Professional Growth and Development | With Industry Leaders
What Are You Reading?
HV Mfg asked the manufacturing community to recommend a book, article, or podcast that impacted them personally or professionally.
Senior Vice-President, Customer Services and Gas Operations
The Title: Wisdom of Our Fathers
The Author: Tim Russert
A Brief Summary: This book was a follow-up from Tim Russert’s New York Times #1 best seller. Wisdom of Our Fathers is a wonderful collection of storied memories from sons and daughters about their fathers. The stories surround many common themes and topics about dads including honor, teacher, discipline, hands, and of course baseball. The book was an easy and delightful read that no doubt will bring back memories of your dad.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: I am usually reading business books about leadership or energy issues. But, this book was particularly impactful to me both as a father and as a son.
I was given the book when I was a young father. Yet somehow, I couldn’t find the time to read the book while my daughters were toddlers, adolescents, or even young teens as the days seemingly raced by at an ever-accelerating pace each year and it always felt like there with endless amounts of “things” to do rather than read. As my daughters enter their senior year of high school (they’re twins), the stories in Wisdom of Our Fathers remind me that every interaction—maybe even the little things more so than the big ones—can be meaningful in a child’s life. And, no matter how fast they grow up or how old we become, I will always be dad and everything that I do matters. It especially reinforced that showing up and being present really matters.
The book was also impactful in reminding me about so many great lessons from my dad (and indeed how there were so many common, wonderful traits that many dads shared with their children.) My dad passed away last year, and the book stirred so many emotions of gratitude, praise, laughs, and tears about my own dad. I saw him within so many of the stories written in Wisdom of Our Fathers.
Vice President of Manufacturing
The Title: The Goal
The Author: Eliyahu M. Goldratt
A Brief Summary: The Goal is an excellent read that teaches the concepts of the Theory of Constraints, via a story of plant manager, Alex, who is at risk of closing his business’s doors. Alex’s company is facing poor on-time deliveries, plummeting employee morale, and declining efficiency. With an urgency to increase throughput, lower inventories, and increase overall profitability, he utilizes the theory of constraints to identify opportunities to improve his business operations.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: This book is the book that hooked me into becoming a reader! Recommended to me by someone unenthusiastic about conventional “business books,” The Goal lives up to its reputation. The Goal is an easy read that explains ideas in a way anyone can understand through an interesting story.
Though the book talks about several key concepts, Goldratt emphasizes a mission critical point: every system has a weak link that affects its performance, and you must fix it. On a regular basis, I find myself going back to the basics that this book lays out. This story has a special spot inside my head that constantly reminds me why it’s so important to always improve, set clear goals, and understand constraints to make your business succeed.
Director of Operations
Allendale Machinery Systems Inc.
The Title: The Ideal Team Player
The Author: Patrick Lencioni
A Brief Summary: The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni outlines three vital virtues for effective teamwork: humility, hunger, and people smarts. Lencioni stresses the importance of nurturing individuals with these traits to optimize collaboration and achieve organizational success.
Humility involves putting the team’s needs above one’s own and acknowledging one’s limitations.
Hunger signifies a strong work ethic, drive, and ambition.
People smarts covers interpersonal and emotional intelligence, allowing for effective collaboration and understanding of how your actions effect those around you.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: Patrick Lencioni does a great job using a fable in the first part of his books to help introduce and explain his ideas. The storytelling aspect allows you to breeze through the book and makes it easy to relate the issues found in the book to your organization. While reading the book you find yourself thinking how obvious it is that the virtues Lencioni lays out are important to a successful team, but then you realize how most of our organizations prioritize so many other things over them.
After reading the book you start to analyze yourself and your team and start to understand better why certain members work so well together and why others struggle. Since reading the book I have been using the hiring guide questions in interviews and it is amazing how the simple questions really help to draw out a person’s true personality. At first the questions felt out of place and got some strange looks from candidates. But, as we continued to use them we started to find that “Ideal Team Players” actually started to enjoy the questions and really thought about how to respond. On the flip side those candidates that were not ideal team players usually had short answers or did not understand the questions at all.
