12 Best Books of 2012

Making a “Best of” list is always hard – it’s a very subjective process, driven by my personal tastes, professional needs, and plain curiosity.

I’ve always been a voracious reader – a cherished habit passed down to me by my late father. In the past year, though, I’ve been able to ramp it up considerably because of my role as Vision Room Curator.

It’s not only a pleasure to read, it’s part of my job description – how cool is that?

Even so, it’s also hard to narrow it a “Best of” list down: in 2012, my reading included:

  • 127 books checked out from my local library
  • 68 print books purchased
  • 31 books received for review
  • 75 digital books on my Kindle

I also perused dozens of bookstores on my travels, writing down 63 titles for future review and/or acquisition. There are also a lot of late releases just coming out that I don’t have time to take a look at – yet. Be that as it may, here is my list of my 12 favorite books published in 2012.

Outside In

  Outside In

Guest Experiences for ChurchWorld is my passion, and this book by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine will provide churches a “go-to” manual for years to come

 

Deep and Wide

Deep and Wide

Andy Stanley and Northpoint Ministries have a solid model that all churches would do well to study – not to duplicate, but to understand how to impact your community for Christ.

 

Center Church

Center Church

Tim Keller delivers a textbook for doing church; possibly the most important church theology/leadership/practical book in a decade

 

The Advantage

   The Advantage

Patrick Lencioni captures the concept of clarity (he uses the phrase “organizational health”) like no business thinker today

 

The Icarus Deception

   The Icarus Deception

Seth Godin’s most recent book is probably the most challenging personal one I’ve read – and that’s saying a lot!

 

The Lego Principle

   The LEGO Principle

Joey Bonifacio writes in a simple, profound way about the importance of “connecting” in relationships that lead to discipleship

 

Missional Moves

   Missional Moves

Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder in a quiet, unassuming way, illustrate how Granger Community Church is transforming into a community of believers reaching their community – and the world.

 

Lead with a Story

Lead with a Story

Paul Smith delivers a powerful tool to enhance the leader’s skill in storytelling.

 

Design Like Apple

Design Like Apple

John Edson delivers a stunningly designed book that challenges the reader to understand and utilize Apple’s principles of design

 

 

Better Together

   Better Together

Church mergers (and closings) are going to be a huge event in the next decade; Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird give an excellent resource on how to survive and thrive throughout the process.

 

Quiet

   Quiet

Susan Cain writes the book I’ve been waiting for over 30 years – because I am an introvert leader.

 

 

Midnight Lunch

   Midnight Lunch

Sarah Miller Caldicott delivers a powerful primer for collaborative teamwork.

 

 

HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

   HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Nancy Duarte is not just a great writer – she knows how to deliver a great presentation from the first idea to the final applause.

 

 

Okay, it’s not 12 – but it is a baker’s dozen!

Let’s see – there’s still over 2 weeks left in 2012 – plenty of time to find a good book – what do you recommend?

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Four Disciplines of Organizational Health

An organization doesn’t become healthy in a linear, tidy fashion.

– Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

Patrick Lencioni’s latest book The Advantage is a comprehensive, practical guide, covering many of the topics introduced in one of his eight business fable books. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is just a repackaging – The Advantage goes far beyond that. In it you will find some very practical, hands-on tools to help your organization become healthy.

Previous posts here and here introduced the book. The central theme of the book is today’s topic: The Four Disciplines Model. Here is Lencioni’s overview of the Four Disciplines.

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people who are chartered with running it are not behaviorally cohesive in five fundamental ways. In any kind of organization, from a corporation to a department within that corporation, from a small, entrepreneurial company to a church or a school, dysfunction and lack of cohesion at the top inevitably lead to a lack of health throughout.

Discipline 2: Create Clarity

In addition to being behaviorlly cohesive, the leadership team of a healthy organization must be intellectually aligned and committed to the same answers to six simple but critical questions. There can be no daylight between leaders around these fundamental issues.

Discipline 3: Overcommunicate Clarity

Once a leadership team has established behavioral cohesion and created clarity around the answers to those questions, it must then communicate those answers to the rest of the organization clearly, repeatedly, enthusiastically, and repeatedly (that’s no typo). When it comes to reinforcing clarity, there is no such thing as too much communication.

Discipline 4: Reinforce Clarity

Finally, in order for an organization to remain healthy over time, its leaders must establish a few critical, non-bureaucratic systems to reinforce clarity in every process that involves people. Every policy, every program, every activity should be designed to remind your team what is really most important.

I hope today’s post and the previous two have enticed you to get The Advantage. The book certainly stands alone, but there is also a great deal of web content available on organizational health.

What are you waiting on?

The health of your organization is at stake!

Smart vs. Healthy

Being smart is only half the equation in a successful organization. Yet it somehow occupies almost all the time, energy, and attention of most leaders. The other half of the equation, the one that is largely neglected, is about being healthy.

– Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

In Patrick Lencioni’s latest book The Advantage, you will find the following chart:

Lencioni comments: “Whenever I list the qualities for leaders, I usually get one of the following reactions, and sometimes both. Often they laugh quietly, in a nervous. almost guilty kind of way. Or they barely sigh, like parents do when they hear about a family where the kids do what they’re told the first time they’re asked. In either case, it’s as thought they’re thinking, ‘Wouldn’t that be nice?’ or, ‘Can you imagine?’

None of the leaders – even the most cynical ones – deny that their organizations would be transformed if they could achieve the characteristics fo a healthy organization. Yet they almost always gravitate to the left side of the chart above, retreating to the safe, measurable “smart” side of the equation.

Why?

Because it’s relatively safe and predictable, which most leaders prefer. That’s how they’ve been trained, and that’s where they’re comfortable.

It takes discipline to move beyond the safe and predictable, into the sometimes awkward and messy area of organizational health.

Tomorrow: Four Disciplines of Organizational Health

Adapted from The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni

The Case for Organizational Health

The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.

– Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

With that bold statement, Patrick Lencioni delivers perhaps his finest work to date – no mean feat considering that his eight business fables remain required reading for leaders in any organization – especially ChurchWorld.

Instead of trying to become smarter, Lencioni asserts that leaders and organizations need to shift their focus to becoming healthier, allowing them to tap into the more-than-sufficient intelligence and expertise they  already have.

What’s the secret to discovering organizational health? Or to put it more bluntly, why do leaders struggle to embrace it?

According to Lencioni, it’s because too many leaders quietly believe they are too sophisticated, too busy, or too analytical to bother with it. In other words, they think it’s beneath them. Before leaders can tap into the power of organizational health, they must humble themselves enough to overcome the three biases that prevent them from embracing it:

  • The Sophistication Bias: organization health is so simple and accessible that many leaders have a hard time seeing it as a real opportunity for meaningful advantage. It doesn’t require great intelligence or sophistication – just uncommon levels of discipline, courage, persistence, and common sense.
  • The Adrenaline Bias: becoming a healthy organization takes a little time; unfortunately, too many leaders suffer from adrenaline addiction, hooked on the daily rush of activity and firefighting within their own organizations.
  • The Quantification Bias: the benefits of becoming a healthy organization are difficult to accurately quantify. It requires a level of conviction and intuition that many overly analytical leaders have a hard time accepting.

To close this post, possibly one of the boldest, most audacious quotes you will ever hear or read:

Once organizational health is properly understood and placed into the right context, it will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Really.

Tomorrow: Would you rather be smart or healthy?