Most companies fail to create a compelling strategy, or if they do have such a strategy they fail to put it into practice; however, a small number of companies naturally combine strategy and execution in everything they do. According to Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi in their bookStrategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap, the products and services of these companies have an enviable position in the markets they care about, and the firms reliably deliver on their promises. They each have their own unique way of competing, but they all have one thing in common: their success is clearly related to the distinctive way they do things: their capabilities.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

Most churches have a generic sense of their vision rather than a clearly defined and contextually crafted vision, according to Will Mancini and Warren Bird in their book God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future. In the world of vision, generic is an enemy; specific is your friend. Settling for generic will suck the life out of a church, and the people won’t even know it.

But how exactly do you go about finding God’s specific vision for your church? There are limitless directions in which a church could go, and it seems impossible to know where to start and who should be involved in the process. This book answers these problems by providing clear directions about using your leadership team in the discernment process and how you can use templates to get you started.

Starting with the templates, the discernment team seeks to discover which templates represent both their deepest longing as leaders and the future toward which their people will respond most heroically. The top templates are fused to create a single idea for a long-term vision, which is then focused and sharpened. The most important building blocks for the next 3 years are then identified, followed by the single most important focus for the coming year and the key immediate initiatives required over the next 90 days. What you end up with is a compelling long-term vision and a basic outline of strategies to get there.

In my opinion this is an outstanding book, the most helpful book on church vision that I have read. Most church leaders believe in the importance of painting an attractive vision of the future which motivates people to high levels of generosity and kingdom service, but their efforts so far have not achieved the desired results. This book might provide the spark that sets the compelling vision on fire.

Left to our well-honed, pattern-seeking tendencies, we will begin paying attention to those parts of our environment that fit our frames. Just as significant, we will ignore or downplay those parts of our environment that do not fit our frame. Not only is our brilliance unquestioned, it is inappropriately reinforced by our search for evidence, according to John Austin in his book Unquestioned Brilliance: Navigating a Fundamental Leadership Trap.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

There is skepticism among educators about character formation in online education. Many cannot imagine that real transformation can be achieved in any format other than in the traditional model of residential education with in-class face time. Profound spiritual formation, however, can and has happened through quality and effective learning in online education, according to Joanne Jung in her book Character Formation in Online Education: A Guide for Instructors, Administrators and Accrediting Agencies.

In Part One of the book, the author describes learning management systems, the characteristics of an online course and the characteristics of a successful online course teacher, recommending that online courses are best created in partnership with a skilled course designer who can ensure that the course takes advantage of an appropriate range of interactive technology while keeping the focus on the learning. Part Two discusses ways in which character formation can be integrated into the online learning experience, and Part Three considers ways of assessing and improving the effectiveness of online courses.

The book is fairly short, but easy to read. It is particularly suited for people who currently teach face-to-face Christian courses but are considering whether it is possible to offer those courses in an online format in a manner which does not compromise the quality of the learning experience, particularly those elements of character formation which are caught rather than taught. There are other books which give a more detailed description of the different things you can do with online courses, but this book gives a very carefully considered idea of how Christian spiritual formation can occur during such courses.

If you’re a good trainer and people are learning, you are fundamentally changing people’s brains, so it is worth understanding enough about the hardware and software that you’re working with to get the best results, according to Stella Collins in her book Neuroscience for Learning and Development: How to Apply Neuroscience and Psychology for Improved Learning and Training.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

Fifteen short years after he became Lakewood Church’s senior minister, Joel Osteen had become the embodiment and achieved the fulfillment of his own message—positive thinking, self-encouragement, and belief that God’s consequential blessings inevitably bring progress and advancement—the story of salvation with a smile, according to Phillip Sinitiere in his book Salvation with a Smile: Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church, and American Christianity.

The book starts with the story of John Osteen’s background, his transition from Southern Baptist into neopentecostalism, and his philosophy of ministry at Lakewood. It then goes on to describe how Joel stepped into the senior pastor position upon his father’s death in 1999, and his own distinctive philosophy of ministry.

Based on analysis of Joel’s sermons, the author says that Joel’s prosperity gospel has four parts: positive thinking, positive confession, positive providence, and the promotion of the Christian body as a site of improvement. It seems to me that there are parts of the Bible which can be used to support each of those themes, but those themes are not an accurate representation of the message of the Bible.

The author did not have access to Joel Osteen or other key people while writing the book, and as a result the book often feels like an academic analysis of writings and sermons rather than a lively personal story. Nonetheless, it does provide some interesting insights into the senior pastor of the largest church in North America.

Faced with the emergence and speed of growth in the information economy, organizations have an urgent need to adopt IT governance best practice, according to Alan Calder and Steve Watkins in their book IT Governance: An International Guide to Data Security and ISO27001/ISO27002. The authors define IT governance as ‘the framework for the leadership, organizational structures and business processes, standards and compliance to these standards, which ensures that the organization’s information systems support and enable the achievement of its strategies and objectives’.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

Fit leaders and fit companies mindfully and intentionally pursue a well-defined course of action that makes them stronger, faster, and more agile over the long run; they engage in rigorous, scientific thinking at all levels of the organization to analyse and solve problems, and they eliminate the fear that shackles employee creativity and liberate employees to close the baps between where they are today and where they want to be tomorrow, according to Daniel Markovitz in his book Building the FIT Organization: Six Core Principles for Making Your Company Stronger, Faster, and More Competitive.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

Whatever the cause of a sense of entitlement, the end result is that the entitled person believes that he or she doesn’t have to play by the rules of responsibility, ownership, and commitment. And the end result of entitlement is predictable: The entitled person feels good and lives badly, while those around him feel bad about the situation but have more successful relationships and careers, according to John Townsend in his book The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way.

The common characteristics of entitlement identified by the author include:

  • An attitude of being special
  • An attitude of being owed, of deserving something
  • A refusal to accept responsibility
  • A denial of one’s impact on others

While it is usually fairly easy to diagnose someone else as a sufferer of entitlement disease, it is often harder to admit that you are suffering the disease yourself. The book is ostensibly written to show readers how to help others who are stuck in an entitlement rut, but it also provides a helpful range of ideas for identifying and dealing with your own failings. The various chapters discuss motivation, discipline and structure, creating a helpful self-image, assuming responsibility, doing hard things first, keeping inconvenient commitments, respecting the future, admitting errors, facing up to pain, and taking meaningful risks.

I am not confident that entitlement can ever really be “cured”, but I think that this book provides a range of useful things you can do to help manage the disease.

Rooting out corrosive behaviours is not simple, since they are often mutant excesses of laudable aspects of organisational life and group behaviour. Slowly these sabotaging behaviours become part of the working culture, and spotting them, much less extricating them, is not easy, according to Robert Galford, Bob Frish and Cary Greene in their book Simple Sabotage: A Modern Field Manual for Detecting and Rooting Out Everyday Behaviors That Undermine Your Workplace.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.