A review of The Agile Minded Executive, by Karla Robertson
Books on psychological ‘hacks’ for business effectiveness have a tendency to be excellent but technically a little dense (David Rock’s ‘Your Brain at Work’ and Tony Schwartz’s ‘The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working’ being my favorites), or borderline fatuous (such as ‘Rework’ by Hansson and Fried). The author of ‘The Agile Minded Executive‘ treads a successful middle path, blending informal, approachable writing with substance to create an accessible but thought provoking self-help guide.
The structure of the book weaves an easy, conversational narrative with an organised series of searching questionnaires. So although the book is not long, engaging with it properly is quite a lengthy process, and one which merits more than one iteration.
Robertson’s underlying theme is to highlight the importance of the stories we tell ourselves about our circumstances and experiences, and that those stories are not necessarily the same thing as the events and conditions they feed on. So without becoming detached from reality, there is scope to change our personal narratives for the better.
It turns out that for the author this is a very personal project (to say any more would be a spoiler), and that gives the work a distinctive anchor. But she is also generous to a fault in promoting the works of others, and the book also doubles as a compendium of some of the best writing and TED talks in the field.
I liked it, but I’d say that it should be approached with a commitment to being challenged rather than as just a cheery read. It can be the latter, but it’s value lies in the former.
I should say that I do know Karla. My good friend Adrian Nixon introduced us some time ago, and among other things she gave me some great advice in the run up to last year’s 50@50 event. Here’s to The Flying Balestra…