May 7, 2006

My favorite books on HR, KM and Innovation

Someone asked me if I could suggest them my favorite books on HR, KM and Innovation.

I thought I'd share it with you too !

Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used - Amazingly down to earth and step by step guide to anyone who wants to influence without using authority. Peter Block is amazing. Read the latest edition and the added chapter on "The Shadow side of Consulting". Highly recommended for internal support groups within organizations too !

The Headhunter's Edge - Jeff Christian's book will tell you how a headhunter thinks and how you can thereby ensure that your people cannot be hired away by them. Amazing insights into recruitment as well as retention. He fully endorses counteroffers, by the way!

Harvard Business Review on Breakthrough Thinking - If you are in an exploratory mood to read up various viewpoints of organizational creativity then do pick up this book. But if, you are working in an organization, and what to know what to do to take it through the whole end-to-end innovation journey then this book is only an appetizer. You'll have to catch someone else to serve you the meal.

Enabling Knowledge Creation : How to Unlock the Mystery of Tacit Knowledge and Release the Power of Innovation by Kroeg and Nonaka. this book is likely to disturb people who have read and formed ideas about KM by reading works of the American thought leaders. Their premises of Knowledge Enabling and Creation are that Knowledge is justified true belief, individual and social, tacit and explicit, Knowledge depends on your perspective and that Knowledge Creation is a craft , not a science.

Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations - Tom Stewart demonstrates how the traditional accounting system and management processes do not take into account the most important things in the company, human capital, structural capital and customer capital.

The Living Company by Arie de Geus talks about the evolving notion of the organization as a living being, instead of just an "economic entity" whose main purpose of existence is to survive, fulfill its potential, and to become great.

Maverick : The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler. In my view this is the organization that most organizations should aspire to become. The holy grail of HR - no HR departments :-)

Self Designing Organizations: Learning How to Create High Performance (Organizational Development Series) by Susan Albers Mohrman.

The book contains a lot of case studies that seek to clarify and demystify the practical delineation of what it takes for an organization to self-design. It also looks at the components of the design process: gaining knowledge, determining values and diagnosing the organization. It also touches on the "zero-sum" designing in which the design team starts with a blank slate rather than with an already existing organisation. The book also describes the action learning sequence of implementing, assessing and iterating. This reiterates the need for hedging against uncertainity and stresses innovation.

An important part of the book refers to what transition roles and structures are necessary. One chapter is devoted to the special challenge of self-design that entails large-scale change.

Designing Organizations for High Performance by David P. Hanna. The book focusses on how to implement various theories to get better results, and therefore is more of a 'how-to' book rather than being comprehensive in treatment of concepts. The how-tos concern two aspects of design , (1) the rational part, including identifying the desired organisational model, structuring the various design elements to produce the required results, and assessing one's progress at any point of time and (2) the emotional part including educating membersabout organisational alternatives to the bureaucratic model, developing their commitment and support for the model actually chosen , changing habits and practices to fit with the "model system", maintaining commitment "when the going gets tough", and renewing the model when circumstances require it.

Of course, there are a lot other great books in the above areas. What are yours?