The Mesh by Lisa Gansky Featured in WSJ
By Michael Totty
Want to know more about how businesses can harness technology to make the most of information? We asked three experts for their recommended reading lists. Here’s what they said:
Amit Basu is the Carr P. Collins chair in management information systems at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“The Adventures of an IT Leader”
By Robert D. Austin, Richard L. Nolan and Shannon O’Donnell
This easy-to-read book, structured as a novel, humanizes the challenges faced by CIOs, from the perspective of a non-IT executive who is thrust into the role of CIO. The “glass wall” between IT and management is exemplified through the many eye-opening realizations of the new CIO as he learns the dilemmas faced by IT managers, and the complexities of the solutions.
“The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
This is not a book about IT, but I highly recommend it for IT leaders. Mr. Taleb defines a “black swan” as a possibly rare event that has huge consequences but is not even considered. As IT becomes a critical resource for many companies, and the business environment becomes increasingly volatile and global, sensitizing an organization to black-swan events can help in effective risk and crisis management.
Nilofer Merchant is a behavioral strategist and author of “The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy,” on setting strategy collaboratively so the idea becomes a new reality.
“The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing”
By Lisa Gansky
This is an important book, in that Ms. Gansky helps us name an important trend that will shape our culture—and therefore our technology products—over the next several decades. She argues that the companies that will win will be the ones that enable sharing, via community participation and trust.
“Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error”
By Kathryn Schulz
What is it that someone once said of marketing: 50% of it is badly spent, but the question is which 50%? The same is true for ideas. We quite often think we are right when we are wrong, and that limits our ability to create the next big idea that will transform information technology. This book provides a way to look at this fallibility and how it helps us fail.
“The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion”
By John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison
While it’s clear to most people that we’re in an era of the creative class, we really have no idea how to reinvent our businesses to take advantage of that talent. This book describes how to create a flow of knowledge that can transform individuals and institutions—which, if we admit it, is really the central aspect behind all technology advantages.
Thomas H. Davenport is the president’s distinguished professor of IT and management at Babson College.
“The Social Life of Information”
By John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid
CIOs are called “information officers” for a reason: They’re supposed to provide information that informs corporate decisions and actions. To do that, they need to understand not only information technology, but information itself. This and the following book will get aspiring CIOs well down the road on that topic.
“The Social Life of Information” is elegant and a bit academic. The two researchers, formerly of Xerox PARC—where the personal computer was invented—show that information and the business processes it informs are socially constructed. You won’t act on information you don’t trust, and you won’t follow a technology-supported business process unless it meets your individual and social norms about how work should be done. The book is an excellent counter to the techno-utopianism that infects the IT field.
“Making the Invisible Visible: How Companies Win with the Right Information, People and IT”
By Donald Marchand, William Kettinger and John Rollins
This volume is a bit overly methodological, but still useful. It describes the concept of “information orientation” and how it produces better organizational performance. Based on a substantial research study, it’s undeniably formulaic. However, I believe the formula they advocate is right on, and any CIO would benefit from trying to apply it.
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