A curious list of books proposed by a corporate strategist

archived [a p e r t u r e newsletter #18 ]— Sep 2018

By Dan Colceriu, curator of a p e r t u r e newsletter

Photo: Dan Colceriu

1. Rules for Radicals, by Saul D. Alinsky

✊ This pragmatic primer for realistic radicals written in the early 1970s by community organizer Saul Alinsky is more about strategic thinking than the name might suggest. This article from Beverly Gage will convince you.

A side note, I remembered recently how the book ended with advice on how, as the world was entering the financialization stage, Alinsky envisioned that the next-gen activism will be done through the likes of shareholding activists. I remembered about the book’s ending as I was reading Sheelah Kolhatkar’s article about Paul Singer — a doomsday activist investor — and I was thinking that Alinsky’s prediction got somehow hijacked.

2. Machine, Platform, Crowd, by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

I read this book last year, and it is a lengthy account of technology’s implications over society and its business implications. Its last section, the crowd, certainly captures a critical strategic shift: crowdsourced activities are now turning the corporate value chain on its head, as end-users are now both consumers and suppliers (of labour, data, capital etc.)

3. HEDGE by Nicolas Colin

The above mentioned idea is then picked up by Nicolas in his book HEDGE, and he defines this crowd as the multitude. If you want a review of the book before reading it, I recommend Ben Robinson’s review, as well as Stefano Zorzi’s.

Source: N. Colin, Hedge, A Greater Safety Net for the Entrepreneurial Age. Illustrator: Marguerite Deneuville

I had the pleasure of welcoming Nicolas Colin in Geneva on the 19th of Sep, as we discussed his book in a more intimate setup with the local tech scene. We also had with us Garrett Cassidy, CEO and co-founder of Trezeo, an Irish fintech startup that aims to redefine consumer finance for the Entrepreneurial Age, by contributing to the larger effort of redefining the Social Safety Net.

4. What’s the Future and Why It’s Up To Us, by Tim O’Reilly

If you haven’t read Tim O’Reilly yet, you definitely should. I promise this is a book where you will struggle not to underline ideas every single page. A convincing review is Nicolas Colin’s here. As well as more of them on The CEO Library here.

5. Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy, by Bill Janeway

Incredibly demanding, yet equally satisfying read, from theorist-practitioner of financial economics, Bill Janeway, now Senior Advisor and Managing Partner at Warburg Pincus. A good summary I recommend comes from Laurène Tran, and she argues why this book is a “must-read for anyone interested in the dynamic interactions of market & politics as well as finance & innovation”.

6. The Value of Everything, by Mariana Mazzucato

Twitter capture from Mariana Mazzucato

I have recently starting reading this, after going through numerous reviews and critics. As the FT summarises it, it is “a challenging analysis that forces us to reconsider how our economies work — and who it works for. An understanding of who creates, who extracts, who destroys value in today’s economy.”

I believe this book, together with Nicolas Colin’s work could be the foundation for a New Deal 2.0 — and I can only feel encouraged to see that tomorrow’s politicians are willing to pay attention.

7. Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of The Intangible Economy, by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake

I have not yet started reading this, but it has been in my shortlist for a while. When we did Aperture newsletter #9, which was guest-curated by Ben Robinson, we covered this topic. A quick re-read of that edition of the digest might also convince you about the book.

8. The Fixer!, by Bradley Tusk
9. Regulatory Hacking, by Evan Burfield

I haven’t yet read much about these two books, but I did pick them up in another excellent post written by Laurène Tran. As technology, and hence entrepreneurship, is more intertwined with government, strategic re-positioning of startups towards policy-native will become an imperative as we’re entering the regulatory period of the digital era. Definitely read Laurène’s post and then you’ll see why these books will put you ahead of the game.