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Recommended Reads – 14 March

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – by Cal Newport
One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, Deep Work takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories-from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air-and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. Deep Work is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

Fast Forward – By Prof Julian Birkinshaw and Jonas Ridderstrale

The leading companies of the past twenty years have all harnessed the power of information to gain competitive advantage. But as access to big data becomes ubiquitous, it can no longer guarantee a leg up. Fast/Forward makes the case that we are entering a new era in which firms that understand the limits of 1s and 0s will take the lead.

Whereas the industrial age saw the rise of bureaucracy, and the information age has been described as a meritocracy, we are witnessing the rise of adhocracy. In uncertain, rapidly-changing times, adhocracic organizations scan the horizon for winning opportunities. Then, instead of questing after more analysis, they respond with agility by making smart, intuitive decisions. Combining decisive action with emotional conviction, future-facing firms seize the day.

Fast/Forward paints the big picture of a new approach to strategy and provides the necessary playbook to make your company fit for the future.

Under the Hood : Fire Up & Fine-Tune your Employee Culture
by Stan Slap

You can’t sell it outside if you can’t sell it inside,” says bestselling author Stan Slap in this groundbreaking book about employee culture. Culture is the most overused but least understood concept in business. It can make or break any management plan—and any manager right along with it.

This deeply researched book reveals why an employee culture is an entirely separate organism living within a company, with its own purpose and priorities. It exists to protect itself, and it can’t be bluffed, bribed, or bullied into dependably doing anything. So how do you keep your employee culture energized and open to change in a way that doesn’t bankrupt the company? How do you protect your organization when the culture is most vulnerable—during mergers, fast growth, and under extraordinary pressure?

Slap’s answers include more than fifty action steps that are immediately applicable by any company and every manager. He also features the real stories of firms like Google and Samsung, intimate interviews with famed CEOs, and wild insights from unique employee cultures, including the film crew of the Super Bowl and Paul McCartney’s band.

Like Slap’s previous bestseller, Bury My Heart at Conference Room B, this book is provocative, irreverent, heartfelt, and often very funny.

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