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28 Books On The Future Of Work You Need To Read Today - Part Two

Taking the time to read, absorb and learn is critical for anyone involved in the business world. Whether you are the CEO or in middle management, reading and exposing yourself to new ideas is a time-tested way to find solutions for a lot of your problems.  

Much like everything else, change in the world of business isn’t apparent to the naked eye. However, the books on this phenomenal list build a picture of disruption that’s been happening right under our watch. But it’s no longer silent - change is here, loud and clear.

So, without further ado, here’s Part Two of our list or read Part One if you have not read it yet.

15.  Blue Ocean Strategy - Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.

Every company is not always going to have the advantage of being the first of its kind in its space. However, does that mean that once someone’s created something that it’s done and the rest are just copycats, competing for the same part of the market till it disappears? The Blue Ocean Strategy says otherwise.

A textbook for every company, it is recognized as one of the most iconic and impactful strategy books ever written. Blue Ocean Strategy is written by Kim and Mauborgne, professors at INSEAD and co-directors of the Blue Ocean Strategy institute. They assert that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody ”red ocean” of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Red oceans are defined as known market spaces, where industry boundaries are defined and accepted and companies try to outperform rivals to claim greater market share. This conventional approach is derived from military principles and while sometimes necessary, it is not a strategy for high performance.

Based on a study of 150 strategic moves, spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries, the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans”. Blue oceans are a term for unknown market space which are poised for growth, yet to be tainted by competition. It describes a wider, deeper potential of market space that does not need to result in a zero-sum game. It asserts that industry boundaries are permeable and can be reconstructed by actions and beliefs of those in the industry.

Presenting a systematic approach, Kim and Mauborgne first focus on value innovation and prescribe tools like the “strategy canvas” and the “four actions” framework”, which help to eliminate trade-off between differentiation and low cost. They later describe four principles which organizations can use to find their blue ocean. Finally, they describe two important implementation principles on leadership and fair process, which are essential to overcome key organizational hurdles that can prevent a proper implementation of the strategy

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon and Wikipedia)

16. Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) - Salim Ismail

If performance holds the key to business growth, then organization holds the key to performance. Today, the business world is witnessing a new breed of organizations emerging - the exponential organizations. They embody how technology can shift organizational growth onto the fast lane by doing away with the traditional, linear way of growth. Instead, they leverage technological assets like big data, community, algorithms and new tech to perform at a rate that’s 10 times faster than the competition. The book is a compilation of deep research on the phenomenon of exponential organizations and documents their 10 characteristics - in order to show companies of all sizes how they too can be exponential organizations.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

17. UNBOSS - Jacob Botter, Lars Kolind

In this dynamic book, authors Botter and Kolind take the concept of a “boss” and turn it on its head. They argue the management practices most people learn and follow are out of date and irrelevant. At Oticon, Kolind transformed a struggling company into a modern revolutionary success story. We are introduced to his new management concepts which you can also put into action. UNBOSS teaches you how to leave 20th-century hierarchies, job descriptions, titles, and ineffective bonus schemes behind you. While at the same time, it proposes new strategies which turn employees into partners; make fixed working hours irrelevant; and, change customers into your new sales team. An inspiring read with practical takeaways.  

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

18. The Purpose Economy, Expanded, and Updated: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World - Aaron Hurst

The Purpose Economy was first published in 2014. Now, as people increasingly demand to work with a purpose, we find the book republished in an expanded and updated format. Who doesn’t want to get up every morning and feel they have a purpose to their day?  Particularly in relation to their work. You might ask, is this really new? Well, the demand for purposeful work is new and is certainly growing. In this book, the author presents interviews with hundreds of entrepreneurs. Then, he breaks down this new thirst for workplace purpose. You can take his theories and use them to leverage your own business endeavors. As purpose increasingly becomes a marker for leaders in the business world.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

19. WORKING OUT LOUD: For a Better Career and Life - John Stepper

In this book, the author focuses on individuals and helping them to better realize their potential at work. Take a step back from company goals and focus on your individual path. Or consider the method for your organization. When an organization implements the approach it fosters a culture of collaboration and agility.

The working out loud approach teaches you how to improve the way you build relationships. From adopting a new more generous attitude to networking or improving how you communicate with people. Once you have learned the research backing up the method, and heard testimonies from people who use the techniques. The time comes to master the techniques. The book includes a twelve-week program so you can learn how to put the working out loud approach into practice in your own life. You may even find a peer support group near you in the form of working out loud circles.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

20. Organize for Complexity: How to Get Life Back Into Work to Build the High-Performance Organization - Niels Pflaeging

Once a company scales, things can get complicated. Trying to wade through the complexity can render what was once a nimble light business into a lumbering giant. In his book, Pflaeging teaches the reader how organizations can reboot their productivity by organizing themselves for complexity.

