I’m a passionate reader with interest in historical novels, fantasy, adventure, and biographies.  Unfortunately, I don’t read as much as I’d like. Nonetheless, I keep on buying and piling up books at every occasion. “Where will I put all my books?” is the first question that comes to mind when looking for a new house!

I can hear you laughing, saying to yourself:  “Everybody learns from books, what’s new here?” Well, from a particular standpoint you are right, but today I want to talk about a few other lessons that I’ve learned thanks to the time spent reading.

Reinventing the wheel is not always necessary

Nowadays books about wizards and magic wands in the 21st century are very successful. Key to this success is that while still being about witchcraft they work the story line around different elements than the previous books, and in that way, they create a new world, so rich in details and well thought out, that you look at it is an entirely new thing.

You can get to an original solution working on the elements of something already existing, rendering it different and improving it based on your needs. Innovative solutions based on existing approaches are one of the most efficient ways to express creativity and novelty.

The importance of the journey

When reading a thriller do you jump right to the last page to figure out the end or do you eagerly read through the pages to unravel the plot while reading?

The average reader likes to discover how the author is weaving the threads of the story, and developing the characters, and is curious to find out the turns in the plot, which make the story change its course.

For me, this is the most beautiful thing about reading.

Why expect something different when moving to an organisational standpoint?

When working, we are asked to produce improvements and changes and make plans to reach a given objective. Most of the times, the project is ready, but the people around you are not!

I have experienced this situation several times.

A lack of urgency, or an incomplete understanding of the situation, or merely being still at the beginning of the journey, all these things together could make a well-conceived plan simply useless.

It’s like jumping to the last page, with the police taking away the bad guy without having had the time to understand what is going on.

Organisations are at different levels of maturity and development, and for some of them, the perfect plan is too much. They need time to adjust and grow: you can accelerate this path, through appropriate change management approaches but never undervalue the importance of the journey.

The moving power of empathy

Which are the books that you have liked best? What are the stories you still carry in your heart? Who are the characters you will never forget?

I have several favorite books, but the ones that have left a lasting memory are in general books where I feel close to the story or to the characters, where I can live fully immersed in the atmosphere created by the author. Whenever I finish those books, I feel like I have lost a bunch of good friends.

Empathy helps create an emotional connection with your counterpart, and it’s important because it helps us look beyond our assumptions by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes.  The emotional connection between colleagues enhances collaboration and prepares us better to understand our client needs.

Scenario analysis

Having a teenage girl brings an invaluable amount of “fun” in the house, especially when you share the same book-worm attitude and you spend the evening at the dining table discussing the books you have both read and why Harry Potter is superior to anyone else in this world!

Yes, you got it right: we sometimes read the same books. Young adult books have proved real eye openers for me. In my daughter’s bookcase, you will find a vast selection of them. From Harry Potter (hardly a young adult, but my daughter is obsessed!) to the Divergent series, Shadowhunters to Hunger Games, just to list some of them.

The stories are entirely different, but they have some standard features: most of them take place in the dystopic future where the world as we know it looks very different or takes place in the same period you live in but some crucial details are significantly altered.

Keeping in mind all the dystopic novels in my daughter’s bookcase, I have always wondered what is the need to present such catastrophic situations?

Besides the philosophical aspect of this, I have concluded that it’s just a way for the author to draw the attention to some of the worst or best aspects of the current world. The author will exaggerate them to the umpteenth power and will feed the young reader with these stories, helping him/her to reflect upon what is relevant, right and useful.

In managerial terms, there’s a definition for this: scenario analysis!

In a scenario analysis, you alter some of the elements forming the scenario to draft different settings and by doing so understanding how the final result will change.

You can draw an incredible number of scenarios, and usually, the most important ones are those at the extreme of the range of possibilities, which give you the most powerful insights about what is right and what is not in your plan.

By running several scenarios, you will start learning what the key variables affecting the result are. You will determine how the situation is sensitive to these elements, enriching your understanding and giving you great insights!

So when you are not sure if a plan is sound and robust, think about the dystopic young adult novels and run a scenario analysis.

And you, what have you learned from your pastime activities?