This page gives you book reviews on a range of books on a wide vaiety of personal development subjects. These include leadership, management, sales, team working, presenting, personal organisation and many others. Our book reviews are only our opinions on these books. Writing and completing any book is a big achievement in itself. We will try to include books or research that we think you might find useful, especially as a follow up or background reading to our training. You can find other useful reading on our blog. Click here to take a look.
Who Moved My Cheese
Dr Spencer Johnson
I’m not sure why it’s taken a while to review this fabulous book. First published in 1999, this is a must for anyone to understand the impact of change on us humans.
In essence it’s about four mice who find that the place where they normally find cheese, no longer has any cheese. Each of the characters reacts differently to the change.
It only take about an hour to read. You’ll hear people refer to this book when they say. “Oh, has someone moved your cheese?”
When you read it you can’t help reflect on your own attitude to change. And with that you’ll think about whether you need to work on that attitude. You instant reaction may well be different to your considered response, and this book help you work out your approach.
Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein
First published in 2008 by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein this book introduced Nudge.
Nudge is the idea of making small suggestions to help influence decision making. It’s about making the ‘right’ decision easier to make.
For example, if recycling bins are made easy to use they are more likely to be used. By easy we mean very clear as to what can go in and what can’t. So that means clear marking on where paper, plastics and metals go.
The book explains the ideas underpinning Nudge with lots of examples. These are taken from many areas of life and tend to be about policy decisions at government level. But the Nudge ideas also apply to us all in our everyday working life.
Nudge also references many interesting research papers. This is not a self help book but an explanation of how Nudge can work to encourage people to make the right decision.
This is one of many book reviews you can find at www.itd.com
Blink is an excellent and easy to read book by Malcolm Gladwell. It explores the idea that our instinctive thoughts on a decision are often correct.
He takes a look at those moments when we kind of know something. But then we go and do all the research and reflect on a decision only to discover our first thought was the right one.
As with all his books he references a lot research which really brings the book to life.
The addition of lots of relevant stories make this a great read.
One of many book reviews at itd.com.
Black Box Thinking
From time to time a book comes along, which when you read it you think every business manager, organisation owner, and everyone else should read. This is one of those.
Black box thinking looks at the example of the airline industry in how it shares and investigates every error or malfunction made by every aeroplane on the planet, and learns. Learns what and how to do things in a better way.
He takes this learning culture and sees how it applies or doesn’t apply to other industries like healthcare.
This makes for compelling and startling reading.
There is a huge opportunity for everyone to learn from this book.
If we did learn we would all benefit.
This is one of a variety of book reviews you can read at itd.com
Inside the Nudge Unit
First published in 2015 by David Halpern Inside the Nudge Unit is the story of the Behavioural Insights Team.
This team better known by many as the Nudge Unit was established in 2010 by David Cameron in the Conservative Government in United Kingdom.
The unit was tasked with helping improve policy. It worked in government departments responsible for a variety of areas including healthcare, tax, crime, energy and employment.
It looked at considering challenges in the light of an understanding of human behaviour.
The unit identified key Nudge principles and applies them to all sorts of policy areas.
This is not an easy self help book, it is a very interesting read on how to influence decisions.
More book reviews at itd.com
Book reviews - if you have any suggestions of books you'd like us to review, just let us know
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
For those of us who enjoy being precisely accurate in our grammar, you might not learn anything new in this book but you will enjoy it nevertheless.
For those of us who are not that great at grammar this is an excellent book.
The book explore grammar in an entertaining and informative way. It explains why apostrophes matter, what the comma is for, and a lot more.
It’s a fairly easy read and engaging and the sort of book you can dip in and out of.
The Definitive Book of Body Language
Allan & Barbara Pease
We all know that body language matters, but how many of us can read the subtle messages we transmit and receive?
This is a great book which explores non verbal communication, as the professional sometimes call it.
It looks at the overall messages of body positioning as well as the inferences of minute changes in our facial expressions.
This is an entertaining book which is not specifically about business body language, so you get some more generic information. But it’s still a good and useful read and worthy of re-reading from time to time.
For example: Some of the key principles of mirroring are explored to give you a set of guidelines on what to do if you want to encourage a communication bridge with people who you don’t naturally get on with.
Tom Rath wrote ‘How full is your bucket?’ and this book is as equally thought provoking and engaging.
It explores the question about whether we need to have friends at work or not. We tend to spend a lot of our time at work. I’ve heard some people say that their colleagues at work are their most important friends. But I’ve also heard some people say that they do not need friends at work.
This book discusses the idea of friendship at work and how important it is not just for the individual but also for organisational effectiveness. It suggests that organisations can be more effective when their people feel part of a work friendship group.
The Tipping Point
Malcolm Gladwell does great books. Why? because they are based on research. Lots of research. And not his alone.
His books are easy to read and compelling. They’re non fiction, but they read like a best seller. You’re gripped form page one.
You probably will have heard of Tipping Point. It’s an everyday phrase now. But back in 2000 it was a relatively new term to most.
The book is about the phenomenon of when situations reach a point where they can no longer return. Or a point of significance.
One day no-one has heard of Whats-app, then everyone has. (An idea that cam about way after this book).
How Full is Your Bucket?
Tom Rath & Donald Clifton
We all know or have heard lots about the power of positive thinking. We can go on umpteen training sessions, or listen to endless speeches about how important it is to be positive.
This book gives evidence of the importance of positivity. Like all our favourite books it uses research to back up its assertions.
It’s full of tips and insights into the power of positivity.
