Strategy Execution

9 of the Best Strategy Books to Read in 2022

Photo of a stack of books

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

We’re big fans of books at Envisio (in fact, we just recently started our very own book club), and quotes like the ones above can give you some small insight as to why. Reading is a common throughline of success at both an individual and an organizational level, noted for its benefits to memory, concentration, and strategic thinking. And with a new year upon us and resolutions in tow, there’s no better time to load up on books that can help you move from planning to action in 2022.

Over the years, there have been many wonderful texts that teach us how to plan strategically and why it’s important to do so. From W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy to Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm, we’ve learned so much about the value of strategic thinking and, perhaps more importantly, executing on that strategy.

At Envisio, we are fortunate enough to work with some of the most engaged, insightful and inspirational leaders in local government. We’re consistently humbled by their efforts to make the world a brighter place, so it should come as little surprise that they are the first people we turn to when we’re looking to source some recommended reading (and trust us when we say we’ll be reading them right alongside you!).

So without further ado, here are some of the books that our customers and partners suggest to level up your strategic execution and performance management for 2022.

Recommended Reading From Local Government Leaders

Craig Rapp – President, Rapp Consulting Group

I’ve been a long-time fan and follower of Stacey Barr. She is one of the preeminent authorities on performance management and evidence-based leadership, and her PuMP© methodology is a great process for strategy and organizational improvement. Her book, Prove It! How to Create A High-Performance Culture and Measurable Success, was one of my favorites that I read this year. In line with her overall philosophy, this book exposes the limitations of jargon and “weasel” words. It reinforces the value of measuring what matters, and how mindful, rigorous attention to evidence, and measurements tied to critical outcomes, is what moves an organization forward and leverages change.

Dr. Chalonda Smith – Chief Strategy Officer, Clayton County Board of Commissioners, Georgia

By being a part of Envisio’s Inspirational Women in Local Government series this year, I discovered a new read! My colleague, Dr. Lizely Madrigal from El Paso, Texas, recommended Municipal Benchmarks: Assessing Local Performance and Establishing Community Standards by David N. Ammons in her dedicated blog post, and I love the book. It offers leaders in local government a valuable resource for understanding performance management, and it has been a key tool for our newly developed office as we look to understand each department and help them develop their operating plans. These operating plans ultimately work to support the County’s Strategic Plan. We’ve even used methods from the book to help our departments develop their benchmarking processes!

Dr. Lizely Madrigal – Strategic Performance Manager, El Paso, Texas

My recommended strategy read this year is The Logic Model Guidebook: Better Strategies for Great Results by Lisa Wyatt Knowlton and Cynthia C. Phillips. I’d recommend this book to anyone working on performance management. Logic Models are the perfect tool for a disciplined process in establishing meaningful key performance indicators. In addition, it’s the antecedent to Municipal Benchmarks – the book I mentioned previously in my discussions with Envisio. I stumbled upon the book while doing some research on how to develop sound logic models, because my theory is to always research. “Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Wernher von Braun.

Douglas Shontz – Assistant to the Manager, Borough of State College, Pennsylvania

I’ve got not one, not two, but three recommendations for strategy books in 2022! First up, Good to Great by Jim Collins. This isn’t specifically about performance management, but it does provide a great foundation on management strategies and how performance management fits into that architecture. Our Borough Manager, Tom Fountaine, gave me a copy when I first started at the Borough of State College in 2017. In the same vein, I’d recommend the Harvard Business Review Guide to Performance Management, as this short eBook was given to me during the development of our strategic plan and provides a good high-level guide for anyone wanting to understand performance management. And while it may seem strange, I’d also like to recommend Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration—Lessons from The Second City by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton. I recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position. Improv teaches us to listen and adapt, and since performance management is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach, these skills are invaluable to anyone looking to start up a performance management program.

Kevin Knutson – Assistant County Administrator, Pinellas County, Florida

I’ve been really excited as of late about Rick Davis and Dan Griffiths’ book Elevating Trust in Local Government. This book not only fills a gap that has been sorely absent from bookshelves (local government strategic planning hasn’t been written about in book length since 1998), but also rightly links the development and execution of those strategic plans with the amount of trust people have in their local government. Transparency and accountability, two foundational trust enablers, are products of implementing a strategic planning process. Because of this, plans can be a tool to promote confidence in local government’s competence and efficacy. As the authors point out, “A strategic plan provides policy makers with the discipline and will to say yes to those opportunities that align with community priorities and the discipline and will to say no to those that don’t.”

Aimee Kaslik – Chief Innovation and Performance Officer, City of Irving, Texas

When I read for work, it’s usually when I’m building new programs. For example, I recently read Peak Performance: How Denver’s Peak Academy is Saving Money, Boosting Morale and Just Maybe Changing the World, by Brian Elms. I came across the book when we were creating our first iteration of the Irving Innovation Academy. I have no doubt that it was Google that led me there originally, but I actually met Brian at a conference and one of my team members was able to visit with him and see his academy from behind the scenes. He’s definitely an inspiration.

Similarly, I’m a big Disney fan as well, and I read Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. I loved reading about the backstories and lessons that the Pixar team learned along the way, and there were a few that stuck out to me: leadership is about bringing out the best in others, keeping the lines of communication open, and embracing the fact that good ideas come from everywhere. I also think there is something to be said about surrounding yourself with smart people. I’ve really taken that to heart, and we’ve got a great team at Irving. After reading the book, I ended up watching Inside Pixar, and loved seeing the book’s lessons come to life onscreen. They clearly demonstrate the power of collaboration and I love that everyone has and knows their role in making Pixar a success.

There you have it, folks! A huge thank you to Craig, Chalonda, Lizely, Douglas, Kevin and Aimee for sharing the books that have helped them level up their strategy and performance management programs.

From all of us at Envisio, we wish you a safe, successful and well-read new year!

Josh Elyea

Based in Toronto, Josh Elyea has been writing professionally for over a decade. His experience bridges the space between the corporate and the creative, and his portfolio includes everything from journalism and copy to fiction and screenplays.

Josh has a Master’s Degree in Literature with a specific focus on postwar American literature–a subject which has left him with a keen interest in the intersection between the stories we tell and the social, political, and economic consequences they grow from. He began his career with Enviso because he believes that the institutions that shape our society matter, and he’s excited to help build better and more trustworthy public sector organizations across North America.

In his spare time, Josh is a multi-instrumentalist, a Blue Jays fan, and an avid reader of fiction.

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