If you’ve wanted to catch up on some business reading and will actually have time over the holiday season, here are some suggestions from three Canadian business professors.
Assistant professor of marketing, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
I like this book because it explains the complexity of creativity and it is based on stories from creative people from all walks of life, including business, math, music, literature and science.
The Book of Business Awesome by Scott Stratten
Scott also wrote the book UnMarketing. His first book explores ways of connecting with customers through social media. This second book takes a look at finding ways to listen to customers and engage them in unique ways. [Editor’s note: When flipped over and read from the back, the book is called The Book of Business UnAwesome and details some business train wrecks.]
The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature by Daniel J. Levitin
I use this book in my Marketing Creativity class to underscore the important role music plays in our lives and, by extension, in marketing. It is an interesting read, as well as entertaining, providing insights into our musical brain. This book provides another clue in understanding creativity and its connection to science – all of which are necessary in innovation.
Assistant professor, information systems, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University
The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
This book talks about how tech is shifting the conventional wisdom that the hits matter in terms of what makes money. There are a huge variety of products available on the market now and, thanks to technology, we can easily find these products. Now, even niche products that aren’t super popular can make money and are important to our economy.
The power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown and Lang Davison
This book is about innovation and how it’s not just through your close network that you’re going to find innovative ideas. It’s about the idea of weak ties, or the people outside your circle, that you can get novel ideas from. There’s a lot of talk of serendipity and how you can shape it and the importance of surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people.
The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail and Some Don’t by Nate Silver
Nate Silver was spot-on with his predictions for what would happen in the recent U.S. election. Tech has enabled all this data out there, and we think we can understand human beings through it. But what he talks about is: Can we really predict everything? It’s about big data, the new business buzzword, and whether it actually matters.
Professor of business strategy, Queen’s School of Business, Queen’s University
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
The author is a Nobel prize-winning psychologist who is summarizing a lot of his work on human thinking. It covers stuff that’s vital to understanding how we think [and make choices]. It’s is the kind of book that you can read and read again and it gives you more every time.
Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney
The book states that self control is something we often describe ourselves as lacking in. But the authors say it’s more like gasoline. You have a certain amount in the morning, and what you do during the day can exhaust it. Self control is something that you have to conserve and manage, like any other resource.
The New Ecology of Leadership: Business Mastery in a Chaotic World by David Hurst
David Hurst is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met in business. His argument is that the human mind is not so much rational as ecological: He makes a case for context. We can’t simply say that there are standard rules and they should work everywhere. It’s a new way of thinking about work and leadership and judgment.