books - business

Outliers – Guest Post


by Malcolm Gladwell

Special thanks to Catharine for sharing her log of this book’s review.

Malcolm Gladwell gives us another literary gift in the form of his latest book – “Outliers”.  His writing does something to my brain…something very enjoyable.

As a Canadian and Vancouver resident, I was hooked when chapter one began with a recount of the 2007 Memorial Cup game between the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Vancouver Giants. I found myself immediately swept up in the stories just as I was with The Tipping Point and Blink. While reading “Outliers” I found myself studying how Gladwell crafts his stories and maintains connectivity to the themes throughout the book.

I am curious to discover what it is about his writing that affects me, brings me joy, and engages my brain.

I was delighted to learn that Gladwell recently spoke at the University of Toronto and the host was Roger Martin, the author of “The Opposable Mind”. At this time last December, I was learning about Martin’s perspective on integrative thinking and bringing the concept to life at work. Applying integrative thinking to what I learned from reading “Outliers” has led me to explore a revelation. 

I am inspired to bring Gladwell’s chapter, “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes” into a different context at work. As organizations become more scrutinized, regulated and vulnerable, how do we harness creativity and create opportunities? What can we transfer from the ethnic theory of plane crashes to organizational culture to enhance our understanding of success?

I plan to explore how the cultural nuances of an organization increase or diminish success. Gladwell’s reference to “Hofstede’s Dimensions” (Power Distance Index & uncertainty avoidance) gave me a tremendous head start.

So, what makes my brain light up while reading Gladwell’s books? The answer may lie within the lessons learned from his collective work:

  1. Sharing his work and transferring the concepts into our own context makes ideas contagious.
  2. I find I think without thinking J
  3. I now make no assumptions about success.

Malcolm Gladwell is a brilliant talent. I look forward to the next book…wishful thinking…maybe by December of 2009? 

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