Last night we had another terrific session of the Washington, D.C. area Berrett-Koehler writers group. We get together four times a year or so for an improvisational writing activity, and to share a meal. The format of the exercises is simple: any member of the group can propose a topic, while specifying a brief time limit for everyone to write whatever comes into their head, without editing.
You can share it aloud with the others, or not. During the meal, several of us talked about the confusion surrounding the autumn equinox (which is celebrated today). “Autumn equinox” duly became a theme topic.
Now that summer is over, meeting-season is in full swing. And that’s not good news to most people. Given how much time most people spend in meetings, how can they be made more productive and useful? That’s the subject of a terrific new book, Let’s Stop Meeting Like This, by Dick and Emily Axelrod of The Axelrod Group.
I’ve gotten to know Dick and Emily during the past five years through the Berrett-Koehler Authors Cooperative, and my conversations with them are always personal highlight at the annual authors retreat. I asked Dick to elaborate on some of the book’s major points:
1. Can you briefly outline the concept of The Meeting Canoe™, and why it is relevant for all types of organizations?
Peter Drucker was notable for drawing high achievers into his orbit; people he could both teach and learn from. High on that list is Bob Buford, who tells both his own fascinating life story and how it intersected over many years with that of Drucker, in his compelling new book Drucker & Me. It’s a tricky balance to get right, but Buford accomplishes it with grace and quiet strength. The relationship between these two men was one of friendship, mentoring, mutual respect and business.
Drucker considered Buford to be a role model for how to lead a meaningful second half of life, given his transition from a successful career leading a Texas-based cable television company to an equally successful second career as a social entrepreneur, forming both the Leadership Network and Halftime.
One of the most admirable aspects of the work of Peter Drucker is its timeless quality. It will be endlessly applied now and in the future to projects, issues and strategies inside and outside the business world. This role-up-your-sleeves component is the focus of a terrific book published late last year, The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker, by William A. Cohen. I wrote about Cohen and his previous Drucker-related book, Drucker on Marketing: Lessons from the World’s Most Influential Business Thinker, in 2012.
Cohen has now written four books based on Drucker, based on both his intense, decades-long study and application of the master’s thought, and on a long personal friendship, going back to his days as Drucker’s first executive PhD student in the 1970s.
Perhaps because it is a relatively young discipline, the concept of knowledge management has seemed somewhat hazy, confusing and ill-defined. Depending on who is talking about it, the term can take on multiple meanings, not all of them helpful or accurate.
Can mindfulness get any hotter? The mainstream spotlight continues to grow on this subject, which I have blogged about several times. In particular, see Time magazine’s seven page February 3, 2014 cover story, “The Art of Being Mindful.” And Mindful magazine continues to do interesting work. The cover story of the February 2014 issue, “No Blueprint, Just Love,” is an eight page interview with one of the best-known figures in the field, Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is also a major presence in the Time article.
Kabat-Zinn, founding Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, began his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as a small project in 1979, and it has grown to worldwide prominence.
Last week I returned to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, where I did a presentation in 2011. This was for the terrific Getting it Done Expert Speakers Series, run by adjunct professor and entrepreneur in residence Brendan Calder. The venue was the school’s spectacular new building, connected by a dramatic staircase to the original (where I spoke last time), which is also a memorable structure. The work of Peter Drucker remains important to the school, especially in Brendan’s course GettingItDone®.
The audience was highly engaged, and asked penetrating questions. There were several people from the library/information world, including those from the iSchool across the street (which provided the backdrop to my talk, with the large floor-to-ceiling windows behind me).