Best Books?

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This topic contains 46 replies, has 35 voices, and was last updated by  GeekChick 13 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #60404

    Steve Ressler

    I love to read books. It is fascinating to open your mind to new ideas and think about how you can bring new perspectives back to help transform your workplace.

    What books have been most influential to you in helping your career? These could be general leadership books, government-specific books, big idea books, or even fiction.

    I’ve started a list of some of my favorites here and I will update it with people’s recommendations. All the best books I’ve read have been recommended by friends and colleagues. I’m interested in learning what books others have found valuable.

  • #60496


    I love reading too! I can’t say that I’ve read much in the career-development sector, though. I have been reading a lot of non-fiction about the current state of our government/country…..

    I tend not to view myself as a gov’t employee but rather a citizen of this planet. As such, I think a lot of what I read encourages growth in that realm — the books make me a better global citizen.

    I belong to a reading online network called Goodreads. Anyone interested in checking out my book lists can go to:

  • #60494

    Stacy Rabkin

    I know it’s a little touchy-feely for some, but the book Fierce Conversations has really helped me to focus the types of questions that need to be asked in the workplace to get to the answers we need to do our jobs. So often we ask questions that get around the answers, without actually reaching conclusions or gaining more information. The book had great information for personal as well as professional use.

  • #60492

    Christopher Dorobek

    Along these lines, I’m starting up the FCW Book Club. You can read more here:
    Essentially we are looking for a good book. We will then run excerpts of the books in Federal Computer Week along with a Q&A with the author… and then, a few weeks later, we will have a online webinar with the author where everybody can ask there questions. We may have our columnist, July Welles, do a review of the book as well.
    So… I’m looking for a good book to kick it all off. There are some listed at the link above. We also found out two books that Team Obama and Team McCain are reading. More on that here:
    Suggestions welcome!

  • #60490

    Mark Bussow

    A Government Ill Executed: The Decline of the Federal Service and How to Reverse It
    Paul C. Light

    I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in why attempts to make the government work better have so often failed to produce results — and why we seem to be witnessing a continual errosion in the effectiveness of the government. While I would personally like for Light to be more specific and prescriptive in his policy recommendations, I think his is the definitive history of the challenge.

  • #60488

    Dave Uejio

    Count me in as an avid reader – you can see my Amazon wish list here, or check out my social bookshelf on my facebook profile.

  • #60486


    Your comment made me think of something that has helped me tremendously – the Buddhist concept of mindfulness (when I make the effort to actually practice it!). Being present in the moment, rather than caught up in this, that, or the other thing, has proven extremely successful for me at work. Along with mindfulness is the idea of acceptance — of people, of situations, etc. And finally, compassion. I had a very difficult situation with a supervisor once. For a long time I was just really frustrated, but once I started viewing her with compassion and acceptance, life became much easier. (As in, “how sad that she is such a bitter person” rather than “That b*tch!”). The difference in emotional energy presented by these two approaches is palpable.

    Regardless of your personal spiritual beliefs, I think these concepts can be extremely helpful in the workplace – maybe even moreso in government/politics. There are many, many books out there that specifically apply these concepts to our daily, Western lives. Shambala Publications has many, as does — and myriad other sites.

  • #60484

    Cana Williams

    Great List Dave- We have a couple of the same books listed.

  • #60482

    Tracy Lynn Freedman

    Check out ENC Marketing’s recommended book list on Amazon,

    Some of my personal recent favs include Groundswell, What Happened? by Scott McLellan, and Personality Not Included by Rohit Bhargava.

    I’m psyched about the FCW book club! What a great idea!

  • #60480

    Adriel Hampton

    I am really into Thomas Friedman’s “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” right now. It is definitely a “big idea” book, and quite frightening in implication. It reads a lot like Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” in a lot of ways, but so far more policy/politics rather than hard science/policy like Diamond’s book.

