• I take 15 minutes to explain what is in a book and discuss the content
  • Attendees apply the thinking to their business, customers, clients, or staff
  • This generates a minimum of 10 ideas per book
  • Repeat 6-10 times and you have 60-100 ideas to stimulate the business
  • 300 books to choose from


The Negotiation Book – Steve Gates

The one sentence summary

You can be a better negotiator by preparing properly, holding your nerve, staying calm, and making your offer first.

WHAT THE BOOK SAYS the-negotiation-book

  • The book introduces the Negotiation Clock Face, a wheel of approaches roughly ranging from hard to soft: bartering, haggling/bidding, hard bargaining, dealing, concession trading, win-win, partnership joint problem solving, relationship building.
  • The main influencing factors in negotiation are:
  1. The level of dependency
  2. The power of the brand and relative size of both parties
  3. History/precedents
  4. Competitor activity and changing market conditions
  5. The party with more time
  6. The nature of the product, service or contract
  7. Personal relationships
  • The 10 important traits of successful negotiators are:
  1. Nerve. Believe in your position, never offend, and always remain calm.
  2. Self-Discipline. Understand what to do, do that which is appropriate.
  3. Tenacity. The equivalent of stamina in sportspeople.
  4. Assertiveness. Tell them what you will do, not what you won’t do.
  5. Instinct. Trust it – you will be right more often than not.
  6. Caution. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  7. Curiosity. Ask why because you want and need to know.
  8. Numerical reasoning. Know what it’s really worth, what it really costs.
  9. Creativity. Explore and build on possibilities.
  10. Humility. People make agreements, and humility breeds respect.
  • The six primary variables are: price, fee or margin, volume, delivery, contract period, payment terms, and specification.


  • Pressure points are things, times or circumstances that influence the other party’s position of power.
  • Good negotiators need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • The complete skilled negotiator uses silence, where appropriate. This means listening to everything the other party is saying, and not saying, to work out their true position.
  • In negotiation there is no good, bad, right or wrong: do not allow your sense of fairness to come into it.
  • In most cases, negotiators who make their offer first will come out ahead.
  • One of the most important ways of building power is by developing a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement).
  • No options = no power. Find out and read their breakpoint.
  • Think clearly when faced with conflict, and maintain self-control.
  • Open extreme yet realistically to shift their expectations.


  • It contains a lot of good advice.




The Workshop Book – Pamela Hamilton

The one sentence summary

Workshops can be a success if you design them properly and use the right techniques.


·      This is all about how to design and lead successful workshops.

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT the-workshop-book

  • It provides a set of techniques and exercises that you can match to your needs. These caught the eye:
  • Idea stretcher: start with your initial idea; then push it to an impossible extreme version; then rein it back to merely innovative or ambitious, and see if it’s an improvement.
  • Keep or grow: a good system for weeding out what needs developing.
  • Ideas measure asks four questions:
  1. Does it fit the brand?
  2. Does it have a consumer need?
  3. Does it give us a competitive advantage?
  4. Is it easy to make?
  • Rule breaker: write the rules of the product or category, and then write the extreme opposites and explore the space between.
  • Newspaper/postcard/ storyboard: all these techniques involve writing headlines or articles from the future, forcing participants to envision their goals.
  • Advice to myself 10 years ago: a close cousin, good for passing on experience.
  • Future trends: brief description of trend; opportunities this offers the business; risks if we ignore it.
  • Calibration: draw a vertical line down a chart. Put a tick on the left and a cross on the right. Then work through questions such as who is our customer, and (crucially) who is not?
  • Identifying initiatives: name it, describe it, and then vote on it.
  • Accountability template: project description, elements, opportunities, challenges, action in the next week, month, with responsibility names on it.
  • Old way, new way: what’s the usual way of doing this, and how are we going to change it?
  • Ideal job: what is it? Good for defining peoples’ motivations.
  • Outputs not updates: get it done, don’t just keep telling everybody what you are doing.
  • Be a problem owner, not a problem moaner.
  • The three main ingredients of creativity are your field of expertise, the cultural context, and your personal experience. Mix them together and you are likely to generate a decent idea.


  • Much of it is common sense and you may have seen a fair number of the techniques before.



Value Proposition Design – Osterwalder et al.

The one sentence summary

You can design robust value propositions by using a proven mapping technique.


WHAT THE BOOK SAYS value-proposition-design

·      This is how to create products and services customers really want.

There are four stages:

Canvas: map everything out as described and check the degree of fit.

Design: prototype possibilities, analyse potential customers thoroughly, and make choices about what is in and out of the value proposition.

Test: extract hypotheses, prioritise them, design tests, prioritise and run them, capture learnings and make progress.

Evolve: use the system to create alignment in your company, measure and monitor, constantly reinvent.

