Sunday, August 12, 2018

Kruses Keys: Read “American War: A Novel” to Imagine an America that Says on its Current Trajectory

Egyptian-Canadian (by way of Qatar) journalist-turned-author Omar El Akkad has penned a tale of what I’d call “future-historical fiction(ish).” We are dropped into a world 40 years in the future where America has erupted into a chaotic conflict over the federal government’s outlawing of fossil fuels. This north-south split is aggravated by accelerated global warming and rising ocean levels that are swallowing up coastlines everywhere. 10 years ago this type of novel might have seem far-fetched but a casual perusal of today’s headlines place in squarely in the realm of scary-enough-it-just-could-happen-maybe?
California bill would ban new fossil fuel vehicles from 2040
A legendary Silicon Valley investor wants to split California into 3 states, and his proposal just qualified for the November ballot
A Second American Civil War: Trump's "war on the deep state" could have frightening implications
Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?
IS A SECOND CIVIL WAR LIKELY? ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS THINK SO

Amidst these cataclysmic events, we witness the tragic arc of Sarat, a young girl whose life is quickly thrown into chaos as the violence of war encroaches and overwhelms her family’s life. Sarat quickly becomes a hardened women-turned sniper-turned prisoner of war-turned mass murderer.

The staying power of this novel comes from Akkad’s mastering in capturing the ways that media and political rhetoric can distort reality and inflame the populace. It’s also a good lesson on why it’s important for students to learn to evaluate events (past and present) from a diversity of viewpoints and sources.

To bring this lesson home for me as a AFRICOM foreign area officer, it’s of limited utility for me to study an African nation by reading only histories, political analysis and journal articles written by white western authors. It’s important to seek out indigenous sources and contrary viewpoints. It’s one of the reasons that I regularly read the blog “Africa is a Country” which has a decidedly anti-American, anti-colonial (for good reason), anti-white bent. I may not agree with much of their analysis but I surely wouldn’t be challenging myself intellectually by insulating myself against such contrasting viewpoints.

Key References: 
2017 NPR: American War Explores the Universality of Revenge
2017 Guardian Review of "American War"

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Kruse's Keys: Read "Every Good Endeavor" to Understand that Changing the World Starts With One Cubicle: Yours



“Cheer up: you’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved that you ever dared hope.” -Jack Miller

Pastor Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work is not a beach read. It’s a hunker-down-with-a-highlighter-and-pen-philosophically-deep examination of what work means to God and what it should mean to anyone following God. Against a backdrop of much dense and completely thorough analysis, Keller seeks to lay out the Bible’s answer to three central questions:
  1. Why do you want to work?
  2. Why is it so hard to work? 
  3. How can the story of Jesus’ life lead us to find satisfaction in our work? 
It’s in Keller’s examination of this last question that the reader will find the utility of this book. It’s evident from reading the New Testament that Jesus lived a life devoted to changing the culture he was in (i.e., one obsessed with a showy, outward following the letter of the law) through service and love. So in the example of his life’s “work” we see a template for how Christians must also approach work. And indeed, regardless of our station in life, we must seek out how we can serve others in our workplace.

This is obviously easier said than done but it’s a lot easier when we have a true appreciation for God’s love. You see, God made us because he loved us and he even more importantly, he made us for eternal love. In the Bible we have the Trinity as an example of eternal love: that is, three persons who have loved one another from all eternity. We are created to share love and joy. Practically, understanding the magnitude of this should lead us to not discard work’s importance for that of our personal relationships and leisure, but instead it should drive us to make the most of our time at work.  While at work it should cause us to pour ourselves into pursuits that help people give and receive more love.

Ultimately, Keller points out that how we approach work from a non-religious socio-cultural aspect can model the Bible’s version of of these things. That is, how we handle adversity, how we handle difficult decisions, how we incorporate our family, how we incorporate colleagues into our own family where possible, can point our coworkers towards Jesus’ examples. More than any marches, protests, online petitions, or Facebook rantings, our work is our greatest opportunity to shape culture. It’s Keller’s hope that readers of Every Good Endeavor will leave it understanding that “We must think persistently and deeply about the shape of work in our field and whether (in biblical terms) it accords as well as possible with human well-being and with justice.”

