Thousands of business books are published every year but most of them are retreads of conventional wisdom. However, every year also sees a small (very small) handful of business books that contain ideas that demand our attention.
Here are seven books, all slated to be published in 2016, that I predict will spark discussion and drive change.
1. The Future of the Professions (January 1)
Subtitle: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts
Authors: Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind
Summary: This book predicts the decline of today's professions and describes the people and systems that will replace them. It argues that in an internet society, we will neither need nor want doctors, teachers, accountants, architects, the clergy, consultants, lawyers, and many others. Instead, technologies from telepresence to artificial intelligence will change in the way that society accesses the "practical expertise" of specialists.
2. Postcapitalism (February 9)
Subtitle: A Guide to Our Future
Author: Paul Mason
Summary: The book argues that information technology, though driven by capitalism, has a tendency to push the value of much of what we make toward zero. As such, it has the potential to destroy an economy based on markets, wages, and private ownership. This presents a chance to create a more socially just and sustainable economy but only if we understand what is happening and use that knowledge to shape the future.
3. Virtual Billions (April 5)
Subtitle: The Genius, the Drug Lord, and the Ivy League Twins Behind the Rise of Bitcoin
Author: Eric Geissinger
Summary: This book explores the cyber currency by focusing on those responsible for its sudden success: Satoshi Nakamoto, the reclusive and anonymous genius who created Bitcoin; Ross Ulbricht, the administrator of Silk Road, which used Bitcoin to fuel online sale of drugs, hacking services, counterfeit money, and assassinations; and the Winklevoss twins, who successfully litigated against Facebook and who own 1 percent of all bitcoins in existence.
4. People Get Ready (March 8)
Subtitle: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy
Authors: Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols
Summary: Unless technological progress is employed to serve the whole of humanity, rather than to enrich a handful of monopolists, the social contract will be undermined and broken. It argues that if America continues to allow corporate CEOs and billionaire campaign donors define the political future, democracy will cease to function in any meaningful sense.
5. Originals (February 2)
Subtitle: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Author: Adam Grant
Summary: Through studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, the book explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt. It also suggests how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children and how leaders can fight "group think" to build cultures that welcome dissent.
6. The Confidence Effect (January 6)
Subtitle: Every Woman's Guide to the Attitude That Attracts Success
Author: Grace Killelea
Summary: Talented, hardworking women are frequently passed over for promotions. While it's easy to blame a corporate culture that favors men, there may be another culprit: a surprising disparity in confidence. Men are prone to overestimate their abilities, while women too often sell themselves short. The book begins with research and statistics and then focuses on a step-by-step method to make women become more confident.
7. Small Data (February 23)
Subtitle: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends
Author: Martin Lindstrom
Summary: This book presents the experience of a seasoned market researcher who, rather than rely upon big data, makes observations about people and their behaviors that ultimately result in million-dollar products. Examples include how a worn-down sneaker discovered in the home of an 11-year-old German boy led to Lego's turnaround and how a magnet found on a refrigerator in Siberia resulted in huge changes in how supermarkets in the United States now operate.