you wanted to reach out to the author and visit with him? I did so this past week. I spent one hour talking to Michael Goodman, the author of Rasputin for Hire. Michael is a long-time marketing strategist who started his consulting career in 1979. I enjoyed every minute of the conversation. I’ll be releasing a review of the book this week, and he’ll be one of my first guests once the CFO Bookshelf Podcast is launched soon.
7. Homework Assignment
I’m speed listening to the book The Surprising Science of Meetings by Steven G. Rogelberg. So meetings are on the tip of my brain, and I’m curious about the ones you attend weekly.
Consider the following questions related to the meetings you either run or attend:
1. How many meetings do you attend each week? Are they effective? How good is the facilitator?
2. Should any of those meetings be axed? Should any be improved?
3. For the meetings you like and are effective, why is that so? How can those attributes be replicated in other meetings?
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Take care and have a great week. Always be learning.