These are my notes, comments and thinking about the books and articles listed. Some of the early ones from when this site was first published are very brief paragraphs. The later ones tend to be much more extensive and serve as my personal working tools for using the ideas in these books. I've dated the entries in the list at the left for when the note was written. As always, don't hesitate to communicate with me about anything that interests (or distresses!) you in these notes.
The key works (and the date I wrote the note) that either have shaped or best represent my thinking are:
Good to Great (2000) This book has become much talked about in education circles over the last few years. It's principles are not easy to implement in a public school system. Of course, they aren't easy to implement in a public corporation, either!
Now, Discover Your Strengths (2002) Published by the Gallup organization, this book describes a very useful tool for understanding the differing strengths individuals can bring to tasks. And, in my experience, it can be very helpful for high school juniors and seniors as they think about college and career. See Authentic Happiness (1/04) for a second, less work-focused view of strengths.
True Professionalism (2000) David Maister is one of the leading consultants in the world to firms of professionals (consultants, attorneys, accountants, etc.). I believe such firms present the most useful comparison organizations to school systems -- far more useful than the commonly made comparisons to manufacturing organizations. This work distills his view of leadership essentials in such organizations.
Shaking Up the School House (2000) Phillip Schlechty's view of the "product" of schools and his approach to helping them improve is, in my opinion, "right on." And it fits with the management principles for great organizations from the the preceding works.
The Teaching Gap (1999), Results: The Key to Continuous Improvement (2001), and The 90% Reading Goal (1999) on the importance, format, and application of teacher-led instructional improvement.
Learned Optimism (12/03) and Primal Leadership (not yet posted) on the key role of emotional intelligence in developing a great school system, and some approaches to personal growth in these areas for those involved in that effort.
How People Learn (2000) and Smart Schools (2000) on the art and science (!) of teaching and learning. These books get at some of the reasons why I respect and admire teachers so much, and why I think teaching can and should be a highly respected, fascinating, and professionally rewarding career.
"Wicked Problems and Social Complexity" (11/03) provides a perspective on many of the problems school boards, school systems, and individual schools face, and explains why open, respectful, information-rich conversations are a must for wrestling with such problems.