Holiday Reading List

The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: On Robustness and Fragility

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Fascinating discussion of the risk of unanticipated events

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

by David Deutsch

Best philosophy book I ever read - guess my mind has been totally bent by engineers and physicists. If other fields, such as business, medicine and psychology used the Deutsch definition of the Scientific Method (it's not about experiments or induction, it's about better Explanations) we'd be making giant leaps in basic knowledge outside physics.

Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World

by Jennifer Garvey Berger

Excellent overview of the practical application of adult development theory in the business world.

Igniting Inspiration: A Persuasion Manual for Visionaries

by John Marshall Roberts

See also John's blog:
and his web site:
Do you ever wonder why affluence is so boring (just listen to your teens)?
Has anything inspired you lately or have you joined the disillusioned cynics?
If so, pick up this voice of hope NOW.

A Smart Energy Policy: An Economist's Rx for Balancing Cheap, Clean, and Secure Energy

by James M. Griffin

Jim provides a sophisticated analysis of the issues around Carbon, security and energy and some simple suggestions for a workable balanced policy.
He suggests that the current 900+ page cap and trade for special interests bill might not get us anywhere we want to go. After a discussion with him at an energy forum, I've concluded if the next energy bill is more than 9 pages it's a preordained failure.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

by Dan Ariely

Can we predict our own Black Swans? Or even prevent them by understanding our own mental blocks and blind spots?

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

by Ori Brafman, Rom Brafman

If you want to improve decision making, pay attention to these issues.

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

by Steven Johnson

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

Libertarian Paternalism - what a third way concept. Some really clever concepts and some thoughtful ideas about the difficulties of truly neutral presentations.

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big

by Bo Burlingham

Burlingham provides the antidote to the growth at all costs mentality that creates unsustainable bubbles and subsequent meltdowns.
Founders can always decide to pursue quality instead of growth. A great concept of what produces a sustainable, resilient business.

Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers Can Create Value and Wealth Together

by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones

Clever ideas about applying lean, JIT manufacturing successes all along the value chain in the customer service, provisioning and delivery side, not just backwards down the supply chain.
Suggests that reducing cost in service and retail come not from hiring the cheapest employees and reducing the time per task, but in doing the right thing first time, every time. If the task you are repeating over and over, quicker and quicker, with a lower paid employee has zero value to your customers, what task should this cost actually be going towards?
Very thought provoking and definitely a compelling alternative to current trends.

Stuck: Why We Can't (or Won't) Move On

by Anneli Rufus

A good catalog of the toxic memes that are damaging western society