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Matthew Fleharty

Reading Recommendations for Contracting Professionals

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I'm currently on the hunt for new reading material and I figured while I try to help myself, why not help others.  For those also looking for something to read related to contracting, a list that I have found helpful compiled by Vern can be found here (www.wifcon.com/anal/RecommendedReading.pdf).  Similarly, I'm sure other members of this community have books that they share when asked for recommendations, but haven't taken the time to compile a list (I'm guilty myself) so I'd like to ask the Wifcon members for a simple, easy request:

Provide just one recommendation for a book that would be beneficial for a contracting professional to read.  I'll start:

My recommendation is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0374533555).  In a career field where making sound decisions is a critical trait, one should understand how the mind works, how it can deceive us, how to recognize those situations, and how to adjust accordingly.  What you'll learn from this book is as useful (if not more) in life as it is in contracting.

What's yours?

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Great recommendation, Matthew. Admittedly, I had to read most pages more than once. Have you read Blink and Outliers by Malcom Gladwell?

My recommendation is Writing to Win: The Legal Writer, by Steven D. Stark

Link

This book gives great instruction that could improve anyones professional and personal writing. A lot of contracting involves persuasion. This book will help you state your case--and win it with forceful writing that is one of the most potent weapons of advocacy.

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Here are two recommendations:

1. The essays of Michel de Montaigne, the 16th Century French thinker, which have been published in various editions. The best two editions are compilations of the translations by Donald M. Frame. My favorite is Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Works (Everyman's Library, 2003). The other is The Complete Essays of Montaigne (Stanford, 1965). One or the other is usually available at a Barnes and Noble. Used copies are abundant. There are more than 100 essays, and they run in length from a couple of pages to 20 or longer. A great vacation book and early morning reading. Some titles:

  • That to philosophize is to learn to die.
  • Of custom, and not easily changing an accepted law.
  • Of friendship.
  • Of cannibals.
  • Various outcomes of the same plan.
  • Of solitude.
  • Of war horses.
  • Of practice.
  • Of the art of discussion.

2. It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be, by Paul Arden (Phaeton Press, 2003).

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Per Matthew's request, in addition to Vern's list at   (www.wifcon.com/anal/RecommendedReading.pdf). (especially "The Classics" - which are mandatory in my opinion), my one recommendation for a book that would be beneficial for a contracting professional to read is the late Steven R. Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". 

http://www.summary.com/aw/srcovey?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Booktitles&utm_term=seven habits of highly effective people&utm_content=7 Habits

 

Quote

(From Bing search at :http://www.bing.com/search?q=seven habits of highly effective people&pc=cosp&ptag=N2000G1454D041816AFCE4F07FCB&form=CONTLB&conlogo=CT3210127 )

What are the seven habits of highly effective people?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a book written by Steven Covey, first published in 1989. Each chapter in the book is titled for the habit it discusses in detail. In summary, the seven habits are:
1.  Be Proactive
2.  Begin with the End in Mind
3.  Put First Things First
4.  Think Win-Win
5.  Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
6.  Synergize
7.  Sharpen the Saw

Reference: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Habits_of_Highly_Effectiv…
 

If you ever intend to lead teams, more effectively interact with others, negotiate contracts, changes, evaluate and/or negotiate claims settlements, award and administer contracts, etc., this potentially life changing approach to human relations and thinking will greatly benefit you as well as your organization, be it government/owner or contractor.

I was very fortunate to have a Division Chief send me to the 7 Habits class, which is even more effective than just reading the book.  See:  .http://www.amanet.org/training/seminars/The-7-Habits-of-Highly-Effective-People.aspx?Pcode=XCLQ&mkwid=5AXgFfdW|pcrid|12363089878|pkw|seven habits of highly effective people|pmt|be|dvm|c|&pmid={placement}&_vsrefdom=[vrefdom]&vskeywords=mkwid&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=AMA_National_Gen_Search_NonBrnd_Exact_7 Habits T3&utm_term=seven habits of highly effective people&utm_content=7 Habits Exact

I have some other recommendations for those who negotiate, but will save until the next opportunity

 

 

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On ‎8‎/‎19‎/‎2016 at 11:07 AM, joel hoffman said:

Steven R. Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"

Ditto.

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Unrelated to contracting, N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season just won the Hugo Award for best SF/Fantasy novel of 2015. I highly recommend it. It is lyrical and fierce and subtly didactic. NPR reviews the book: http://www.npr.org/2015/08/04/427825372/fifth-season-embraces-the-scale-and-complexity-of-fantasy

H2H

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Hi, H2H,

Also unrelated: I recently read Call of Cthulu by HP Lovecraft.  Does not work as a campfire reading-to-the-kids horror story.  Good story, though.