Here's a cheat sheet of questions you can use in your job if you want to start approaching your work differently:
  • What’s the story line of the culture in which I live and the field where I work? Who are the protagonists and antagonists?
  • What are the underlying assumptions about meaning, morality, origin and destiny?
  • What are the idols? The hopes? The fears?
  • How does my particular profession retell this story line, and what part does the profession itself play in the story?
  • What parts of the dominant worldviews are basically in line with the gospel, so that I can agree with and align with them?
  • What parts of the dominant worldviews are irresolvable without Christ? How can Christ complete the story in a different way?
  • How do these stories affect both the form and the content of my work personally? How can I work not just with excellence but also with Christian distinctiveness in my work?
  • What opportunities are there in my profession for serving individual people, society at large, my field of work, modeling competence and excellence, and witness to Christ? (182)
EXTRA NOTE: I’d be remiss not to make note of a chapter in the book that addresses something called “common grace.” The idea of it is something that I’ve sensed in my own Christian faith but which I’d never heard defined as Keller does. Evidently common grace is a doctrine that John Calvin came up with (or at least popularized) which is widely held in the “Reformed” denominations. This book is a worthwhile read if for nothing more than Keller’s cogent explanation of common grace in the context of how Christians should view and appreciate work across the spectrum of humanity. The basic takeaway of common grace though is that every good thing in the world comes from God and He (luckily) hands out grace in an unmerited fashion--gifting believers and non-believers indiscriminately with the ability to create beautiful things in the world. This should lead believers to a winsome but discerning appreciation all the beauty that exists outside “Christian” culture, whether that be music, art, film, literature, fashion, etc. An understanding of common grace should also lead Christians to a place of humility in our understanding of work--there is no tiered dignity in work--all work is worthy. Jesus was a carpenter, God was a gardener--no one is better because they are a Pastor or a CEO.

EXTRA EXTRA NOTE: The album liner notes from John Coltrane's seminal "A Love Supreme" inspired the "every good endeavor" title of the book.  Coltrane was able to tap into the genius of this album in an epiphany of sorts that he had in his faith with God. 

Check Out My 2018 Reading List Here.






Key Quotes:
  • “Cheer up: you’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved that you ever dared hope.” -Jack Miller (xix)
  • “My father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” Jesus in the Book of John (23)
  • “What is the Christian understanding of work? It is that work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties...the medium in which he offers himself to God.” -Dorothy Sayers (25)
  • “This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say “THANK YOU GOD” through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May he help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor.” -John Coltrane, in A Love Supreme liner notes. (71)
  • “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” -W.B. Yeats (77)
  • “An idol is a good thing turned into an ultimate thing.” (134)
  • “The more serious danger associated with an under-emphasis on work as the vehicle of God’s providence is that it leads Christians to undervalue the good work done by nonbelievers...Instead Christians should place a high value on all human work (especially excellent work), done by all people, as a channel of God’s love for the world.” (188)
  • “God gives out gifts of wisdom, talent, beauty, and skill according to his grace--that is, in a completely unmerited way. (194)
  • “Because Christians are never as good as their right beliefs should make them and non-Christians are never as bad as their wrong beliefs should make them, we will adopt a stance of critical enjoyment of human culture and its expressions in every field of work.” (201)
  • “Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do in the 80% of life’s situations in which the moral rules don’t provide the clear answer. (215)
  • “Many bad decisions stem from an inability to know what we are and are not capable of accomplishing.” (216)
  • “We must think persistently and deeply about the shape of work in their field and whether (in biblical terms) it accords as well as possible with human well-being and with justice.” (232)
  • “Nunc dimittis.” -John Coltrane after one performance of A Love Supreme. It means “I could die happy now” and echoes Simeon’s words in Luke after seeing Jesus. (249) For more on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nunc_dimittis

Key References (For Further Study):









