In today’s increasingly complex and globalized world, it’s more important than ever for marketers to lead with an eye to the future, inspire intellectual curiosity amongst their team members, and learn from how the world’s best minds are thinking about humanity’s most pressing problems. At Percolate, we are always looking for books that alter the way we think, do our jobs, and view the world. For many of us, the beginning of the year is a great opportunity to devote some extra time to reading. We put together eight recommendations crowdsourced from executives at Percolate — guaranteed to send you into 2017 inspired and ready to solve your brand’s biggest challenges.
The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, George Spafford, and Kevin Behr
“I was recently inspired by The Phoenix Project, a book about, of all things, IT, DevOps, and supply chain management. Now I know what you might be thinking, IT/DevOps is nothing like marketing and, while that is true, when you break it down, all work has a few core components. This is the main message at the center of The Phoenix Project, which uses manufacturing as the ‘supply chain’ example to help the managers of IT get their process under control — a valuable message for marketers as well.”
– James Gross, President
What can managers learn from principles developed to make manufacturing more efficient? The Phoenix Project is a business parable, which shows just that. The book centers on a fictional IT manager named Bill, who is challenged by his CEO to fix a mismanaged IT project: code named Phoenix. Under the tutelage of a prospective board member, Bill learns about how workflows are streamlined in manufacturing and how he can apply these principles to the inefficiencies in his IT department.
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
“I find many parallels between the innovations of the Mongols and those of today’s most disruptive companies (e.g. Amazon, Facebook, etc).”
– Dave King, VP, Marketing
Many people have heard the name Genghis Khan, but few appreciate how extensive and radical his accomplishments were. With an empire larger than that of Rome at its height, the Mongols were technological and social innovators, creating the first truly modern civilization. Jack Weather builds a story that is “part travelogue, part epic narrative,” according to the Washington Post, and shows why the Mongols are one of the most relevant historical examples for the challenges facing humanity today.
The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly
“The Inevitable is a compelling look at how today’s biggest technology trends will shape the future. Marketers in particular need to be informed about how technology is changing the way customers spend their time and ultimately live their lives.”
– Dave King, VP, Marketing
The future is already here, according to tech journalist Kevin Kelly. The way we buy, work, learn, and communicate has been and will continue to be radically altered. The question is how can we stay ahead of future evolutions and use them to our benefit. The Inevitable takes readers through 12 of today’s technology trends that will transform our lives in the coming decades.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
“Shoe Dog is the best thing I’ve read this year: an incredible story of how one of the world’s most admired companies was built. From lonely runs in Oregon, to navigating partnerships in Japan, engineering soles with waffle machines, last minute logo designs, and building a community around athletes. The one constant throughout the ups and downs of building Nike was sheer passion. Phil Knight shows us what resilience is all about.”
– Dom Goodrum, VP, Design
Shoe Dog is the memoir of Nike founder Phil Knight, who turned a $50 loan into a $30 billion global company. A candid look at both Phil’s personal journey as an entrepreneur and leader and the growth of Nike as a brand, Shoe Dog is an inspiring story of the innovation, perseverance, and guts required to follow your passions and build a lasting legacy.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
“The behavioral economic research presented in this book would be hugely beneficial to marketers who want to understand how their customers and team members make decisions. Further, awareness of your own susceptibility to common logical fallacies is a huge part of combatting them in your professional life. There’s a lot in here that could make you a stronger, more logical manager, as well as a better marketer.”
– Adam Kuznia, VP, Customer Success
Written by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow is a brilliantly curated amalgam of the career of one of the twentieth century’s most influential social scientists. Kahneman theorizes that people have two major modes of the thinking: one that is quick and intuitive and another than is deliberate and logical. The relationship between these two systems explains why humans fall prey to logical fallacies when making decision about everything from purchasing decisions to evaluating team performance.
The Success Equation by Michael J. Maboussin
“One of the best business books I’ve read in a long time. The dissection of the luck and skill continuum combined with the reasoning and logic of how the human mind operates (we all overvalue our worth on a relative basis and are too optimistic we can impact outcomes) is a really nice blend. Michael goes to great length to work through real math to explain, demonstrate and validate his points.”
– Michael Dzik, VP, Business Operations
Everyone knows that success is the result of both skill and luck, but few of us are able to tease apart the contributions of each to our and others’ outcomes. In this book, Michael Maboussin analyzes the relative influence of both factors to various kinds of success and shows how you can use these insights to make better decisions.
“Originally published in 1996, but still one of the more powerful marketing/business concepts. Companies must be relentless in their focus if they are to succeed over long term, which is frequently counter to what companies actually do.”
– Clay Tingley, VP, Product
What is one essential difference between companies that thrive and those that flounder? According to marketing expert Al Ries, it’s focus. Through a series of examples that span industries, Ries shows how some of the most successful brands have grown by focusing on core products rather than diversifying into unrelated ventures. The author provides a blueprint for any company looking to stay focused and build brand value for the long term.
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal
“Most global companies are impeded by complexity and internal bureaucracy. The organizational challenges McChrystal faced in the Middle East have lessons for any leader – particularly marketing leaders whose work is closely tied to communications and data. The book is fascinating study on how to break down silos, work faster, and transform the way information flows through teams to create a more nimble enterprise.”
– Chris Bolman, Director, Integrated Marketing
General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2004, a time when technology was radically altering the nature of war and communications. The bureaucratic structure of the United States military was ill-suited to combat the nimble and decentralized Al Qaeda network. Team of Teams tells the story of how McChrystal tore down decades-old silos and created an agile, transparent organization that could match its foe in adaptability and speed. McChrystal shows how his experiences can be applied to solve problems in civilian organizations and help teams large and small overcome their greatest challenges.