April 2024
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TD Magazine

April 2024 TD Authors: What's on Your Bookshelf?

Monday, April 1, 2024

Contributors to the April 2024 issue of TD magazine offer their book recommendations.

Jessica Abshire


The Fearless Organization

by Amy C. Edmondson
Though she did not originally pen the term psychological safety, Edmondson did popularize the concept in the context of workplace well-being and makes an excellent case for creating a culture based on high psychological safety and high accountability. Some key terms I've implemented in my work come directly from this book, including situational humility and intelligent failure.

Wellbeing at Work: How to Build Resilient and Thriving Teams
By Jim Clifton and Jim Harter
My idea for launching a Wellness Initiative was heavily influenced by the decades-long research findings compiled by Gallup in this recently published book. A holistic take on wellness with insightful research around workplace wellbeing, this book gives practical habit-building support for organizations to make the case for fostering employee wellness in building resilient workforces.

Rules of Civility: A Novel
By Amor Towles
An intriguing, non-work related but excellent read, Rules of Civility is a fun novel based out of 1930s high society. A number 1 New York Times best-selling author, Amor takes readers down a winding road of chance encounters to tragic ties to the rich and famous; this was worth the summer read.

Karl M. Kapp

11 Secrets Successful People Know About Goal Setting
by Kevin E. Kruse
This book uses personal connection to the reader via anecdotes and concrete examples to relay key ideas and concepts related to setting achievable, relatable goals. The author provides strategies and practices to help readers achieve their objectives. The last chapter provides a poignant thought about how pursuing goals without mercy may not be the right road to follow.

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
By Jesse Schell
This book is great because it is understandable to both novice and veteran game designers. It provides readers with a set of ‘lenses,’ which are thought-provoking questions and considerations that can be used to guide the game design process. Some of the lenses include story, balance, interface, and interest curves. It offers ideas and concepts that can easily be adapted to corporate “serious games.”

Paul Smith

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
by Angela Duckworth
This book is an excellent exploration of an otherwise difficult-to-explain concept. The term grit can be difficult to grasp because it means multiple things, all of which this book addresses. Grit doesn't just benefit employers—it has four psychological benefits for a person who possesses it, too: interest, practice, purpose, and hope. Strength in all four areas elevates the individual in ways standard reward programs cannot.

Training on Trial: How Workplace Learning Must Reinvent Itself to Remain Relevant
By Jim D. Kirkpatrick and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick
This book moves beyond industry cliches, as it directly addresses the vital yet oft-overlooked connection between what we, as learning professionals, do and the performance-based needs and opportunities of the businesses we support. We all talk about bridging this gap and effectively supporting the business and yet few are able to actually reach that goal. Where this book helps me is its inventive approach to exploring the concept of confirming what exactly the business (or customer) truly wants, with the recognition that often, they may not clearly know themselves. However, all business leaders want to know that their investments in learning programs are having an impact, even if they cannot articulate what impact they want to see. That’s where the Kirkpatricks also do an excellent job in this book of taking the traditional Kirkpatrick Four Levels model, turning it upside down, and stretching it in ways that have not often been considered by those in the training profession. Using the Kirkpatrick model as both a guide to identifying business needs and ultimately evaluating the performance impacts resulting from learning creates a closed loop of success. Applying this broader vision of the Kirkpatrick Four Levels has revolutionized my approach to content design.

The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results
By Roy V.H. Pollock, Andrew McK. Jefferson, and Calhoun W. Wick
Learning professionals tend to gravitate toward specific tools, concepts, and adult learning theories. One of the granddaddies of them all is the ADDIE Model as a basic framework for development of learning content. I continue to use this model, too. A weakness of focusing solely on ADDIE is that it is a model for us to use to create learning, but it does not address how that learning connects to the business. The 6Ds model does an excellent job of laying out an effective framework to connect identified learning needs to business-based metrics, with the end result being learning programs that truly support performance outcomes that impact the bottom line and address business-identified gaps. Emphasis is less on what is done during a learning event and much more focused on what happens before and long after the learning event. As a result of the 6Ds, my personal vision for creation of learning content now is no longer limited to just meeting learning objectives; my vision is broadened to think in terms of meeting business objectives through the learning that is created. This is a monumental shift in thinking for many in the training profession, but it is one that is crucial for us to embrace. Seeing what we do as a component in the organization’s success frames our thinking when developing and enables us to strengthen our partnerships with those in the business areas that we serve.


