Four Books that Made a Difference in 2008

Too many good books, too little time.

Many of the books I read are eventually forgettable, but some endure. Here are four business books I read this year that have remained with me.

By Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
These two folks from Forrester Research (Charlene has since moved on to a solo life) wrote the defining social technology strategy book for the year.

Their methods for developing your strategic intent and your audience or organizational readiness are amazing. My copy is already dog-eared. We licensed their survey tool in July, and it provided critical information to developing our approach.

Their fundamental contribution to the world is the Social Technographics Ladder, which identifies peoples’ behavior in their use of social technology better than any before.

It provides far more openings for action than the 90-9-1 rule. Once you have nailed your strategy and your audience’s places in the ladder, then you can define your implementation plan – but only then. Technology choices come LAST.

While this has dozens of great case studies, it is not a detailed how-to book. But after digesting its wisdom, you won’t need them to tell you what to do. You’ll know.

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
By Clay Shirky
Like Groundswell, this book is indispensable to those puzzling through the strategic and contextual questions of social technologies. But it also provides compelling specific examples of how social technologies are changing life today.
Plus, it has the single most mind-blowing line of the year: “Every web page is a latent community.”

Secrets of Social Media Marketing
By Paul Gillin
A great tactical book. I finished it only recently, and I suspect it will be dog-eared by the spring. Paul understands the interplay between the social technologies and traditional media.

Perhaps his wisest words are early in the book, where he asserts that social media is not right for every job. And then he explains why. That’s only the start.

By Seth Godin
I understand that Seth isn’t for everybody, but I am definitely a fan. I first consumed this book on my iPod, then ran out to get the paper copy because it is so freaking wise. It inspires, it directs, it cajoles.

To paraphrase one amazing passage:
–    If I don’t persuade you
–    If you don’t learn from me
–    If you do not follow me …

… it’s not your fault. It’s mine.

It might feel better to blame the other guy for the above, but at the end of the day, it makes you a victim and robs you of your power. If you assume from the start that you are responsible for your own life, you can learn from anything – especially failure.

What books made a difference for you this year?


3 thoughts on “Four Books that Made a Difference in 2008

  1. Great list of books! My own “everything I read this year” list is up at my blog:

    Indeed, Here Comes Everybody was loaded with good insights and info. I’m a little disappointed that ASAE hasn’t booked him to keynote the Annual Meeting…. Key here is to get this into the hands of org leaders/execs – not just the techies.

    My overall most kickass book this year was Medici Effect. It’s from a few years back, and has nothing specific to do with associations, but wow, it provides awesome wisdom as to what drives innovation. And, to date, represents the best case for “diversity”, IMHO.

  2. Jason, thanks for the reminder about the Medici Effect!
    Its thinking is so deeply embedded in our work that people follow its guidance without even even knowing where it came from.
    Now, *that’s* influence!

  3. How uncanny. I just bought the first three (haven’t read them yet) and I devoured Tribes on the plane a month ago. A colleague lent it to me and I’m thinking about getting my own copy to read it again. So much of it applied to associations, leaders, and volunteers.

    So much to read, so little time….

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