  • #60478

    L P O’Neil

    Shelfari offers a place to store booklists and reviews.

  • #60476

    Elizabeth Rosas

    I am currently reading Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. I just started it but am already finding it offers a lot of insights on various dimensions of how the millenials differ from we “digital immigrants”.

  • #60474

    Jeremy Ames

    Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point explores how “social epidemics” get started and spread (from fashion trends to teen smoking). Why some messages are so “sticky” and others fall flat. While reading the book I started considering how the concepts might apply to my job, working for EPA’s radon program, and I had the idea to do an online video contest, which worked out quite well. I’ve started Gladwell’s next book “Blink”, no big ideas yet, but still interesting.

  • #60472

    Tom Vannoy

    I second the recommendation of Groundswell, it was recommended to me by a friend and I am incredibly grateful to him for doing so. The classic The Heart of Change by Kotter has been useful to me as has Crucial Conversations and Useem’s Leadership Moments.

  • #60470

    L P O’Neil

    Digital Natives refers to those who always lived in an environment that included the web, online learning, blogs, wikis, google, social media, kindle, wave, digg, technorati and so forth.

    People who arrived on the planet before the internet age are sometimes called Digital Immigrants. [Dilbert, for example, entered his workplace cube in 1989]. Actually, quite a few people in the workforce are Digital Immigrants. Some of us ‘old’ IT hands are tasked with persuading younger colleagues to use social media. But these characterizations really have little to do with age — it’s all about how comfortable the person is with IT.

    Integration with the Digital Native population (born post-1984 and grew up with computer access) flows through online communities, knowledge management strategies, online learning, open source projects, leadership fora, and other flat-hierarchical systems. Online age may have nothing to do with chrono-age.

    In earlier digital days, users shared information by list-serves and in gated online communities like The Well. Then browsers arrived in the early 1990’s –who remembers the run-up of Netscape’s IPO? Remember when the only e-mail options were Compuserve and AOL? Who recalls a world without Google?

  • #60468

    Teri Centner

    I’m a huge fan of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series. If you find non-fiction books on leadership a little too dry, I think his are a nice fictional way to see how leaders can vary their styles based on individual personalities.

    I’m not sure if this counts as a leadership book, but I just finished reading Here Comes Everyone, and I highly recommend it. (Thanks to another GovLoop member for loaning it to me!)

    I think understanding social networking is going to be key in the future. This book gives several examples of how the internet/web has influenced the way groups form and communicate.

  • #60466

    Anoop Srivastava

    I love reading books too. Many books have helped me in many ways. The most striking book that comes to my my mind immediately is ‘The Monk who sold his ferrari’ by Robin Sharma. It’s a very practcal guide to happy living.

  • #60464

    David Meza

    I too am a constant reader. My wife often wonders how I can read multiple books at the same time. I tell her it’s easy since they are all different. I try to read one technical, one professional and one, what I call “brain candy”.

    That being said, I recently read two books that have helped me immensely. I both give and sit through many power point presentations, sometimes very painful presentations. I did not want to be that type of presenter. Presenting to Win, The Art of Telling Your Story and In the Line of Fire, How to Handle Tough Questions. . . When it Counts, both by Jerry Weissman. After reading these books and putting their methods to use, I have greatly improved my presentation skills and received several compliments. I even received a few thank yous at conferences.

    For anybody that has to endure long presentations, I hope you give them a try and see for yourself.

  • #60462

    Adriel Hampton

    Just finished Hot, Flat and Crowded. This is a revolutionary book that demands to be read. Well reported, with specific policy prescriptions and calls to action.

