If you only read one thing this week…

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders – book review by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 29, 2006, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Book reviews, If you only have 15 mins

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael Watkins, 2003.

Michael Watkins’ book tackles the opportunities and challenges that face people moving into new positions and provides some useful guidelines for setting yourself up for success in the critical first three months in a new job. It helps you to identify what type of position you are moving into (startup, turnaround, realignment, sustaining success) and gives strategies for succeeding in each of them.

Particularly useful are chapters five and six that talk about establishing a relationship with your new supervisor and how to set realistic expectations for what you plan to achieve. Continue reading


The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership – book review by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 29, 2006, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Book reviews, If you only have 15 mins

Recommended to me by one of the most creative and innovative Mercy Corps country directors I’ve ever worked with, Steven Sample writes an unusual and iconoclastic management book that I would highly recommend to contrarians everywhere!

Sample presents a very personal and esoteric model of leadership – his thesis is anecdotal, and his examples are drawn overwhelmingly from his experiences in two US universities – he’s certainly not for everyone.

The title makes reference to his style of presenting each chapter as turning some piece of conventional wisdom on it’s head, for example, by suggesting that, instead of keeping up with current affairs, newspapers and trade journals, a leader should focus on reading books that have been continually read for over 400 year (what Sample calls ‘supertexts’). He suggests that you depend on your team members to keep up with the daily press, the point being that you can’t copy your way to excellence; rather, true excellence can only be achieved through original thinking and unconventional approaches. According to Sample, you’ll get that from Homer, not the New York Times. Continue reading

Making long distance meetings more enjoyable! by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 14, 2006, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Articles, If you only have 15 mins, Web sites

Having been in some really frustrating telephone conferences in the past couple of weeks I spent some time looking for tips on how to make these meetings a) more effective b) more enjoyable. While nostalgia for the good old days when meetings were always face-to-face over a cup of tea or coffee, communication was easy, and our inboxes were managable, we have to face the fact that a lot of time is spent on phones and (increasingly) using video or web conferencing technology and figure out how to do it better. I have attached what I found to be the most useful article, a brief 1 1/2 page set of tips of things which are often common sense but often forgotten.

This link will take you to the article Tips for Virtual Meetings.
I found the most useful suggestions to be: Continue reading

What do communities think of NGO approaches to security? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 13, 2006, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you have 30 mins

The Feinstein International Famine Center was commissioned by the United Kingdom NGO-Military Contact Group last year to publish a paper called 'Mapping the Security Environment – Understanding the perceptions of local communities, peace support operations, and assistance agencies' (click the link to download the pdf) by Larry Minear and Antonio Donini. This article by Michele Madore for Mercy Corps gives us a good summary.

The paper asks whether aid workers and military forces effectively assess and meet the security desires of local communities, and how well local communities view the effectiveness of military and aid groups in terms of security provision in places like Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone. Continue reading

What do you think of this site? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 6, 2006, 5:16 pm
Filed under: accountability

We want to encourage comments, thoughts and suggestions on how to make this site as useful as possible. Please take a moment after you have browsed this site to add comments below, respond to other entries and/or make suggestions.

Is it easy to navigate? What would you like to see in terms of types of articles? Are these sorts of things interesting? What would make them more useful? How can we get more readers? What would encourage people to comment and add into the discussion…? All ideas welcome!

The Death of Environmentalism (article) by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 1, 2006, 9:58 am
Filed under: Articles, Environment, If you have 30 mins

The Death of Environmentalism – Global warming politics in a post-environmental world by Michael Shellenberger and Ed Nordhaus, published by the Breakthrough Institute. This link will take you to a pdf of the article.

The article is based on interviews with 25 leaders in the mainstream environmental movement and looks at some of the challenges of 'environmentalism' over the past decades. The authors argue that the modern environmental movement is ill-equipped to face the massive global challenges of climate change (among other things). Their critique claims that, while environmentalism has had many successes in the past decades, there is a surfeit of visionary new ideas, and 'environmental' problems are narrowly defined, with proffered solutions tending to be short-sighted and technical. Continue reading