December 31, 2007

Book Review - The Power of We

The Power ot We: Succeeding through Partnerships
Jonathan M. Tisch
HD 69 .S8 T57 2004

Tisch argues that if we put aside personal interests to form partnerships, we would achieve greater success and become more efficient. In each of his ten chapters, Tisch provides yet another justification for partnerships. Stressing cooperation over competition, he illustrates how individuals and organizations are able to achieve more, reduce conflict, expand capabilities and markets, and better align your interests with your community by working together rather than alone. Each chapter is highlighted by a successful individual or organization and the partnership story that helped them get there. This book is not only inspirational, but it is a new model for individuals and businesses to consider following.

Book Review - The First-time Manager's Guide to Teambuilding

The First-time Manager's Guide to Teambuilding
Gary S. Topchik
HD 30.4 .T67 2007

Topchik's short book is an overview that describes the processes and problems involved in building a managing a team. His intended audience is individuals new to the leader or manager role, but it also serves as a reminder of the key concerns for project managers or senior leaders as well. The book is divided into five sections. First, Topchik defines teams and teamwork, presenting several models of team composition and function. Next, he differentiates the role of the team leader or manager from those of other team member, describing skills and responsibilities that the leader has. Third, he presents requirements for developing a team spirit. Fourth, he overviews some of the challenges in managing the team. Finally, he suggests a number of team-building activities that might help members get to know each other and become interdependent. This is a quick read that hits the highlights of team leadership. Topchik could have put more emphasis on the uniqueness of each team throughout his writing, however. He mentions the difficulties in getting individuals to work together, but does not offer concrete steps or suggestions to overcoming these.

December 28, 2007

Book Review - Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts

Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground
Robert D. Kaplan
UA 23 .K345 2007

Kaplan, a journalist for Atlantic Monthly, writes this book as a continuing examination of the United States military and its involvement in the War on Terror. In this follow-up to Imperial Grunts, Kaplan shows the diversity of military efforts taking place around the world between 2004 and 2006. He illustrates the challenges of air, sea, and ground warfare environments that soldiers, sailors and airmen endure. At the same time, readers get to know the personal commitments, hardships, friendships, and losses of the individuals who serve in the American military. This book shows that while media attention has focused on the Middle East, in reality, the War on Terror has the American Military engaged around the globe. It also shows the humanity and motivation of those thousands of individuals who are so often homogenized when military history is recounted. This is an engaging read for anyone interested in contemporary military activities.

Book Review - Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value
Bill George
HD 57.7 .G458 2003

George's book is a manifesto for the need to bring values and morality back into leadership. In his introduction, he asserts that these characteristics have largely been lost in the current generation of leadership as individuals instead took opportunities for personal gain along their climb to the top. The first section of the book defines what George considers to be an authentic leader, explaining the characteristics that are found in these individuals and how they develop through their experiences. In the second section, he articulates a process through which these mission-driven leaders create values-centered organizations which focus on their customers. In the third section, he argues that customer and shareholder centered-ness is an advantage in the marketplace. He cautions that this is not an easy path, however, and provides some guidance on how problems and ethical dilemmas can be overcome. Finally, he looks at the overall success of authentic organizations, concluding that their focus on mission and values has allowed them to be led rather than managed or governed. In essence, he asserts that mission and authenticity is the critical difference between leadership and management.

Book Review - Ritual House

Ritual House: Drawing on Nature's Rhythms for Architecture and Urban Design
Ralph L. Knowles
NA 2542.4 .K58 2006

Knowles book explains that the homes that we live in have become disconnected with the natural rhythms of our lives and seeks to reestablish this connection. The book is divided into three parts. First, the author looks at historical connections between people's natural cycles of life and their homes. In three chapters, he examines migration or regular travel patterns, regular changes in our spaces such as those that result from opening windows or doors, and gathering to share warmth or food. Next, he explains how the growth of urban centers has changed the way that people live and how technology has helped their living spaces become divorced from the rhythms of nature. Finally, he advocates reconnecting homes to their natural habitats by paying close attention to the sun and the way that it affects the spaces. Knowles brings extensive background using solar power in residential buildings, so he naturally turns to his previous work as a central to filling the gap that he sees.

December 27, 2007

Book Review - Green to Gold

Green to Gold: How Smart Companies use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage
Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston
HD 30.225 .E88 2006

This is not a book admonishing companies to become increasingly environmental. Rather, it argues that companies can find success in voluntarily adopting environmental awareness and practices because these are inherently good business strategies. In part one, the authors explain how environmental issues affect business, both on the production side and on the sales and marketing front. They remind readers that it is consumers and other stakeholders who really drive the direction of businesses. Parts two and three offer strategies for increasing environmentally friendly practices in business operations. These include reducing environmental costs and risks, using environmental awareness to increase value, and lessening the environmental impact of products used and production methods. In part four, these strategies are formed into action plans. Particularly valuable here are "lessons learned" about how eco-strategies fail and suggestions on how to avoid these pitfalls.

Book Review - Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management

Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management
HD 30.2 .H375 1998

The practice of knowledge management has recently emerged as an effective way for companies and organizations to put the information that their employees have gained to work to provide a competitive advantage. This collection of essays originally published in Harvard Business Review focuses on one key aspect of knowledge management--learning. Essays focus on how knowledge is created, how individuals and companies learn, and how to put that knowledge and learning to work to improve the organization. Introductory and capstone essays discuss learning and knowledge as ways to "reinvent" the corporation or to create a "new" type of organization.

