Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: 2nd Edition by Juana Bordas - Book review

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Salsa, Soul, and Spirit

Leadership for a Multicultural Age - Second Edition

By: Juana Bordas

Published: March 26, 2012
Format: Paperback, 248 pages
ISBN-10: 1609941179
ISBN-13: 978-1609941178
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

"During my forty-five years of working in communities of color, I have listened to thousands of such life stories, and I know mine is not unique. Our stories are a collective journey, small streams forming a powerful river, a dynamic force that is restructuring our country into a multicultural society - and transforming American leadership", writes President of Mestiza Leadership International Juana Bordas is president of Mestiza Leadership International in Denver and vice president of the board of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, Juana Bordas, in her visionary and wisdom filled book Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age - Second Edition. The author describes the changes in demographics in America, the rich contributions made by people from communities of color, and the value of added diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas to the concept of leadership in the United States.

Juana Bordas understands that America is transforming into a multicultural society, with ever greater equality and opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds. The demographic changes in society reflect those of an ever more globalized economy and culture. At the same time, the author points out that increasing diversity is in complete harmony with the founding principles of the United States. Juana Bordas offers the experiences of Latin Americans, African Americans, and First Nations people as part of that dynamic of ever increasing racial and cultural diversity. The author demonstrates that the very different backgrounds and experiences of people, from communities of color, provides a valuable opportunity to enrich the leadership perspectives of organizations and government.

Juana Bordas (photo left) recognizes that Latin Americans, African Americans, and native Americans bring very important experiences and perspectives to any leadership roles. In the past, American leadership has largely stemmed from the White male point of view. The author provides an alternative vision to replace that limited perspective and worldview.

Juana Bordas offers the multicultural leadership model where many cultural perspectives, differences, unique contributions of diverse groups, and learning from many different cultures is encouraged and put into practice. In this fresh approach to leadership, people are encouraged to maintain their own cultural identity, while participating in and contributing to the larger diversity of the society.

Juana Bordas provides a vision and a framework framework for what she describes as infusing Salsa, Soul, and Spirit into the leadership model, creating a fresh and more diverse dynamic that benefits everyone. To achieve this vision, Juana Bordas proposes a new social covenant that brings the following principles of diversity into the mosaic:

* Sankofa: Learn from the past
* I to We: From individualism to collective identity
* Mi casa es su casa: A spirit of generosity
* A leader among equals: Community-conferred leadership
* Leaders as guardians of public values: A tradition of activism
* Leaders as community stewards: Working for the common good
* The seventh-generation rule: Inter-generational leadership
* All my relatives: La familia, the village, the tribe
* Gracias: Gratitude, hope, and forgiveness

For me, the power of the book is how Juana Bordas combines an insightful analysis of the transformation of American society into a multicultural milieu, with the framework to create a fresh social covenant. The author shares the timeless wisdom of people of Latin American, African American, and First Nations descent. This universal wisdom provides an opportunity to transform American leadership from the now outdated and failing White male model, to one that is multicultural, diverse, inclusive, and global.

Juana Bordas shares a vision of collective and collaborative leadership that is essential for moving forward in a globalized economy in general, and in a demographically changing America in particular. All areas of culture and the economy have benefited from, and been enriched by contributions made by people from communities of color. Leadership will also be enhanced and improved through the rich diversity that transformed American culture and society.

I highly recommend the pioneering and transformational book Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age - Second Edition by Juana Bordas, to anyone seeking a groundbreaking and much needed book on the importance of diversity for leadership theory and practice. This book offers the timeless wisdom of the Latino, African American, and Native American cultures, and transforms that vision into a new and inclusive social covenant for all people.

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Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure by Tim Harford - Book review

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Why Success Always Starts with Failure

By: Tim Harford

Published: May 8, 2012
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1250007550
ISBN-13: 978-1250007551
Publisher: Picador

"What is striking about the market system is not how few failures there are, but how ubiquitous failure is even in the most vibrant growth industries", writes former economist at the World Bank and an economics tutor at Oxford University, Tim Harford, in his pioneering and thought provoking book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. The author describes why so much failure happens in an overall successful economic system, why failure is a crucial part of success, and adapting to shifting economic conditions and mistakes is so important for business.

Tim Harford understands that not only is the economy extremely complex, but even the activities, that take place within companies and in our daily lives, are also more intricate than is usually realized by many. Problems of ever increasing difficulty are becoming more economy on every scale. People have become used to looking to leaders to meet those challenges, overcome the obstacles, and provide useful solutions. Tim Harford points out that such is not the case, and that the typical solutions offered by leaders result in failure. The author presents a powerful alternative approach to traditional leadership models. This fresh model is based on adapting to circumstances, drawing on a very wide range of leaders and followers, and utilizing trial and error effectively to find innovative solutions.

