Editorial: Join the FCW book club

Most of us probably had a high school English teacher who told us about the power of books. Books, the teacher would say, let you enjoy a vicarious experience — to venture to places where you might not be able to go otherwise. Books let you rule England as king or slay dragons, all in the safety of a comfortable chair.

That high school teacher was probably thinking of novels or the plays of  William Shakespeare. But we believe the same is true for business books — they allow us to have a vicarious experience with new ideas. There are a ton of business books out there, and to be honest, many of them are mediocre. But there are many good ones, too, that spur us to think differently. They let us mentally slay the dragons in our own organizations.

And book clubs continue to be remarkably popular. We believe part of the allure of book clubs is the Web 2.0 idea that all of us collectively are wiser then each of us individually. By gathering in groups to read the same book, we are able share the wisdom that each of us culls from the book and make it even more relevant.

Dave Wennergren, the Defense Department’s deputy chief information officer, has run his own version of a book club, which he called “Expanding Boundaries,” starting when he was the CIO of the Navy
Department.

So with Wennergren and Oprah Winfrey as our models, we are creating our own FCW Book Club. Our book club will have several pieces. The most elemental — and arguably the most important — is selecting the right book. Of course, we are looking for a provocative book. But there are also some practical elements: FCW is going to run an excerpt of the book and a Q&A with the author, so we will need to select a book whose author and publisher will be willing to cooperate with us.

And there are several opportunities for you to get involved, first in the selection of the book. We have had a number of recommendations. You can find links to some of them on FCW.com’s “The Week” or on the FCW Insider blog. Let us know your thoughts about what might be good books that would help agencies to do their work better.

Finally, we will also have an online e-seminar with the author in which you can
offer questions and comments about the book we select.

We look forward to this vicarious experience together. We hope it can be a way we can all think about the work we do slightly differently — and hopefully make it better.

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