2013 summer reading recommendations for CEOs

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jul 16, 2013 - 20:31
  • Updated : Jul 16, 2013 - 20:31
Samsung Economic Research Institute’s summer reading recommendations were selected based on four criteria including recommendations by CEO members’ at SERI’s Korean website and SERICEO.

Based on these criteria, the theme for 2013’s recommended summer reading list in economy and management was the changes in business and society from digital technology and leadership capabilities, while the theme in humanities and culture was self-cultivation, including preventing thought errors and forming good habits.

1. “Hidden in Plain Sight”

“Hidden in Plain Sight” by Jan Chipchase of Frog Design takes the reader on journeys around the world and shares ways for finding business opportunities hidden in ordinary life.

The author says observing the mundane is a powerful research method in creating businesses for tomorrow. In support of this, Chipchase asks why dental braces are more popular than luxury bags among Thai girls and provides intriguing answers.

Chipchase stresses that an explorer’s mindset is important to observing well, such as going to unexpected locations like beauty parlors and McDonald’s restaurants to provide unusual experiences of observation.

2. “The Organization that Provides Answers”

In “The Organization that Provides Answers,” Kim Sung-ho says that companies that overcome crises share a spirit of seeking answers until they find one. Kim, the author of “Nidec’s Story,” where he also stressed the importance of tenacity, contends that many companies decline due to a lack of employee enthusiasm and tenacity.

Kim argues that companies need to look for talented people who tenaciously try to find solutions instead of those who are just highly skilled to overcome crisis and maintain sustained growth.

3. “The Strategist”

“The Strategist” by Harvard professor Cynthia Montgomery is a collection of strategy lectures from her acclaimed Harvard Business School course, which she teaches to corporate leaders around the world.

“The Strategist” is not a book about strategy, but a book designed to inspire the reader to be a strategist. It uses case studies on the successes and failures of various companies and warns of the trap into which leaders can fall. For example, the author debunks the “Myth of a Super Manager” capable of overcoming any and all competitive forces.

Instead, Montgomery emphasizes the wisdom that can distinguish between what can be changed and what cannot. Readers can ponder, “What decision would I make?” while reading the various case studies.

4. “Makers”

“Makers” is a new book by Chris Anderson, a longtime editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, the author of “The Long Tail” and the proponent of the concept of “freemium.” Anderson says in the book that technology development and popularization of manufacturing are triggering a “makers revolution” or “manufacturing revolution.”

He adds that a generation of “makers” will bring about a new industrial revolution and change the manufacturing landscape, and presents five industrial paradigms that the makers revolution is bringing about: Individually customized production, open-source product quality upgrades, open factory production, democratization of manufacturing and distribution, and the arrival of an environment where inventors become entrepreneurs.

5. “Big Data is Changing Businesses”

“Big Data is Changing Businesses” examines the meaning of big data in business management. Published by SERI and others, the book shows how big data is becoming a core competence at companies through vivid descriptions of big data usage at workplaces undergoing transformation.

While admitting that the development of technologies to handle vast unstructured data has made possible fast extraction of market and customer information, it also warns of excess optimism on big data. The authors say that while the value of big data in business will increase, companies should approach things over the long term instead of thinking of big data as a temporary fad.

6. “Perspectives of Victors”

“Perspectives of Victors” is written by a former Korean economic reporter and founder of a media company, and looks at the perspectives of successful leaders in classics and in the business workplace.

The author, based on his more than two decades of work experience and comprehensive knowledge of the classics, came up with five perspectives about historical victors. These are decisive action, rationality, benevolence, innovation and sharing, and he explains these through diverse case studies. Furthermore, the author emphasizes that perspectives of successful leaders are not born but can be refined through training.

7. “The New Digital Age”

“The New Digital Age” is a blueprint for a future society presented by Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, and Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank. The authors look at the changes induced from the expansion of Internet connectivity on individuals, nations, revolutions, terrorism and reconstruction, and propose a future society where a virtual world civilization, now in the formative stages, is built along with real world civilization. In particular, this book allows readers to naturally acclimate to terminology used in technology and the social sciences through concise explanations on each page, providing additional value for readers.

8. “The Art of Thinking Clearly”

In his book “The Art of Thinking Clearly,” Rolf Dobelli, an author and entrepreneur, points out the limits of systematic rationality and rational thinking.

Dobelli notes that historically, bad judgments with irreparable results have come even from social leaders when they make decisions at particular junctures. He introduces 52 thought errors that can be easily made, even when aiming for smart decisions. These include well-known errors like the halo effect, sunk cost fallacy and confirmation bias, as well as new kinds of errors like the “hedonic treadmill” or “chauffeur knowledge.”

9. “The Power of Habit”

“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg dissects the principles of formation of habits and their impact and risk through interviews and case studies in various fields, including business management and social phenomena.

In contrast to existing books, which focus on changing habits related to individual health or success, Duhigg expands his analysis to businesses and society, shedding new light on the meaning of habits. For example, habit management played a critical role in toothpaste becoming a worldwide ubiquitous necessity, as well as in the success of P&G’s “Febreze” odor eliminator.

10. “The World until Yesterday”

In “The World until Yesterday,” Jared Diamond, a professor at UCLA in the U.S. and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Guns, Germs and Steel,” integrates his 50 years of research and field work as a cultural anthropologist.

The book is a collection of what he learned while living with indigenous peoples practicing traditional lifestyles in New Guinea, the Amazon and Alaska, comparing their thoughts and lifestyles with those of modern people. He claims that modern people can learn to lead better lives from these traditional societies. He introduces the ways in which traditional societies deal with war and disputes, intergenerational conflict and an aging society, which are issues that modern societies face as well.

The article was contributed by Samsung Economic Research Institute. The opinions reflected in the article are its own. ― Ed.