I have been participating in a discussion group each month or so since about 1990. We started out because many of my colleagues in the company had read "The Fifth Discipline" by Peter Senge and thought it was an important book. However we could not really understand it. Bev Finderhut suggested we form a group to discuss it. We worked on that book for several months and then moved on to good articles and other book.
This month we finished the book "Dealing with Darwin" which I have discussed in previous blogs. As we reflected on our discussion at the end of the last meeting, we all agreed that we found the book boring and a tough read but the discussion really was fantastic. I got more out of discussing the book than the original read.
There are some important ingredients of our group that I would like to share. First at the beginning of each meeting that lasts exactly 90 minutes we share our personal news and any books or ideas we have discovered. The book is then discussed. We then spend the last ten minutes reflecting on how we did today. One of the rules is that the initial sharing and the reflection cannot be interrupted. I think this formula makes the group very effective. Initially I expect one has the impression that the initial work is a waste of good discussion time but I think it makes the discussion much more effective.
I joined this Senge group in or around 1997/8. At the time we studied Edgar Schein’s “Organizational Culture and Leadership” which I found to be fascinating. It literally changed my thinking and the way I approach life.
Other books we studied include Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline” which also change my life direction – although Harvey was always quick to point out that Senge had some great ideas, but Harvey was uncertain about how they could actually be executed in the “real world”.
When we looked at Peter Drucker’s “The Practice of Management” I was stunned into realizing there are so many great books and so little time. We reviewed Drucker about 50 years after it was first published in 1954. And it was as fresh or fresher than more recent books we’ve looked at like “The Tipping Point” or “Dealing with Darwin”.
To Jim’s point the process of opening with a round table discussion on what each person is up to is what Warren McCarthy (sp sorry Warren) would call a prelate. It connects people on a personal level.
The actual book review often drifts into metaphoric discussions that may or may not connect back to the author original intent, but it certainly keeps the rest of us interested.
An then the close with a “how did we do” is a good way to ground us and gets us ready to step back out into our own work-a-day worlds. A sense of closure for all.