In my younger days I enjoyed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  And Paradise Lost which was not as hard to read as I thought. 

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Boyd, The Future of Pricing: How Airline Ticket Pricing Has Inspired A Revolution (Palgrave 2007).

Phillips, Pricing and Revenue Optimization (Stanford  2005).

Poundstone, Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) (Hill and Wang 2010).

Smith Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts, & Establishing Price Structures (South-Western 2012).

Arendt, The Life of the Mind (Harcourt 1971).

Cavender & Kahane, Logic & Contemporary Rhetoric, 12th ed. (Wadsworth 2014).

Lundsford, et al., Everything's An Argument, with readings (Bedford/St. Martin's 2010).

Farazimand, ed., Bureaucracy and Administration CRC Press 2009).

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On ‎8‎/‎19‎/‎2016 at 8:07 AM, joel hoffman said:

I have some other recommendations for those who negotiate, but will save until the next opportunity

Joel,

I'm curious what recommendations you have on the topic of negotiations.  Some notable ones that I've read are Getting to Yes and Getting Past No by William Ury as well as The Art of Negotiation by Gordon Wade Rule (which can be found electronically here http://www.wifcon.com/pubs/artofnegotiation.htm though I'd love to find a hard copy...) and Don's recommended Crucial Conversations.  Any others would be quite welcome!

Also thanks to everyone who has contributed thus far!  I've already ordered most of the recommended books if they weren't part of my library already, though some of those texts Vern just referenced are pricey :(

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Matthew,

Getting to Yes by William Ury was on my list, too. There is a 2011 update to the version that I read long ago: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher  , William L. Ury , Bruce Patton . Go to Amazon via a Bing Search

The Art of Negotiating by Gerald I. Nierenberg, copyrighted in 1968 and reprinted in 1979 by Cornerstone Library (Simon and Schuster). There is an update, co-authored by Henry H. Calero:  https://www.overdrive.com/media/233394/the-new-art-of-negotiating.  It is also available as an audio book.

Winning the Negotiation by Henry H. Calero, Published by Hathorn Books, Inc.,1979, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 79-84208; ISBN:0-8015-3680-4 There is an updated 2008 version available.  http://www.bing.com/search?q=Winning the Negotiation by Henry H. Calero%2C &qs=n&form=QBRE&pq=winning the negotiation by henry h. calero%2C &sc=0-44&sp=-1&sk=&cvid=D338C6CC95EA4AF9B1DC9CEF8CB0B22F

 

P.S.:  They are all fairly easy to read for a practitioner or student learning to negotiate and are not "The Unending Story".

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Harvard Business Review has several good reads…https://hbr.org/topic/negotiations

I think Even Swaps is a good read.

MIT Sloan also provides some good material: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/newsroom/articles/seven-keys-to-effective-negotiation/

I find these primers informational and appropriate for promoting thought and reflection. It gives me specific areas to take deep dives in.

Negotiation skills develop daily, not in a day. Some may prefer a treatise on the subject, but for negotiations I try not overestimate the value of completing a book or finding a nugget of information.

The process --of learning and performing negotiations-- is equally if not more important than academic learning.

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10 hours ago, Matthew Fleharty said:

some of those texts Vern just referenced are pricey

Yes, but that's the sad reality of those kinds of texts. The prices are like textbook prices, and you know what those are like. I have complained to publishers to no avail.

Rule's The Art of Negotiation has never been published in hardcover. I received my copy in 1974, and it was a always a handout. Moreover, it's not really about contract negotiations. In my experience, the best book ever written about negotiation is The Negotiating Game by Chester Karrass. Anyway, you don't learn negotiation by reading, you learn it by watching a good negotiator in an actual negotiation and by negotiating with a good negotiator.

The Call of Cthulu, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Paradise Lost is what I call an eclectic list. :mellow:

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1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

Anyway, you don't learn negotiation by reading, you learn it by watching a good negotiator in an actual negotiation and by negotiating with a good negotiator.

Or by practicing and receiving constructive feedback.  I wish the Government's required "in residence" acquisition training focused more on developing/honing skills like that rather than instructors parroting the FAR with the help of Powerpoint...but I digress.  Maybe when I can find some spare time I'll sit down and lay out my thoughts so I can have a constructive conversation with Don (and any others interested in the subject).

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I'm clearing out my library, so now is a good time to provide lists of books.

Here are some titles dealing with statutory/regulatory interpretation:

Katzman, Judging Statutes (Oxford 2014).

Scalia and Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (West 2012).

Eskridge et al., Statutory Interpretation Stories (Foundation Press 2011).

Jellum and Hrick, Modern Statutory Interpretation: Problems, Theories, and Lawyering Strategies, 2d ed. (Carolina Academic Press 2009).

