Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Best Business Books 2014: Executive Self-Improvement

Big data went mainstream in 2014. At the start of the year, a study by IDG found that 70 percent of large organizations had deployed or were soon to deploy big data–related projects, at an average investment of US$8 million. And analytics enthusiasts were full of sweeping predictions: Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla rankled a crowd of doctors at Stanford Medical School by declaring that data crunching could and should eliminate many of their jobs. “We are guided too much by opinions,” he said, “not by statistical science.”

Big data is touted as the holy grail of all manner of business needs: eliminating human error and wasted time in decision making; identifying prospective winners and losers long before executives can; minimizing costly hiring mistakes; and even sussing out investment opportunities, competitive advantage, and future strategy. From this perspective, big data not only can predict the future—it is the future.

Not so fast, say the authors of this year’s three best business books on honing your executive chops. The science of big data does indeed hold the potential to catalytically improve many areas of business, but they argue that the human factor still makes the difference between good and great corporate performance in the long run. The key, these authors suggest in three different ways, is understanding and harnessing the power of our own minds—in conjunction with having the right analytical data and decision-making frameworks.

Phil Rosenzweig
Left Brain, Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions
(PublicAffairs, 2014)

Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen
The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems
(Harvard Business Review Press, 2014)

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz
It’s Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best
(Harvard Business Review Press, 2014)

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