The Steve Jobs Way – Book Review

steve-jobs-wayNote: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher / PR firm.

I’m not an Apple ‘fan-boy’ and don’t much like Steve Job’s personality, but I like The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation (amazon affiliate link).  There’s nothing earth shattering here from a leadership standpoint…but its a good ‘inside Apple’ book that highlights some of the key things Jobs has done at Apple to help push the company to the leadership position it has today.

Don’t let the title fool you though…this is not a treatise on Steve Jobs leadership style, philosophy or his theories on leadership.  You won’t find a ‘recipe’ for building the team that builds the next Apple or iPod or Mac but what you will are some really interested stories about Apple’s internal workings, how Jobs built the initial Mac team and what it was like working with/for Steve Jobs.

There are some really interesting stories in the book…but again….don’t think that you’ll pick up this book and, after reading it, lead like Steve Jobs or Apple did.  It doesn’t work that way for any book.

The book is split into four main sections that cover product, talent, organization and sales/marketing and each provide a very interesting insight into how Apple & Jobs approached each area.  There are many lessons to be learned in each section – such as hiring good, passionate people and put them to work with other good, passionate people.  Like I said, nothing earth shattering here but a good read.

My only real concern / gripe about the book is this:  the title makes me think the author is providing insight into Apple & Steve Jobs entire history up until the modern day. The ‘iLeadership’ word makes me think about the modern day Apple.

This seems a bit misleading since lliot hasn’t been directly involved in Apple since the mid to late 1990’s. As far as I could tell, he left Apple before Jobs returned the 2nd time. Nothing wrong with that of course…and there’s really a lot to learn from Apple’s founding and release of the Macintosh…but the title of the book made me think that I’d be reading about stories and learning insights from the modern day Apple. The author does talk about Apple during Jobs’ second stint as CEO but its not quite the same as the the insight garnered  while Elliot was still intimately involved at Apple.

Regardless…this is a good book. It won’t really be on the shelf of leadership scholars – but its a good read for those interested in corporate history, Apple’s history and/or Steve Jobs.



Recommended books for the CIO / IT Leaders for 2011

Photo By babblingdweeb on flickr

We are quickly coming up to the end of 2010.  Most people are winding down for the holidays….perfect time to grab a few good books during the down time.

Below are some books that I think would be perfect reading for everyone in IT, IT Leadership roles and any/all CIO’s. Heck…most would be good reading for anyone.

Some are IT / CIO related. Some have to do with Social Media while others are marketing related.  A few others are provided as a way to make us all think.

All links below are amazon affiliate links.

The Practical CIO: A Common Sense Guide for Successful IT Leadership by Jose Carlos Eiras

Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders by Jurgen Appelo

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo

Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead by Charlene Li

UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. by Scott Strahan

Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business by Josh Bernoff

The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results by Graham Waller, Karen Rubenstrunk and George Hallenbeck

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu

The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan

Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition) by Michael Michalko

Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web by Brian Solis

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

Enjoy and happy holidays.

The Next Level by Scott Eblin – Book Review

Late last week I received The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success, 2nd Edition by Scott Eblin (amazon affiliate link) from Daniel Decker of the Higher Level Group to review (thanks Daniel!).

I normally receive a few offers from agents, PR firms, and authors to review their books, and for the most part I accept those offers….and normally I’ll post a review on here.  Thankfully, I’ve enjoyed most of the books I receive…and I enjoyed this one as well.

That said, this book isn’t for everyone.

Quick Review of the book

So…what is this book about?

From the dustcover of the book:

Moving successfully to the executive level requires knowing which behaviors and beliefs to let go, as well as which new ones to pick up.  This confidence building book outlines a program for success based on frank advice from accomplished senior executives around the world on what to do and, just as important, what to avoid.

I’d say that synopsis is accurate.  The book provides a good walk-through of what skills are needed to be successful by senior level executives.

But…are these skills just for senior level executives?  Nope…anyone can pick up these skills to use in their current role…whether that role is as a consultant, senior executive, entrepreneur or student.

For example…Chapter 2 is titled:

Pick up Confidence in your Presence; Let go of Doubt in how you Contribute.

Pretty powerful statement in that title, don’t you think?  Have confidence in your abilities and push out the doubt.

