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.

Extreme brutality is not incompatible with establishing a new state. It may not be the wisest course of action, and it probably won’t create a state many people would want to live in. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work, according to William McCants in his book The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State. The book provides a range of sobering insights into the organisation which has overtaken Al Qaeda as the most obnoxious in the world.

Where did it all start? The author traces the rise of the Islamic State back to 1999, when a hot-headed Jordanian named abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi visited Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda. After the collapse of the Taliban, Zarqawi relocated his operations to Iraq, ready to conduct guerrilla warfare during the anticipated American invasion, and to conduct sectarian warfare on behalf of the Sunnis against the Shi’a. By 2006, Zarqawi’s ambitions extended beyond al Qaeda to the formation of an Islamic State and, although he was killed by the US in June 2006, an Islamic State was proclaimed in October 2006 by his followers.

The Islamic State foundered for its first several years, being a state in no more than ideology. However, the organisation strengthened significantly in 2013 and 2014, and in June 2014 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named caliph. As a Caliphate, it now claimed authority over all Muslims in the world, and many Muslims from other countries who found the Islamic State’s apocalyptic worldview persuasive flocked to take up arms is support of the Caliph in Iraq and Syria.

The book provides extensive insights into the Islamic State’s history, leadership and beliefs. Some of the most interesting insights are based on correspondence between al Qaeda and various Islamic State leaders which has come into the public domain. The motivations and modes of thought of Islamic State leaders are poorly understood in Western countries. This book should help to address that lack of knowledge.

A church without volunteers is an unhealthy church, because the act of volunteering is an expression of worship, it serves people, and it builds relationships. Churches are among the few organizations where the same people are the owners, the funders, the staff, and the customers, according to Leith Anderson and Jill Fox in their book The Volunteer Church: Mobilizing Your Congregation for Growth and Effectiveness.

Part 1 of the book addresses the issues involved in building a volunteer culture, Part 2 discusses ways of recruiting volunteers, and Part 3 covers volunteer training and care. The best method of recruiting volunteers is said to be using other volunteers. Happy volunteers are keen to recruit others, so one of the key ways of maximising recruitment is to take good care of the volunteers you already have.

In addition to providing the theory, the authors provide some useful practical tools. Appendix 1 provides a training plan for staff and those who lead volunteers, covering 5 key steps of volunteer development: recruiting, training, building the team, appreciating and celebrating, and empowering. Appendix 2 provides an outline for a personal Volunteer Development Plan.

I am not a big fan of the distinctions large churches tend to make between “staff” and “volunteers” which tend to assume that staff have the skills and volunteers are unskilled. Nevertheless, church staff are usually the ones responsible for making sure the ministry gets done, and in my opinion this book provides some useful ideas to help with recruiting, organising, deploying and maintaining lay ministry teams.

Leadership doesn’t require a written invitation. It isn’t something that only “important people” can do. It isn’t a function of money, power, or title, although these elements can certainly affect, for better or worse, your ability to pursue your aspirations. Leadership is a way of thinking that engages your special talents now and, ideally, for the rest of your life, according to Robert Kaplan in his book What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner.

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

Today’s availability of technology means that any business in any industry can develop an audience through consistent storytelling. No longer does the company with the biggest marketing budget win the most attention. Businesses are now rewarded on the substance of their message and on the audience they can attract through the consistent flow of information, according to Joe Pulizzi in his bookContent Inc: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses.

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

The crisis for Australian charities is one of identity. They are in crisis because so many of them do not know who they are and they do not know why they are doing what they are doing. And what is sad is that many do not even understand the concept, according to Stephen Judd, Anne Robinson and Felicity Errington in their book Driven by Purpose: Charities that Make the Difference.

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

The image of weak and declining churches has been carried forward in the last twenty years by news services in the United States, consistent with their general sense that religion itself is a dying relic of the past, according to Ted Campbell in his book The Sky Is Falling, the Church Is Dying and Other False Alarms. While the church as a whole clearly is experiencing decline, the reality is not as stark as the headlines seem to suggest.

The book lists a number of facts in support of this argument:

  • Historic Protestant churches were never the dominant center of American religion they are supposed to have been in the twentieth century.
  • The preponderance of lost membership has been of inactive members.
  • The numbers of active members of congregations are higher than weekly attendance figures reveal.
  • Historic Protestant churches today have a strong core of committed believers.

The author also describes a number of good things which have come from historic Protestant churches, including ecumenical engagement, postmillennial optimism and social engagement, roots beyond America, doctrine and liturgy, strong expectations for the Christian formation of adult church members, institutions for multigenerational transmission of cultures, and benevolent infrastructures

Not all readers will appreciate the author’s distinctive sense of humour or writing style, but those who are looking for a realistic appraisal of the current situation and immediate future of the churches often referred to as “mainline” will find some useful information in this book.

A few exceptionally well-informed and far-seeing individuals manipulated events in the aftermath of the Second World War, so that they gained control of a public relations machine of unprecedented power, according to Richard Milton in his book The Ministry of Spin: How Politicians Became Addicted to the Power of PR. The Ministry of Information had been created by the British Government at the start of the Second World War to counter German propaganda, but it was supposed to be wound up after the war, rather than being appropriated for peacetime political use.

The book describes how Herbert Morrison, the deputy prime-minister in Britain’s post-war Labour Government, secretly re-purposed much of the Ministry of Information machinery, using its propaganda abilities to push through the Labour party’s nationalisation program. Hundreds of skilled media professionals were pressed into service to promote the government’s social engineering schemes.

Although the author also describes how Anthony Eden’s conservative government used similar propaganda techniques to induce support for an unjustified war with Egypt over the Suez Canal, most of the book is devoted to describing the machinations of Clement Attlee’s government and how the mostly sincere believers in social reform justified the use of propaganda, funded at public expense, to persuade the public to support their programs.

It is an interesting tale, demonstrating a strong correlation between government public relations and misuse of public resources. The production of large numbers of government films including animated films forms an interesting part of the story. The book provides a fascinating insight into the misdeeds of a government more than 60 years ago, and leave one wondering how writers in 60 years’ time will view the misdeeds of current governments.