This year, our shelves were packed with books profiling the personal and enterprise effects of globalization in the new economy. Covering topics as wide as how to improve workplace resiliency through improv comedy to reimagining corporate hiring strategies to leverage the gig economy, seven of my favorites lent sharp new insight into the direction of the labor market and enterprise’s response to it.
Here are my seven favorite books this year and what you can learn from each:
1. Embracing the freelancer has never been easier—or, more critical to thriving in the gig economy.
Back in early October, Rob Biederman and Patrick Petitti, co-CEOs of Catalant Technologies, released their first book, entitled Reimagining Work: Strategies to Disrupt Talent, Lead Change, and Win with a Flexible Workforce. An exploration of the gig economy, the book takes a deep dive in the successes and failures of this talent management consulting company. The book provides salient insight into the changes happening within the talent acquisition industry and speaks to both the hearts of the autonomous freelancer and the hiring manager looking to create a flexible hiring culture at their organization. The main takeaway: As the workforce grows increasingly international, the future of work lies in the hands of those enterprises that prioritize flexibility in their hiring strategies.
2. “Yes, and …” can make your workplace more resilient.
Bob Kulhan, founder of Business Improv, is as much a master improviser as he is a skilled businessman and his book, Getting to “Yes And”: The Art of Business Improv, makes for a colorful and insightful read into the dynamics of improving workforce resiliency. Based on Kulhan’s decades of experience teaching the tenets improv to business leaders, the book explains how acceptance and adaptability — two of the main tenets of improv — are essential to ensuring smoothness of day-to-day functioning within an organization and its teams. Teaching momentary situational analysis, snap decision making and workplace camaraderie makes this book an excellent read for any manager looking to build a great team.
3. How you change your business is just as important as what you change in your business.
Business leaders and academic authors, Carsten Linz, Günter Müller-Stevens
and Alexander Zimmerman, categorize business model transformations through a rich series of corporate examples in their book, Radical Business Model Transformation: Gaining the Competitive Edge in a Disruptive World. For as many business models exist, there is an equal number of leaders touting their strategy as the “the way forward.” This book makes the argument that in a rapidly globalizing and changing market, the best business strategy is not one static “ideal,” but an incrementally and perpetually flowing series of criteria to be met. The wise business is the one that is aware of the need to change the way they think about strategy and does so continually. The self-reflexivity of the lessons in this book provides an excellent roadmap to monitoring the progress your business model.
4. Take a bird’s-eye view of modern economics.
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist is Kate Raworth’s magnum opus. A refreshing take on the ecology of modern economics,Doughnut Economics examines the space between biological and planetary limitations and the minimum resources required to sustain human life — the aforementioned “hole” of the doughnut. Raworth makes a compelling call to “[meet] the needs of all within the means of the planet” during the 21st century, and she creates a complex economic argument for the type of ecological mindset that would bring us into fair shooting distance of achieving that goal. This book serves as a fascinating reminder to business leaders and economists alike to stand back at a distance to examine our modern economics.
5. Human instinct may underpin market mechanics.
Financial economist Andrew Lo has released a monumental book that tips the fundamental assumptions of the efficient markets hypothesis on their heads in Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought. Unlike the other books on this list, this book questions our very understanding of market behavior and, thereby, our understanding of business models that stem from the efficient markets hypothesis. This book packs a heavy punch with its cogency and erudition, and Lo makes quick work of constructing a conceptual narrative around the theory of adaptive markets: markets that do not incorporate all available information but are rather based on human instinct and decision making.
6. Workplace culture curation is beginning to fall under the purview of the CEO.
Perhaps the most personal and affecting selection of this book list is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s new book on changing Microsoft’s culture, entitled Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone. Powerful in its thoughtfulness and humanity, this book reflects Nadella’s personal journey through his tenure at Microsoft, his reticence in accepting the title of CEO and the subsequent corporate changes he has instituted while at the helm of this tech juggernaut. Bringing inclusivity and diversity to the top of Microsoft’s priority list has shifted the tide of day-to-day functioning within the company, and this book details just how these top-down cultural reprioritization shifts have affected Microsoft’s employees. The book brings together the high-minded rhetoric of the C-level executive and the daily concerns of the worker.
7. Owning one’s job is now a thing of the future, not the past.
Today’s workforce is mobile, the economy is dynamic and the idea that an employee is devoted to one job or one company is a thing of the past. In Matt Dahlstrom’s Bloom, he gives us the tools to build an organization of Owners, not Renters and walks us through what employees need to ensure our best employees stay connected to the company and feel inspired. Dahlstrom’s book acts as both a reference to create a new work culture and a guide that helps us identify our company needs in order to establish a team that is committed, motivated and substantially more enthusiastic to their work and the organization.