Overall, this is a good book and worth picking up by anyone looking for advice / coaching on things that can be done to improve your career.

If you’ve had a good role model in your career, this book might be a repeat of what you’ve learned from your mentor and/or role model….but there might still be some good nuggets of information in here for you.

If you don’t believe in ‘ business / personal coaches’  and think you’ve got all the skills you need to be a senior level leader / manager in a large organization…move along.  This book won’t have anything of substance for you.

Of course…if you think you’ve got all the skills you need, you’re deluding yourself.  Everyone can learn something new.

Open Leadership – Book review

Open Leadership by Charlene LiI grabbed a copy of Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (affiliate link) by Charlene Li for my business trip last week.  Gotta have something to read on the plane you know.

I enjoyed this book.  Not only is the subject matter interesting, but the way in which Li presents the material is fresh, interesting and engaging.

The main premise of the book is that in order for organizations to use social tools and technology, they need to be able to operate in a more open manner.

I do have to say that when I first saw the title “Open Leadership”, I was perplexed. I thought that Li had somehow decided to move away from her area of experience and expertise in the social space and move into the realm of ‘leadership’ books.  The subtitle helped assuage that fear though and after opening the book and starting to read, I realized that the title made perfect sense.

In this book, Li declares open leadership to be a vital factor in whether an organization succeeds using social media.     She argues that by becoming more open, organizations will be able to build real / honest relationships with their employees, clients and vendors.

This is a good thing.  Building long-lasting and valuable relationships with people (whether they are clients or employees) is the entire reason for moving into the social space.  Having a culture of openness within an organization helps tremendously with building those relationships.

Li argues that the old ‘command and control’ structure that most organizations have used (and still use) will not work in this more open environment.  While this argument is made fairly successfully, there are many places in the book where Li tries to assuage those who still prefer the top-down command approach with her ‘controlled’ open-ness approach. When I first ran across the idea of a controlled ‘open’ environment as Li discusses, I was a little disturbed, but after thinking about it and reading more, I realized that Li wasn’t really advocating for continuing the command and control approach; she’s arguing for processes that help shape the open environment.  As long-time readers of this blog know, I’m all for processes as long as they don’t hinder the ability of the business to be ‘human’.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in social media, social technologies, customer service and marketing.  There are a lot of really great stories & case studies that highlight how organizations are using social media to get closer to their customers and the problems those customers are having.

If you liked Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (affiliate link), a great book in its own right, you’ll like this book too.

SWAT – Seize the Accomplishment Review

SWAT Seize the Accomplishment ReviewI just put down SWAT – Seize the Accomplishment (Amazon affiliate link) by Timothy L. Johnson….and now want to pick it back up and read it again.  It’s that good.

I received the book as a review copy from the author…but don’t let that get in the way of believing me when i say that this business fable is an excellent one.

SWAT is an acronym for “Systems Working All Together”…but it also helps set the stage for the story in the book.

The storyline of this book is a good one and keeps the concepts moving forward quickly. In the story, a team lead has a difficult task to work through and turns to his best friend and cousin…who happens to be a SWAT commander.

The main character, Toby, spends time with his SWAT commander cousin and learns the systems thinking concepts that make SWAT teams successful.

The concepts are described perfectly and in a manner that makes it easy to comprehend and easy to understand how you might apply them to the problems your currently facing.

I’ve read quite a few systems thinking books but nothing as entertaining as this.   While this isn’t nearly as comprehensive as Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization, Timothy Johnson‘s put together a great little book that can help to introduce the systems thinking concepts quickly and easily.

Grab this book from your favorite bookseller today..Amazon has it for $14.95.

On the Bookshelf – Jan 2009

I realized this evening that I’ve got a lot of reading to catch up on.  In addition to the Kindle I received for Christmas (and the subsequent books I bought for it immediately after opening it), I’ve got a few ‘real’ books on my desk I need to read through.

On the kindle:

Note: I just finished Outliers: The Story of Success on the Kindle…I love the Kindle…Outliers was OK.  I’m not going to do a review on the book…check out these great book reviews for more info on the book.

On my bookshelf:

I’m hoping to make it through these over the next month. I’m sure my time will be well rewarded. If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

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