This is a relatively short and easy read. And even if you’ve read books on positive thinking before, this one is still worth a read, because, maybe, this time it will sink in. It’s only 100 odd pages, so go on, have a read.
Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles
Ken Blanchard has written lots of business related and soft skills training related books, and I haven’t read a bad one yet.
They are usually short, to the point and very easy to read. He writes like telling a story. This one is 130 or so pages.
I defy anyone to read this book and not find some way they could improve the service they give to their customers.
Even after you’ve read it, you can go back to it years later and still relearn something.
There’s an interesting piece on expectation management which is so easy to read, you just end up thinking yes that’s right, we’ve got to do that.
You might have heard the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get good enough to excel. I first heard of that idea in this book.
Malcolm Gladwell explores success, by which I think he means outstanding achievement in a give area. (Because for me surviving a birthday party for your four year old and all his friends is a great measure of success).
This book explores the factors which can impact on our success. Like all his books it is a riveting bread, full of research and lots of examples.
Margaret Morrell & Stephanie Capparell
When my mother introduced me to Shackleton when I was a kid, it was one of many stories of adventure in the poles she loved to read about. I saw it as an adventure, but she said it was more than that. She saw Shackleton as one of the greats because of how he treated his men as a leader.
Many years later Shackleton was discovered as a great leader and example of leadership. Her visions was realised in many books.
This a great read. The story is compelling. And from the perspective of personal development it is very easy to gather the lessons from his adventure and the experience of his men.
Being ‘lost’ on the ice for almost two years one might expect to read about how distraught the men became and how many died on the way. They did not and none did.
This book explore the idea the intelligence is much more than that defined by IQ tests. In fact some would say that IQ tests are a very flawed way of ascribing intelligence. Too narrow and not allowing for the complexity of what intelligence is.
Daniel Goleman looks at what emotional intelligence is. He investigates emotions and how they play a bigger role in our success than might be expected.
Emotional Intelligence or EQ is to do with self awareness, empathy, persistence and a lot more. Awareness of EQ and the development of it or maybe allowing it to come to the for can really help our achievements.
This is not a light read, but it is engaging and will give a good grounding of the subject.
Effective Strategic Leadership
There are lots of books on leadership. This one is well worth a read. It uses a lot of examples from the military, politics and elsewhere to define what leadership is in some detail. Like all these books you can take away specific points for your own development.
We may not all be great leaders of big organisation, but even if we have one direct report books like this show us how to get it right.
The book looks at defining strategic leadership as separate from operations and at team levels. But there are lessons for team leaders. The principles of leadership tend to apply at all levels. We need to adapt according to the circumstances we find ourselves but the principles apply.
This is the sort of book I would try to speed read and then slow down or go back to bits of particular interest.
The 7 Habits of HIghly Effective People
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a classic book. It is useful from many perspectives, not least; personal efficiency; achieving personal goals; improving performance; working with change and many more.
It’s a blend of theory, research and anecdotes. Quite an easy read and good for dipping in and out, and yet the book builds through it’s chapters.
Not a particularly light read but well worth reading and then re-reading from time to time.
You will also notice how people mention or talk about ‘The 7 Habits’ so it’s worth reading so you know to what they are referring!
Why We Buy
This is a great book if you want to understand what happens to us when we walk into a store. If you want to understand how you could apply these ideas to your organisation you’ll need to mostly work this out for yourself, but it’s not that difficult.
It’s a very interesting read. For example it shares research that shows that most people tend to turn to the right when they enter a store. Another example is that the more interactions the store has with a potential shopper the more likely they are to buy. This makes me wonder if the same applies to other businesses. Re-marketing adverts on the web would suggest that it does.
Very much a book you can dip in and out of and an overall interesting read.
Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders
In this book Baldoni looks at ‘great leaders’ and identifies themes in their communication skills which can inform the rest of us on how we might improve.
Communication is such a complex subject that any book which helps to unscramble it is worth a read. This book certainly does that. In it there are some very useful tips and hints.
It is a how to book. For example it says that it is important to engage the audience emotionally. It then explores how to do that through body language, stories and images.
If you’re a leader and you want to improve the planning and execution of your presentations, this is a good reference book.
David and Goliath
This book looks at our preconceptions of the ‘small guy’ or the David and challenges them. It gives us ideas and tips on how we perceive challenges. It can help us to look at situations very differently.
Like all Malcolm Gladwell’s books it is a very well researched and thought through set of arguments.
It reminds me of a story about Alexander the Great. When faced with an army ten times the size of his own he was seemingly in an impossible position. Defeat appeared the only option. Never before had a Greek army defeated a Persian one and never before had such odds been overcome. But on the morning of the battle his general’s had to wake Alexander as he slept so deeply. When asked how he could sleep so well he answered, “Because I know exactly what we are going to do.” And he did. He implemented his plan, won the battle, defeated the Persians and went on to create one of the biggest empires on earth.
Reevaluating what appears to be insurmountable difficulties can be highly effective.
The Power of Your Personality
This book is an extension of the ideas given in our training on the power of personality.
Personality drives many of our behaviours at work. It underpins how assertive we are. It commands out approach to time management. It impacts on our drive to get things done and get where we want to get.
Understanding the key behaviours in our complex personality is step one. Or rather, trying to is step one.
Once we have a grasp of this the next step is understanding other people’s personality and then how the two interact. This is where we can gain insight into interpersonal relationships. How do we improve relations with certain work colleagues. How do we influence some clients who seem so different from ourselves.
It is written to be simple to understand and easy to apply.