While we have only started using some of the tools from the book, and we must do more work organizationally to really optimize how we use the concept, I find myself thinking about the concepts and they have started to help frame my responses to different situations.
As a business leader The Ideal Team Player provides you with an easy to follow road map for identifying and cultivating the traits in your organization that lead to a more cohesive, productive, and successful team dynamic.
Dr. Alison Buckley
The Title: Re-Creating the Corporation: A Design for Organizations for the 21st Century (1999)
The Author: Russell L. Ackoff
A Brief Summary: Ackoff’s clear and accessible prose challenges us to think about democracy in the workplace. He advocates for participatory decision-making. He blends theory with very practical examples to serve as a catalyst for integrating work and life. While some suggestions seem impractical, Ackoff hated offices and thought everyone should work in big rooms; he was a visionary who remains inspiring. He succinctly states his leadership philosophy: “The transformational leader is one who can create an organization that reunifies life, who integrates work, play, learning, and inspiration” (p. 291). Ackoff’s approach to leadership remains both relevant and provocative.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: Many years ago, when I worked at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and was decidedly the junior member of my team, I was asked to pick up one of our faculty emeriti at 30th Street Station. Professor Ackoff was coming to campus to speak with a group of European executives on campus for a leadership development program. He no longer drove and was less stable on his feet, so my boss asked me to provide transportation. He and I spoke little on the short drive back to campus. My boss made it clear that my reward for the task was the chance to sit in on his class. I did. I will never forget the first time I heard him speak. Generally acknowledged as the grandfather of systems thinking, he challenged nearly every assumption I had about organizations. While my academic training had been in labor history, Russ Ackoff made me want to go to business school. This summer, I found myself re-reading several of his books but lingered over Re-Creating the Corporation (1999).
Like many sectors, higher education is grappling with change accelerated by the pandemic. Our students and colleagues are coming back to our college communities. Processes, operations, and communications are different in a post-pandemic world, and frankly, we have had years of being apart, working in distributed environments. Ackoff offers a powerful reminder that in a system, the most important focus is the intersection of the parts. It really is about working together and acknowledging that individual actions impact the whole.
The Council of Industry
The Title: Mao: The Unknown Story
The Author: Jon Halliday and Jung Chang
A Brief Summary: The wife and husband team of Jung Chang (who also wrote Wild Swans) and Jon Halliday depict “The Great Helmsman” as a cruel tyrant who did not even believe in the ideology, he imposed on China in the latter half of the 20th century. The book summarizes Mao’s transition from a rebel against the autocratic Kuomintang government to the totalitarian dictator over the People’s Republic of China. The authors pay particular attention to Mao’s role in the planning and the execution of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and place the responsibility for the deaths of more than 40 million people from those events squarely on his shoulders.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: The United States’ rivalry with the Peoples Republic of China is heating up and will likely continue for decades to come. One of the areas that rivalry has – and will – play out is in the manufacturing sector so it makes sense to learn more about our rival. This book provided an eye-opening look at China’s most important and influential leader, as well as perhaps its most important historical figure, Mao Zedong.
The book traces Mao’s rise from his early days in the communist party in the early 1920s to his ascendance to Party Chairman and president of the PRC and onto his death in 1976. That rise is characterized by a single-minded quest for power and control that was often brutal and had little or no regard for human life. It was difficult for my “Western mind” to grasp that the folly of the Great Leap forward and the resulting widespread starvation was allowed to proceed unchecked. Nor was it easy to fathom the absurdity of the cultural revolution and the manipulation of socialist principles to murder millions. That said, having the details of those events laid out through the stories of people who survived them and hearing them in the context of Mao’s quest for power, desire to free China from Western dominance and restore it to a prominent role in world affairs provides valuable insight to the how and why of China’s actions in the world today – be the economic, social, or political.
