COE Summer Reading List 2024

As the days grow longer and the pace of summer offers a chance to recharge, it’s the perfect time to grab a book and invest in your personal and professional development. Searching for your next great read? 

The Center for Operational Excellence has turned to our recent speakers, board members, and trusted friends to present this COE Summer Reading List to our community of OpEx practitioners and problem solvers. Thoughtfully curated, this collection spans the critical themes of leadership, strategy, and continuous improvement. 

Whether you're lounging by the pool or working on your next team strategy session, we hope these books provide fresh perspectives for your ongoing journey of growth, improvement, and excellence. 

Dive in and discover your next great read courtesy of COE! 

The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence

By Karen Martin

“This is the book that I refer to the most. When I'm needing guidance or looking for ways to explain a topic, my go-to is this book. Karen Martin has a gift of teaching the domain of continuous improvement and the activities within it. She walks the walk about clarity and gives the most insightful advice. I follow her wisdom because it's both experiential and forward-thinking.” Bethany Foy, Continuous Improvement Leader at Ohio Mutual Insurance Group

The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self

By Michael Easter

“This is a personal development book I layered in between some leadership reads, and then I read it twice it was so good! I was intrigued by the idea that modern comforts are having an impact on our resilience and stepping out of our comfort zones could lead to greater wellbeing. I recommend this book to literally anyone and everyone. So great!” Emily Jackson, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital 

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results

By Gary Keller

“I find that I revisit this book annually to help with my focus...breaking down the steps involved setting very big goals and then putting things in motion to achieve them. It helps provide clarity in annual planning and growth.” Rachel Friedman, Founder and CEO at TENFOLD and TENSPACE

Taking People with You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen

By David Novak

“As leaders, we can easily get in the mindset that we are expected to be experts in everything that falls under our responsibility. Taking People With You is a great reminder that you have the ability to accomplish great things when you embrace the support and involvement of others.” Chris Combs, C3 Consulting

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

By Kim Scott

“Great way to approach management and leading a team.” Steven Saad, Capabilities Manager at Anheuser-Busch

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

By Daniel James Brown

“This is a great book to jump start your next strategy planning session. Our leadership team read it three years ago, and we continue to reference it. ‘Are we rowing together?’ is a frequent saying at MoreSteam. The Boys in the Boat tells the true story of college rowing team that rows for Gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It's about the journey to the Olympics and how every coach, assistant coach, rower, boat builder plays an equally important role in the journey. Lots of takeaways for lean leaders.” Peg Pennington, President of MoreSteam

Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others

By Stephen M. R. Covey

“Covey writes about transformative leadership and how you can create an environment that unleashes the greatness in people.  He compares that to transactional/motivational leadership he calls ‘command and control.’  Ironically, the military has gone away from [command and control] for good reason, we were fighting a cellular enemy that no longer operated in that construct. You have to trust your people to truly get the whole person to be inspired.” Ad Godinez, Executive Director of OpEx at Chase 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

By James Clear

“I recommend Atomic Habits! James Clear was a COE Summit keynote speaker in 2021, and his insights continue to impact the COE community. This book is full of great wisdom for OpEx leaders such as, ‘You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.’” Annie Platten, Center for Operational Excellence Member Relations Manager

Mastering Project Discovery: Successful Discipline in Analytics and Engineering Projects

By Elliot Bendoly, Daniel G. Bachrach, Kathy Koontz, and Porter Schermerhorn

“Easy to read. [I recommend it] for anyone interested in getting ahead of emerging best practices in analytical project management.” Elliot Bendoly, Distinguished Professor of Operations and Business Analytics at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business

KBI: The Strategic Metric Advantage

By Richard A. Perry

“KBI is my summer read and I cannot wait to start reading! You open to: ‘Preface - Why KBIs? This book is built upon the following fundamental logic: You get what you measure. Behavior is Culture. Measure behavior to achieve Culture.’ Enough said. I'm all in on this one!” Emily Jackson, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital 

The Thin Book of Trust: An Essential Primer For Building Trust at Work

By Charles Feltman

“Establishing trust with co-workers and the teams we lead is critical the healthy function of a team. Feltman provides some foundational approaches to putting trust in place (for the new leader) or is a nice reminder of what is important for the seasoned leader or manager.” Chris Combs, C3 Consulting

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

By Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling

“I received this book last year. After hearing Chris' keynote at the COE Summit 2024, I knew this is a book I needed to prioritize. I am very interested in smarter, simpler ways to prioritize work. Executing the most meaningful tactics for the greatest impact is what I believe generates the greatest value. A culture of organizational focus!” Bethany Foy, Continuous Improvement Leader at Ohio Mutual Insurance Group

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

By General Stanley McChrystal

“It provides a new perspective on how to approach leadership in our ever-changing world of business.” Steven Saad, Capabilities Manager at Anheuser-Busch

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

By Atul Gawande

“While this isn't a business book, it addresses a topic that is human and one that we will all face both personally as well as those we care for. It is a great book to gain perspective and help make decisions that impact work/life balance...and reinforces the importance of quality of life.” Rachel Friedman, Founder and CEO at TENFOLD and TENSPACE