December 26, 2007

Book Review - East of Chosin

East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950
Roy E. Appleman
DS 918.2 .C35 A66 1987

Appleman, a retired officer, was not satisfied with the explanations provided by the Korean War's official records of the devastating battle over the Chosin Reservoir. This battle, of primary interest to veterans and military historians alike, has been vague and confusing even to many who fought there. This story, pieced together from interviews with survivors, photographs, and limited documentation produced at the time of the battle, begins to unravel the mystery of what happened to the many soldiers whose lives were lost during those few snowy days. Appleman's narrative clarifies the events of the Chosin battle, humanizing the extreme weather conditions, confusion, and loss of human life because of the many points of view that he uses to determine what actually happened. A definitive study when originally published in 1987, the amount of research and Appleman's quality writing have ensured that this study has remained valuable and authoritative for the past two decades.

Book Review - Purpose

Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies
Nikos Mourkogiannis
HD 30.28 .M686 2006

Mourkogiannis argues that it is not the organization, values, leadership, or success in the marketplace is not what defines a great company. Instead, he asserts that finding a fulfilling a purpose is what causes a company to make the transition from good to great. In the first section of his book, he introduces the idea of purpose and identifies four types: discovery, excellence, altruism, and heroism. In the second section, he illustrates purpose through the stories of successful companies and the individuals who led them. In the third section, he ties purpose to other philosophical concepts such as morale, innovation, and leadership, showing readers that great companies are not lacking in other strengths, but rather that their purpose provides a context in which to operate and a way of measuring and valuing their successes.

Book Review - To Follow the Water

To Follow the Water: Exploring the Sea to Discover Climate, From the Gulf Stream to the Blue Beyond
Dallas Murphy
GC 190.2 .M87 2007

Murphy has done extensive research to unlock the role of the ocean in climate change. Using books and technical periodicals as well as participating in several shipboard scientific investigations, Murphy seeks to explain to non-scientists why the ocean has largely been left out of discussions focused around climate change. In the introduction to his work, he describes the ocean as a tremendously complex system, one that is particularly difficult to study because of its harsh climates, both above and below the surf. Add to that the dynamic interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere, science which is changing with the increase in greenhouse gases. This sophisticated system is just beginning to be understood by scientists, who still have little ability to predict how the changing system will react in future conditions. Murphy uses analogies, word pictures, and other complicated, but well studied systems to begin to bring this environmental mystery to the attention of general readers seeking to understand extreme weather patterns, causes and effects of environmental damage, and those seeking to understand of the earth's most predominant feature.

December 21, 2007

Book Review - The Teton Dam Disaster

The Teton Dam Disaster
Dylan J. McDonald
F 752 .S7 M38 2006

Part of the Images of America series, this book celebrates local history primarily through the use of photography. The Teton Dam, built in eastern Idaho in the early 1970's, was intended to control the periodic flooding of the wild and meandering Teton River. A contentious project from the start, building of the dam was delayed because of seismic and geologic concerns as well as uproar that damming the river would negatively affect the fishing and wildlife habitat. While the first chapter visually documents the siting and building of the dam, remaining chapters illustrate the dam's collapse and the destruction of towns and farmland in the Upper Snake River Valley area. A short chapter on determining the cause of the dam failure caps this study. While most believe the design of the dam was faulty, the real cause might never be known because so much of the evidence was washed away.

Book Review - Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America and the Middle East 1776 to the Present
Michael B. Oren
DS 63.2 .U5 O54 2007

Michael Oren argues that the United States has been intertwined with the Middle East since its beginning. Using primary sources, Oren traces the influences that the Middle East has had on the United States, its policies, and its peoples, and that American has had on the Middle East. This book considers political channels, economic interactions, artistic influences, and even the transfer of ideas between the regions. Importantly, he examines how each country and culture has been portrayed by the other over time. This interesting history may shed some light on the perceptions of the Middle East in modern America and in the views held of the United States by Middle Eastern countries and peoples.

Book Review - Globalizing Rural Development

Globalizing Rural Development: Competing Paradigms and Emerging Realitities
Ed. by M. C. Behera
HN 49 .C6 G568 2006

This collection brings together two seemingly disparate ideas: globalization and rural development. After a brief introduction to these main themes, the role of the state and non-governmental organizations in globalization is considered. The second major section considers issues of sustainability alongside rural development. In the third section, participation is addressed and barriers to development are analyzed. Throughout this study, the authors use case studies from around the world to illustrate their point and to show that the challenges and obstacles to rural development are similar across the globe.

December 14, 2007

Book Review - Corporate Culture Handbook

The Corporate Culture Handbook: How to Plan, Implement, and Measure a Successful Culture Change Program
Gabrielle O'Donovan
HD 58.7 .O33 2006

O'Donovan comes to this topic from the point of view of change management. She asserts that most companies were built as economic entities, but that today they play both social and economic roles. In order to create a culture which fits with this social role--whether ethical, customer service oriented, innovative or fun--some cultural change must occur within the organization. O'Donovan brings her practical experience planning and managing these changes and aligns them with theoretical models derived from organizational psychology. In this book she shares a winning strategy for organizational change employed by one company. Perhaps more usefully, she outlines a plan for cultural change that can be modified and adopted by other companies seeking to refocus their efforts.

