Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Book on Books" - The New Generation

Students of fire and leadership are well aware of the Wildland Fire Book on Books. The document contained books and publications that provide leadership insight--whether within or outside the wildland fire environment. Since its inception, the document has grown to a size of 100 titles. To some, the list is overwhelming and discouraging in an era of declining readers, not to mention quite a maintenance task for the Professional Reading Program (PRP) stewards.

A couple of years ago, Pam McDonald, PRP steward at the time, convened a group of volunteers who engaged the program and were passionate about reading. These individuals became known as Sparks for PRP Change or SPARKS. The SPARKS quickly came to the realization that change was in order. 

From 100 to 25 Titles

The most significant change was rethinking how many books should be included in the list of books. SPARKS made the decision to reduce the number of recommended annual reads to 25. Additionally, the 25 titles would be a hybrid between the original title categories found within the Book on Books and the leader designations found within the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP).

Allen Briggs, U.S. Forest Service Fire Management Officer and SPARK, took a leadership challenge and wrote an article about the new format for Utah Fire and Rescue Academy's magazine Straight Tip (April-June 2014). The SPARKS realize that reading is personal and no list will fit for every student of fire. The intent is to launch the list and collect input. 

Entry Leader Suggested Reading
  • Fire History and Culture - Hellroaring: The Life and Times of a Fire Burn by Peter M. Leschak
  • Human Factors - The Go Point by Michael Useem
  • Lessons Learned - Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean
  • Leadership and Management - You Don't Need a Title to Be a Leader by Mark Sanborn
  • Case Studies - Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
Emerging Leader Suggested Reading
  • Fire History and Culture - Ghosts of the Fireground by Peter M. Leschak
  • Human Factors - Isacc's Storm by Erik Larson
  • Lessons Learned - Fire on the Mountain by John N. Maclean
  • Leadership and Management - The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell by Oren Harari
  • Case Studies - Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Primary Leader Suggested Reading
  • Fire History and Culture - The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan
  • Human Factors - Friendly Fire by Scott A. Snook
  • Lessons Learned - Beyond Tranquillon Ridge by Joseph N. Valencia
  • Leadership and Management - First in, Last Out by John Salka
  • Case Studies - The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick
Leader of Leaders Suggested Reading
  • Fire History and Culture - Fireline: The Summer Battles of the West by Michael Thoele
  • Human Factors - Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell
  • Lessons Learned - The Thirty Mile Fire: A Chronicle of Bravery and Betrayal by John N. Maclean
  • Leadership and Management - The Leadership Moment by Michael Useem
  • Case Studies - Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz
Leader of Organizations Suggested Reading
  • Fire History and Culture - Tending Fire: Coping with America's Wildland Fires by Stephen Pyne
  • Human Factors - Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents by James Reason
  • Lessons Learned - Wildfire and Americans: How to Save Lives, Property and Your Tax Dollars by Roger G. Kennedy
  • Leadership and Management - Leading Change by John P. Kotter
  • Case Studies - Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
  • Review the list and give the SPARKS feedback.
  • Select a book(s) and begin reading.
  • Write a review or start a discussion group in the Fireline Reading Room.


Riva Duncan said...

Pretty good list, but I'm actually shocked you didn't include the 2nd edition of "Managing The Unexpected" about High Reliability Organizing! HRO is becoming one of the cornerstones of risk management in fire. I'm sure others have fave books they think you should have included. Can't please us all!

Pam McDonald said...

Thanks so much for the comment. We knew we would hear about this one. Our intent with "Managing the Unexptected" is to maintain a list of master books. The "Top 25" are likely to change. This gives our avid readers and students of fire an opportunity to respond (we didn't get a lot of comments prior to launch).

We welcome any and all suggestions as we move forward. We know that going from 100 to 25 would be a significant change, but we knew something had to be done. None of the titles are going away. We will keep them all.

Stay tuned and in touch.

Thanks for your input and continual support and leadership insight.

Pam McDonald

Chris Graves said...

I'd like to submit a title that is a great primer for "Managing the Unexpected" and "Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents" is a book by David Marx, "Whack-a-Mole: The Price We Pay For Expecting Perfection".

Whack-a-Mole: The Price We Pay For Expecting Perfection explores the role of human error in society, from aviation and healthcare, to driving and parenting—and where accountability rests for those errors, especially when they take the life of another. David Marx argues that regulatory and human resource prohibitions, along with the criminal prosecution of human error, have been counter-productive to helping society deal with the risks and consequences of human fallibility. Marx advocates a different approach to addressing our shared fallibility.