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Books to improve the way you work - share reads that are overrated and underrated


In the last year, I've been consuming audiobooks and learning so much! Let's help each other find our next book reads (or which books to avoid).

Pick one of these prompts or both!

  • Share a book you think is UNDERRATED, a recommendation + one sample thing you learned from it.
  • Share a book you think is OVERRATED, a book lots of people talk about but may not be worth the hype.



[Overrated] How to Win Friends and Influence People

Don't get me wrong; it's a good book. The lessons are rooted in common sense (e.g. be interested in people, admit to mistakes, be sincere in compliments, talk about what other people are interested in, etc). It promotes all the good things about being a good human and I encourage folks to still read it.

While I support all of those lessons, I think it's harder to put those into practice than to know those are the right things to do. And so I'd rather recommend a book that helps facilitate those actions into being rather than say it's good to do those things. 

Like Andy Gladstone likes this

[Underrated] Creativity, Inc

Yes, this is the story of Pixar Animation Studios. But it's also a story of the practices that make the culture there successful. Here are a few of my fav lessons:

  • "Protect the new" so as to ensure teams innovate and don't just keep doing things the same way they do them forever.
  • Mixing up types of roles and seniority levels so that different voices can be literally seen and heard at the table.
  • Leadership is about protecting, serving, and developing others. In other words, it's not about the ideas from leaders, their ability to sell, etc. It's about their people. The biggest "work product" for leaders therefore are the teams and staff they work with.
Like # people like this

I absolutely loved this book, you never know what degree of bias there is in the writing but it seems like a genuinely inclusive/progessive team setup

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Totally, @Margareta Buruian! I really resonated with its culture and even the pivots it took to learn those inclusive lessons.

carolyn french Community Leader Mar 01, 2022

I learned about this book from a speaker at Summit incidentally and really loved the book's message and the stories too.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Hi @Christine P_ Dela Rosa 

   I don't know if there are good books or not, I think that books, according to the person who reads them, provide or not knowledge, learning, lessons, each book is a world and the person who reads it interprets it in their own way, with their emotions, feelings etc

   I leave here three books that according to the moment it is good for me to read them again:

   1.- WHEN I SAY NO, I FEEL GUILTY - Manuel J. Smith

   2.- AT 33,000 FEET - J.J. Benitez

   3.- REWORK - David Heinemeier Hansson


Like # people like this

I agree that books are personal, but in spite of that, would love your hot take.

What’s an example of some tidbits you liked in some of these books, @Vero Rivas You’ve got great insights and I’m pumped to get a tease (or a takeaway you found interesting) for any or all of the books you’ve liked.

Like Vero Rivas likes this

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa 

Well, for example, from the second book I learned to dialogue with myself, to say goodbye to my relatives who live far away, because the author narrates the way or what it implies when you say goodbye to a relative and you move away from him because you live in another city, country or even continent, I understood the importance of that moment and to see the meetings in another way

It is a book that I usually read when I need to connect with my most familiar emotions, it is a bedside book and I highly recommend it, in addition, the author's way of telling it is at least curious and different (on a plane), I highly recommend it

Another day I'll tell you about the others


Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Jan 25, 2022

Hot take on books, some are poorly written and should not be published. 25 years ago we had publishers who controlled what books went to print, and generally had editors who would reject bad works. Obviously publishers are not the end-all, sometimes things went to print on the author's previous merits and their latest work was rubbish. Sometimes they would reject good things, and the advent of self-publishing has led to some gems being published.

Overall though, the quality of the entire corpus of "books" has declined since self-publishing has become an option. There's no hurdle to clear anymore. It's essentially free to publish something on Kindle, even as a printed copy.

I agree with your point that some books might hit better with certain readers, and this can definitely be very personal based on your style and life experiences. But now more than ever, I think personal recommendations help us sort the wheat from the chaff.

Like # people like this

I agree with Vero that books are a very personal thing so I will also share recently read books that had a positive impact on me and the fundamental takeaway I got from them

1 - The Power of Moments (Chip & Dan Heath) 

Life and work are not always about the journey but the small moments each and every day and we can have a substantial impact (good or bad) on a person within our teams by being mindful of moments. 

2 - Bad Blood (John Carreyou) 

Be transparent as much as is viable! 

Like # people like this

Love this @Margareta Buruian I especially like your note on The Power of Moments. I think about how what we remember when we look back at work or time periods in our lives, it’s the feelings associated with people or places that tend to stay with me and not always every little work-related “achievement” or “failure.” For me at least. And I forget how it’s moments that power these feelings. Even just one can make a huge difference. So true!

Monique vdB Community Manager Jan 27, 2022

@Margareta Buruian "Bad Blood" was such a good read!

