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“Screw Business as Usual” and the Rest of my Corporate Diplomacy Summer Reading List

Jun 8, 2012


Summertime is always an excellent time to reflect, recharge and catch up on the books you’ve been meaning to read for longer than you can remember. My reading list this summer is longer than in years past due to the sheer volume of new work critical to those in the global engagement, corporate diplomacy and public diplomacy spheres. It could be that this is due to a pervasive feeling of discontent and urgency – where ideas are formed, issues collide, and independent action has a new meaning and consequence for peoples around the globe.

As I work with businesses, governments and NGOs as well as teach both MPD and MBA students, I am reminded daily of how differently leadership in each sector thinks and behaves. My reading list is reflective of this dynamic as they speak their own languages and operate in fundamentally different ways. The nature of global business issues and challenges today requires all of these groups to partner where appropriate and work effectively together. With this in mind, I selected the following for my Summer Corporate Diplomacy Reading List which apply to leadership in all sectors – business, government and NGOs. At a minimum these should also be required reading for MPDs and MBAs as well as anyone working or travelling globally.

First up on my list is Richard Branson’s Screw Business as Usual which I initially learned of at Secretary Clinton’s Global Impact Economic Forum at Georgetown University earlier this spring. The forum was exceptional, with a blend of fresh thinking and new voices, something which is rare in Washington. Branson appeared at the forum with a host of others, issuing a rallying cry and drawing attention to what the Secretary called “a convergence of the recognition on the part of government, the private sector, civil society, that we can be so much more effective working together than working at cross-purposes.” In his book, which is as candid and direct as Branson has become known for, he outlines various arguments and approaches on why and how good business can be a force for good in the world. It is a re-thinking and re-imagining of how business operates globally and where business can expand its role in developing solutions that benefit all. The book is only one piece of a broader "screw business as usual" movement Branson is championing which has an incredible companion website where stories are shared, key insights and lessons profiled, and numerous portals for action presented.

In addition to focusing on issues of import for global business, I’ve taken my reading list and distilled out key corporate diplomacy trends and issues that those who operate in a cross-sector capacity should be tuned in to over the coming months. This is by no means an exhaustive list and I welcome your recommendations as I am always eager to expand my library and learnings.

Summer 2012 Corporate Diplomacy Trends & Reading List

Global Leadership – in addition to the numerous global crises, there is a tremendous amount of global leadership turnover with over a dozen national elections occurring this year; how countries and regions respond to this change, who they put in power, and how the private and public sectors engage will be key.

Book Recommendations:

  • Every Nation for Itself: Winners & Losers in a G-Zero World by Ian Bremmer
  • Screw Business as Usual by Richard Branson
  • Cross-Sector Engagement – no longer can governments, companies or large non-profits go it alone to solve global issues or respond to crises. Partnering and working effectively across multiple sectors is becoming an ever more critical skill set and one in which too few are prepared to effectively engage in.

    Book Recommendations:

  • Megacommunities: How Leaders of Government, Business & Non-profits Can Tackle Today’s Global Challenges Together by Mark Gerencser, Reginald VanLee, Fernando Napolitano, & Christopher Kelly
  • Being Global: How to Think, Act, & Lead in a Transformed World by Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh
  • Women in Leadership – for years the discussion around women typically fell in the categories of empowering girls, health, and education. Now the global discussion has shifted to include preparing women to lead with a heightened focus on women harnessing and honing their power for leadership and decision-making roles in business, government and their communities.

    Book Recommendation:

  • I’d Rather be in Charge: A Legendary Business Leader’s Roadmap for Achieving Pride, Power, and Joy at Work by Charlotte Beers
  • Cybersecurity & Information Protection – if the recent exhaustive news coverage of the Flame virus and detailing of cyber security strategies of the U.S. government is any indication, protecting information and critical infrastructure networks will remain a key national security and corporate security issue that permanently impacts how everyone operates globally. Ironically and even with all of the advances in technology, most vulnerabilities and attacks still come down to the human component and social engineering – system access, information, and errors.

    Book Recommendations:

  • Social Engineering: The Art of Hacking Humans by Christopher Hadnagy
  • Hacking Exposed 7 Network Security Secrets & Solutions: Network Security Secrets and Solutions by Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray, George Kurtz
  • Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do about It by Richard A. Clarke, Robert Knake

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