Recent Readings

Books I've read recently, many not directly relating to the sustainability challenge. Divergent fields always tend to inform new thinking in seemingly unrelated areas.

[An extension of the list from the Inspirations section].

 
 
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Kate Raworth - Doughnut Economics

Brilliant new form of thinking about how the economy could work.

 

 

 
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Volans & Business & Sustainable Development Commission – ‘Project Breakthrough’

Right up my venn diagram of strasses: brilliant report and multimedia website covering exponential solutions to the SDGs, utilising disruptive technologies and breakthrough business models

 

Generation Investment Management: Sustainability Trends Report / Transformation of Growth

Eye opening reports on the future trends shaping the world through a lens of sustainability: Mobility, Built Environment, Energy, Food and Well-Being all covered in the trends report - Read here - full opportunity for future growth in Transformation of Growth

 

Chuck Klosterman - But What If We're Wrong?

How consistently difficult it is to predict the future and some really interesting analysis of where we got it wrong, and thus what criteria we might use to look ahead at the future. Quite vital when projecting into the future to make change now.

 

 

 
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Wayne Visser - Integrating Shared Value

Wayne Visser's model of Integrated value builds on previous models and provides a comprehensive idea of how enterprises can react to shifts in the world and create an advanced form of shared value through innovation.

"Integrated Value simultaneously build multiple capitals (notably financial, infrastructural, technological, human, social and ecological) through synergistic innovation across the resilience, exponential, access, circular and wellbeing economies that result in a world that is more secure, smart, shared, sustainable and satisfying"

 However, very theoretical, applying this in real life may be different (and Nassim Nicholas Taleb would not approve of that, at all).

 
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb - Skin In The Game

Fascinating look at the importance of managing tail risks with a potentially ruinous impact, through 'skin in the game'.  We still fail to do this as a collective.

Prioritise doing, rather than talking.

Take the concepts, apply them to the sustainability context.

Particularly pertinent section on having skin in the game when it comes to virtue.

 
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Salim Ismail el al - Exponential Organisations

Fascinating assessment of what the companies of the future (and now) look like and why they are winning. Apply these concepts to enterprise driven solutions to the sustainability challenge.

 

 
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Paul Hawken - Drawdown

"The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming." Incredibly in depth assessment of the top 100 solutions to climate change, and some real surprises in there.

 
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Yuval Noah Harari - Sapiens

Incredible take on the history of humankind, that tests the assumptions you don't even know you've made around how life works and how we operate as a species.

 
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Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle Is The Way

Great reminder for reframing challenges as opportunities

 
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Ernest Hemingway - The Old Man & The Sea

Parallel with the wrestling match with the sustainability challenge?

 

Mariana Mazzucato - Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union

Create and execute missions related to grand challenges that everyone can and does buy into, with skin in the game

 

Hans Rosling - Factfulness

Thought you knew the state of the world? Oh no you don’t.

Brilliantly written, incredibly colourful.

This feels like a worthy bedfellow of Yuval Noah Harari’s "Sapiens", in the way they both map the progress of humans and test assumptions. While “Sapiens” was a history of mankind, Factfulness acts as a modern day update of the post-war world.

 

Josh Waitzkin - The Art of Learning

A child prodigy in chess who then turned his hand to martial arts to also become a world champion in that.

Incredible insight into how to master anything.

As the world changes at a rapid rate, skill requirements evolve with it, career arcs become far less linear, learning, unlearning, relearning seems it will be increasingly vital.

It strikes me that to tackle the really big challenges, which appear to be somewhat of a moving target, this will be vital.

Steven Kotler - The Rise of Superman

Digs into the world of extreme sports to explore flow states, what they are, why they occur and how to achieve them.

Want to build a new world? This will probably help.

 

Jonas & Jonathan Salk - A New Reality

Excellent book painting an optimistic future.

The beauty comes from the simplicity and clarity: one single mathematical curve shows where the world has been (Epoch A) and where it’s going (Epoch B).

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Michelle Obama - Becoming

Was surprised to find this the most impossible book to put down in the last 10 years or so.

Great insights into how it is to grow up as a black family and black female in a Northern US city, and then deal with the ascendancy to the first Black First Lady of the US.

(Also funny to hear of Barack’s minor flaws and peculiarities as well as his great strengths).

 

Donella Meadows - Thinking in Systems

Classic on systems thinking which is brilliantly written. At times a brain twister but makes you think about the goings-on you see in the world with far more depth and breadth.