Book Review - Building Stone Decay

Building Stone Decay: From Diagnosis to Conservation
Edited by R. Prikryl and B. J. Smith
TH 1201 .E77 2005

This collection of essays bridges the gaps between architecture, engineering, and conservation. The book begins with a collection of essays providing a representative sampling of endangered stone architecture from around the world. The next two sections focus on patterns and processes of decay. Included here are a variety of different decay causes--fire, weather, mineral causes--and how to assess and monitor the extent of degradation. Decay caused by salt is significant enough to warrant its own group of chapters. Several common stones used in building are examined. Finally, a group of summary chapters consider the use of stone generally, in conservation projects specifically, and implications for ruins and historical architecture.

December 13, 2007

Book Review - When the Rivers Run Dry

When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--the Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century
Fred Pearce
TC 405 .P43 2006

Pearce gives us a collection of cautionary tales about what happens to the earth, our resources, and our way of life when water is in short supply. The book is organized by the consequence that results--for example crop failures, floods, water resource wars. Each of these consequences is illustrated by real life lessons supplied by case studies. Of course, the traditionally desert Middle East and North African countries are well represented in these, but so too are China, the Caucasus region, and several parts of the United States. Emphasis is clearly on presenting pictures of conflicts over water throughout the world. What this book does not include are suggestions or prescriptions for conserving water or presenting future conflicts.

Book Review - Life Matters

Life Matters: Creating a Dynamic Balance of Work, Family, Time & Money
A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill
BJ 1581.2 .M47 2003

Merrill and Merrill assert that work, family, time, money and even wisdom all matter. The goal, they argue, is to teach people the ability to find an appropriate balance between them. Life is difficult, they concede, and is full of new challenges, difficulties, obstacles, and opportunities which pop up on a regular basis. Therefore, achieving a balanced life is not a one-time, process, but rather a daily effort. They take a realistic approach, helping readers to asses their feelings and commitments to each of these areas. They also stress that it is impossible to do everything or to go through life on fast forward continuously. Learning to balance factors in life dynamically, they argue, is to find satisfaction with all of parts that compete for attention in life.

December 11, 2007

Book Review - Microtrends

Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes
Mark J. Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne
HB 3505 .P44 2007

Polling expert and advisor to both Bill and Hillary Clintons' campaigns, Mark J. Penn relies on statistical data to identify emerging trends. He asserts that the United States is no longer a melting pot, but instead a collection of small communities each with their own tastes and lifestyles. Success, both in politics and in business, lies in seeking out these groups and identifying their microtrends. Penn's book discusses fifteen categories of communities and the trends that he sees emerging from them. Nearly every aspect of life is fair game--from relationships to religion, teens to technology, food to family life. This is a fascinating and revealing book that will leave you doubting "conventional wisdom."

Book Review - How Great Leaders Get Great Results

How Great Leaders Get Great Results
John Baldoni
HD 38.25 .U6 B35 2006

In studying great leaders, Baldoni has identified seven key steps that they employ to achieve success. For each of the steps--vision, alignment, execution, risk, discipline, courage, and results--Baldoni recounts the story and behavior of a particular leader who has employed this tactic. This method provides readers with real-life examples of processes that they might use in their own organization. His goal is to focus on results and to assist his readers with the formation of a plan to achieve them.

Book Review - Lost Knowledge

Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce
David W. DeLong
HD 58.82 .D4 2004

DeLong's book is particularly applicable to the Federal workforce. He begins by pointing out the high costs and strategic impacts of loosing employees with extensive knowledge about the projects and programs of their organization. He ends this first part by proposing a plan to address this problem, both by capturing knowledge and developing skills among younger employees. The second part of the book explains and evaluates practices involved in knowledge transfer. Part three adds to this by offering retention strategies, both to hold on to corporate knowledge and to initiate knowledge sharing practices early in careers.

December 10, 2007

Book Review - Future of Sustainability

The Future of Sustainability
edited by Marco Keiner
HC 79 .E5 F878 2006

This collection of essays questions the success and possible future of the sustainability movement. Several authors examine the definitions and applications of sustainability to date, one going so far as to assert that sustainability alone is not enough. A second group of authors address challenges that the world faces to achieving sustainability, including growth, development, and urbanization, the tensions between local and global economies, and human rights. Finally, the largest section offers some new ideas and approaches to making sustainability more widespread and effective.

Book Review - Water

Water: A Natural History
Alice Outwater
GB 701 .O88 1996

This is an interesting book. Outwater focuses on the role that water, particularly waterways, play in American history. Her book divides this history into two broad eras--one in which humans began interacting with the natural system and a later period in which human engineering reconfigured the way that they interacted with water. The first part of the book examines human-water relationships in different ecosystems, including rivers, forests, grasslands and plains. The second part of the book focuses on human engineering feats including dams, aqueducts, and indoor plumbing. Throughout the book, Outwater suggests that human interference with water ecosystems has had negative consequences, certainly on the water resources themselves, but also on the plants and creatures that rely on these habitats.