Key Takeaways:
  • Unless God really exists, then life is pointless. All our work here on earth is for nothing. (14)
  • What is the Bible’s answers to the following three questions:
    • Why do you want to work?
    • Why is it so hard to work?
    • How can the story of Jesus lead us to find satisfaction in our work? (15)
  • Work has existed since ‘the beginning’--it wasn’t a result of sin or evil. Before there was anything, in creating the world, God “worked for the sheer joy of it” in creating the world. (21)
  • Freedom is not a lack of constraints, for a Christian it is finding the right ones that sync with our own weaknesses and with those of the world. (25)
  • Rest is an integral and necessary part of work. God sets the example for us in his rest on the 7th day where he “saw that it was good.” Taking deliberate rest from work is our opportunity to take in God’s goodness in the world. (29)
  • Jesus’ example MUST drive us to resist the urge to assign a tiered dignity to different types of work. Jesus worked most of his life as a carpenter, God as a gardener of sorts in creating the world. Physical labor is not to be looked down upon but respected on equal footing. (37)
  • Understanding the Bible’s view of work should drive us to excellence. (49)
  • How we approach work from a social/cultural aspect can model the Bible’s version of it. That is, how we handle adversity, how we incorporate our family, how we incorporate colleagues into our family where possible. Our work is an opportunity to shape culture. (52)
  • Work as a calling or vocation can only emerge if in our work, we work to serve others. (55)
  • In understanding that we are saved by grace--not through our own merit--we must embrace the knowledge that we are not better as workers or people than those who don’t hold our same beliefs. (64)
  • Obstacles or lack of desired success in the workplace does not mean that you are in the wrong profession or field--you still are contributing at your own ability or station. (87)
  • In Chapter 6, “Work Becomes Pointless,” Keller offers a mini-sermon/exposition on Ecclesiastes. In decrying the meaningless of life (Ecc. 2:17), the author of the book seeks to drive the reader towards fulfillment in God. You will indeed be forgotten, no matter how great your achievement. Ultimately, the point of Ecclesiastes is to drive us toward the New Testament story of Jesus “toiling for us on the cross.” (91-107)
  • There’s a default view in Christianity today that God most values or uses people employed in overt ministry like churches, missions etc. Instead, the Bible provides numerous examples to the contrary. God can use you anywhere--to be more clear--God can use you exactly where you are. (115)
  • In many respects, God may have placed you in a non-traditional place to use you in specific and powerful way--think of the example of Queen Esther. (117)
  • What is the biblical calling for us in our work: To identify and mediate. This is what Esther did in the Old Testament, and what Jesus does on the cross for everyone. “Greatness in life stems from serving God in your service to those around you. (123)
  • Martin Luther defined idolatry as pursuing and expecting a created thing to give you what old God can provide. I’ve also always liked the definition of idolatry as making a good thing a God thing (i.e., making something good like money or sex, the most important thing in your life) (128, 134).
  • Every bad thing that we do stems from our soul clinging to the belief that something else is more important than God’s love.(130)
  • Modern culture links happiness to a life that’s going well (full of pleasure) while “then ancients” viewed happiness as a life that’s lived well (147)
  • Unique part of the Christianity is that it argues that the world’s problem don’t come from the world itself, but from sin itself. (161)
  • To be a Christian ‘worker’ means applying the gospel to your whole worklife and using that knowledge to serve throughout the organization.(168)
  • A New Approach to Your Work--ask yourself these questions:
    • What’s the story line of the culture in which I live and the field where I work? Who are the protagonists and antagonists?
    • What are the underlying assumptions about meaning, morality, origin and destiny?
    • What are the idols? The hopes? The fears?
    • How does my particular profession retell this story line, and what part does the profession itself play in the story?
    • What parts of the dominant worldviews are basically in line with the gospel, so that I can agree with and align with them?
    • What parts of the dominant worldviews are irresolvable without Christ? How can Christ complete the story in a different way?
    • How do these stories affect both the form and the content of my work personally? How can I work not just with excellence but also with Christian distinctiveness in my work?
    • What opportunities are there in my profession for serving individual people, society at large, my field of work, modeling competence and excellence, and witness to Christ? (182)
  • Roman’s 2: 14-15 notes that God’s law is written on every human heart--whether they know it’s God law giving them a sense of right or wrong...or not(189)
  • The idea of common grace is found throughout the scripture. God acts as a nonsaving ennobling force and a nonsaving restraining force in the world.
    • James 1:17 Every good thing, every beautiful thing, every just thing, is enabled by God as a gift (of grace).
    • Exodus 31:1-4 The unbelieving King Bezalel is noted as being filled with the spirit of God to make beautiful things. Artistic beauty is from God, and is not contingent upon the moral state of someone’s soul.
    • Isaiah 45:1 God annoints a pagan king for leadership. 
    • Genesis 20:6-7 God prevents another pagan king from sinning.
***Just because you deny God doesn’t mean he won’t gift you!***(190-1)
  • Everyone has an innate first order belief in what is good that is there completely apart or despite any second order denial (193)
  • In the Bible’s story is not the non--Christian but is instead sin and its reality. (195)
  • A thin view of sin means that you try to remove sin from your life through discipline and separation (i.e, a less sinful environment). This lack of understanding of God’s grace means that one tries to remove any temptations like profanity, sex etc.(196)
  • A thing view of common grace means that we see the things that aren’t straight from and in keeping with the Bible as deficient. Instead, we should note that all culture is a conversation or struggle between God’s revelation of knowledge/art/justice and a human rebellion against it. That means in culture we should look for pieces of that revelation. (197-8)
  • This thin view of common grace results in dualism, where a wall is put between the sacred and the secular. This can distort and devalue one’s work if only one believes that only overt work for God is worthy. The other wise of dualism is the assignment of Christian life to a specific day and/or location. This ignores the fact that the gospel--that is the story of Jesus affects EVERYTHING (200-1)
  • Post-modernism in business tells us that if the practice is legal and if everyone is doing it, the only question is ‘can money be made.’ (203)
  • Faith, hope and love are unique Christian virtues that stand apart from Platos cardinal virtues of justice, courage, temperance, and prudence. (209)
  • Love-God made us because he loved us and he made us for eternal love. The Trinity is an example of love in three persons who have loved one another from all eternity. We are created to share love and joy. Practically, this should lead us to not eschew work for only our personal relationships but instead while at work, it should cause us to pour ourselves into pursuits that help people give and receive more love. (210)
  • God teaches that because of his unmerited grace, all have inviolable rights and worth apart from race, gender, morality etc. (212)
  • “Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do in the 80% of life’s situations in which the moral rules don’t provide the clear answer.” (215)
  • How to become wise in decision-making:
    • Knowing God personally (hearts not controlled by anxiety and pride)
    • Know yourself in humility
    • Experience and learning from it
  • 3 keys to wisdom (215-6)
  • The Holy Spirit makes us wise by reminding us of the reality of Jesus in transforming our character, giving inner poise, clarity, humility, boldness, contentment and courage. (218)
  • Christian should never be known as ruthless. They should be known as committed to others and with an unusual capacity for forgiveness. (224)
  • “We must think persistently and deeply about the shape of work in their field and whether (in biblical terms) it accords as well as possible with human well-being and with justice.” (232)
  • Change chart (254)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Kruse's Keys: Read "Turn the Ship Around" To Emancipate Your Company and Build Lasting Success

