BOOK CLUB Compass reviews three new titles


In 1972, Jorgen Randers, a professor of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, collaborated with a group of scientists on a project to predict how humankind would adapt to the physical limitations of Planet Earth over the next 40 years. They published their findings in The Limits to growth, in which they predicted in one scenario after another that our activities would invariably overtax the planet’s ability to support us – unless humanity made a conscious decision to change its ways.

Humanity has not changed, which prompted Randers to write 2052: A global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. With the help of friends and colleagues, Randers attempts to answer questions ranging from “Will I be poorer?” and “Will the climate problem hurt us?” to “Will the world of 2052 be a better world?”

Though at times overly sentimental, Randers’ carefully considered outlook offers an insightful and thought- provoking analysis of humankind’s situation. And while he acknowledges that we have a great deal to be worried about, his goal is not to frighten but rather to encourage action.

416 pages, Chelsea green, June 2012, Us$34.95 (hardcover)

ANTIFRAGILE - Nassem Nicholas Taleb

Once described as “the hottest thinker in the world” by The Times of London, Nassem Nicholas Taleb is an expert in the fields of randomness, uncertainty and probability. His critically acclaimed The Black Swan (2007) investigated rare and unpredictable events, and he describes his latest work, Antifragile: Things that gain from Disorder, as a response to its success.

The premise of Antifragile is that institutions, businesses and ideas that are “robust”’ or “resilient” are designed to be as impenetrable and self-reliant as possible, making them vulnerable when events, such as a terrorist attack, become truly cataclysmic. Unlike the merely robust, however, the antifragile welcome exposure

to shocks and uncertainty, growing tougher and more immune through the process of surviving repeated challenges.

Antifragile discusses in depth the lack of predictability in the modern world and what Taleb sees as the flawed logic of trying to build institutions as impenetrable fortresses. His ability to decisively and cogently produce a theory of how unpredictable or Black Swan events can be prepared for is one that will appeal to entrepreneurs, business owners and modern scholars alike.

560 Pages, random house, november 27, 2012, Us$30 (hardcover)


Business is broken, according to Will McInnes, social media guru and author of Culture Shock: A Handbook for 21st Century Business. But can it be fixed? McInnes, co-founder and managing director of Nixon McInnes, a UK-based online marketing and social consultancy, believes it can be, and his book is a recipe for how.

Culture Shock provides real-life examples of companies (including Apple, google and HCL Technologies) that have turned away from the 20th century model of hierarchical, siloed and slow-moving organizations to do things differently. Using these companies as a model, Culture Shock presents a step-by-step approach for crafting a more open, creative, motivating and productive workplace that is also highly profitable.

Packed with useful facts and figures, Culture Shock features input from the social web as well as crowd-sourced feedback and contributions. McInnes poses pertinent questions throughout to help readers better connect with the new and more technologically empowered workforce.

288 pages, Capstone, October 23, 2012, Us$24.95 (hardcover)

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