Future Book Suggestions

This page is devoted to your recommendations for future BBC book selections. Let’s hear what you think you might like to read and will also be of particular interest to the rest of us.

The BBC is meticulous in selecting its books.  A major factor in the BBC’s popularity and success has been the consistantly high quality and significance of the books we have chosen.

Fundamental to The BBC book selection process are our selection criteria. They are few in number and simple in concept, but we are unyielding in our application of them.  Quite simply the book must:

1. be exceedingly well written — good is not good enough.

2. present important ideas, concepts or ways of thinking.

3. potentially impact how we work or how we think about our work.

4. not be directly related to international development. We are interested in cross-fertilization of ideas.

Just submit your title(s) to this blog page (below). If you like, also tell us a little about what the book deals with, but that’s not necessary. You need not have read the book(s) before making your recommendation(s). It might just be a title and/or author that intrigues you or someone else told you about. A BBC team closely reviews all books before making its selection.

Thanks in advance for pitching us some interesting prospects.

14 thoughts on “Future Book Suggestions

  1. I would suggest The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. He describes how skill is built in music, sports and business, incorporating neurobiology, psychology, and evolutionary biology. Very well-written and easy to read. Sections on “deep practice,” “ignition” and “master coaching” provide a kind of framework that could be applied to workplaces like USAID and in the content of our work where we are developing human capacity.

  2. The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward Burger, 2012.
    The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren’t a special breed–they just use their minds differently. By using the straightforward and thought-provoking techniques in The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself–revealing previously hidden opportunities.

  3. “Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results” by Roger Connors and Tom Smith (c) 2011.

    It’s ranked as the #1 book in the leadership category on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling lists.

  4. I have received a strong recommendation for the book “Systemic Action Research: A Strategy for Whole System Change” by Danny Burn.

    For a glimpse,

    Action Research; Systems Thinking; and Conflict Management. For these three subject areas are blended through a change process (System of Inquiry).

    …Professor Burns introduces key ideas of systemic change such as Improvisation; Parallel Development of multiple streams of inquiry; and Resonance in achieving stakeholder commitment. There are also a wide range of supporting techniques, some new as part of the development of Systemic Action Research such as Whole System Review; Storyboards; Cross road events; and Mapping Connections, while others are drawn in such as “Open Space” and “World Cafe” covering a range of senses: verbal; visual; physical.

    … how to enable successful and sustainable change, one that also has the potential to fit into the area of Complex Socio-Technical Systems Thinking….

    Deliberates over change-making through systems-thinking, with ‘resonance’ among groups as an indication of validity since this cross-checking of ideas is in fact a way of ‘testing.’

  5. I would like to suggest the BBC read Nancy Cartwright’s newest book Evidence Based Policy. The book questions the wisdom of an orthodox RCT driven approach to evaluation. She is a very prominent philosopher of science but the book is geared to and written for a policy and government audience . Evidence Based Policy offers a serious critique of currently in vogue techniques for policy evaluation and should be standard reading for those committed to rigorous project evaluation and analysis.


  6. The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office
    “Reading it is like listening in as a team of McKinsey consultants spars with Dilbert.”

    You’ll learn:
    the purpose of meetings and why they’ll never go away; why even Al Qaeda members are required to submit travel and expense reports; what managers are good for; how the army and other orgs balance marching in lock step with innovation; etc.

    Just started it, enjoying it. Published in 2013

  7. _Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty_, by Abhijit Banerjee and Ester Duflo.

    Although _Poor Economics_ breaks one of the BBC rules (not to be about international development), it hits the other three spectacularly. This is an extremely engaging, even fascinating book that while eschewing the grand theories of development (Easterly vs Sachs), demonstrates that development problems can be “solved” by paying close attention to the micro-ecology of incentives and constraints that exist for people living in specific contexts. It’s nice every once in a while to read a book that validates the activities of listening, learning, and being open to the counter-intuitive…and shows that every once in awhile we can get it right. In the end, one of the few hopeful books about development out there.

  8. _Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives_ by David Sloan Wilson

    The book begins:

    “This is a book of tall claims about evolution: That it can become uncontroversial; that the basic principles are easy to learn; that everyone should want to learn them, once their implications are understood; that evolution and religion, those old enemies who currently occupy opposite corners of human thought, can be brought harmoniously together.”

    I found this book really fun to read because it ranges across so many subjects (why pregnant women’s appetites change, why aggressive males have not been bred out of the population, why religion exists, etc.). And throughout, Wilson trains us on how to think like an evolutionist and why that may not be so bad, in fact even useful. I appreciated his unfailing optimism that we can make sense of all the complexity we live with.

    See sample chapter at the bottom of the website link.

  9. A person at the WBank just recommended “Social Physics” by Alex Pentland at MIT. I haven’t read it but here’s a summary from an Amazon reviewer:

    ….”Using specially instrumented “sociometric badges” (details provided in the book) and cell phone apps to monitor communication exchanges among their research subjects, the author and his collaborators sought to identify patterns and rates of “idea flows” in social networks, as well as relationships between characteristics of those communication exchanges (e.g., participation rates, frequency of conversational turn taking, etc.) and various types of behavioral and performance outcomes.

    Some of their more interesting claims and / or findings are:

    (1) We are more frequently and more easily influenced by our peers than we may think

    (2) Because of (1), peer pressure, social incentive, or build-up of social capital can be more effective at eliciting cooperation and behavioral changes than offering financial or economic incentives to an individual

    (3) Freer and more diverse flows of ideas through higher rates of give-and-takes can elevate group performances

    (4) Sometimes the group performance enhancements can be obtained through simple means that enable social exploration, engagement, and learning to occur

    (5) Enabling higher-quality social exploration, engagement and learning opportunities to become more readily available to everyone could mean the difference between economic and societal resilience or stagnation.

    Pointing out how his research methodologies improve upon those employed in earlier or related studies, the author offers a new theory on what motivates human behavior and how it is different from and better than current ones. He also discusses how his research findings have applications to, among other things, decision making, talent management, resource and infrastructure management, and building efficient and resilient organizations.

  10. Hi everyone! What about

    This month, take a look at the fabulous new business book, The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing, by Lisa Gansky, which describes the way sharing resources is replacing cash commodities in many areas of the economy. I found this author’s perspective revolutionary and I believe that it will help many readers resolve their “money issues.” It’s hard for economists to keep track of the bewildering speed of change in the 21st century, but this book will give you a jump on the next few years at least.

  11. Hi BBC!
    I would like to suggest the following books for your consideration.
    1) The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter
    By Joseph Henrich

    From a blog review at Overcoming Bias:
    I thought I understood cultural evolution. But in his new book, The Secret Of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter, Joseph Henrich schooled me. I felt like I learned more from his book than from the last dozen books I’ve read.


    2) Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe
    By Greg Ip

    Our pursuit of safety and reducing risk might, in fact, be dangerous.


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