Where to find insights about sustaining passion at work, avoiding misinformation on the Internet, and giving performance reviews.
Poster Boy: As a designer, Milton Glaser sounds a lot like an entrepreneur. In fact, the so-called dean of American graphic design is no stranger to start-ups, having launched the influential Pushpin Studio in 1954. But it's Glaser's reflections on sustaining passion in work and the fragility of imagination that will appeal to company founders. The article "Mind of a Master," in the June issue of I.D. Magazine, is full of tantalizing insights about everything from the pivotal role of risk ("Risk intrinsically is at the heart of the whole imaginative pursuit. It simply means you're doing something that you don't fully understand.... Certainty is the death of imagination") to the value of a curious mind ("I'm very promiscuous in terms of ideas ... I exclude nothing. The history of the world is at my disposal"). "Glaser's lessons -- do what you love, don't let analysis stall momentum, embrace what you don't understand -- will speak to anyone starting a company," says InfoPosse member Genevieve Foskett. "And if you like the article, treat yourself to Glaser's most recent book, Art Is Work, which lays out his conceptual process in detail."
"When you start an idea, you have to be possessed by it.... If you begin to think critically too early, you can't work."
From "Mind of a Master," I.D. Magazine
Lies My Motherboard Told Me: Seventy-eight percent of news stories published this year address the topic of inaccurate information. OK, that's a made-up statistic, but whole-cloth fabrications seem appropriate now that everything from corporate-earnings statements to health-related claims are flunking the truth test. So the time is propitious for Web of Deception: Misinformation on the Internet (Information Today, 2002), a collection of essays edited by Anne Mintz. The book reads like a herpetologist's tour through a pit of electronic vipers. There are warnings about bad legal advice (consulting a lawyer on-line makes it difficult to sue for malpractice), bad company behavior (businesses may use "dynamic pricing" to boost the cost of items based on buyers' incomes or purchase histories), and bad medical information (even reputable reference sites are slow to post information about drug recalls). In addition to tips for avoiding the snares, there's a section on how to seek redress if you do get duped, including a rundown of relevant torts and advice on creating a revenge Web site that won't get you in trouble. "We've all heard the stories about stock manipulation and dubious prescriptions, but we still don't recognize when we're being misled," says InfoPosse member Christine Klein.
Classic: How do I love thee? Let me describe the ways. That's the promise held out by performance reviews -- the positive ones anyway. Unfortunately, inexperienced managers often lack the vocabulary to articulate employee strengths and weaknesses with the requisite precision. For more than two decades one book has been coming to their rescue: Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals: A Guide to Successful Evaluations, by James E. Neal Jr. The ninth edition (Neal Publications Inc., 2000) contains more than 2,000 phrases covering achievements as quantifiable as cost management and productivity and as intangible as leadership and initiative. "Specificity is key to improving performance," says Foskett. "You'll get a better response by telling someone to work on 'effectively translating complex information into common terms' than by suggesting they improve their communication skills."
The InfoPosse members are Genevieve Foskett, corporate librarian at Highsmith Inc.; Lisa Guedea CarreÑo, library director at Goshen College; Christine Klein, a corporate librarian with more than a dozen years of experience; and Lisa A. Zwickey, senior research specialist at J.J. Keller & Associates.