  • #60460


    You should check out Breakthrough, which can be found through this site as well –

    Also check out Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell –

  • #60458

    Barry Crook

    Regardless of whether you work in government or not – for my money, the best book for a manager is Peter Scholtes’ book The Leader’s Handbook (also the Team Handbook). . . I’m also a fan of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People, Brian Joiner’s 4th Generation Management, Tom Terez’s book 22 Keys to a Meaningful Workplace, Peter Block’s Flawless Consulting, Peggy Holman and Tom Devane’s The Change Handbook, David Chrislip’s The Collaborative Leadership Fieldbook, Alfie Kohn’s books, especially No Contest and Punished by Rewards, Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline, Deborah Tannen’s work – including You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation or Talking 9 to 5, John Gottman and Joan DeClaire’s book The Relationship Cure, and GOAL/QPC’s variety of pocket book Memory Jogger series on tools and techniques associated with improvement and facilitation.

    Somewhere every manager needs an introduction to statistics and control so they can insist on data-driven decision making and understand when variation is significant and signals a need for management investigation and intervention and when variation simply happens and they should not interfere in the underlying process that produces that variation. There are a variety of sources on that – but something by or about W. Edwards Deming should be on your list, as well as some kind of introduction to statistics and variation.

  • #60456

    Emi Whittle

    Mushy, yes, but short, poignant, and so good: The Five People You Meet In Heaven…..

    Everything we do, matters. Everything we do touches somebody else, whether we know it or not. Everybody we meet, matters and affects us, whether we know it or not. Circle of life, baby…..

  • #60454

    L P O’Neil

    Policy Paradox by Deborah Stone
    Concerned about organizational transformation? Well written background thinking here.

  • #60452

    Steve Ressler

    Check out Tapscott’s new book Grown Up Digital. I’m in the index as cited in the book but still can’t find my quote. Nonetheless, a good read.

  • #60450

    Eric Rosenberg

    While I’m relatively new to government service (4-1/2 years), I thought that my almost 30 years in the media and regulatory arena in the private sector would give me some insight into the workings of government. Even with a stint at C-SPAN behind me, I am all too often befuddled by lots that goes on at my agency.

    Dana Milbank’s Homo Politicus, especially the last three pages on the use of language and glossary that follows, gives clarity and understanding to what I’ve experienced (and continue to deal with!).

    It’s a great read, fun and funny, yet full of insights that explains lots of what happens in this town. Highly recommended, along with his Washington Post column and blog.

  • #60448

    L P O’Neil

    Thanks for the recommendation of Dana’s book. He’s a terrific reporter and writer. I’ll put it on my Holiday Gifts to Myself list! The New Yorker this week offers a useful list of 2008 books by their writers. Something for every political / cultural stripe.

  • #60446

    Daniel Bevarly

    Bryan: Check out Millennial Makeover by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais.

  • #60444

    Daniel Bevarly

    Millennial Makeover – MySpace, YouTube and the Future of America Politics
    It happens in America every four decades and it is about to happen again. America’s demand for change in the 2008 election will cause another of our country’s periodic political makeovers. This realignment, like all others before it, will result from the coming of age of a new generation of young Americans-the Millennial Generation-and the full emergence of the Internet-based communications technology that this generation uses so well. Beginning in 2008, almost everything about American politics and government will transform-voting patterns, the fortunes of the two political parties, the issues that engage the nation, and our government and its public policy.

    Two books by Cass Sunstein: 2.0 – Revenge of the Blogs
    What happens to democracy and free speech if people use the Internet to create echo chambers–to listen and speak only to the like-minded? What is the democratic benefit of the Internet’s unlimited choices if citizens narrowly limit the information they receive, creating ever-smaller niches and fragmenting the shared public conversation on which democracy depends?

    Infotopia – How Many Minds Produce Knowledge
    The rise of the “information society” offers not only considerable peril but also great promise. Beset from all sides by a never-ending barrage of media, how can we ensure that the most accurate information emerges and is heeded?