November 30, 2007

Book Review - A Perfect Mess

A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder: How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-fly Planning Make the World a Better Place
Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman
BJ 1533 .O73 A27 2006

This is a book for those of us who are constantly battling clutter. Abrahamson and Freedman prove that the costs of being neat and organized often outweigh the benefits. Digging deeper, they found that moderately disorganized people and organizations are often more creative, more efficient, longer lasting, and generally more effective than those that are highly structured and organized. They provide numerous and varied examples that support this assertion, analyzing people, places, organizations, and processes such as thinking, leadership and the creation of works of art.

Book Review - Job Feedback

Job Feedback: Giving, Seeking and Using Feedback for Performance Improvement
Manuel London
2nd ed.
HF 5549.5 .M63 L66 2003

This book provides a useful tool for improving communication: feedback. It stresses how feedback can be used, especially by supervisors, to improve employee performance. It also discusses how individuals can gather feedback from multiple sources to improve themselves and better align their self-perception with the perspective of others. Specific chapters discuss how feedback can be used effectively in performance assessments and to improve teamwork. Throughout the writing, London emphasizes that feedback should be used for self-development, greater awareness, coaching, and continual learning and continually reminds readers that the feedback process, like all communication, involves two parts: giving feedback and accepting it.

November 27, 2007

Book Review - Rivertown

Rivertown: Rethinking Urban Rivers
ed. by Paul Stanton Kibel
HT 175 .R58 2007

This collection of case studies illustrates a shifting relationship between rivers and their neighboring urban areas. This book highlights restoration efforts, both of the water resources and the adjacent property, in major cities across the United States. It also showcases the role that the federal government, particularly the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and activism among citizens plays in many of these cities. Each case study examines who makes decisions concerning the river and watershed, who benefit or suffers from these decisions, what costs, financial and otherwise, and stakeholder concerns are involved in the decision, and what can be learned by other cities considering similar questions. This book will be of interest to urban planners and those interested in environmental politics.

Book Review - Starfish and the Spider

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom
HD 50 .B73 2006

Brafman and Beckstrom pull together over five years of research into the success of Wikipedia, Craigslist, eBay, and other organizations. They argue that organizations follow one of two basic behaviors. "Spider" companies have rigid hierarchies and top down leadership approaches. "Starfish" companies rely on the power of peer relationships. This book examines what happens when starfish and spiders clash. It also discusses behaviors that the two "species" might learn from each other and adapt into their own organizations.

November 21, 2007

Book Review - Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape

Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape
Craig S. Campbell and Michael H. Ogden
TD 756.5 .C35 1999

This book advocates sustainable development and seeks to find a place for wetlands in that process. The two opening chapters discuss the history and ideas surrounding sustainable development and the ecological processes occurring in wetlands. With that context, the remaining eight chapters offer possibilities for combining the two ideas--either using wetlands in order to make surrounding growth and development more environmentally friendly or to construct wetlands for their aesthetic beauty and value as an ecosystem for wildlife. Design goals and planning considerations are discussed for several possible uses of wetlands. Numerous examples of multi-use wetlands are also discussed, demonstrating the practical application of these authors' vision.

Book Review - Climate Change

Climate Change: What it Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren
Joseph F. C. DiMento and Pamela Doughman
QC 981.8 .C5 C6126 2007

This collection of essays approaches global climate change from a variety of perspectives. Several of the essays try to make the science understandable and to point out what the likely effects will be on the global scale as well as at the local level. Other chapters address the science of climate change, underscoring the difficulty in communicating environmental science. Finally, two chapters speculate about what the climate change will mean for the next few generations and for human society in general.

November 19, 2007

Book Review - Leadership Gap

The Leadership Gap: Building Leadership Capacity for Competitive Advantage
David S. Weiss and Vince Molinaro
HD 57.7 .W4527 2005

Weiss and Molinaro assert that there is a leadership gap in many companies between those at the executive or CEO level and other levels of the company. This book addresses how that gap can be filled or bridged by addressing for areas: talent, capability, development, and values. First, the authors' evaluate the responses to that assertion by leaders, looking at companies as a whole, business strategy, culture, and values, and addressing leadership at several levels within organizations. Second, they assess organizations' responses to the same issues, focusing on strategies to include and develop leaders and many levels and investigating how leadership development can "pay off" for companies. This book is full of recommendations and techniques that leaders and managers at all levels of an organization may incorporate into the way that they work.

Book Review - Unnatural History of the Sea

The Unnatural History of the Sea
Callum Roberts
CB 465 .R63 2007

Roberts' deceptively simple title hides the controversy that this book might stir among some readers. He aligns his primary focus, fishing, to the historical trends of exploration and the industrial revolution, giving the reader a chronological perspective on how we have reached present-day conditions regarding fish populations. Roberts first ten chapters focus around the age of exploration. He characterizes this period as exploitation as he examines fishing as a profession and business and looks specifically at a few individual species and fishing regions. The next ten chapters analyze the results of earlier exploitation and add the complications of modern technology, natural disasters, and environmental damage. In the last five chapters, Roberts' addresses changes necessary to preserve fish and ocean habitats in general. These are not limited to fishing management, but reach more widely into areas of social change and environmental consciousness. This book is thoroughly researched and would be valuable for those interested in environmentalism and the roles of commerce and natural resources in history.

