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FCW : October 15, 2012
October 15, 2012 FCW.COM 31 WHAT I'M READING The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg Random House, February 2012 Paul O Neill (who got his start in govern- ment managing computer systems at the Department of Veterans Affairs) is a poster boy for leading institutions by altering their habits. The former Treasury secretary transformed Alcoa and helped create the Of ce of Management and Budget. O Neill s secret, Charles Duhigg writes, is identifying "keystone habits" --- ones that, "when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns." Duhigg, a New York Times reporter and Harvard Business School graduate, contends that such keystones can unleash innovation and productivity, at both the individual and institutional levels. He details the neurology and management theories behind habit- shaping and shares examples from business, government and even Olympic swimming --- promising that even deeply ingrained structures and cultures can change. Quoted: "[Habits] shape our lives far more than we realize.They are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them [to] the exclusion of all else, including common sense." Resilience by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy Free Press, July 2012 One does not have to look far to nd important systems that have cracked under unexpected strain: the Washington-area power grid after this summer s derecho, for example, or the global nancial system when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008. The more dif cult task, Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy argue, is to identify systems that are designed to survive an improb- able shock, and then learn how to bring that resiliency to other infrastructures and institutions. Zolli and Healy start by explaining what the word "resilience" means and why it should not be confused with robustness, redundancy or simply the ability to recover. They go deep into the principles that com- prise the "toolkit for systemic resilience" and explore what it takes to lead such an effort. The book drifts toward the meta in places, but it explains the abstractions well and offers hope that even the most brittle and broken systems can be set right. Quoted: "Since each disruption and circumstance is unique, there can be no prefabricated organizational chart --- indeed, one of [the] rst tasks is to create it." Joe Jordan As administrator of the Of ce of Federal Procurement Policy, Joe Jordan is focused on one thing: "To deliver the best value to the American taxpay- er when procuring the $500 billion worth of goods and services we buy each year. " Outside the of ce, however, the interests of the former Small Business Administra- tion of cial, McKinsey and Co. consultant, and cable news journalist are a bit more varied --- as his current reading list makes clear. "The Sage of Monticello" by Dumas Malone "The Book of Basketball" by Bill Simmons "Unleashing Change: A Study of Organizational Renewal in Government" by Steve Kelman "Joker One: A Marine Platoon s Story of Courage, Leadership and Brother- hood" by Donovan Campbell "A Feast for Crows" by George R.R. Martin "Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby s First Year" by Denise Fields and Dr. Ari Brown
October 30, 2012