  • #60442

    Sharon Ballard

    Off the top, Lee Iacocca’s book “Where have all the Leaders Gone”. Great book, couldn’t put it down, on the qualities and charcteristics of a great leader. The book lists the 9Cs. I applied this to the recent Presidential race. Another book, that is well known and is good for beginners, and can be used as a refresher is “What Color is Your Parachutte?” there’s a recent edition just came out last year. Still is a great job hunting resource and a career evaluator. I’m sure I’ll think of some others later but these two have come to my mind.

  • #60440

    L P O’Neil

    * Armstrong, Karen. ”’Islam: A Short History.”’ New York: Modern Library, 2002. ”The concise summation of years of thinking and writing about the world’s fastest growing religion.” [BP50.A69] ESSENTIAL for CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING

    * Langewiesche, William. ”’The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime.”’ New York: North Point Press, 2004. [HE571.L36 2004] EXCELLENT & TIMELY

    * Naim, Moises. ”’Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy.”’ New York: Doubleday, 2005. ”A hard-hitting exploration of the effect of illicit activities on the global economy.” [HV6252.N35 2005]

  • #60438

    Adriel Hampton

    “There go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them.” – French politician Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

    Just finished “The Future of Work – How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and your Life,” by Thomas W. Malone of MIT. Recommended by one of my fellow Govloopers. Amazing book for anyone looking at leadership/management consulting, social media and Government 2.0. The above quote is pulled from Chapter 10, “Cultivating People.” Memorize the core themes, analyses and citations from this book, and you’ve got just about all the knowledge you need to talk a solid transformation game. I plan to re-read it to pull out key concepts.

    Most valuable, Malone points to the MIT Process Handbook Project, a collaborative effort that, as described on its Web page, provides – free – an “extensive online knowledge base including entries for over 5,000 business activities and a set of software tools for managing this knowledge.”

    The book was published in 2004, and as I finished it in the spa this afternoon, the one nagging thought was that its brief and late acknowledgment of the challenges of monetizing a knowledge economy is still a problem nearly five years later. Then I came in and, over dinner, read Ellen McGirt’s “Revolution in San Jose – a hard-core Republican turns Cisco into a socialist enterprise – one with $26 billion in cash,” in the latest issue of Fast Company. And here were Malone’s tenets in practice, in one of the most successful companies of the Internet age. Cisco is embracing the knowledge economy with both arms, because it makes the infrastructure to support it. And the company is evangelizing the future of work by democratizing and unleashing it’s own workforce, with, according to McGirt and Cisco execs, incredible increases in productivity.

    Malone points to seminar participants estimating that only 30-40 percent of employee potential is tapped in their traditional workplaces. His chapter structure always ends with a choice that boils down to, “Do you want to give up command-and-control and embrace collaborative work?” Cisco CEO John Chambers is saying yes. It’s 2.0. What do you choose?

  • #60436

    Dr D.C.Misra

    Which is the ‘best book’ on change management in context of e-government?

  • #60434

    Dr D.C.Misra

    Being a global citizen, have you come across any book on e-ctizen?

  • #60432

    Bob King

    Just read Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by @ClayShirky

    Clay uses many examples to illustrate how the network-enabled tools are allowing people to organize at a low, nearly free, transaction cost.

  • #60430

    V. Andre Fenwick

    You may want to consider adding the following to your list:
    “A Sense of Urgency,” John P. Kotter, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2008
    “Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream,” Paulo Coelho, Brazil, 1988
    “Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream,” Barack Obama, NY, Crown Publishers, 2006
    “Black Swan,” Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Random House, 2007
    “Leading Change,” John P. Kotter, 1996
    “Silent Spring,” Rachel Carson
    “Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry,” Sue Annis Hammond, Thin Book Publishing Co, 1998

  • #60428

    Don Jacobson

    Some of my favorites for professional development are:

    Crucibles of Leadership by Robert J. Thomas. How intense and challenging experiences can be some of the the greatest source of leadership learning. Includes tips on HOW to learn from those kinds of experiences.

    The Courageous Follower, by Ira Chaleff. Wonderful book about the dynamics between leaders and followers–and the responsibility that we have as followers to stand up to and for our leaders.