I first heard about “Turn the Ship Around” on college classmate Scott Macke’s Service Academy Business Mastermind podcast. In it, he interviewed the author, retired Captain David Marquet, and delved into both his writing process and his revolutionary leadership philosophy.

I let the book rest dormant on my amazon wishlist for months, however, because of my unfair bias against submariners. Despite some of my best friends being bubbleheads, I just didn’t associate leadership with that community. I wasn’t even a chapter into the book when I realized how misguided my bias had been.

There’s one episode in particular that sold me on Marquet as a leader that I would follow. My emphasis is on ‘as a leader’ because really, someone can put together a snappy, clever, well-marketed leadership product but people don’t follow a product--they follow a person. About midway through the book, Marquet shares the story of a nighttime passage the the strait of Malacca. This is a high risk evolution that nearly resulted in a collision with a tugboat if not for the exemplary and timely actions of one of his petty officers. As soon as the sub was clear, Captain Marquet immediately awarded the petty officer a Navy Achievement Medal on the spot. This floored me because despite it being a recognition that any Commanding Officer can give, I’d never seen it awarded other than at the end of someone’s tour. I’d say with confidence that my personal observations are indicative of trends across the Navy. If anything, commanding officers today tend to be more worried about awards inflation (i.e., too many O-4s getting DSMS for example) than actually providing timely recognition. Beyond that, I’ve had to put myself up for every award I’ve even gotten and usually end of tour awards arrive a year after you’ve already PCS’d (i.e., moved to your next assignment for my civilian readers). So I appreciated that Marquet not only cut through the bureaucracy (he did the write up afterwards, but also that he quickly and publicly recognized exemplary conduct. Marquet also made sure to have family members present whenever possible for awards--something commands often overlook.

As you can see in my "Key Takeaways" section, this book is packed with concrete actions leaders can take today to emancipate their subordinates (more on why Marquet prefers “emancipate” to the ubiquitous “empower” below.

*My 2018 reading list is here.

