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FCW Insider: Seeking books for the new FCW Book Club

So we are going to try something new -- a book club.

 Regular readers know I like business books. I'm currently reading The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. A brief aside because I'm only about a third of the way through it, but did you know that there is a government connection to Pixar? It's true, believe it or not. It's interesting because Pixar was initially seen as a hardware company that would make the computers that enabled computer animation. And there was a network of people who collected in Salt Lake City, of all places, who were the experts in computer animation. This was back in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of the development that hardware was the result of grants from ARPA -- the Advanced Research Projects Agency, now renamed as DARPA. There are many twists and turns between then and today, but it is always remarkable to me how much impact that ARPA money has had on the world.

Anyway, books like that always make me think and I learn so much. Last month's Management of Change conference, for example, featured Daniel Pink, author of the book A Whole New Mind.

And there are others out there. Paul Light, professor at New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, has a new book out there titled A Government Ill Executed: The Decline of the Federal Service and How to Reverse It. Light wrote a WP op-ed earlier this month... and they even had an online chat with Light. (And, mark your calendars -- FCW will have an excerpt of Light's book and a Q&A with Light in the July 28 issue. Stay tuned.)

So the FCW Book Club will have a number of pieces. First, we will select the book -- more on that in a moment. Second, FCW magazine will excerpt the book and publish a Q&A with the author. Third, we give you a chance to participate, both through this blog by making comments, but also by holding a e-seminar with the author where you can questions and offer your insights, something similar to the WP's online seminar.

And I have a partner in this initiative. Dave Wennergren, the Defense Department deputy chief information officer, is one of the most intellectually curious people I have ever met. He is also one of the most voracious readers I know. Every time I'm around him, I have a pen and pad just to write down the books he is reading so I can add them to my collection. And he also hosts his own book club for his organization. He calls it Expanding Boundaries. It started w en he was Navy CIO, and he does it with the DOD IT staff, and they get great people to come and talk with them. We're going to try the same thing, but we're going to do it virtually. So Wennergren has agreed to be the unofficial co-leader of the FCW Book Club with me. Together, we will essentially select the books that we all will read. Dave and I haven't discussed specifics yet, but I hope he may be able to join me conducting the Q&A with the authors, and then help lead the discussion. We'll work out the details as we move forward.

Speaking of moving forward, that brings us back to step one -- choosing the book -- and in true Web 2.0 style, I'm looking for your ideas. I have collected all sorts of ideas -- The Economist magazine had this fascinating article on books about innovation, for example -- but what do you think? Know a book that you think would help feds do their jobs better? Spur people to think 'outside of the box'? Would be edifying? Might expand boundaries? You can send me a note if you want -- or, in true Web 2.0 style, just post it here.

We'll select the book in the next few weeks.

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jul 16, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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