    Building the Bridge as You Walk on It, by Robert Quinn. Kind of a variant on servant leadership. A great read, full of wisdom.

    The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome, by Jean-François Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux. Talks about the toxic impact of low expectations and how they send performance into a downward spiral. Has lots of important insights for public managers.

    Many Unhappy Returns, by former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti. An epic tale of organizational transformation.

    Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing. One of the greatest stories of crisis leadership ever. Simply incredible.

    You can see more of my favorites (including many that are specifically about leadership in government) in the book section of at


  • #60426

    L P O’Neil

    A couple of my recent readings.

    Collier, Paul (2007). The Bottom Billion, Why the Poorest Countries Are Filing and What Can Be Done About It.New York: Oxford Univ Pr. ISBN 978 0 19 531145 7

    Gladwell, Malcolm (2008). Outliers. New York: Little, Brown & Co. ISBN 9780316017923

  • #60424

    Jason Linker

    I’m shocked that no one has mentioned Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. That link hits the book’s official site that includes Dr. Ariely’s blog. Both the blog and the book are recommended.

  • #60422

    Sandy Ressler

    Read an awesome book recently: “Made to Stick” it’s about making good “sticky” presentations but more then that…getting ideas to “stick”. Web site also at:
    Lots of GREAT advice in in….Sandy

  • #60420

    Lauren Modeen

    Speed of Trust – Steven Covey
    Tribes – Seth Godin
    What Would Google Do
    The Back of the Napkin – Dan Roam

  • #60418

    Stewart Liff

    Just wanted to announce th epublication of my new book, “The Complete Guide to Hiring and Firing a Government Employee” – Stew Liff

  • #60416

    Adam Arthur

    The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
    Interesting read. It gives great insight on how to control how others perceive and treat you. This seems to be Obama’s “campaign for victory” road map. He has applied all of the laws flawlessly.

    Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry by Albert Bernstein
    This is a MUST-READ to survive these crazy people out here! This MUST be in your collection. Don’t pass this one up.

  • #60414

    Jeremy Michael Long

    Some old books I’ve read were “The Most of Andy Roony,” “Tears of Rage” by John Walsh (the host of TV’s America’s Most Wanted), which talks about the life of John Walsh, the untold story of the 1981 kidnapping and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh, his allied partnership with the FBI that led up to the development of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (origionally the Adam Walsh Center) and of course America’s Most Wanted, who since its debut in February 1988, has been responsible for the capture of over a thousand criminals and the reunions of many lost children with their families as well as honoring fallen police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, thus bearing the statement – “Its Not How These Officers Died That Made Them Heros, It’s How They Lived.” Other books that I’ve read include one by Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen’s “Don’t Stand Too Close To A Naked Man!,” etc.

  • #60412

    Bridget M. Moss

    I just finished “The World Without Us.” Great book for anyone interested in environmental issues, and very well written.

    Savi, I was going to mention Michael Pollan’s books too – excellent if you are interested in nutrition, health, the environment.

  • #60410

    David Daniels

    Tear Down This Myth – Will Bunch
    Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto – Mark R. Levin
    Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America – Mark R. Levin
    Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government – Glenn Beck
    Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine
    An Inconvenient Book: Real Solutions to the World’s Biggest Problems – Glenn Beck
    Idiots Unplugged [Audio CD, Audiobook] – Glenn Beck
    The Real America: Messages from the Heart and Heartland – Glenn Beck
    America’s March to Socialism [Audio CD, Audiobook] – Glenn Beck
    The Fair Tax Book – Neal Boortz and John Linder
    FairTax: The Truth: Answering the Critics – Neal Boortz, John Linder, and Rob Woodall

  • #60408

    Steve Ressler

    Just finished reading Macrowikinomics..good read

  • #60406

    Mark Hammer

    Paul usually hits the nail on the head.

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