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Agile Retrospectives by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby
The process information in this book is very good. The exercises, though, are the real value. That’s because once you’ve figured out how to run a retrospective (which might take several experiences), what you’ll refer to over and over is the activities/exercises.

The Art Of War by Sun Tzu
The definitive book on strategy. If you read this, and think about it in the context of work/business, you’ll find that Sun Tzu’s simple statements have broad-reaching implications. I frequently give this book as part of a gift set that includes The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, and The Unfettered Mind.

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
This book is complementary to The Art of War. While The Art of War is about strategy, this book is about tactics. Both books include some of each, but each really focuses on one or the other. Once again, reading for understanding and application outside of the specific context of the book provides great insight. I frequently give this book as part of a gift set that includes The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, and The Unfettered Mind.

Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders (Agile Software Development Series)
While this book is positioned as being focused on Agile teams, I find it to be an excellent resource for meeting/event facilitation in general. The details that Tabaka covers – from planning to meeting to follow-up – are exceptional. I recommend this as a must-read for anyone who ever organizes a meeting or event of any kind.

Crucial Confrontations: Tools for talking about broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior
As with Crucial Conversations (below), read this. These two books address one-on-one conversations and failed commitments in a way that no other work has done, for me.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
Read this. Is that direct enough? I find this to be one of the most useful and effective books I’ve read in decades. The combination of the concepts and techniques are applicable throughout all aspects of life: personal, professional, networking, casual, you name it. It has helped me to transform my career and my relationships at home. Read it.

Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Sam Kaner
One of the bibles of facilitation, this book explains process and how you function in it as a facilitator. While it includes somewhat more focused and less general information than some of the others, it is firmly on the must-read list.

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
Another exceptional work by the authors of Crucial Conversations and Crucial Conversations. This book has me challenging my assumptions, and questioning my acceptance of my own excuses, while helping me to increase my effectiveness as a coach, speaker, facilitator, husband, father, and friend.

Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide by Harrison Own
I love Open Space Technology. I am an Open Space Facilitator, and it’s all from reading this book. While my friend Scott Bellware introduced me to the concept and practice, it’s Harrison Owen who opened my eyes through this and his other works. This is the starting point, if you want to learn about and practice Open Space Technology.

Participatory Workshops: A Sourcebook of 21 Sets of Ideas and Activities by Robert Chambers
Admittedly, I just found this one while cruising for interesting books on the topic. Now it’s one of my favorite resources. The information contained is broad and deep, providing insights and activities for almost any circumstances. This belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who does facilitation, or even who attends meetings.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) by Garr Reynolds
One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read on presenting and creating presentations. The concepts are simple, enjoyable, and lead to more comfort in presenting. A must read for anyone who presents.

Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews by Norman Kerth
The original, and still most important, book on the subject of retrospectives.

The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches by Roger Schwarz
Another of the definitive works on facilitation, Schwarz has captured decades of experience and study and learning.

Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono
An excellent, and classic, work on thinking, group decision making and problem resolution.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
Recommended by my friend Chris Matts in the U.K., this book takes a look at what “comics” really are in the world of art and literature, and does it using comic art! This is a big help to me in developing training and other materials.

The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman by Takuan Soho
A book that most folks have never heard of, The Unfettered Mind is a set of letters/essays from Takuan Soho – an itinerant monk who was contemporary with Miyamoto Musashi – on swordsmanship. The reflections, and mental and spiritual concepts he explores are remarkable. I have introduced lots of people to this book – several claim it changed their lives and career paths. I frequently give this book as part of a gift set that includes The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, and The Unfettered Mind.

Weird Ideas That Work: How to Build a Creative Company by Robert I. Sutton
Understanding that what we take for granted as the right way or the accepted way may not be the way to foster creativity and innovation. As always with Sutton, good ideas with lots of stories to show how it works and doesn’t work.

The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter by Juanita Brown
A lovely approach to delving into issues. This book is, for me, synergistic with Open Space Technology and a fun way to structure an event or part of an event.

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5 Responses

  1. […] might be angry or hostile or sad or frustrated or… And, as they tell us in Crucial Conversations, I will then proceed to tell myself a story about how you feel, what it means, and how it affects […]

  2. […] * See Edward De Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” […]

  3. […] see reading list on Steven List’s blog […]

  4. […] * See Edward De Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” […]

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