Thinkers50 Future Thinkers: A book review by Bob Morris

50 FutureThinkers50 Future Thinkers: New Thinking on Leadership, Strategy and Innovation for the 21st Century
Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove
McGraw-Hill Education (2014)

What will probably be the greatest challenges for business leaders in years to come?

This is one of the volumes in a series published by McGraw-Hill Education and co-authored by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove. They wrote it in response to that question.

I really like the basic concept: Crainer and Dearlove selected a major business subject such as most promising, high-potential business thinkers and then asked, “Which of them should we feature to share their thoughts with those who read the books in the series?” They had already read several of their books and articles and even interviewed a few of them. A generous selection of the most valuable material they obtained is provided in this volume. The first chapter is called, appropriately, “What the Future Looks Like.” That is, how perspectives on “futurism” have evolved over time.

* * *

Here is one of the Q&As from an interview of Lee Newman:

You talk about a new source of competitive advantage. Please explain.

As I see it, the traditional types of competitive advantage are not really very sustainable anymore…There’s a new source of sustainable advantage for companies, a [begin italics] behavioral advantage [end italics]. The idea is that if you imagine a company where employees literally are able to outthink and outbehave [i.e. outperform] their competition, time and again, that’s an incredible advantage. It’s hard to achieve, but it’s even harder to copy…Leadership plays out ‘in the moment’ — in daily conversations, meetings, presentations, negotiations, interpersonal conflicts, and thinking and problem-solving sessions we engage in every day in the workplace.

So that’s the backdrop to positive leadership. Positive leadership is about how we can achieve this behavioral advantage, by improving performance in the moment.

* * *

Here is another Q&A, from their interview of Dorie Clark:

When involved in personal branding, isn’t there a danger that you’ll become overly worried about what other people think?

There’s always that danger. You want to be mindful of it, but I don’t think that it inherently puts you in that position. Actually, on the contrary, it’s really about elucidating who you are; understanding that and communicating it effectively.

Personal branding is not an outside-in phenomenon in which you say: What does the world want? How can I be more like that? How can I look like that or pretend to be like that? Instead, it’s an inside-out phenomenon in which you really dig down and figure out who you are, what you care about, what you want to do, what you can contribute to the world. And then you get the rest of the world to see that.

* * *

Granted, these are snippets but they do give you at least a sample of the thoughtful and thought-provoking material that is presented throughout the book. Other thought leaders who contributed to this volume include James Allworth, Laurence Capron, Adam Grant, Monika Hamori, Ionnis Ioannou, Ellen MacArthur, Nilofer Merchant, Ethan Mollick, Gianpiero Petrigliera, Navi Radjou, and Christian Stadler. If any of these names are not familiar to you now, they will be soon. You need to become familiar with their work ASAP.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the Thinkders50 volumes on management, leadership, future thinkers, and strategy. Also, Crainer’s The Ultimate Business Library: The Greatest Books That Made Management, published by Capstone/A Wiley Imprint, and The Management Century: One Hundred Years of Thinking and Practice, part of the J-B BAH Strategy & Business Series. I also greatly admire Dearlove’s The Ultimate Book of Business Thinking: Harnessing the Power of the World’s Greatest Business Ideas and Business the Richard Branson Way: 10 Secrets of the World’s Greatest Brand Builder (Big Shots Series).

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