By: Alison Brady, Head of PageUp Talent Lab, PageUp

Posted on 19 Dec 2016

In today’s digital age most of us consume vast amounts of information every day, often in bite-sized chunks. While this ‘anytime, anywhere, instant’ world brings many benefits, I’m a firm believer in the value of reading a good book.

I’ve received a number of book recommendations through the year and I intend to use down-time over the holiday season to read at least some of them. If you’re keen to do the same and looking for inspiration, my ‘top five’ are listed below in no particular order.

Most of these books have been recommended by senior executives that participate in the PageUp Talent Lab research program and they all explore topics relevant to the future of work and/or HR. A couple of favourites that I read during the year and personally endorse are also included.

  1. Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think
    By Peter H.Diamandis and Steven Kotler
    This New York Times best seller is based on the premise that the world is getting better at an accelerating rate. The authors offer their readers a positive outlook, along with a number of interesting ideas and trends. Abundance is not to be confused with luxury. Rather, Diamandis and Kotler argue that it will be possible to “conquer humanity’s grandest challenge” and meet the needs of everyone on the planet in the next two to three decades. This is based on four inter-related forces  – the exponential rate of technology breakthroughs; the growth of do-it-yourself innovation; a generation of techno-philanthropists (eg. Bill Gates) and “the rising billion”, the world’s poor empowered by technology. Critiques highlight some convenient omissions in this exploration of the future. Nonetheless, Abundance promises to be an uplifting holiday read!
  2. The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity
    By Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
    London Business School Professors, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, challenge the viability of our three-stage life: education, employment and retirement. Longer life expectancies and an extended period of employment can, however, be a blessing not a curse. This is the premise of The 100-Year Life. Gratton and Scott position longevity as a “gift of time” and create a compelling case for the need to structure a multi-stage life that enables us to be “younger for longer”, pursue different career paths and models, and make intelligent life and work choices. They bring a blend of psychology and economics to The 100-Year Life and offer a range of solutions from finances to education, careers and relationships. Insightful from a personal and professional perspective – one to both read and gift.
  3. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
    By Simon Sinek
    Simon Sinek won me over sharing a powerful but simple idea in his TED Talk: How great leaders inspire action. Leaders Eat Last is also based on a simple premise and promises powerful results. In this case, Sinek has borrowed a key principle from the Marines: “Officers eat last.” Whilst symbolic in the mess hall, this becomes serious on the battlefield and translates to the personal sacrifice that great leaders are willing to make for those in their care. This book extends on this principle and introduces the Circle of Safety to demonstrate how great leaders create the right conditions for individuals and teams to flourish. I’m looking forward to learning from Sinek again!
  4. The Innovation Formula: The 14 Science-Based Keys for Creating a Culture Where Innovation Thrives
    By Dr Amantha Imber
    I came across this recently published Australian book when we launched a new research topic earlier this year: “Cracking the Innovation Code – what is the role of human capital?” Since then, I’ve explored this question with over 30 HR executives. Culture has consistently been highlighted as a key lever for corporate innovation, and one that HR can influence. Specifically, creating a culture that fosters innovation; that encourages risk-taking and entrepreneurship and rewards people for learning from mistakes. Imber’s pragmatic approach to doing just this provides a practical toolkit for executives and leaders. It de-mystifies culture change and describes 14 evidence-based factors that work together to drive innovation through the workforce. If this is your mandate in 2017, take the time to read this book.
  5. An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organisation.
    By Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Matthew L. Miller and Andy Fleming
    This Harvard Business Review publication promises “a radical new model for unleashing your company’s potential.” The authors have studied companies that foster continuous learning and growth and the book takes us under the hood with three of these “Deliberately Developmental Organisations.” It identifies the principles and practices at the heart of a developmental culture and offers readers practical guidance to achieve this end state. With technology fundamentally changing how we learn and grow, workplace development practices are ripe for change. An Everyone Culture is described by reviewers as “remarkable”, “provocative” and “life-changing.” Does this book provide a roadmap to make learning and development a priority everyday, for everyone? I look forward to diving in and finding out!

Wishing you a happy holiday season from PageUp! We invite you to share your reading recommendations on the future of work and HR in the comments below.

About The Author

Alison Brady
Head of PageUp Talent Lab, PageUp

Alison leads PageUp Talent Lab and is responsible for research in the field of strategic human capital management. She has more than 15 years of experience delivering organisational development solutions, consulting and advisory services to a diverse range of companies. Alison is a Registered Psychologist with a Masters Degree in Organisational Psychology.

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