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
By Daniel H. Pink
The standard default for many organizations to ‘motivate’ their workforce is to dangle money in front of their workers. While it is certainly true that everyone appreciates getting more money, the notion of that being the primary motivator for most people is fantastically deconstructed by Daniel Pink. Through his eye-opening focus on the non-intrinsic concepts of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, he lays out a very strong case for how greater empowerment of the individual can ‘drive’ that individual to achieve true greatness. He also shows how the standard monetary reward option can actually have a chilling effect on creativity and fresh ideas. But underscoring all of his well-documented and supported observations is the fundamental recognition that employers need to not just see their ‘workforce’ but rather take more steps to recognize the individual people in their workforce and make efforts to understand what each individual is truly driven by. Pink also dismantles justification for ‘carrot and stick’ approaches to motivation by proving both the same stifling impacts on a worker doing anything other than repetitive, mundane tasks and how such efforts foster the very negative behaviors employers wish to replace. These concepts are challenges that extend beyond curriculum development; I find myself employing this awareness with the team members that I lead, learners that I facilitate, and professional peers that I collaborate with. Pink has prepared an excellent guide to enable me to get the best out of those around me, but not because it’s what I want from them; they do it because I can help them see that they want to do those things for their own benefit.

The Five Minute Foreman
By Mark Breslin
A very common issue in most construction companies is that those who get promoted into field leadership roles often possess a great deal of technical expertise and knowledge but are substantially lacking in the people skills necessary to effectively lead the workers they now have oversight for. This is the very situation addressed in Mark Breslin’s book, and he does it extremely well. It is clear that he wrote it with his audience in mind: the frontline construction crew leader. His examples and his word choices make it clear that he knows the world that he is discussing. But even more important, and why it has found a permanent home on my bookshelf, is that the book is loaded with multiple examples of tangible, practical things the foreman can do to improve their skills in a variety of areas. Breslin incorporates scripts for conversations, tips, and tricks pulled from best practices in the field, thought-provoking introspective questions, and very detailed advice on ways to personally improve. His work has strongly influenced some of the learning efforts I and my team have created and updated. Best of all, recognizing that a foreman’s time is already packed full every day, Beslin does all of this in 31 learning modules, each of which is estimated to only take five minutes. That makes these micro-learning topical sessions very approachable for the target audience and very easy for someone in my role to use, apply, and validate quickly. The structure of the book also makes it ideal to use with learners who may not all be in the same physical location but rather are joining together on a virtual platform.

Good Foreman; Bad Foreman: 12 Easy-To-Implement Solutions To Everyday Challenges
By Nic Bittle
The book is small—it only has 12 chapters total—yet in this little package is a tremendous amount of wisdom and insight, which allows a quick distinction between the ‘good’ foreman and a ‘bad’ one. There are many works that purport to address the “bad” foreman or crew leader, but many such works fail to acknowledge the work environment in which these leaders must function. Instead, attempting to apply leadership styles meant for a cubicle-based office environment applies to a construction job site. Such efforts are foolish and wasteful. This is why I focus on the small size of this book, as it recognizes the reality of the world a foreman must work in every day, even its physical formatting. But in each chapter of the book, author Nic Bittle uses very real, very authentic examples to illustrate both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ways for a foreman to deal with the topic, making it easy for the learner to see themselves in the sample scenarios. But each chapter also contains tightly compressed summaries of the key points (perfect for a business-minded foreman or even an instructor teaching foreman the lesson) and a section simply titled “In a Nut Shell,” which employs storytelling techniques to drive home the key message. The book is not just a good read; it provides 12 ready-to-use sets of ideas that can be turned into quick-hit job-site learning experiences with minimal effort. The structure of the book also makes it ideal to use with learners who may not all be in the same physical location but rather are joining together on a virtual platform.

Tracie Cantu

The Modern Learning Ecosystem: A New L&D Mindset for the Ever-Changing Workplace
By J.D. Dillon
J.D. has written what I feel is the first systemic overview of corporate L&D. This book walks you through a framework that enables you to strategically plan building a learning ecosystem that is impervious to disruption.

Shock of the New: The Challenge and Promise of Emerging Technology
By Chad Udell and Gary Woodill
Chad Udell and Gary Woodill have created a robust and easy-to-follow framework that enables you to vet and build strategic business cases for emerging technologies.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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