November 2, 2007

Book Review - The Adversity Advantage

The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness
Paul G. Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer
BF 637 .S8 S694 2006

Stoltz, who authored the Adversity Quotient, teams up with Weihenmayer, a successful blind athlete, in this book to show how his princples can be put into action. The organization is based on the image and physical challenge of climbing the seven highest mountains in the world. Each summit is tied to one of Stoltz's principles and Weihenmayer supplies real life anecdotes that exemplify these principles. Early chapters advise readers to accept and embrace adversities rather than fighting them and illustrates what personal strengths need to be mustered in order to overcome them. Next, readers are encouraged to analyze their adversities to understand them as well as their emotional reactions to them and to brainstorm possibilities of addressing them. The final three chapters take a broader outlook, suggesting how you move through life in relation to adversities. Suggestions are given for how to choose the "right things, people, obligations and pursuits [that] will strengthen you," learning to turn painful experiences into opportunities for growth. The book wraps up by providing practices that can be used daily to use adversity to your benefit.

Book Review - Government Extenstion to the PMBOK Guide

Government Extension to the PMBOK Guide Third Edition
Project Management Insititute
HD 69 .P75 G721 2006

This is the first industry sector-specific book associated with the Project Management Body of Knowledge. This volume references the PMBOK Guide, Third Edition and is designed to be used in conjunction with it. However, it interprets this foundational guide, adapting it for use in public sector projects. It highlights two distinctive factors that are unique to government projects: laws that define the execution and enforcement of responsibilities that often impact projects and the responsibility of the project team to serve as stewards of the public interest. These two critical differences between public sector projects and those in for-profit business settings is emphasized throughout this book.

October 31, 2007

Book Review - Managing Chaos and Complexity in Government

Managing Chaos and Complexity in Government: A New Paradigm for Managing Change, Innovation, and Organizational Renewal
L. Douglas Kiel
JF 1525 .C74 K54 1994

Kiel puts forward a new strategy for managing change in Government organizations. By studying the way that numerous government employees spent their time, he noticed both patterns and considerable unpredictability, much like those observed in the science of chaos theory. Here, he applies the same chaos theory to government organizations, arguing that it will better allow for flexibility, change, and continuous improvement. He begins with a description of government work environments today, focusing on the need for improved performance. He then depicts the changes that occur in government organizations and explains how difficult many of them are to manage. He puts forward his new view of government organizations, examining the patterns existing within the apparent chaos and suggesting how these might be managed and directed to improve organizational performance. Finally, he offers advice on how to create a "self-organizing government organization," and suggests the benefits and lessons that this offers for managers.

October 30, 2007

Book Review - Survival of the Savvy

Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success
Rick Brandon and Marty Seldman
HF 5386.5 .B73 2004

This is a book about office politics. The authors do not apologize for this reality, but instead provide tools for individuals to find their way through the web of reputations, influence and deception to succeed both personally and organizationally. The first part of the book describe the characteristics of political styles often found in the workplace, reveal the risks inherent in both styles, and counsel how to find balance using the right mix of traits and skills. The second part is a handbook of individual skills and tactics . These chapters show individuals how to develop behaviors and awarenesses that will help them improve their survival in the politicized workplace. The third part is aimed at leaders to help them better detect deception and scheming and to locate hidden pockets of power. Finally, the fourth part teaches these leaders how to build teams that have trust and savvy, and to use these networks to improve the position of the company.

Book Review - Choosing the Lesser Evil

Choosing the Lesser Evil: Understanding Decision Making in Humanitarian Aid NGOs
Liesbet Heyse
HV 553 .H49 2006

Heyse hopes to shed some light on the processes that non-Governmental organizations with humanitarian aid missions use. Her work is structured around two case studies: one organization which uses a medical perspective to providing humanitarian aid, and a second organization which has religious leanings and motivations behind its aid mission. Heyse begins with an overview of how the two organizations differently prioritize the aid missions that they select to become involved with. She puts forward several theoretical models of organizational decision-making and behavior, placing these broadly in the context of NGOs. She then examines both organizations in turn, teasing out their decision-making processes, work patterns, and organizational priorities. Finally, she compares the organizations directly, determining how they exemplify the theoretical models posited at the outset. This book may help to understand the sometimes competing priorities of NGOs and why outcomes of humanitarian aid and peacekeeping efforts may not measure up to organizational intentions.

October 29, 2007

Book Review - Tourism, Culture & Regeneration

Tourism, Culture, & Regeneration
Edited by Melanie K. Smith
G 156.5 .H47 T69 2007

This book focuses on the role of tourism in urban renaissance efforts. Several chapters at the beginning of this compilation address cultural planning in urban regeneration projects, the importance of creativity, and the importance of knowing the proper audience for whom new tourist attractions should be developed and marketed. Special attention is given to "mixed-use" tourist spaces and to ethno-tourism. The majority of the contributed essays, however, offer examples and case studies of successful urban programs focusing on tourist destinations. These lessons include usage of sports venues, cultural programs, celebrating natural wonders, and hosting special events.

