We normally write an article for the summer break with suggested books for you to consider when you are re-charging your batteries. Due to the weather we forgot it was summer. In some ways that is good news as the weather will keep you inside with lots of time to read a good book. Under the blankets with a nice cup of hot tea, in front of a nice open fire. Outside the cold wind is blowing and the rain is clattering on the windows……
What to recommend?
Now that the scene is set, what books would we recommend? It is always interesting to look back at the books we covered with our clients and the books we reviewed for Newstalk radio. Are there any new themes or common threads? What are the key questions? What is the MUST READ book?
Innovation as a key theme
One theme stands out. Last year there were very few books on innovation. For the last 6 months, it has become a hot topic. Both in books and for our clients. As an optimist, I think that is a sign of economic recovery. Companies are planning ahead for the next big thing. The books that we would recommend are “Innovators DNA” and “The wide lens”. Creativity can be thought and do not ignore your innovation ecosystem (which is wider than you think).
Gamification is HOT. The book to read is “Reality is broken”. Of all the books that would be my MUST READ. That is because the book touches on so many other books and themes, including innovation (applying collective gaming principles to solving problems). It touches on “The shallows” (computers and the internet are creating pancake minds, so your design and user interface needs to be compelling in split seconds), “The end of business as usual” (social media, rapid customer feedback, engagement and digital Darwinism) and “A whole new mind” (passion, creativity and the end of the current education system).
The world of work and how it is fundamentally changing is a theme. Culture, talent, meaning, technology, talent and social media. The book to read there is “Workplace 2020”.
Come to think of it, fundamental change is the overriding theme. Every book we use hits that theme one-way or the other. “Smart customers, stupid companies, “Megachange 2050”, “Out of our minds”, “Flash foresight” and “Everything we know is wrong” are but a few examples.
Out of control
Maybe that is why innovation is such a hot topic. We think that by focussing on innovation we can control what is coming. We can’t. Which brings me to the last theme and is connected. In “Thinking fast and slow, Kahneman explains that we are constantly fooling ourselves and are self-delusional most of the time. It is the way we are wired. That includes a lot of companies. They know change is coming, but remain boiling frogs. Soon the water will be boiling.
The most recent book that illustrates that best is probably “Smart customers, stupid companies”. Customer loyalty does not exist, soon you will have to you’re your price reduced by 90%, friction is suicide. Another MUST READ.
What are the key questions? They are very simple, but you need to answer them in the context of rapid change:
- How well are you looking after your staff?
- How well are you looking after your customers?
- Do you really understand social media?
- Do you really understand technology and how it will impact?
- How well are you using technology, gaming principles and culture as ways to distinct yourself from the competition?
- What are the demographics telling you?
- What is the latest business book you read? (I had to put that one in 😉
While the elements wreak havoc outside, the books we highly recommend are “Reality is broken” and “Smart customers, stupid companies”. Was going to close with “Enjoy the summer”, but that is just rubbing salt in the wounds.