Benson, The Interpretation Game: How Judges and Lawyers Make the Law (Carolina Academic Press 2008).

Popkin, A Dictionary of Statutory Interpretation (Carolina Academic Press 2007).

Barak, Purposive Interpretation in Law (Princeton 2005).

Popkin, Statutes in Court: The History and Theory of Statutory Interpretation (Duke 1999).

Mikva and Lane, An Introduction to Statutory Interpretation and the Legislative Process (Aspen Law & Business 1997).

 

 

 

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James Nagle's A History of Government Contracting is a surprisingly interesting read for those who enjoy military history. Nagle takes what could be a very dry litany of facts and dates and weaves a captivating tale of our nations history from the perspective of federal procurement. Check out this review: 

http://www.governmenttraininginc.com/A-History-of-Government-Contracting-Handbook.asp

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I was recently loaned It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell. It is a really good book. I have the paperback (library checkout) and audiobook (mentor loaner) where Colin Powell does the reading. It has a conversational story-like feel to it as you hear Colin Powell share old experiences.

I'm going to purchase both versions.

 

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2 hours ago, DJEarl said:

James Nagle's A History of Government Contracting is a surprisingly interesting read for those who enjoy military history. Nagle takes what could be a very dry litany of facts and dates and weaves a captivating tale of our nations history from the perspective of federal procurement. Check out this review: 

http://www.governmenttraininginc.com/A-History-of-Government-Contracting-Handbook.asp

Still trying to figure out how to obtain a copy of this (or "these" as it appears the Third Edition is two volumes) - thus far my attempts at purchasing through their website haven't work (the "Secure Payment Server" is a broken page full of Asian characters) and no current editions are available on Amazon or elsewhere (at least that I've been able to find).

Also, welcome to Wifcon and congrats on the first post! :)

2 hours ago, Jamaal Valentine said:

I was recently loaned It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell. It is a really good book. I have the paperback (library checkout) and audiobook (mentor loaner) where Colin Powell does the reading. It has a conversational story-like feel to it as you hear Colin Powell share old experiences.

I'm going to purchase both versions.

Huge fan of that book Jamaal - lots of tidbits of useful information in quick, digestible chapters that are easy to read independently (and share with others - as you experienced).  If you enjoyed that book, I'd also recommend Duty by Robert Gates (https://www.amazon.com/Duty-Memoirs-Secretary-at-War/dp/030794963X) - certainly a different format (way more biographical), but interesting nevertheless (especially when he begins discussing acquisition program cuts).

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Light, Paul The Four Pillars of High Performance (2005) – I am particularly drawn to Light’s views of Public Administration, and he has practical rather than idealistic application which is not the norm in academe.  Good for branch chief/director level thought in what kind of team/organization they would like to build.

Newport, Cal So Good They Can’t Ignore You (2012) and Deep Work (2016) – Both are consistent with the type of approach advocated for when developing excellence in a craft ~ in our case contracting.

Shapiro, Stephen Best Practices Are Stupid (2011) – We get best-practiced to death in government, and they rarely work due to variance in conditions and situations.  Plus the title is contrarian enough for me to enjoy.  

Taleb, Nassim Antifragile (2012) – He is a more cantankerous Kahneman and almost as brilliant.  A modern erudite who is well versed in philosophy, literature, and mathematics.  It would be fun to think of how to make the 1102 career field not only robust but anti-fragile (able to benefit from high impact-low probability events).  I have my thoughts but will cook them a bit longer.

Tracy, Brian Goals!, ( Berrett-Koehler Publisher, 2010) - This is good for anyone who has personal or professional expectations.  Pretty basic, but a good reminder - a goal without a plan is just a wish.  A CO who wants to be top of their field must work for it, and work at it every day.

For Negotiations – Cialdini, Robert Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984) – Negotiations is 10% gamesmanship and 90% persuasion.  This book helps with that 90% by looking at human behavior.

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Just wanted to post another book that I enjoyed reading: The Development of Modern Government Contract Law: A Personal Perspective by C. Stanley Dees.  The contents of the book can be found at the following link: https://lrus.wolterskluwer.com/store/products/development-modern-government-contract-law-personal-perspective-prod-10040886-0001/softcover-book-item-1-10040886-0001.  Each chapter is around 15-20 pages in length and the content is from the perspective of an industry contracts attorney.  I thought the book read smoothly and, while legally focused, is still an interesting read for contracting professionals.

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I had the pleasure of working with Stanley about 15 years ago. An amazing mind!

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I've been reading some good books on probability and statistics:

The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow

A Field Guide to Lies by Daniel Levitin

Standard Deviations by Gary V. Smith

I've been using the Birthday Problem to break the ice in my classes. I've won a lot of bets. 

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The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli

 

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