Steven Johnson is one of those rare authors who can take advanced scientific research and turn it into prose that non-scientific readers can understand and then use in their own lives. He can pull that off because he not only has the training to read the scientific literature, but he is a master story teller. He has done it again in Farighted. In it, he helps us see some old and some new tools that help us make decisions on matters that will affect our lives far into the future--hence the title.
I met Amy Edmondson more than 30 years ago when I was getting started on my peacebuilding career and she was starting her own as a business consultant. She since moved on to get a PhD and now teach at the Harvard Business School, where her work on teams has had a profound impact on corporate life. Now, in The Fearless Organization, she has expanded her focus from hospitals and other corporations to organizations in general. Which means her work is filled with implications for peacebuilding.
A friend told me about Colin Rule's work a few weeks ago. At first, the systems he developed to help resolve conflicts on e-commerce sites didn't seem all that relevant to my work. After all, my own work focuses on the toughest conflicts we face as a society, not how online businesses and their customers work out their differences. I was wrong. In fact, there is a lot of value here. What Rule and his co-author Amy Schmitz have already done and what they propose companies implement in the future is critical for the future of conflict resolution in general.
I don’t usually review books that are aimed at specialized audience. I made an exception for Diana Chigas and Peter Woodrow’s Adding Up To Peace a) because they are friend and b) more importantly, they take on the toughest challenge we peacebuilders face. How do we build on what we accomplish in a particular community and turn it into lasting peace that holds for an entire society.
Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, you'll find something to love AND something to hate in Steve Hilton's new book, Positive Populism. That's exactly why you should read it. And think about it.
I'm a recent convert to the work of Brené Brown. After years of focusing on such things as shame and vulnerability, she has flipped the hierarchy and dealt with leadership in her most recent book with its intriguing title, Dare to Lead. What's unusual about the book is that she does not focus on traditional forms in which I exert leadership over you. Instead, she explores how I lead with you but also how I lead within myself. For all of those reasons, it is a book worth reading.
I have been thinking a lot about higher eduction these days, because I'm increasingly unhappy about the state of things these days. Then, I spent a weekend at Oberlin planning my fiftieth reunion and came away quite excited about some of the interesting things they are doing. So, I decided to go back and reread Kevin Carey's book, The End of College, which had helped strengthen my grumpiness when I read it three years ago when it came out.
Steven Johnson is one of my favorite writers. Over the years, he has gotten me to rethink paradigm shifts (they happen in a more piecemeal fashion than I used to believe) and evolution (we can plan at some of our mental—if not our physical—evolution as a species). So, I read Farsighted the day it arrived on my Kindle.
The same political polarization that grips the nation has hit American college campuses, including most of the elite schools that produce a disproportionate share of our country's leaders. In this provocative new book, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt explore some of its contours, causes, and consequences. It is provocative precisely because it goes way beyond university life to address broader issues involving everything from the way we raise our children to broader polarization that has only gotten more intense than it was when they finished the book. I do not agree with everything they say, but the book is a must-read for anyone interested in the fate of American higher education and society, both of which have been at the heart of my life since I was a student in the differently polarized 1960s and 1970s.
I belong to the Next Big Idea Club. It was created by Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink to promote the ideas of the next generation of thinkers whose insights might change the world. For a fee that is roughly the equivalent of the cover price, they send me eight books a year that they think will change lives AND send a copy to a teenager in an underserved community. So far, they haven’t disappointed. One of this fall’s two books is Zachary Wood’s Uncensored, which is must reading on two levels, the second of which I want to focus on here.
Hans Rosling’s Factfulness is a book all social scientists should read because it tools about how our failure to see the real data on development had led to political mistake after political mistake