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Our book picks for 2020

In our book picks of this year, we honour those who provided us a perspective into an extraordinary moment in human history, and the many people who, despite great challenges, contributed, edited and helped publish these written works, for us to enjoy and learn from.

The year 2020 brought us back from a flood of ‘How-To’ books to consider a broader perspective, to consider the Why and How we got here, and perhaps more fundamentally, to ask…where to from here? Our recommended books for 2020 offer a somewhat different take on our experience of leadership, of strategy making and transformation. They provide a diversity of views on what is transpiring and what lies ahead, they offer a glimpse into how we ‘sense-make’ the extraordinary events of this year and remind us that, in the midst of adversity, there is opportunity, to grow, to renew and rediscover ourselves.

  1. When more is not better: This gem of a book takes us further out for perspective among generations, through the little changes that came together, to make our current economic system (in the Western World), to many, uneven, unjust and frustrating. It is a wonderful read to those seeking answers to an old question…How did we get here? Click here
  2. The 100-year life: While the above book pick helps us sense-make our past, this one takes us on a journey into the future. And as we are projected to live longer, a 100-year life is no longer for the very few but for the many. Anticipating the future is a skill we must become better at and this book helps us anticipate what a 100-year life might entail. It takes us along several paths of how we, our organisations and institutions may respond to the fact that our lives span is longer and the decisions we can make today, tomorrow and in the years to come, as we embrace the distinct possibility of a 100-year life. Click here
  3. Navigating ASEANNovation: From a global view, we turn into a regional perspective. South East Asia has been a region of growth and rising prosperity, over recent decades. This collection of essays brings a new perspective into how an innovation economy is coming into being – from startup entrepreneurs, to venture capitalists and policy makers in the region, how do we make more ‘Silicon Valleys’ flourish around the world? Click here
  4. Competing in the Age of AI: The year 2020 has pointed us not only towards the need to transform, but the need to do so at speed and scale. More than presenting a manifesto for embracing technology, this book highlights how strategy making and transforming our organisations are closely inter-linked and as we think about the traditional constraints on scale, scope, and learning that have restricted organisations for years, new (strategic) options are becoming possible. Click here
  5. Inadequate: In this book, educational technologist, developer of AI-powered learning tools and entrepreneur Priya Lakhani outlines the world of education in a state of disrepair, where children are failed by a system unfit for our rapidly-changing world, leaving them unprepared for the future. A fascinating read as we think about what we should be addressing in the ‘new normal’. Click here
  6. Inner Excellence: The term performance has taken on a new meaning in 2020 and there is much we can take from the world of sport, to hone our mental skills and step into new terrains. So much to learn from Jim Murphy’s many insights into performance. Click here
  7. Naked at Work – A Leader’s Guide to Fearless Authenticity: A wonderfully refreshing and honest look at authenticity in leadership and how your “scars” (i.e. mistakes, “failures”, etc.) can be the key to developing exceptional leadership ability. The book includes the key principles, practices and plenty of examples from the author’s past. Highly recommended for anyone whose path has not been a linear string of perfect successes (i.e. everyone). Click here
  8. The Catalyst – How to change anyone’s mind: A fresh perspective into how we think about change, especially the more transformative in nature and how becoming a catalyst for change that matter is not mere luck but the authentic engagement of others, nicely written. Click here
  9. Green Swans: a book which follows Taleb’s perspective into Black Swans, and takes it further into how we can transform and regenerate. In the author’s view, a black swan is just the beginning, how we respond to it and what follows next, truly matter. Click here
  10. Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? In 2006, Bill McKibben’s groundbreaking book, The End of Nature, alerted us to global warming. In this book, he alerts us to broader danger, as artificial intelligence and robotics impact our human experience. And as converging trends continue to accelerate, this book reminds us that strategy is about making choices, and that our choices matter, well beyond the immediate context in which they are made. A thought-provoking read. Click here

I am curious to know…Which have been you favourite books of this year? Which have left an enduring impression in your mind? Which drove you to action?