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From Our Homes to Yours: Reading Recommendations from the HCI Blogging Team

December 17, 2009
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One of the great things about the holiday season is that it (hopefully) gives you some extra time to relax and enjoy a bit more downtime. Whether you spend this time watching football (go Dolphins!), drinking a bit of seasonal cheer, or getting into the ultimate holiday spirit with a rousing “World of Warcraft” marathon, it’s good to take a break and do something for yourself for a change. One of my favorite ways to take advantage of the more relaxed holiday schedule is to catch up on my reading – I don’t know about you but I’ve got a stack of books next to my bed that I keep trying to get around to, but by the time I get there at the end of the day I’m too tired to reach over and grab one, let alone read it. So bring on the holidays! As my holiday gift to you, I’ve put together a list of reading recommendations (with the help of my fellow HCI blogger elves) in case the stack next to your bed needs a bit of holiday cheer.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Reading!

 

Pam Arlotto: Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie

Based on a 30 year Gallup research project, the book identifies three keys to becoming a more effective leader: know your strengths, invest in others strengths and get the right people with the right strengths on your team. I have had my entire consulting team take the quiz and we have learned how to work better together and with our clients.

Richard Bankowitz: The Emotional Intelligence Quickbook by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

The higher one goes on the corporate ladder, the more one gets work done through and by others, and the more one needs to have effective mastery of self, and effective understanding of relationships. This book discusses these two facets of Emotional Intelligence and includes a code allowing the reader to take on on-line test of emotional intelligence which can be very illuminating. (I understand the Kindle edition lacks this feature – caveat). Emotional Intelligence is something every effective manager / executive needs to understand and attempt to master.

Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century by Committee on Quality of Health Care in America and Institute of Medicine

This is the work by the Institute of Medicine which provided a badly needed framework for healthcare quality to include: safe care, effective care, efficient care, patient centered care, accessible care, and equitable care. It provides a broad blueprint for healthcare quality and everyone in healthcare and healthcare IT should be familiar with this work.

Joe Bormel: Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege, and Success by Art Kleiner.

[From Publishers Weekly review:] The old saw "the customer comes first" is a flat-out lie, argues Kleiner, a contributing editor at strategy+business magazine and the author of several business books, in this fresh look at the structure and politics of business. He contends that "a depressing number of business corporations have evolved into organizations with one primary purpose: To extract wealth from all constitutions (not just the shareholders, but the employees, customers, and neighbors as well) and give it essentially to the children and grandchildren of some of its senior executives." Such corporate selfishness works because the key decisions in are being made by the "Core Group"-executives or employees whose needs and desires determine company behavior."

The book is actually very practical and up-beat in multiple ways. Like a few other classics addressing organizational power, this book acknowledges a deep human reality - in-group behavior is something that humans are genetically wired to value. The book creates clarity around "guesswork", which is all that's left when you're stuck with poor communication, as we often are. It describes useful behavior and positive exemplars, like Southwest airlines and others who have fashioned their core group based on the realities of their markets. Just dont buy this book and give it to your boss, at least without reading it first!

Vince Ciotti: Minding the Store (New Press, 2008).

This book is a compilation of short stories about the business world from literary giants like John Cheever, John Updike and Arthur MIller. My favorites: Joseph Heller's excerpt from "Something Happened" on corporate paranoia, and Kafka's hysterical piece on the new-fangled technology of the telephone at the turn of the century.

What's best is there's nothing about IT, so CIOs get a break from the techie world, and a reminder that people have been trying to make money on each other for centuries - nothing really new under the sun except the acronyms!

 

Michael W. Craige: Strategic Management of Information Systems in Healthcare by Timothy B. Patrick, Gordon D. Brown and Tamara T. Stone.

This book explores how IT can be used within Healthcare Organizations to achieve better operational performance and strengthen their competitive position. It also explains how to move beyond applying technology to current practices, and use the enabling power of IT to redesign work processes to achieve high levels of performance.

 

Gwen Darling: First, Break All the Rules (What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently) by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Buckingham and Coffman of the Gallup Organization conducted a massive in-depth study of successful managers across a wide variety of situations who shared one trait in common – they were all known for their ability to turn each employee’s talent into performance. The authors have culled their observations from more than 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years. The authors outline "four keys" to becoming an excellent manager: Finding the right fit for employees, focusing on strengths of employees, defining the right results, and selecting staff for talent--not just knowledge and skills. First, Break All the Rules then offers specific techniques for helping people perform better on the job, resulting in greater employee and employer satisfaction. In the current “retain or die” environment of Healthcare IT, I can’t think of a better way to spend a few hours over the holidays!

 

Kate Huvane Gamble: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan.

