The 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards: Big Ideas & New Perspectives
December 19, 2016
Need a new idea or perspective for 2017? These five books offer up the best of 2016.
We are dedicating the book giveaways for the rest of 2016 to giving away all 40 books on the 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards Longlist—one category at a time. This week, we have the books in the Big Ideas & New Perspectives category.
(Editor's Note: the copy below is promotional copy from the books' publishers. If you would like to hear from the judges at 800-CEO-READ as to why these books in particular were chosen, check back in to the News & Opinion channel later this week to go "inside the longlist," or subscribe to the Keen Thinker to get our weekly roundup of content.)
Each of this week's winners will receive all five finalists in the Big Ideas & New Perspectives category, and we have five sets available. The books you'll receive are:
The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness by Todd Rose, HarperOne
The assumption that metrics comparing us to an average—like GPAs, personality test results, and performance review ratings—reveal something meaningful about our potential is so ingrained in our consciousness that we don’t even question it. That assumption, says Harvard’s Todd Rose, is spectacularly—and scientifically—wrong.
In The End of Average, Rose, a rising star in the new field of the science of the individual shows that no one is average. Not you. Not your kids. Not your employees. This isn’t hollow sloganeering—it’s a mathematical fact with enormous practical consequences. But while we know people learn and develop in distinctive ways, these unique patterns of behaviors are lost in our schools and businesses which have been designed around the mythical “average person.” This average-size-fits-all model ignores our differences and fails at recognizing talent. It’s time to change it.
Weaving science, history, and his personal experiences as a high school dropout, Rose offers a powerful alternative to understanding individuals through averages: the three principles of individuality. The jaggedness principle (talent is always jagged), the context principle (traits are a myth), and the pathways principle (we all walk the road less traveled) help us understand our true uniqueness—and that of others—and how to take full advantage of individuality to gain an edge in life.
Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan, Simon & Schuster
Just as Susan Sontag did for photography and Marshall McLuhan did for television, Virginia Heffernan (called one of the “best living writers of English prose”) reveals the logic and aesthetics behind the Internet.
Since its inception, the Internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media into its own full-fledged civilization. It is among mankind’s great masterpieces—a massive work of art. As an idea, it rivals monotheism. We all inhabit this fascinating place. But its deep logic, its cultural potential, and its societal impact often elude us. In this deep and thoughtful book, Virginia Heffernan presents an original and far-reaching analysis of what the Internet is and does.
Life online, in the highly visual, social, portable, and global incarnation rewards certain virtues. The new medium favors speed, accuracy, wit, prolificacy, and versatility, and its form and functions are changing how we perceive, experience, and understand the world.
The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation by Antoine van Agtmael and Fred Bakker, PublicAffairs
The remarkable story of how rustbelt cities such as Akron and Albany in the United States and Eindhoven in Europe are becoming the unlikely hotspots of global innovation, where sharing brainpower and making things smarter—not cheaper—is creating a new economy that is turning globalization on its head.
Antoine van Agtmael and Fred Bakker counter recent conventional wisdom that the American and northern European economies have lost their initiative in innovation and their competitive edge by focusing on an unexpected and hopeful trend: the emerging sources of economic strength coming from areas once known as “rustbelts” that had been written off as yesterday’s story.
In these communities, a combination of forces—visionary thinkers, local universities, regional government initiatives, start-ups, and big corporations—have created “brainbelts.” Based on trust, a collaborative style of working, and freedom of thinking prevalent in America and Europe, these brainbelts are producing smart products that are transforming industries by integrating IT, sensors, big data, new materials, new discoveries, and automation. From polymers to medical devices, the brainbelts have turned the tide from cheap, outsourced production to making things smart right in our own backyard. The next emerging market may, in fact, be the West.
Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff, Portfolio
Digital technology was supposed to usher in a new age of endless prosperity, but so far it has been used to put industrial capitalism on steroids, making it harder for people and businesses to keep up. Social networks surrender their original missions to more immediately profitable data mining, while brokerage houses abandon value investing for algorithms that drain markets and our 401ks alike—all tactics driven by the need to stoke growth by any means necessary. Internet startups sell for billions, but destroy more jobs than they create, extract more cash from circulation than they put in, and disrupt entire marketplaces and neighborhoods in the process. The disenfranchised throw rocks at the buses Google uses ferry to its employees to work, but there has to be a better response to the destructively lopsided returns of the digital economy. We know that something’s wrong—but we’re not sure how to fix it, or even how to articulate the problem.
Media scholar and technology author Douglas Rushkoff—one of today’s most original and influential thinkers—argues for a new economic program that utilizes the unique distributive power of the internet while breaking free of the winner-take-all game defining business today. Drawing on sources both contemporary and historical, Rushkoff pioneers a new understanding of the old economic paradigm, from central currency to debt to corporations and labor.
Most importantly, he offers a series of practical steps for businesses, consumers, investors, and policymakers to remake the economic operating system from the inside out—and prosper along the way. Instead of boycotting Wal-Mart or overtaxing the wealthy, we can implement strategies that foster the creation of value by stakeholders other than just ourselves. From our currency to our labor to the corporation, every aspect of the economy can be reprogrammed with minimal disruption to create a more equitably distributed prosperity for all.
Inspiring and challenging, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus provides a pragmatic, optimistic, and human-centered model for economic progress in the digital age.
What Works: Gender Equality by Design by Iris Bohnet, Belknap Press
Gender equality is a moral and a business imperative. But unconscious bias holds us back and de-biasing minds has proven to be difficult and expensive. Behavioral design offers a new solution. Iris Bohnet shows that by de-biasing organizations instead of individuals, we can make smart changes that have big impacts—often at low cost and high speed.
Gender equality is a moral and a business imperative. But unconscious bias holds us back, and de-biasing people’s minds has proven to be difficult and expensive. Diversity training programs have had limited success, and individual effort alone often invites backlash. Behavioral design offers a new solution. By de-biasing organizations instead of individuals, we can make smart changes that have big impacts. Presenting research-based solutions, Iris Bohnet hands us the tools we need to move the needle in classrooms and boardrooms, in hiring and promotion, benefiting businesses, governments, and the lives of millions.
What Works is built on new insights into the human mind. It draws on data collected by companies, universities, and governments in Australia, India, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, and other countries, often in randomized controlled trials. It points out dozens of evidence-based interventions that could be adopted right now and demonstrates how research is addressing gender bias, improving lives and performance. What Works shows what more can be done—often at shockingly low cost and surprisingly high speed.