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?
One theme stands out. Last year there were very few books on innovation. For the last six 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 The Innovator’s DNA and The Wide Lens. Creativity can be taught and do not ignore your innovation ecosystem (which is wider than you think).
Gamification is HOT. The book to read is Reality is broken. This is a must-read because it 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 and it cuts across culture, talent, technology and social media. The book to read here is The 2020 Workplace.
Come to think of it, fundamental change is the overriding theme. Every book we have suggested hits that theme, one way or the other. Smart customers, stupid companies, Megachange: The World in 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 focusing on innovation we can control what is coming. We can’t. Which brings me to the last theme. In Thinking fast and slow, Daniel 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 key questions
So what questions should small business owners be asking themselves?
- 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 demographics tell you?
- What is the latest business book you read? (I had to put that one in ;)
While the elements wreck havoc outside, the books we highly recommend are Smart customers, stupid companies and Reality is broken. I was going to close with “enjoy the summer”, but that is just rubbing salt in the wounds.