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Reading beyond the lines, part two

by Randall Craig on September 20, 2011

Filed in: Blog, Book, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management

Tagged as: ,

Have you ever thought about how to become more creative?  One way is to expose yourself to ideas just beyond “the usual”: ideas that challenge you to think differently, or expose you to experiences that are well beyond your immediate knowledge.  With so much available on the web, it is easy to forget that books were first designed for this purpose.  Here are ten books that are worth a look:

Who Moved my Cheese? (Dr. Spencer Johnson):  All about change management; A fable where four characters take a different approach to change.  It’s a great way to recognize unhelpful behaviors from your colleagues… and yourself.  A quick read.

Designing Web Usability (Jakob Nielsen):  This was probably the very first book on web usability.  While I’m not in total agreement with all his points, I agree completely with the concept of purpose-built, user-focused design.  Most of the fundamentals in this book are timeless.

The Tipping Point (Malcom Gladwell):  The theory of critical mass, and why it happens.  You can’t go wrong reading anything from him.

The Wealthy Barber (David Chilton): This was one of the first “fable” books.  It’s all about lessons in financial planning taught through a story of conversations with the local barber, who shares matter-of-fact common sense.   There is an up-to-date, 30-years-later book  (“The Wealthy Barber Returns”) also now available.

The Goal (Eliyahu Goldrat): Continuous improvement told in a story format, as he repairs both a factory… and his personal life.  This book gives you a behind-the-scenes look into manufacturing operations  – something most people don’t ever experience first hand.

The Code Book (Simon Singh): A talented science writer, Singh talks about codes and ciphers throughout the ages and the sophistication of societies uses of these codes.  Starting back in Roman times, he brings us through WWII, to the present, and beyond.  Fascinating.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Patrick Lencioni): Business fable where a high school principal is asked to ‘fix’ a Silicon Valley team – the reader goes along for the ride.  The book is quite entertaining, until you realize the dysfunctional characters are just describing  your own behaviors.

Marketing Services: Competing Through Quality (Leonard Berry & A. Parasuraman): These academics are the “creators” of so much in the area of measuring service quality: the “gap framework”, the five determinants of service quality, and more.  This book is a must-read for anyone involved in the service world.  Hint:  Responsiveness and Reliability are key.  And great service quality is when there is no gap between expected and actual service delivery.

Online PR and Social Media series and Social Media for Business: 101 Ways to Grow Your Business Without Wasting Your Time: Of course, I couldn’t NOT put my own books in the list.  Instead of a thick reference manual covering everything, these books focus on models that you can use to implement social media strategies, reduce risk, monitor/measure ROI, etc.

This week’s action plan:  With more – and different – input, you will get more – and more creative – output. This week, choose one of these books, read it, then pass it on to a friend or colleague who you think might also appreciate it.  Not only will you both be stretched, but you’ll have one more thing in common.   (Want a few more choices?  Here’s my earlier post of ten other mind-stretching books.)

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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