Friday, May 27, 2011

The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice, #2)The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm still impressed with this series as it provides a plot that moves along well, and has many deeper aspects to it, but remains at a late-grade-school level. I think it is the model for positioning a book in its category.

The story itself shows the main character, Will, growing and engaging, this time without his archetypal mentor (Halt=Gandalf). They add a potential relationship twist, as well as give his side kick a chance to be the hero. All of this is good.

Flanagan did leave me hanging at the end, from a plot perspective, but since these books are so short, I know that I will be able to chase that resolution through the next book or two, and I'm OK with that. I'm ready for the next one!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in BusinessDeath by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business by Patrick Lencioni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pros for this title are easy to come up with: It was a quick read. The information is easily consumable. The resulting recommendation is fairly specific and easy to implement. The concept behind this strategy for your meetings seems solid.

Cons are that the information, while easy to test, does not seem to come from any sort of empirical source. Most of it sounds like Lencioni conjured it up from nothing. I'm OK with that, since that is how I have come up with some of my best work, but it is an easy criticism for a business book. The strategy sounds good, but will require some tweaking, I think to work in various situations, and I don't think it provides an end-to-end solution to business woes, or even challenges with making your meetings effective.

If I were to sum up the message of the book in a way that I could stand behind it 100%, it would be: "If you want your meetings to be more effective, and ultimate contribute to the bottom line of your business, then introduce healthy conflict within a light weight structure. Let the attendees emotion be the driving energy behind good decisions and business success."

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Monday, May 2, 2011

First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do DifferentlyFirst, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As another research-based business book, this one presented a great point-of-view on managing people. While it does seem that Buckingham departed from his research slightly from time to time, the message still rings true. I would recommend that all managers consider the idea that people are all different, and therefore should be managed differently, not the same.

While I like the main message of this book, I will say that the delivery was somewhat lacking. The content was good, but it just isn't well written. Academic portions seemed to drag on, and the language isn't engaging. This was actually my 3rd attempt at this one, and I made it to the end by sheer will, despite liking and appreciating the message.

All things considered I would give the content a solid 4.5 stars, but taking a holistic view, I can't go over three stars. I plan on picking up a few additional titles by the same guys (Gallup research results) so they will get another chance...

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