Steven Howell, CPA
RBT CPA’s, LLP
The Title: The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against The United States
The Author: Jeffrey Lewis, PhD
A Brief Summary: A speculative novel which depicts the horrific events of a nuclear war which happened on March 21, 2020. “North Korea’s accidental shoot down of a South Korean airliner, the retaliatory strike by Seoul, and the tweet that triggered vastly more carnage” are authored by Jeffrey Lewis, PhD in a way that makes you realize how vulnerable the human race is to war, destruction, and ultimately the loss of many human lives.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: A long-time client of mine handed me this book during tax season and expressed what a great read it was. After forty years of reading many leadership, management, and behavioral science books, I thought it was time for a change. This book makes you mindful of the real dangers and tragedies of a nuclear war. That the wrong set of circumstances can set off a string of events that may possibly lead to enormous devastation and death.
Although this book was written pre-Covid in 2018, it somewhat parallels much of what the world experienced with the Corona Virus. The loss of life that affected almost all families, the financial burden placed on the country, and the unification of people working together to overcome this deadly disease. The impact it had on all of us was so real. The events of a nuclear war would be even more dramatic. Loss of life would be much greater than Covid and the world would face a time of unparalleled challenges and recovery. No matter what your view on war is, this book will challenge your thinking and leave you hoping that we never experience the use of nuclear weapons.
The Title: Lying for Money
The Author: Dan Davies
A Brief Summary: Whilst researching a distant relative that had brought bankruptcy upon American Express in the 1960s with one of Americas biggest scandals, “The Great Salad Oil Swindle”, I came across Lying for Money. The account of the swindle is nicely detailed in this book, along with many other examples of lying, fraud, and fiscal deception in corporations and financial institutions. Davies’ book is a journey into this corruption, the aim being to better place the reader to understand how fraud works and to manage risk to their own business or employer.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: We all know that the Council of Industry is the champion of ethical business practice and that every member strives to perform work within the bounds of integrity. However, we live in a world where every business is under attack, whether this be the constant threat of hacking, ransomware attacks, or just plain old scammers having a go to take our hard-earned cash away from us.
When I ran businesses in the United Kingdom, security was about preventing physical threats related to the assets of the business. We always had the best intruder alarm systems, barbed wire fences, and bars on windows to prevent physical losses. On moving to the U.S., I noticed that people tend not to be as concerned about the physical threats. The imminent threat seems to come in a different guise, in the form of trickery. After reading Lying for Money, I feel more alerted to how businesses and managers can be vulnerable. Now, I’m locking my doors at night AND lying awake thinking about where the next trickster is coming from. My suspicions regarding distant Uncle Tino were also confirmed – he was in it up to his neck!
Chief Executive Officer & Chief Investment Officer
Hudson Valley Investment Advisors, Inc.
The Title: George Marshall Defender of the Republic
The Author: David L. Roll
A Brief Summary: An account of the life of arguably one of the greatest leaders and statesmen in U.S. history. Throughout his career, George Marshall was admired for his insights and leadership in helping navigate the United States to victory in two world wars. He also helped to prevent the spread of communism in Western Europe and expanded free market economies by instituting the Marshall Plan.
In What Ways Did You Find It Valuable or Impactful: I enjoy reading about leadership and now regard George Marshall as an understated leader. His impact was not just felt in the United States but globally. Marshall successfully rose through the ranks of the United States Army to become Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, then served as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense under Truman. He was routinely lauded by Winston Churchill for his leadership in the Allied victory in WWII.
The book chronicles a person of unselfish leadership. At one point during his career, Marshall was being pushed to run for the President of the United States as well as lead the Allied Forces in WWII. He declined both in pursuit of the “greater good.” During WWII Marshall stayed in Washington D.C. to work closely with Roosevelt and to push appropriations through Congress to advance U.S. war efforts. He also directed investments and logistics and acted as an intermediary between Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt to establish and maintain the allied plans for victory. Not surprisingly, many of the world leaders Marshall worked with were demanding and often difficult. Nonetheless, Marshall was adept at building consensus and keeping them focused on the issues at hand. As Secretary of State after WWII, he advocated for and put in place a economic recovery plan to help post-war Europe. This plan became known as the Marshall Plan and was a major reason he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The book is filled with examples of George Marshall’s dedication, organization, and unflinching decision-making, which I found to be inspiring. I personally rely on his consensus-building mantra in my personal and professional life.