  • The Business Model Canvas contains sections on which to map partners, activities, resources, customer relationships, channels, cost structure, and revenue streams. (For more on this, see Business Model Generation, their previous book).
  • Within the Value Propositions section lies the Value Map, which contains a list of all the products and services a value proposition is built around, gain creators for your customers, and pain relievers that alleviate customer pains.
  • The customer segments section contains the customer profile, which covers gains (what customers want to achieve), jobs (what they are trying to get done), and pains (obstacles and bad outcomes)


  • Great value propositions:
  1. Are embedded in great business models.
  2. Focus on the jobs, pains and gains that matter most to customers.
  3. Focus on unsatisfied jobs, unresolved pains, and unrealized gains.
  4. Target few jobs, pains, and gains, but do so extremely well.
  5. Go beyond functional jobs and address emotional and social jobs.
  6. Align with how customers measure success.
  7. Focus on jobs, pains and gains that a lot of people have or that some will pay a lot of money for.
  8. Differentiate from the competition on jobs, pains and gains that customers care about.
  9. Outperform the competition substantially on at least one dimension.
  10. Are difficult to copy.
  • To generate one, complete the following: Our X help(s) Y who want to Z by A and B (unlike C).


  • This is a highly visual system so it makes a lot more sense when you map everything out physically.


The Stupidity Paradox – Alvesson & Spicer

The one sentence summary

Many organisations are caught up in a stupidity paradox: they employ smart people who end up doing stupid things.


  • Why do smart people do stupid things at work? Welcome to the idea of functional stupidity. It can be catastrophic for companies, or just manifest itself in absurd everyday examples of idiotic, unsustainable management fads and daft working practices.
  • And yet a dose of stupidity can be useful and produce good, short-term results, nurturing harmony, and encouraging people to get on with things without questioning everything.
  • Functional stupidity has three main facets:
  1. Not thinking about your assumptions (absence of reflexivity)
  2. Not asking why you are doing something (justification)
  3. Not considering the consequences or wider meaning of your actions (substantive reasoning)
  • There are five main types: Leadership-induced, Structure-induced, Imitation-induced, Branding-induced, and Culture-induced.
  • Managers encourage it by using authority, seduction, naturalisation and opportunism. It helps to stamp out negative capability – the ability to tolerate ambiguity and work out how to resolve problems effectively.
  • It can be solved by observing, interpreting, questioning. Try introducing reflective routines, devil’s advocates, post-mortems, pre-mortems, the views of newcomers, outsiders and critics, and an anti-stupidity task force.


  • Many people actually don’t want to use their brains. One study showed that over 50% of people would rather give themselves electric shocks than sit and just think for 6 to 11 minutes.
  • It’s not imbeciles or bigots who do the most stupid things – you need to be relatively intelligent to be functionally stupid. Knowing too much can be frustrating and stressful – wilful ignorance is easier.
  • The K word is the knowledge economy. Companies describe themselves as knowledge intensive to disguise the fact that the jobs are actually dull – it’s just a confidence trick.
  • Most jobs require less skill than the people doing them – automation has created a new generation of bullshit jobs, part of a new age of stupidity. This often involves skilled incompetence, in which supposed experts fall back into defensive routines to justify doing what they have always done.
  • Meanwhile there has been a massive McDonaldisation of jobs – a huge increase in mindless, low paid work.
  • When ex-Amazon employees move to other companies, they often take with them grindingly critical work practices, earning themselves the nickname ‘Amholes’.


  • Not much – it’s well argued and suitably provocative.




The Yes Book – Clive Rich

The one sentence summary

Negotiation now requires a more sophisticated, collaborative approach.


  • Few people enjoy going into a negotiation, but you risk losing out if you can’t do it skilfully.
  • Negotiation has changed dramatically, and now requires a more sophisticated, collaborative approach.
  • Effective negotiators can handle these three areas effectively:

Attitude: they can manage their own and others’ negotiation attitudes

~ Fusers: work in partnership to put the agenda of both parties together.

~ Confusers: distort first impressions and lead attitudes astray.

~ Users: are old-fashioned and it doesn’t work.

~ Losers: who wants to be one?

Process: they can manage the stages and the overall structure of the negotiation, which are:

~ Preparation: put in the spadework before starting.

~ Climate setting: create the right atmosphere.

~ Wants & Needs: why do people want what they say they want?

~ Coinage: value things you have that may be of value to the other party.

~ Bidding: ask for what you want, sound like you mean it, with good reason

~ Bargaining: keep reframing the issue or expanding the pie. Only offer concessions in a disciplined way.

~ Closing: move to closure briskly when the opportunity arises.

Behaviour: they understand and manage their own and others’

~ ‘I’ behaviour: state expectations; propose with reasons; test and probe; incentives and pressures

~ ‘You’ behaviour: disclose; explore; focus on common ground; listen

~ ‘We’ behaviour: visualise; check for consensus; share problems & solutions

~ Parting behaviour: pit stop; break; silence; terminate; stand up to tough guys


  • Count your aces – most people have more bargaining power than they think. This could include information, expertise, market power, scale, weight, referral, network, numbers, relationships, rules & regulations, authority or personal.
  • Always establish a BATNA and WATNA before starting: Best/Worst Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. This is better than a bottom line.


  • It could be a little shorter.