Culture and Business in Books

Culture and business in books

Reading is a form of freedom. Libraries and bookstores are some of the most interesting places in the world. Growing up, we had a library of 5,000 books in the house—my antilibrary.

The year started off reading a great mystery novel by Scottish crime writer Val McDermid, and continues with a mix of books. An inner dialogue with different ideas is possible only if we're willing to engage with diversity in geography and culture.

How I read books: In batches and not linearly.


About culture, but also hearing from different perspectives.

Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg. If you're looking for a calm and thoughtful reading experience, this is it. I wished there were more citations of studies and literature, I rely heavily on both as I run thought experiments to make sense of topics. Dipping into philosophy, anthropology, literature, and history of the arts from a Norther European point of view Madsbjerg (Denmark) can articulate well many of the questions that have been part of my work.

Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation by Grant McCracken. It was interesting in parts, difficult for me to follow in others. I otherwise find McCracken's articles highly stimulating and valuable. His personal culture developed within disciplines similar to mine, yet within a different context (Canada) in its formative years.

Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life by Francesca Gino. As a rebel and someone's who's been labeled troublemaker in school, I was eager to read this one. It was an article on Massimo Bottura that tipped the scale; it was refreshing to find research similar to mine on other Italian companies as well. Lots of science and some personal stories (Italy) made it relatable. Grazie mille for the inspiration, Francesca.

What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz is next in my queue. I'm interested in different models of leadership and culture-building. This without discounting the personal culture and context of the author to form a point of view (Silicon Valley) . That's why I picked this up.


Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen by Rita McGrath (U.S.). It contains useful frameworks to map ideas and orient your thinking. I liked the pragmatic approach to levels and the examples throughout. The last chapter on leadership brought together many data points I've been thinking about. Deep dives are possible in the chapter notes.

Hedge: A Greater Safety Net for the Entrepreneurial Age by Nicolas Colin is a good demonstration of the power of links on the Internet. Colin (France, UK), who is part of Azeem Azhar's Exponential View readers network, linked to my article on the difference between strategy and innovation in his newsletter. Hence how I found out about his work and bought the book.

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland (UK). In my work and at home, I have the opportunity to reframe things to good ends. Think for example at the mere act of preparing the trash by the door… what it does to the likelihood someone will take it out. (it works)

Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data by Rishad Tobaccowala (India, U.S.) was a recommendation from Tom Goodwin#. I found the premise compelling: Are we misplacing trust in machines? Are efficiency and productivity the only things of value? I'm  also curious to find out if the book addresses our over-reliance on efficiency and machine-like productivity. Soul is too important a word. This is in my queue next.

Wild Knowledge: Outthink The Revolution by Anders Indset. I came across a thoughtful article by Indset (Norway, Germany) at Davos and got curious to learn more about his thinking. His work focuses on creating a bridge from philosophy to business. Next in my queue as well.

Plus one

The Clock Of The Long Now by Stewart Brand (U.S.) is a collection of essays on useful thoughts like: How will we preserve our memory now that so much of it is digital and distributed? The infinite game. Telling kairos from chronos, a distinction I found useful both for culture and business.