Key Quotes:
  • “You may be able to ‘buy’ a person’s back with a paycheck, position, power, or fear, but a human being’s genius, passion, loyalty, and tenacious creativity are volunteered only. The world’s greatest problems will be solved by passionate, unleashed “volunteers.” -Stephen R. Covey (xxi)
  • “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves. -Stephen R. Covey (xxi)
  • On the Navy’s short term focus: “Hundreds of captains [make] thousands of decisions to optimize the performance of their commands for their tour and their tour alone. If they did anything to for the long run it was because of an enlightened sense of duty, not because there was anything in the system that rewarded them for it. We didn’t associate an officer’s leadership effectiveness with how well his unit performed after he left. We We didn’t associate an officer’s leadership effectiveness with how often his people got promoted two, three, or four years hence. We didn’t even track that kind of information, All that mattered was performance in the moment. (14)
  • “When the performance of a unit goes down after an officer leaves, it is taken as a sign that he was a good leader, not that he was ineffective in training his people properly.” (15)
  • “Don’t move information to authority, move authority to information.” (49)
  • “Taking care of your people... [means] giving them every available and advantage to achieve their aims in life.” (172)
Key Takeaways:
  • One of the book’s strengths are the “how to” questions at the end of each chapter. Sometimes these include exercises you can use in your own company such as “Embedding cultural change” or “How to identify training gaps within your company/department”
  • Applying this all in your own organization: ID Excellence creation points. Internal and external processes (customer and physical world). What decisions do the owners of those process NEED to make to create excellence? What’s it take to get those owners to make those decisions? Drive to the intersection of technical competence, organizational clarity, and authority to make the decisions. (207)
  • How do you build company/unit/squadron/embassy/directorate identity? Require employees/subordinates to own both the problem AND the solution to it (xx).
  • Why is “empowerment” not the answer? Spoiler alert: Marquet prefers the term “emancipate.” A follower has limited decision-making authority but more detrimentally little incentive to give it his/her all. The fact that it takes the boss to empower ‘you’ is inherently disempowering (xxvi)
  • The cycle to transform an organization to leader-leader begins with a triple track parallel effort that is repeated continuously: divesting control, building technical competence, and strengthening organizational clarity--all while maintaining responsibility (xxx).
  • The Navy’s focus is short term--officers and units are effectively evaluated in three year cycles (i.e., tours). The success of the organization lives and dies with the leader. Marquet points out that in our military today “when the performance of a unit goes down after an officer leaves, it is taken as a sign that he was a good leader, not that he was ineffective in training his people properly.” The military’s worship for the cult of the individual is so strongly ingrained, that Marquet’s observation never occurred to me. In finishing “Turn the Ship Around,” I’ve become convinced that Marquet’s leader-leader model is one that could enable radical transformation within the U.S. military. Some questions to consider include:
    • Should the FITREPs of commanding officers only take into account their performance during their tour? 
    • Or is how the command performs after he/she leaves also a notable indicator of their leadership?
    • How can organizations operating on continuous turnover optimize performance?
    • How would you improve the military’s evaluation/fitrep system?
  • Begin your arrival to a leadership position with a focus on your people’s actions and interactions (20)
  • What are your inbrief questions? That is, as a new leader what questions do you ask of your employees to understand your organization? Conversely, what questions do you ask new employees who check-in with you? 
    • What are the things you are hoping I don’t change?
    • What are the things you secretly hope I do change?
    • What are the good things about our company we should build on?
    • If you were me what you would do first?
    • Why aren’t we doing better?
    • What are your personal goals for your tour here (for the next two years in a civilian company)?
    • What impediments do you have to doing your job?
    • What will be our biggest challenge in accomplishing XXX large project?
    • What are biggest frustrations with how the company is currently run? 
    • What’s the best thing I can do for you? (24)
  • Lead with curiosity, ask people about their roles not as a test but as you would an outside person who just wants to know what they do--earn trust before you start critiquing. (26)
  • Leaders involve widest audience for recognition. If you have an award, give the awardee time to invite their family and/or friends but also give it in a timely manner, or on the spot if appropriate. (33)
  • Importance of psychological ownership (37)
  • Two barriers to delegating decision-making: lack of subordinate technical competence and misunderstanding of organization goals. (58-9)
  • Good decisions are a combination of technical competence and clear grasp of an organization’s purpose/interest. (60)
  • There’s power in a leader embracing the “caring but not caring” paradox. This means caring about those under you and your company at the expense of consequences to yourself. (64)
  • Instilling the idea of the 3-name rule: Good morning Mr. Smith, I am Jack Kruse, welcome to Bell. When this becomes an ingrained habit, it goes a long way toward embedding a culture of ownership--that is, I associate the most basic of interactions--a greeting--with my own identity and that of my company. When I was the wing safety officer I started using the tagline “I am aviation safety” after reading an article about a clothing company whose employees espoused a similar ethos. (68)