Book Review - Talent IQ

Talent IQ: Identify your Company's Top Performers, Improve or Remove Underachievers, Books Productivity and Profit
Emmet C. Murphy
HD 38.2. M974 2007

In this book, Murphy builds on his earlier work, "Leadership IQ." He asserts that people who are talented, achievers, are those who become leaders. These individuals are developed and molded, however, not born. Murphy also asserts that the most important factor for success of an organization is filling it with talent, further developing their talent, and replacing them when necessary. This book is really intended for managers, instructing them how to identify acheivers, mentor them, and remove those who begin to undermine the organization. He stresses the importance of communication, especially to convey commitment of the manager to the subordinate and of the company to its customers, and believes that the responsibility held by achievers should assessed. Murphy also addresses several issues of group dynamics, including growing teams, managing conflict, and succession planning. These behaviors taken together are all a part of developing a culture that values both leadership and personal achievement.

October 26, 2007

Book Review - Improving Disaster Management

Improving Disaster Management: The Role of IT in Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery
National Research Council
HC 551.2 .N37 2007

This is a result of the e-Government Act of 2002, which called for a study of how information technology is used in disaster management. It begins by providing a context of what happens in disaster situations, emphasizing the use of information technology for information gathering and communication. It goes on to present ideas and recommendations of how this infrastructure could be used to greater effect, improving disaster management. Challenges and difficulties, particularly those involving social structures and organizations are enumerated and strategies to overcome them suggested. Finally, the study presents ideas on how the technical and information technology systems can be strengthened and improved to better support disaster recovery efforts.

Book Review - Leading at a Higher Level

Leading at a Higher Level: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations
Founding Associates and Consulting partners of the Ken Blanchard Companies
HD 57.7 .B5612 2007

In this book, Ken Blanchard and his associates have shifted from defining leadership as an influence process, instead moving toward a definition of leadership as articulation of a compelling vision. To set the ground work, they clarify what they mean by a high performing organization and share what they believe the role and power of vision is within that environment. To key components of leadership within these kinds of organizations is dedicated focus on customer service and support of people within the organization. The articulate skills that organizational leaders need to learn and channel these into effective models and points of view for potential leaders to follow.

October 25, 2007

Book Review - Absolute Honesty

Absolute Honesty: Building a Corporate Culture that Values Straight Talk and Rewards Integrity
Larry Johnson and Bob Phillips
HD 58.7 .J612 2003

Johnson and Phillips are attempting to change the dynamics in organizations today. They begin their study by defining truth and honesty and articulating how it can benefit organizations. They contrast this with organizational cultures, customs, and personal behaviors that can be found today. Once this background is laid, they put forward six laws of absolute honesty, discussing each in some depth. The concluding chapters address how to incorporate these principles into organizations, providing mechanisms and contexts that can be used.

Book Review - Quest for Viable Peace

The Quest for Viable Peace: International Intervention and Strategies for Conflict Transformation
ed. by Jock Covey, Michael J. Dziedzic, and Leonard R. Hawley
JZ 5538 .Q47 2005

This collection of essays looks at responsibility and processes involved in establishing lasting peace. Early chapters address the historical background and military intervention preceding peace establishment efforts. The remaining chapters examine factors that must be considered and processes that could be used in order for a viable peace effort. Among these, strategies are provided to help smooth the transition from conflict to peace.

October 24, 2007

Book Review - Fish Conservation

Fish Conservation: A Guide to Understanding and Restoring Global Aquatic Biodiversity and Fishery Resources
Gene S. Helfman
SH 327.7 .H46 2007

This is first and foremost a book about conservation and ecosystem restoration. Helfman focuses his discussion on ecological problems and solutions surrounding fish, but he really uses fish as an example to more broadly discuss environmental vulnerability, animal habitat loss, and the effect of commercial exploitation on wildlife. He assumes some knowledge of fish science in writing this book, but also provides his reader with much of the necessary biological, geopolitical, and species vulnerability information early on in his work. This book is extensively referenced with a long bibliography and index at the end. Helfman points out that more than half of these resources appeared after he began his research and writing process, indicating the increasing interest in these issues, the growth of environmental concerns, and the need to begin addressing them. In some ways, this work serves as a textbook to bring these topics together, particularly those interested in water resources or species. In others, it provides a theoretical and thought process framework for anyone interested in natural resources preservation.

Book Review - FutureThink

FutureThink: How to Think Clearly in a Time of Change
Edie Weiner and Arnold Brown
HD 58.8 .W45 2006

This is a book about mental discipline. Weiner and Brown present 16 techniques that can be used to open your mind, consider new possibilities, and become better aware of what is going on around you. These techniques are divided into four broad categories. First, they offer several ways of overcoming individual biases, blocks and traps. Second, they suggest ways of moving beyond institutional biases and resistance to change. Third, they encourage looking at the big picture. Fourth, they reinforce the need to use imagination and non-traditional thinking to think outside the box. Each technique is supported by multiple examples of how it can be used in real life situations. The authors also reference a tremendous amount of scholarly, popular, and news material to support their suggestions and help the readers further expand their thinking.

October 22, 2007

Book Review - On Work and Life Balance

Harvard Business Review on Work and Life Balance
HD 4904 .H345 2000

This book takes an academic look at how individuals balance their work life with the rest of their life. Chapters contributed by a number of authors address the drives of success and workaholism as well as the pull of children and family. These authors recognize the changing landscape of the office, asking separately about what men want out of their work-home balance and comparing that the desires of women. Authors also examine burn-out, alternative work sites, and second careers, trends that seem to be on the rise. This collection is very readable, but not heavily footnoted.

