In this week's review of great new business books: advice for coping rationally with irrational people; and a guide to achieving greater productivity and healthier relationships by shifting among mindsets. Also: staying competitive by keeping your eye on the customer.
Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life
There's an old Quaker saying: "All the world is mad except me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee." Psychiatrist Mark Goulston resolves that doubt: The other guy is mad, at least sometimes.
Probably, so are you. Most of us deal regularly with what Goulston calls "everyday crazy," irrational people who are unable to see the world clearly; say or think things that make no sense; make decisions that aren't in their best interests; or become impossible in the face of reason.
"Maybe it's a boss who wants the impossible," writes Goulston. "Maybe it's a demanding parent or a hostile teen or a manipulative coworker or a neighbor who's always in your face."
Goulston's Sandberg-ian advice in such situations: "lean into the crazy" by meeting such people in their own reality. That doesn't come naturally: but it's the best way to move the other person to a sane-safe place rather than go over the crazy cliff yourself.
This is a great book for managers who know that some situations--a negative review, the announcement of organizational change--can bring out the crazy in anyone.
5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time
Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram
John Wiley & Sons (2015)
Using "gears" as a metaphor for mindsets is liberating. Mindsets, after all, are things we get stuck in. Gears are things we shift.
In "Five Gears, leadership experts Jeremie Kubichek and Steve Cockram suggest that often we fail to do our best work or to make and sustain healthy relationships because we are in the wrong gear at the wrong time.
"Every day, millions of people are negatively impacted by the inability of a person to connect appropriately and to be present," they write. "Social miscues, the lack of emotional intelligence, and busyness stifle the growth of people and the progress of organizations."
This holistic framework for work-life balance instructs readers in seguing from periods of intense focus to periods of multitasking to periods of rest and recharge. Some of the book's best material involves the distinction between social and deep personal interactions and why they require different approaches. (That's a distinction few books in the work-life genre make.)
"Be present with those in your life and those that you lead," write Kubichek and Cockram. "When you do, you will watch your influence thrive and your respect flourish."
And From the Backlist
Value Migration: How to Think Several Moves Ahead of the Competition
Adrian J. Slywotsky
Harvard Business Press (1995)
Twenty years ago renowned consultant Adrian Slywotsky introduced this smart, practical method for CEOs to evaluate their positions in dynamic markets. He divides the business cycle into three phases that trace the movement of value delivered to the customer.
In the first ("inflow"), a company starts to absorb value from other parts of its industry because its business design is better at satisfying customers' priorities.
In the second ("stability") the company is well-matched to customer priorities.
In the third ("outflow") value starts to move away from the company's traditional business toward more effective ways of meeting customer needs.
Slywotsky then explains how leaders can win what he calls "business chess" by identifying changing patterns among customers and competitors. If you think you're getting too comfortable, read this book and regain your edge.