  • One step toward emancipation is shifting the way information is communicated. This involves shifting subordinates from passive to active: i.e., ‘I’d like to’ or ‘can we’ to ‘I intend to’ or ‘I will’ (83)
  • Eliminate top-down control mechanisms to build ownership--do you have unnecessary meetings? (97)
  • A resilient company has employees that think out loud to build context. (103)
  • In the Navy, we often dread inspections, Inspector General inspections come to mind. The idea of embracing inspectors shows an important mindset because employees ideally can mine inspectors for best practices they’ve seen elsewhere. (112)
  • Shift to deliberate action: Before any action pause, vocalize and gesture. This can also be used in administrative scenarios where these three steps are done prior to approving purchasing or submitting requests. We have an obvious parallel in naval aviation where we say “slow is fast and fast is slow” and “no fast hands in the cockpit.” (124)
  • Incorporating “we learn” into your organizations creed. Learning is more active than training. The purpose of training is to build technical competence to drive down decision making lower. (129)
  • Use an off-site exercise idea to determine what training is needed in your department or company. (132)
  • To drive engagement = certify, don’t brief. The military is rife with briefings prior to evolutions, exercises etc. Marquet points out a major deficiency with a ‘briefing mentality’--it can become a passive exercise where everyone zones out as the briefer drones on. I experienced this first hand as a naval aviator, often when I wasn’t giving the brief, I would just lay back and let the guy/gal in charge do all the work. When you certify everyone is safe and ready to complete a task you switch to interaction between the lead briefer and those under him/her. (141)
  • The power of repetition cannot be understated in inculcating a new message or program within a company. (149)
  • Give your people goals, not methods. Having prescribed methods unnecessarily constrains your team’s creativity. (159)
  • Guiding principles should guide decisions for your organizations. (179)
  • For military leaders looking to get their subordinates to think long term/strategically: have them write their end of tour awards at the beginning of their tours. Early on his tour as Commanding Officer, Marquet sat down individually with his junior officers and gave them a week to write their end of tour awards. Then he met with them for a mentoring session to go through their prospective/desired objectives. You can probably guess that while most people initially come up with impressive sounding achievements they fall short in coming up with measurable/verifiable objectives. That because it’s hard work to think critically and take the time to measure your work. This is also where you have a chance to identify gaps in your organization (i.e., places where there’s no measuring system in place) and shift from a mentor-mentee relationship to a mentor-mentor one. Ideally, this process develops both the leader and his subordinate. For those in the corporate world, Marquet recommends, having your team members write out 1, 2 and 3 year performance evaluations. What methods have you found effective in pushing your team to think long term? (190-3)
  • Blind obedience is a symptom of a disempowered organization and can cripple mission accomplishment. Encourage questions! (200)
  • Great reference table: Do This, Not That (205)
Key References
  • Start with Why” (46)
  • Built to Last” (56)
  • Visual Display of Quantitative Information” (75)
  • Out of the Crisis TQL (98)
  • Control and Chaos (126)
  • Briefing (137)
  • What is NIPO’s legacy? Motto? (183)
  • Gamification (187)
  • Chapter 2 of 7 Habits of Highly Effective people: ‘Begin With The End In Mind.”
  • Empowerment and Emancipation (212)
  • https://www.davidmarquet.com/
  • While Marquet focuses on military units, this is easily applicable to any unit/company/organization with a high turnover. Embassies come to mind, as well as the various sections within an embassy. For military offices in an embassy, such as the Offices of Security Cooperation (OSCs, ODCs etc), the difficulty is applying Marquet’s thesis is that there aren’t currently good metrics by which to evaluate one office in comparison to the other. The Combatant Commander in all likelihood knows who his/her best OSC Chief is (i.e., the individual) but there’s not currently any way to evaluate an ODC as a whole. A Battle E equivalent would likely take into account IG inspection results, Physical Fitness...what else?

Monday, February 5, 2018

2011 Reading List

You can see our lists from 2009, 20102011201320142015, 2016, and 2017.  You can also see my Reading the African Continent List here.

The Zanzibar Chest by Aidan Hartley Jack’s favorite book of the year and #1 recommendation for a book about Africa.
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins  The official Team Jamily book recommendation for 2011!
It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcott
What is the What? by Dave Eggers
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Help by Kathyrn Stockett
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
The Cairo Trilogy by Maguib Mahfouz
The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Whiteman by Tony D’Souza
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

2010 Reading List

You can see our lists from 20092011201320142015, 2016, and 2017.  You can also see my Reading the African Continent List here.


Below is the reading list we enclosed in our 2010 Christmas letter.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Language of Secrets
The Last Song
The Lovely Bones
Breaking Dawn
Matterhorn