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Read my tips - Autumn 2010

Julian Birkinshaw, author of Reinventing Management and co-founder of MLab, names 10 books that ought to be on the bookshelf of anyone ...

By Julian Birkinshaw 23 September 2010

Julian Birkinshaw, author of Reinventing Management and co-founder of MLab, names 10 books that ought to be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in management innovation.


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Read my tips


  1. The Future of Management, Gary Hamel (with Bill Breen)
    Is your company stodgy? Hamel urges you to abandon a command-and-control management style. The organisations that adapt to rapid change, shed legacy management beliefs, embrace unconventional management practices and make necessary changes represent the future of management. (288 pages, Harvard Business School Press, 2007)
  2. The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management, Art Kleiner
    Kleiner defines a ‘heretic’ as someone fiercely loyal to the company yet identifies truths that defy conventional wisdom. This book is a collection of fascinating stories that offer wisdom from those who sought and found new ways to lead. (432 pages, Jossey-Bass, 2008)
  3. The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style and Your Life, Thomas W. Malone
    Malone’s book is even more relevant today with the rise of Web 2.0 marketing tools. Since its publication, technology has allowed small firms access to outsourcing, global connections and less hierarchy. Decentralisation has unlocked energy and creativity, creating new markets and relationships. (240 pages, Harvard Business School Press, 2004)
  4. Management Innovators: The People and Ideas that Have Shaped Modern Business, Daniel A. Wren and Donald G. Greenwood
    This concise volume profiles more than 31 innovators, from Eli Whitney to Peter Drucker. Each person featured is placed within the business and social context of his time, thus providing a much broader context for breakthrough thinking. (272 pages, Oxford University Press, 1998)
  5. Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise, Alfred D. Chandler, Jr.
    Chandler provides one of the first investigations into how 70 of the largest US companies retooled when facing rapid expansion. He analyses how companies such as DuPont and GM became modern decentralised corporations. (480 pages, Beard Books, 2003)
  6. Maverick! The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace, Ricardo Semler
    At only 21, Semler rebuilt his father’s Brazilian firm, Semco, by applying radical ideas: allowing employees to determine their own schedules, pay scales and dress codes while reducing paperwork and abolishing bureaucracy. (332 pages, Random House, 2001)
  7. Birth of the Chaordic Age, Dee Hock
    ‘Chaordic’ (from ‘chaos’ and ‘order’) describes a new form of organisation. Hock believes not only that order can be born of chaos but also that the chaordic age will be the dawning of new individuality, liberty, community and ethics. (345 pages, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1999)
  8. What’s the Big Idea? Creating and Capitalising on the Best Management Thinking, Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak with Jim Wilson
    It isn’t enough to recognise a good idea. Idea practitioners must assess, scan and track ideas to the marketplace. To do this, they must refine the right idea for their organization, package and sell it all the way to successful implementation. (256 pages, Harvard Business School Press, 2003)
  9. Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization's Toughest Challenges, Andrew McAfee
    McAfee’s case studies illustrate how leaders are using Web technologies to discover new ideas, markets and ways to make decisions. This is a must read for executives, strategic planners and information technology leaders. (240 pages, Harvard Business School Press, 2009)
  10. The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki
    Surowiecki believes, under the right circumstances, groups are smarter than the smartest individual. He shows how collective wisdom can succeed or fail, with practical applications for any organization. (336 pages, Abacus, 2005)

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