Is there a substitute for a good book?
When you are in learning mode; when you want to delve into a subject in depth; when you want to more fully grasp a critical area of understanding; is there a substitute for a good book? In my view, the answer is no.
Since 2005, the Financial Times has awarded an annual prize for the best Business Book of the Year. Each year, they begin with a long list, they reduce it to a short list, and then they announce their selection for the Business Book of the Year. The award comes with a cash prize of £30,000. – Yes, the Financial Times is based in Great Britain.
Note: they do not award a Business Tweet of the year prize, or a Business Podcast of the Year Prize, or a Business Article or Essay of the Year Prize. They award a prize for the Business BOOK of the Year.
Now, I admit my bias: I am partial to books. It takes effort on the part of a learner to read a book well. One has to focus; highlight key passages; make notes. In other words, one does not simply simply listen to, or read, a book. One studies a book.
So, I am a fan of the deliberate steps taken by the Financial Times in their selection process. They look for substantive books; books that capture the times, and move our learning forward. In their own words, they aim “to find the book that has the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues.”
Their selection for 2023 is the book by psychological-safety pioneer Amy Edmondson, Right Kind of Wrong: Why learning to fail can teach us to thrive. (Note: that is the title for the British edition; in the United States, the title is Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well).
I presented my synopsis of this book at the October, 2023 First Friday Book Synopsis. And, yes, I am in agreement that this book is worthy of the award. It is a terrific book!
In my synopsis, I asked What is the Point of the book? My answer:
We want to keep from making mistakes; from failing. Sort of… And, when we make mistakes, when we fail, we want to learn. Failing well is a modern-day survival skill.
And I concluded my synopsis with my own lessons and takeaways:
#1 –You will make mistakes. And, you will fail.
#2 – You will work with others who make mistakes.
#3 – Unless you get intentional about it, you will “hide” from your mistakes, and thus not learn from them as you could…
#4 – It would help to develop, and practice, psychological safety, to make it possible to learn from your mistakes.
#5 – There is no true breakthrough innovation without making mistakes, and learning from your mistakes.
I strongly recommend that you add this book to your reading list. And, to start, you might want
to purchase my synopsis, with my comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio of my presentation. Click here to purchase my synopsis.
Read more books. Keep learning by reading more books. Substantive, award-winning books. Keep learning; read more books!
The other books I presented from this year’s short list were: Elon Musk, How Big Things Get Done, and The Coming Wave. These are all very good books. Purchase my synopsis of each of these by clicking here.
(In fact, something I just noticed: my two October selections were both on the short list: Amy Edmondson’s book, and The Coming Wave. I don’t believe they had reduced the list to the short list by then).
Of the nineteen winners of this award, I have presented synopses of seven of them at the First Friday Book Synopsis. Yes, our event is that old; we actually began in 1998.
2005 — Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century
2013 — Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
2014 — Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Note: I actually presented this book at the other book club at which I speak, the Urban Engagement Book Club).
2015 — Martin Ford, The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment
2019 — Caroline Criado-Perez, Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
2022 — Chris Miller, Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology
2023 — Amy Edmondson, Right Kind of Wrong: Why learning to fail can teach us to thrive
(I have also presented quite a few of the books from the short list from some of the years, which did not win the annual prize).