The book is a tool which can help you to leverage productivity to new and inspiring heights. And a framework for modern leadership and implementing meaningful changes in your organization.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

21. The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good - Ryan Honeyman

Positioning your company as a force for good can help you distinguish yourself from your competitors and build a loyal customer base. B Corp companies are a group of around 1,000 organizations who are redefining the way we do business. They place positive impact at the forefront of their business goals and in doing so make the world a better place. Yet, despite their lofty goals which might seem at odds with the drive of consumerism, they make money and prosper.

In this book author Ryan  Honeyman, gives tips and guidance to companies who want to improve the impact they leave on the world. Compiling tips and best practice guidelines shared with him by executives and CEOs from B corp companies. Honeyman gives the reader practical tools with which you can take action. The book includes a quick start guide which will help you take steps to make improvements in your own organization.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

22. Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World - Brian J. Robertson

What if everyone in your organization became a leader. Would chaos ensue? Or a new season of agility begin. Holacracy is a management system which takes hierarchical structures and turns them on their head. Everything is reimagined. From the way you should label employees, to the way you should make decisions. This book teaches you how to ditch the out of date and slow to respond business plans. And to adopt new methods of working which promote agility and the pursuit of purpose.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

23. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman--Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual - Yvon Chouinard

In this book which serves as a sobering warning, as well as an inspiration, Yvon Chouinard talks about his company Patagonia.Inc. The company stands out in a consumer-focused world as one with integrity and responsibility. Can growth and integrity really go together? At a time when global warming threatens our future, now is a time for corporations to meaningfully address the conflict between growth and sustainability. Now is the time to seek ways to do business with a conscience. Our future depends on it.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

 24. The Virgin Way: If It’s Not Fun, It’s Not Worth Doing - Richard Branson

Finally, in our last book on the list, the eccentric British entrepreneur, Richard Branson, takes the reader on a journey through his life. He talks about the lessons he learned along the way and uses this wealth of experience to illustrate and break down the attributes of his swashbuckling leadership style. As a young lad, Richard dropped out of school at 16 years old, and remarkably from there built up the global brand Virgin, in his own unique way.

Under four main sections: listen, learn, laugh and lead, Richard teaches the reader “The Virgin Way”. This book makes an inspiring, eye-opening and funny read. An invaluable choice for anyone in the business world wanting to take steps to escape the box and to bring the future into the now.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

25. Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Economics Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman explains how two systems drive the way we think. He classifies the System 1 as fast, intuitive, and emotional while the System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Through this dual lens, he engages the reader in a lively and thought provoking conversation about how we can use our System 2 more and to manage the overconfidence that stems from an over reliance on our System 1 that is our intuition. 

He traces the impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future and the effect of our cognitive biases on our life. From there, he offers practical insights on how we can build awareness to guard against our mental glitches that get us into trouble.

(Synopsis from Amazon and Wikipedia)

26. The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation - Matthew Dixon

Based on one of the most exhaustive and largest study of thousands of sales reps across multiple industries and geographies, The Challenger Sale identifies five types of sales representatives: the hard worker, the relationship builder, the problem solver, the lone wolf and the challenger. Dixon argues that the classic approach of relationship building may no longer be the most effective way of making sales. Instead, the challengers, who provide insights into their customer’s business and tailor their pitch to what the customer needs, do a the name suggest: challenge. They push back when necessary and take control of the customer conversation. They also assert that an average-performing rep, equipped with the right tools, can successfully transform his sales technique to create a distinctive purchase experience that drives higher levels of customer loyalty and, ultimately, greater growth.

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon and hubspot)

27. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street - John Brooks

“The best business book I’ve ever read” is how Bill Gates describes this book. A collection of 12 New Yorker articles, it was first printed in 1966, profiling the fast and incredible rise of Xerox. As Gates opines, “A skeptic might wonder how this out-of-print collection of New Yorker articles from the 1960s could have anything to say about business today….it’s certainly true that many of the particulars of business have changed. But the fundamentals have not. Brooks’s deeper insights about business are just as relevant today as they were back then.”  Each of these 12 tales is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety and Brooks’ insightful reporting chronicle these notable and fascinating account, making it as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened

(Synopsis adapted from Amazon)

28. The Black Swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable and, yet, causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking and prophetic book, Taleb shows in a playful way that Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and, yet, we—especially the experts—are blind to them. This is a book about uncertainty; to this author, the rare event equals uncertainty. This may seem like a strong statement, that we need to principally study the rare and extreme events in order to figure out common ones. There are two possible ways to approach phenomena. The first is to rule out the extraordinary and focus on the "normal." The examiner leaves aside "outliers" and studies ordinary cases. The second approach is to consider that in order to understand a phenomenon, one needs to first consider the extremes-particularly if, like the Black Swan, they carry an extraordinary cumulative effect.

(Synopsis adapted from NYT Review)

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