Book Review - Winds of Change

The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations
Eugene Linden
QC 981.8 .C5 L567 2006

Linden's book examines the reaction of societies to climate change. Using an historical perspective, he argues that societies become complacent during good weather, then are disrupted or destroyed altogether by bad weather either through its direct effects or indirectly by disease or civil unrest. He uses this historical analysis to evaluate the possible effects of destructive weather systems that we are increasingly experiencing. He discusses El Nino, Hurricane Katrina, and changing oceanic currents, highlighting their effects on society and public opinion, and predicting how continued climate unrest might continue to impact our political and social structures.

October 19, 2007

Book Review - Lean Solutions

Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers can Create Value and Wealth Together
James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones
HF 5415.5 .W64 2005

This book by the authors of Lean Thinking continues the thought process begun there, moving beyond the applications to manufacturing production and consumption into the realm of problem solving. The authors continue to work with the principles that they believe underscore lean thinking--1) Provide the value actually desired by the customer. 2) Identify the process necessary to bring this product to the customer. 3) Make the process flow continuously. 4) Let the customer pull what it needs from the company. 5) Repeat this process continuously to see how it can be improved. This book applies this same process beyond just the manufacturing stage, encompassing customer service and problem solving aspects of customer relations as well.

Book Review - Do No Harm

Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace - or War
Mary B. Anderson
HV 544.5 .A53 1999

This book is an outcome of the Local Capacities for Peace Project, a collection of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies and other non-profit groups who have studied or been affected by AID. In presenting this information, Anderson first examines conflict areas today, identifying shared characteristics and evaluating the effects that external aid have had on these conflicts. She then moves on to highlight a series of case studies selected from around the world and in varying stages of conflict. These cases highlight how aid can be used in peacemaking efforts. The hope of these stories, and the work as a whole, is to provide ideas and strategies to future organizations for effective use of aid workers and funds to promote peace and deter continued conflict.

Book Review - The Good Enough Guide

The Good Enough Guide: Impact Measurement and Accountability in Emergencies
Emergency Capacity Building Project
HV 553 .I46 2007

This guide intends to provide the basic principles and measures of accountability, particularly for use in emergency management. This short guide provides a straight forward guide to questions that should be asked and information that should be gathered. It includes a series of tools and gives step by step instructions on how to put them to work in projects. This is a very practical pocket handbook.

October 17, 2007

Book Review - Construction Dewatering and Groundwater Control

Construction Dewatering and Groundwater Control: New Methods and Applications
3rd Edition
J. Patrick Powers, Arthur B. Corwin, Paul C. Schmall, and Walter E. Kaeck
TH 153 .P648 2007

In the preface, the authors state that their intent for this book is to be a source of practical information for engineers who work with groundwater in their construction projects. They assert that the theories governing water behavior haven't changed much over the three editions of this title that have been published. However, the types of problems and appropriate solutions to them have changed dramatically. This third edition pays particular attention to issues of water contamination and incorporating solutions that minimize environmental impacts. The book is broadly arranged to discuss theory then practical solutions. In addition to discussing geological factors, design issues, and engineering solutions, the authors address costs of dewatering and dealing with disputes.

Book Review - Wisdom of Crowds

The Wisdom of Crowds
James Surowiecki
JC 328.2 .S87 2005

In this book, New Yorker columnist Surowiecki explores the notion that groups produce better decisions than individuals, regardless of their intelligence. The discussion ranges across a diverse collection of fields, both academic and popular culture, to show how this idea of collaboration is embedded in the way we live our lives, organize ourselves, run companies and governments.

October 16, 2007

Book Review - Failed Stone

Failed Stone: Problems and Solutions with Concrete and Masonry
Patrick Loughran
NA 4119 .L68 2007

Dually trained as both an engineer and an architecht Patrick Loughran writes this second book in a continuing study of building materials and the challenges that their collapse presents in design. In doing so, Loughran hopes to highlight solutions overcome in past architectural projects and to prevent future problems using these building materials. Lavishly illustrated, this book showcases both well-known buildings and relatively anonymous structures. Close-ups point out where building materials have broken, cracked or taken abuse, and both engineering and design solutions to these problems are discussed. Chapters thematically discuss the types of problems encountered, such as discoloration, corrosion, and leakage. Lists of "lessons learned" are presented at the end of each chapter as a way of summarizing and grouping problems together. This book is valuable for practitioners who can incorporate these lessons into their work, but is equally interesting to those who appreciate beautiful buildings and want to understand why the concrete cracks or the surface is peeling away.

Book Review - The Power of Nice

The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness
Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval
HD 57.7 .K367 2006

Thaler and Koval's book revolves around a simple principle: People should be nice because it is the right thing to do and it makes people feel good. Because of that humanity, they argue, it is also good for business. Filled with anecdotes, this book describes simple ways that being kind, polite and friendly can win business contracts and friends for life. The authors recount how simple things like welcoming greetings, assisting weary travelers with their luggage, or passing along a compliment can reap rewards far greater than their cost. At the same time, they point out that these same small gestures, when ignored or misunderstood, can poison relationships and stand in the way of contracts in spite of otherwise outstanding presentations. They convey three important characteristics of "nice" that are required for this to be effective--be truthful, be positive, and be genuine. Without these traits, being nice seems not to be a personality trait, but rather an act.

