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5 great books to innovate in Learning and Development

Vincent Carlos says that reading is, and always has been, the habit of the highly successful. He even mentions that world’s most successful people read at least one book a week (read this). I agree, although I hardly read one book a week.

However, I try to read as much as possible. In terms of L&D, I have had the luck to came across with some excellent books where I’ve found useful insights, tools, advices, and approaches to keep my own skillset and mindset up to date and open to new ways.

The next books are not necessarily L&D specialized but they have a lot to add to this field’s conversation. So, I recommend you to dive into them soon.

Rework

By: Jason Fried

Jason Fried is co-founder of 37signals (makers of Basecamp) and bestseller author.

The key message of the book: anyone can start a business today, from anywhere, and without 80-hour weeks or depleting your life savings. Cool!

Although Rework is very focused on the internet-based businesses, I think it could apply to other fields, such as L&D. The book talks about interesting concepts related to the connected economy.

For example, it goes through ideas such as asynchronous communication and digital workplace. I find both concepts not only interesting, but extremely useful nowadays for L&D. When reading the book I immediately started to think how to feed learning with them.

Personally, I have practiced them at the office and tried them in my learning strategies (read this). Since learning is everyday more at hand and more a matter of habit, how to take advantage of mobile technology and the connected world is every day more important. And in Rework you will find excellent examples and insights about seizing the “digital” world as much as possible.

Take a look at it. You can find it in Amazon.

Contagious

By: Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger does an excellent analysis – not boring and very well referenced – of cases and stories about interesting campaigns, events, business, and people trying to find what made them contagious.

Interesting: he vindicates the “old fashion” word-of-mouth. He mentions that less than 5% of the contagiousness happens online. The most powerful tool in the era of social media and instant messages, is word-of-mouth. People talking to people, face to face. Friends giving a good review each other about a restaurant, a product or a service.

Of course this goes to business guys, marketing specialist, or branding builders. However, Learning is also about generate contagious habits, changes, and actions. This is a great book to provoke contagiousness in L&D.

Change by Design

By: Tim Brown

Change by Design is written by Tim Brown, CEO and Co-founder of IDEO and one of the leading proponents of design thinking. Actually, this book is a must for anyone trying to take a step into design thinking.

Change by Design introduces design thinking:

A collaborative process by which the designer’s sensibilities and methods are employed to match people’s needs with what is technically feasible and a viable business strategy (IDEO).

In short, design thinking it’s a human-centered approach to problem-solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and creative. An approach I am very into at the moment (read About Diego).

The book is a bit hard to get, but not impossible and it will be very useful if you are a professional of L&D given that it hits directly to the customer experience debate.

You can find it in Amazon and Casa del Libro (both online).

Design Sprint

By: Jake Knapp

A few weeks ago, I started to read an interesting book about a revolutionary process know as Sprint Design (read this).

The Sprint is basically to go from the outset of an idea to its testing in just 5 days! 

The creator of the concept is Jake Knapp, who describes his experience and the process in his book Sprint.

Knapp mentions that when he realized that the process to turn an idea into reality was so long and exhaustive he decided to try something different. So, Knapp started to look for a way to optimize his activities. That’s how he – alongside some other colleagues from Google Ventures – came out with the Design Sprint Process (currently, one of the favorites process in Google and Google Ventures).

While reading I started to think:

how could I adapt this process to learning projects?

Personally, I see it as an interesting book in terms of mindset. Also, the process is interesting regarding project management. How to properly manage the Sprint seems to be a very challenging thing.

Give it a shot. I am sure that many of you will be eager to do a couple of sprints on your own.

Reinventing Organizations: An Illustrated Invitation to Join the Conversation on Next-Stage Organizations 

By: Frederic Laloux (illustrated by Etienne Appert)

This edition is an excellent alternative to the original 360 pages book, and the illustrations make of it something more readable.

The book seeks to explain the evolution of organizations in order to 1) understand why organizations are what they are and b) why organizations must change what they are.

What I got from the book is the idea that organizations are critical in our society and they need to change as much as society changes nowadays. We are in a moment of transformation and organizations must embrace such transformation. What’s in it for L&D?

The book encourages you to imagine and designed new organizational models. New ways to structure them and go through them. In a few words, the basic idea of it is “you won’t get different outcomes doing what you’ve been doing so far”.

So, try them. If you are able to read one per week, great. If not, it does not matter. What really matters is to read them when possible. As I told you, they are not L&D specialized, but all of them have great ideas to put on the L&D table.

So, try them or share them to someone who may find them useful. There is always someone.


FIRMADiego is an experienced learning advisor, a certified trainer and a design thinking consultant.

He is available for advisory where the focus is on driving transcendental learning and lasting change. Moreover, he is always eager to chat.