In the first half of 2013, we saw several new books that were not merely provocative but pioneering in the lessons and insights they offered to creative leaders. These included Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto for women in business, Lean In, Columbia Business School Professor Rita Gunther McGrath’s call for The End of Competitive Advantage in business strategy, economist Mariana Mazzucato’s iconoclastic analysis of the necessity of The Entrepreneurial State for successful innovation, Wharton professor Jonah Berger’s best-selling account of social transmission, Contagious, and psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s revisionist study of talent and creativity, Ungifted: Intellig
For the second half of this year, various new titles have appeared (or are scheduled to shortly) that can also speak directly to the work and lives of creative leaders. These range from in-depth popular accounts of successful creative firms to more scholarly approaches to entertainment, marketing, and creativity itself. All can contribute, however, to fostering more effective leadership and successful creative businesses.
1) Scott Berkun, The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work (Jossey-Bass) Blogger Scott Berkun’s lively account of working for a year at WordPress.com, the world’s 15th busiest website, where he led a team of programmers and learned very practical ways to nurture a successful culture of creativity.
2) Nick Bilton, Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal (Portfolio) Bilton, a New York Times reporter, tracks the growth of podcasting start-up Odeo and how it morphed into the $11.5 billion dollar Twitter, particularly following the relationships between the four mercurial founders.
3) David Burkus, The Myths of Creativity: The Truth about How Innovative Companies and People Generate Ideas (Jossey-Bass) Management Professor Burkus offers an accessible history of creativity dating from the ancient Greeks as the basis for exploring contemporary myths and, most usefully, techniques for improving business creativity in the future.
4) Niraj Dawar, Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers (Harvard Business Review Press) To succeed in the world marketplace today, argues Ivey Business School Professor Dawar, firms need increasingly to look ‘downstream’ to where you interact with customers.
5) Dave Eggers, The Circle (Knopf) In this novel, the experiences of an idealistic protagonist who goes to work at the world’s most powerful internet company are the basis of a far-reaching meditation on work, privacy, democracy and knowledge in the wired era.
6) Anita Elberse, Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking and the Big Business of Entertainment (Henry Holt) Elberse, of Harvard Business School, describes how building an entertainment business around blockbuster products and stars has recently been and remains the surest way to long-term success.
7) Howard Gardner and Katie Davis, The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy and Imagination in the Digital World (Yale University Press) Gardner, the originator of the theory of multiple intelligences, and Davis discuss the increasing ‘app-dependence’ of technology users and its consequences for identity, relationships and creativity.
8) Jocelyn K. Glei and 99U, Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (Amazon Publishing) The latest in the 99U book series, this collection offers actionable recommendations and techniques from the likes of Seth Godin, Dan Ariely and Stefan Sagmeister for developing successful creative practices in a distracted world.
9) Tom Kelley & David Kelley, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All (Crown Business) The Kelley Brothers, founder and partner in the design firm, IDEO, offer an invaluable and entirely usable guide to proven practices of better creative thinking, doing and confidence-building.
10) Charlotta Mellander, Richard Florida, Bjorn T. Asheim, and Meric Gertler, The Creative Class Goes Global (Routledge) 11 years after Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class transformed discussions of creative economies and urban planning with a focus on U.S. cities, this new work expands critical attention to the growth and development of the creative class in cities around the world.
11) Alexis Ohanian, Without their Permission: How the 21st Century Will be Made, Not Managed (Hachette) The reddit.com co-founder offers a paean to the endless opportunity of the open internet that is equal parts American Dream story (his own), start-up MBA, and two-fold plea to the government to keep the perfect marketplace open and to individuals to make the world better with innovation.
12) Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy (Patrick Brewster Press) Tech journalist Scoble and consultant Israel describe the new five forces: mobile, social media, data, sensors and location – and the trust required for businesses to make them work – in a book project innovatively sponsored by the likes of Autodesk, Bing, and charity:water.
13) Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Little Brown) Journalist Stone’s detailed, revelatory (and controversial) account of the online retailer, its visionary founder, and how they seek to re-invent (again) the future of customer experience and the digital economy.