October 12, 2007

Book Review - Field Guide to Conservation Finance

A Field Guide to Conservation Finance
Story Clark
QH 76 .C53 2007

This book is intended for any organization who seeks to contribute to the field of conservation. People around the world are increasingly motivated to preserve and use the natural resources around them, but these efforts often begin with small changes made close to home. Story's work explains how an organization can prepare itself to become involved in the conservation arena. She explains extensively how money can be raised or borrowed to finance these efforts. In two brief ending chapters, she explains how to assemble all of the pieces together. This is a practical guide written based on both personal experiences and research collected by the author.

Book Review - Excavations and Foundations in Soft Soil

Excavations and Foundations in Soft Soils
Hans-Georg Kempfert and Berhane Gebraselassie
TA 710.5 .K46 2006

In their preface, the authors explain that they intend this book on soil engineering to serve both practicing engineers and research scholars. The authors first describe the properties of soft soils, including materials that are commonly found in them. They proceed directly to practical engineering aspects of working in soft soil environments, including excavating, building foundations, and stabilizing the soil with columns. The book is generously illustrated with images and graphs that help readers better understand the text. It is also thoroughly researched and well indexed.

October 11, 2007

Book Review - Hydrodemolition

Hydrodemolition of Concrete Surfaces and Reinforced Concrete Structures
Andreas W. Momber
TH 153 .M66 2005

This clear and well organized book guides the reader from a definition of water jets to several applications for them in engineering and industry. Hydrodemolition is central to this book. Momber explains the properties of high-speed water jets, their capabilities, and the parameters required for them to be used to remove material. Equipment involved in the process is also given a detailed discussion, both the materials necessary for generating high-speed water streams as well as the qualities and features of surfaces that they are used against most effectively. Momber finishes with two chapters addressing problem solving issues and optimizing the effectiveness of the hydrodemolition processes.

Book Review - "My Brave Mechanics"

Engineer soldiers have played an important role in American military activities since the Revolutionary War. Follow in the footsteps of one unit fighting its way through the Civil War.

"My Brave Mechanics:" The First Michigan Engineers and Their Civil War
Mark Hoffman
E 524.9 H64 2007

This regimental history follows the current trend of focusing on the lives on individual, ordinary people. In doing so, it brings to life many of the soldiers in this regiment and helps us to understand their personal challenges as well as their wartime experiences. The book highlights the differences between engineer soldiers and their more numerous and well known infantry and cavalry counterparts, both in describing their training and skills and recounting their role during the hostilities. It provides vivid descriptions of trestle bridges, blockhouses, and other construction responsibilities of these engineers, as well as accounts of destroying transportation and communication lines in order to delay their enemies. Hoffman makes extensive use of primary evidence in his writing, much of it privately held in the hands of the soldiers' descendents or in university archives, and provides extensive notes, photos and maps to support the text.

October 5, 2007

Book Review - Six Sigma Fundamentals

Six Sigma Fundamentals: A Complete Guide to the System, Methods and Tools
D. H. Stamatis
TS 156 .S735 2004

The stated goal of this book is to create a "single volume addressing the general items of the six sigma methodology without the 'fluffiness'." In accomplishing this goal, Stamatis's book reads like a manual which moves from a definition and overview of six sigma to implementing it. Along the way, he addresses key components of this system--reaction of customers, theoretical models, methodologies and tools, designing six sigma projects, roles and responsibilities, and training and certification. Valuable appendices listing competencies, providing mathematical and model tables and charts abstracted from longer, more detailed discussions of six sigma, and a sample flow chart of one industrial implementation make this a useful guide for both the novice and expert alike.

Book Review - Design for Water

Have you ever considered recycling your water?

Design for Water: Rainwater Harvesting, Stormwater Catchment and Alternate Water Reuse
Heather Kinkade-Levario
TD 353 .K55 2007

Kincade-Levario's book is filled with ideas that use landscape and architectural design principles as well as engineering solutions to make the most of the water that nature provides to us. She briefly explains the principles behind collection of rainwater before detailing both passive and active ways of accomplishing this goal. Most impressive is that half of this book is comprised of examples where rainwater collection systems have been implemented in residential, commercial, industrial and municipal settings for both human and landscape uses. The book is nicely organized, extensively illustrated and well documented for use by novices and experts on this subject alike.

October 3, 2007

Book Review - Power of a Positive No

When do you say NO in the workplace?

The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes
William Ury
BF 637 .N4 U795 2007

The premise behind Ury's book is an increasing need for people "to stand up for what they value without destroying their relationships" during adversarial conflicts. The author describes this not only as professional negotiation skill, but also as a life skill. Once acquired, the author believes that this technique will permit its users to respect their own needs and beliefs while simultaneously coming to an agreement that satisfies someone else making external demands on them.

Ury describes this process as having three phases. First, the individual has to discover their personal need within the area of conflict. This allows him to establish boundaries for himself that he can explain and feel good about defending. Second, the individual expresses their position. They lay out what they will be willing to do, outline their boundary, and propose an alternate path to satisfy the needs of both parties. Finally, the user must remain firm, restating their positions until the requirements of both parties have been negotiated.