Tim Harford (photo left) recognizes that the world is much too complex at every level, for experts to understand fully, and for standard solutions to be effective any longer. The author demonstrates how the usual strategies are insufficient to meet the challenges of complexity, and very often are the cause of catastrophic failure themselves.

Tim Harford offers compelling evidence that traditional hierarchical management systems, complex systems, and tightly coupled systems all carry elements of risk. When combined, the potential for disaster is multiplied many times over. These systems are all too often not able to adapt to the inevitable problems or disasters that may befall them.

Tim Harford provides evidence that complexity alone will not create catastrophic system failure, but when tightly coupled, or faced with non-adaptive leadership, then complexity can lead to complete system failure. The author presents the model of the adaptive organization, of the adaptive individual, as alternatives to the traditional approaches to leadership and strategy. The author recommends an adaptable model based on the following principles:

* Try new things expecting some of them to fail
* Make failure survivable through small steps on the proper scale
* Know when failure has happened to ensure learning from that failure

For me, the power of the book is how Tim Harford provides an entirely fresh approach to systems, based on embracing failure and adapting to even the most unexpected change. The author presents a systems based analysis of why failure happens, and how it can be catastrophic, limited, or the first step to creativity and innovation. Through a multidisciplinary methodology, Tim Harford draws from from widely diverse fields to gain insights into the problems facing other very different endeavors.

The key to the author's analysis is making the key connections between what appears on the surface to be widely disparate concepts. Instead, the author seeks analogy, relationships, and patterns. Tim Harford illustrates his concepts with cases and anecdotes that show the principles in action. Far from being a book that fears failure, it is a study that considers understanding and learning from failure the critical first step toward discovering real solutions to even the most challenging problems.

I highly recommend the insightful and systems driven book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford, to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the important role that failure' trial and error, and adapting to circumstances play in overall success in any field. This book provides a road map to recognizing failure, and learning from those mistakes, to create innovative and effective solutions.

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Geek Nation by Angela Saini - Book review

Geek Nation

How Indian Science Is Taking Over the World

By: Angela Saini

Published: May 8, 2012
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1444710168
ISBN-13: 978-1444710168
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

"This impoverished tea- and cotton-growing backwater is starting to reclaim the scientific legacy that it lost thousands of years ago. Staring into the clouds at the rocket, which has now disappeared completely, I ask myself, how on earth did they do it?" writes award-winning independent journalist based in London, Angela Saini, in her engaging and deeply personal book Geek Nation: How Indian Science Is Taking Over the World. The author describes the rise of science, scientific and engineering education, geek culture, and the many contradictions within these fields as Indian scientists make their mark in the global economy.

Angela Saini recognizes the rich history of science in India, and its towering achievements that went almost forgotten for centuries. Building on that glorious past of learning and discovery, a new generation of Indian students are achieving outstanding results in science, engineering, technology, and space exploration. The author sets out to discover this scientific, and yes geek oriented society, within the vast and developing country of India. Ranging from students winning awards for learning and scholarship on a worldwide basis, to the enormous pressure for high marks in the ultra competitive educational system, to the desperation to escape poverty, the author finds the contradictions of Indian culture itself superimposed on an emerging scientific and technological superpower.

Angela Saini (photo left) presents a fascinating account of how former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had a vision of a modern country based on science, advanced technology logic. While that dream is already partially realized, the author points out how in many ways, the ideal has turned into a misshapen distopia. While Indian scientists have created and developed an advanced space program, scientific study has devolved into rote memorization with very limited creative thinking and innovation. At the same time, as is so evident by the usual paradoxes so evident in the book, is how despite these limitations, advances in science and technology are taking place in India.

The author offers evidence that India's younger scientists and engineers are seeking high paying jobs as their primary goal, but they are also achieving breakthroughs as an additional result. The author shows how the young technology geeks and drones are both part of India's social and educational systems. Despite these challenges, India remains poised to rise to the forefront of global science, technology, and engineering through a combination of large numbers of graduates and national will.

For me, the power of the book is how Angela Saini presents an intimate, yet panoramic overview of India as a potential scientific and technology superpower. Despite its enormous steps forward, India still faces many challenges from its complex social, religious, and political structure. In a vast nation, where not everyone has access to clean water, food, or the basic necessities of life, incredible strides are being made in scientific breakthroughs. Many of those discoveries, and technological advances grew out of the need to improve the lives of one billion Indian inhabitants.

Gaps between rich and poor are enormous, with gleaming towers side by side with shantytowns. Students are driven hard to achieve top scholastic scores and places in highly competitive universities. Paradoxically, these seemingly disparate events work together to create the conditions for even more advancement of this emerging scientific superpower.

I highly recommend the insightful and eye opening book Geek Nation: How Indian Science Is Taking Over the World by Angela Saini, to anyone seeking a refreshing and honest appraisal of the emerging technological superpower that is India. This book provides both a close up view of the people involved in the scientific revolution that is propelling India into the global technological forefront.

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