Most of the books I read are fiction, but this book caught my eye. So I decided to give it a try, and it blew me away. It provided a very detailed and really interesting look at some of the changes the food industry has gone through in the last century, and how those changes impact what we eat. It also put the ever-growing weight loss industry under the microscope, pointing out how most of the “science” behind it is based on anything but. Pollan tells it like is without trying to force philosophies down the reader’s throat, and in the process, makes you do a lot of thinking about not just the foods you eat, but also what it means to enjoy a meal. Great stuff.

And I know you only wanted one book, but I recently re-read my all-time favorite…

Kate Huvane Gamble: Friday Night Lights (H.G. Bissinger)

Before the movie and the T.V. show was this brilliant book. In the late 80s, the author spent the entire high school football season with one of the top teams in Texas (a state where the sport is second only to… well, nothing). He manages to make the story about more than just football, taking a hard look at how the oil boom impacted Texas, and the harsh realities of growing up in a town that lives for football. Maybe it’s because I spent some time as a sportswriter, but I thought this book did an amazing job of capturing the highest of highs and lowest of lows that can only come from high school sports.

Travis Gathright: Good to Great, Chapter 7 by Jim Collins

This is still the best business book out there, in my humble opinion. If someone wanting to be an IT Leader doesn’t read anything else, they should read Chapter 7 of Good to Great. If they can’t bring themselves to read the entire book, they shouldn’t want to be IT leaders. Ha. Chapter 7 provides a great basis for establishing the IT / Operations relationship. It provides a great way to talk about how IT and Operations fit together, why they fit together best that way, and the types of great success that can come from the right approach.

 

Anthony Guerra: The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

There are a few areas of study around which I have little aptitude but great interest. The first is physics and astronomy -- when they start talking about time travel and the quantum universe, my wife knows it's time to leave the room because I'm hooked. The second area is high finance -- stocks, bonds, swaps and the like have an allure I can't resist, or largely understand. As such, I recently picked up the tome "The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life" by Alice Schroeder. It's a long-awaited look at one of the most successful and unassuming business icons of the 20th Century. Warren Buffet -- with his Nebraska home base and aversion to tech stocks -- is an enigma most people can't get enough of. In this fascinating biography, Schroeder take us through the evolution of a financial giant, as we see a boy with innate mathematical ability and stunted social grace evolve into, arguably, the single most effective money manager of our time.

 

Mark Harvey: The Strategic Application of Information Technology in Health Care Organizations by John Glaser

I think that Glaser’s book is still relevant. It’s useful as a good overview of the role that IT can, does, and should play in a healthcare organization’s efforts at optimizing their business and clinical processes. The emphasis on IT as an enabler of the organization’s overall strategy as opposed to an end to itself is an important principle for anyone working in the HIT space.

 

Charlene Marietti: The Real Business of IT (How CIOs Create and Communicate Value) by Richard Hunter and George Westerman

A new book from Harvard Business Press targeted to CIOS presents practical guidelines and suggestions to enable these IT professionals to demonstrate the value of IT and communicate this value more effectively, especially to non-IT leaders. The book is co-authored by a Gartner Fellow and a Research Scientist at MIT Sloan School of Management’s Center for Information Systems Research.

Marc D. Paradis: The Innovator's Prescription by Christensen, Grossman and Hwang

While I don't agree with every prediction and recommendation made in this book, I agree nearly 100% with the framework that they put forward. When assessing whether a healthcare IT technology, position or process represents a promising opportunity or a risky gamble, the concepts of sustaining versus
disruptive innovation and customers hiring products or services to satisfy a job-to-be-done can yield extremely powerful insights into this balance.”

Pete Rivera: Relearn, Evolve, and Adapt: An Essay to Integrate Creative Imagination with Socially Conditioned Thought and Behavior by Francois Sauer

Fellow HCI Blogger Joe Bormel made a comment on one of my blogs about this book. I ended up buying and loved it!

“Pete, since you brought up the topic of imprinting, emotional events and parenting, I just finished reading a new book exactly on that topic. It's brilliant, although would appeal best to people who enjoy abstract thinking required to do systems thinking. After I finished it, a bought a bunch of copies for my like-minded friends.

Francois was pretty explicit about parenting his teens.

At one point, he was the CEO of a division of a company where I worked. He had to parent a bunch of employees who needed some adult supervision ... like me! Put differently, coaching and in some cases mentoring should be a routine part of a managers responsibilities. All-too-often in business, it doesn't happen.

 

Tim Tolan: The 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. A great read for anyone that wants to be more productive and focus on the things that are important in life. Do the things you enjoy and find ways to outsource or delegate the rest. Life is way too short! Great advice for any busy executive.

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