Not quite within the prompt, but I think Who Moved My Cheese falls into the "Classic for a Reason" bucket. The message isn't flawless, but I read it in high school (my mom had it laying around for her business class) so it really stuck with me as I was starting to think about the professional world.

The message, for those unfamiliar, is that workplace change is inevitable and one must be flexible and should even try to find joy in the change. I think it can be a bit patronizing at times, but in my experience, working really is full of change, oftentimes change that's beyond your control. As I try to live my best life, I've found that it is generally easier to "find new cheese" (whether that cheese be a job, a new project to focus on, a team, whatever) than to stress about who moved my cheese and why.

Like # people like this

I remember this book! I think it's still relevant, fwiw.

Like Mel Policicchio likes this

Doh! @Mel Policicchio you beat me to it!

Like Mel Policicchio likes this

@Brandon Raney ha! It's also just so memorable :) 

Andy Gladstone Community Leader Jan 25, 2022

[Overrated] Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell)

This book follows the standard Malcolm Gladwell format - tells a story, proposes a theory around the story, presents the research, either proves or disproves the original hypothesis. While this format makes for good reading and story-telling, I have never taken any practical and applicable advice from the book(s) that can be used to impact my life or business.


[Underrated] Good to Great (Jim Collins)

I could read this 100 times and come out with more depth and breadth each time. The advice is timeless and can be applied across a multitude of industries and practices. 'Burn the Mills' is something our Leadership team has screamed in collaboration meetings and has taken on a meaning internally. Also, many of the precepts of EOS are based on Collins' research and have been applicable to us in steering our business to success.


[Underdog Recommendation] Switch (Chip & Dan Heath)

How to Change Things When Change is Hard is the subline of the book title. This book is a great primer for change management - how to propose change, how to affect change and how to ensure that changes have staying power.

Like # people like this

I feel the same way about Outliers@Andy Gladstone. I quite liked the stories shared but more as a bedtime book for adults who dream about business vs one that gives me actionable next steps for growth.

As for Switch, I haven't read it but this seems right up my alley. Going to look for the audiobook on my Libby app now! Thank you!

Like Andy Gladstone likes this

Regarding Good to Great, there has been some decent critique of the approach used in writing this book. Hence, the described conclusions may not be correct.
Just one example of such critique.

You can find more here and here.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I love a debate! I hadn't seen these critiques before and appreciate the perspective. My only counter is that I only recall so many lessons from books like this. And the ones I really liked I think are good high-level concepts that work for any team in any situation:

For example: the "Get the right people on the bus" lesson. I'm a big fan of finding people who are great teammates and leaders as opposed to hiring for very niche roles attached to a very specific goal that serve as the only reason for justifying someone on the team.

If you have favorites, please drop your overrated lessons here, @Radoslaw Cichocki _Deviniti_. If folks read the book, maybe they can keep those lessons in mind. 

Thanks, @Christine P_ Dela Rosa as this thread may lead to some "spirited conversation"  :^)

Underrated: Pragmatic Thinking & Learning: Refactor Your Wetware.  This is a good one to learn about learning, and how to get better at getting better.

Overrated (and often quite damaging): The Five Dysfunctions of Teams.  I find many read this book and try to apply the practices without sufficient understanding of their own capabilities, usually resulting in great harm to their teams.

Like # people like this
Andy Gladstone Community Leader Jan 27, 2022

@Bill Sheboy I’ll echo that sentiment. Pat Lencioni writes great books and content that seem simple but are not easily applied to a moving target. I have read a lot of his material and have only been successful at applying small bits and pieces.  

How to get better at getting better is so meta (not the Facebook kind). I'm into it. Thanks for that reco, @Bill Sheboy !

[Underrated] Crucial conversations: tools for talking when stakes are high by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

I've learned a lot about how to approach these conversations AND the fact that may not even realize how crucial some conversations actually are. One of my takeaways was start crucial convos first from a place of shared meaning (a tactic often cited by negotiation experts). 

I think this is underrated because it some write it off as a book for them due to having a "niche self-help vibe." But actually, many of us probably could use the insights.

Like Andy Gladstone likes this

I'm so happy I caught this thread! Excellent recommendations and reviews here.

[Underrated] The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

This is great book, overall, about the power of positive psychology, but one part that stood out to me was the notes on the Pygmalion Effect. To keep it high level, essentially managers have a lot of power when it comes to leveraging the team's motivation and suggests you ask yourself (as manager) these questions every Monday:
1) Do I believe that the intelligence and skills of my employees are not fixed, but can be improved with effort?
2) Do I believe that my employees want to make that effort, just as they want to find meaning and fulfillment in their jobs?
3) How am I conveying these beliefs in my daily words and actions?

Like # people like this

Ooh, @Sarah Head! I've heard of this book but haven't jumped in on it. I've sat in on qualitative research where managers say they feel more and more powerless. So this feels like a really important book!

Like Sarah Head likes this


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