My Top 5 Books Right Now on Organizational Development

Being a PhD student in the field of organizational development means the reading never stops. There is always something new to be learned, some new theory that can be applied or an interesting golden nugget that makes you think “Aha! We hadn’t though of it that way before!” I believe in the power of Culture Magic and I believe at the core of that is finding ways to get people to perform together at their best. In the deluge of organizational development and organizational leadership books available out there, I’ve been able to find five that have meant the most to me to date from a practitioner standpoint. Ask me again six months from now and I may have a whole new list to show you, but as of November 2019, these are my top that you must have and read for yourself and your own organization you work with:

NUMBER ONE:

The Heart of Change: Real Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations

BY: JOHN P KOTTER AND DAN S. COHEN

Many change processes begin with creating a vision for the change, but Kotter and Cohen specifically advise against it. This book is the cornerstone of large scale organizational (or personal) change. Kotter and Cohen take the reader through a tried and true eight-step process that begins with creating a sense of urgency and ends with tips on how to make it stick. As humans, we are hardwired to resist change, Kotter and Cohen take that into account as they layout a systematic path in which you can “drag in and drop” your particular large scale change effort.

 

NUMBER TWO:

Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today’s Leaders

BY: PETER DRUCKER, FRANCES HESSELBEIN, AND JOAN SNYDER KUHL

This is a simple, short read that is almost like a workbook. The book combines stories and contributions from leaders in various industries around the world. Whether your business needs recalibrating  or you are currently smooth sailing, as a leader you should continually ask yourself these five questions and the sub questions for each. This short book may save your business or change the way you do business.

NUMBER THREE:

Organizational Culture and Leadership

BY: EDGAR H. SCHEIN

I love Schein because he is quite the opposite of Cameron and Quinn (Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture). Instead of focusing on metrics and data, Schein believes that in order to change culture, you have to get in there, roll your sleeves up, and talk to the people. Find out what the underlying assumptions are, discover the organizations’ artifacts, and the organizations’ espoused beliefs and values. I also love Schein because he considers macrocultures when considering change. Schein has consulted with countless companies and he recounts many of his experiences in this book.

NUMBER FOUR:

Growth Mindset: The Psychology of Success

BY: CAROL S. DWECK

Individuals who believe their talents can be developed through hard work, forward thinking, and input from others have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more and enjoy the process more than those with a fixed mindset (those who believe their talents and intelligence are innate and can not change). Carol Dweck is the authoritative voice on how to cultivate a growth mindset and this is the first thing I teach in any leadership development program I create. I also love this book because it great for parents, I find myself telling my two year old daughter that we will “have a growth mindset” when we make a mistake.

NUMBER FIVE:

Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture

BY: KIM S. CAMERON, ROBERT E. QUINN

This book is the cornerstone to any culture change initiative. Cameron and Quinn are world renowned thought leaders when it comes to establishing a baseline of your culture and formulating a plan to change it. Their Competing Values Framework and the OCAI (Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument) are must haves for culture change agents.

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