Four books suggest you overhaul everything at work, including your allotted business book reading time. So we read them for you. Bottom line: Abandon everything that’s not nimble, fast, and friendly.
Brave New Work: Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization?
By Aaron Dignan
Premise: The practices of many organizations are ancient and based on outdated assumptions that are rarely reconsidered—like an operating system that needs a revamp. Are time-intensive performance reviews the best use of managers’ hours? Probably not. Are there better, more efficient ways to help employees achieve? Yes.
Action plan: Overhaul your existing organization—its purpose, structure, workflows, all of it. Make it more fluid, like the Hollywood ecosystem: Directors, cinematographers, and editors organize and reorganize around projects and hold multiple roles on different productions at the same time.
Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business
By Kevin Kruse
Premise: Clunky old-school management standbys will crush your company, and sanity, because modern success operates in real time, at high speeds, and face-to-face. How-to-lead playbooks won’t help you, so toss them out now.
Action plan: Be accessible and likable. This means showing your weaknesses. Don’t be shy about sharing past business failures. Be transparent about pretty much everything, play favorites with the best and brightest, and lead with heart. Instead of an open-door policy, consider weekly catch-ups.
Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World*
By Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall
Premise: So many workplace norms are accepted without question. The authors present nine that you should start challenging—for example, strategic planning, which they say is more an exercise in abstract guessing. Instead, focus on data collection and sharing—the more you share, the better-coordinated actions will be.
Action plan: Don’t feel compelled to provide constant feedback. That can harm performance. Instead, help your workers excel by focusing on what works with each of them individually and reinforce that each time an employee does something well by telling her how you experienced it.
* BW pick
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
By David Epstein
Premise: Don’t bother specializing early—today’s top jobs are in complex and unpredictable fields and need employees with broad, flexible knowledge.
Action plan: Leap from one career to the next, then trot into a CEO gig around the time your friends retire. Stop planning for the long term—respond to life with changes as needed. It’s all right not to use that graduate degree.