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Summer Reading List

For those who have finished all three Stieg Larsson novels, I have three suggestions for your summer reading list:

1.  The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution, by David La Piana, explains why traditional strategic planning, which generates agreement on lists of long-term goals and activities is not very useful for today’s challenges.  He urges organizations to resist letting the need for internal alignment inhibit them from making tough, but unpopular decisions.  They should develop consensus, if not unanimity, around the right organizational, programmatic and operational strategies.  They should also be nimble, developing dynamic strategies, which can be modified in response to changing circumstances.

2. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath, uses counter-intuitive research in psychology and sociology to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change.  The primary obstacle to change, say the Heath brothers, is competition for control between the rational and emotional parts of our brains.  “The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie.  The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine.  This tension can doom a change effort-but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.”  Switch uses entertaining anecdotes to outline a process for breaking down the barriers to change.

3. The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, by Allison Fine and Beth Kanter, contains valuable practical and contextual information about how non-profit organizations can use social media strategies to further their missions.  The book emphasizes that the effective use of these new technologies is predicated on having transparent and empowered relationships with an organization’s supporters.

These books may not have the titillating suspense of Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” novels, but reading them will give you a strategic head start preparing for the Fall arts season (and won’t require remembering obscure Swedish names and places).


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