Suggested Reading for

High Velocity Outcomes

Creating a learning environment, from the deck-plates to the Pentagon, is critical to the success of our Fleet. Applying the best concepts, techniques and technologies accelerates learning for individuals, teams and organizations. Clearly knowing the objective and the theoretical limits of performance comes through practice and education. We must adapt processes and thinking to be inherently receptive to innovation and creativity.


Learning War

The Evolution of Fighting Doctrine int he U.S. Navy, 1898-1945

By Trent Hone     [ Link to eBook ]

Learning War examines the U.S. Navy's doctrinal development from 1898-1945 and explains why the Navy in that era was so successful as an organization at fostering innovation. A revolutionary study of one of history's greatest success stories, this book draws profoundly important conclusions that give new insight, not only into how the Navy succeeded in becoming the best naval force in the world, but also into how modern organizations can exploit today's rapid technological and social changes in their pursuit of success.

The Book of Why

The New Science of Cause and Effect

By Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie    

"Correlation is not causation." This mantra, chanted by scientists for more than a century, has led to a virtual prohibition on causal talk. Today, that taboo is dead. The causal revolution, instigated by Judea Pearl and his colleagues, has cut through a century of confusion and established causality--the study of cause and effect--on a firm scientific basis. His work explains how we can know easy things, like whether it was rain or a sprinkler that made a sidewalk wet; and how to answer hard questions, like whether a drug cured an illness. Pearl's work enables us to know not just whether one thing causes another: it lets us explore the world that is and the worlds that could have been. It shows us the essence of human thought and key to artificial intelligence. Anyone who wants to understand either needs The Book of Why.

MACHINE PLATFORM CROWD

A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century

By Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson     [ Link to eBook ]

We live in strange times. A machine plays the strategy game Go better than any human; upstarts like Apple and Google destroy industry stalwarts such as Nokia; ideas from the crowd are repeatedly more innovative than corporate research labs.

MIT’s Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson know what it takes to master this digital-powered shift: we must rethink the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd. In all three cases, the balance now favors the second element of the pair, with massive implications for how we run our companies and live our lives.

In the tradition of agenda-setting classics like Clay Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, McAfee and Brynjolfsson deliver both a penetrating analysis of a new world and a toolkit for thriving in it. For startups and established businesses, or for anyone interested in what the future holds, Machine, Platform, Crowd is essential reading.

7 DEADLY SCENARIOS

A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century

By Andrew F. Krepinevich    [ Link to eBook ]

As riveting as a thriller, 7 Deadly Scenarios reveals the forces—both overt and covert—that are in play; the real ambitions of world powers, terrorist groups, and rogue states; and the actions and counteractions both our enemies and our allies can be expected to take—and what we must do to prepare before it’s too late. A global pandemic finds millions swarming across the U.S. border. Major American cities are leveled by black-market nukes. China’s growing civil unrest ignites a global showdown. Pakistan’s collapse leads to a hunt for its nuclear weapons. What if the worst that could happen actually happens? How will we respond? Are we prepared?

These are the questions that Andrew F. Krepinevich asks—and answers—in this timely and often chilling book. As a military expert and consultant, Krepinevich must think the unthinkable based on the latest intelligence and geopolitical trends—and devise a response in the event our worst nightmares become reality.

VALUE

The Four Cornerstones of Corporate Finance

By Tim Koller, Richard Dobbs, Bill Huyett, McKinsey & Company    [ Link to eBook ]

While you can find numerous books focused on the topic of corporate finance, few offer the type of information managers need to help them make important decisions day in and day out. Value explores the core of corporate finance without getting bogged down in numbers and is intended to give managers an accessible guide to both the foundations and applications of corporate finance. Filled with in-depth insights from experts at McKinsey & Company, this reliable resource takes a much more qualitative approach to what the authors consider a lost art:

A perfect companion to the Fifth Edition of Valuation, this book will put the various issues associated with corporate finance in perspective.

GRAND STRATEGIES IN WAR AND PEACE

By Paul Kennedy

In this book, eminent historians-among them Sir Michael Howard, J. H. Elliott, Douglas Porch, and Paul Kennedy-look at how the United States, the Soviet Union, and various European powers have developed their 'grand strategies'-how they have integrated their political, economic, and military goals in order to preserve their long-term interests in times of war and peace. While providing insightful historical analysis of past and present grand strategies, the contributors also offer incisive advice on the future directions nations should take.

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The New History of Rome and the Barbarians

By Peter Heather

The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution: Centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors Rome called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling an Empire that had dominated their lives for so long.A leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe’s barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the empire apart.

He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome’s European frontiers, to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the Empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378, and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain, before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the Western Empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandals’ defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada: the west’s last chance for survival.

Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians.

THE TIPPING POINT

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

By Malcolm Gladwell    [ Link to eBook ]

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

OUTLIERS

The Story of Success

By Malcolm Gladwell    [ Link to eBook ]

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

ON WRITING WELL

The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

By William Zinsser    [ Link to eBook ]

On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher.

THE INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA

The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business

By Clayton M. Christensen    [ Link to eBook ]

The Innovator’s Dilemma is the revolutionary business book that has forever changed corporate America. Based on a truly radical idea—that great companies can fail precisely because they do everything right—this Wall Street Journal, Business Week and New York Times Business bestseller is one of the most provocative and important business books ever written. Entrepreneurs, managers, and CEOs ignore its wisdom and its warnings at their great peril.

THE HIGH VELOCITY EDGE

How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition

By Steven J. Spear    [ Link to eBook ]

ow can some companies perform so well that their industry counterparts are competitors in name only? Although they operate in the same industry, serve the same market, and even use the same suppliers, these extraordinary, high-velocity organizations consistently outperform all the competition―and more importantly, continually widen their leads.In The High-Velocity Edge (the reissued edition of five-time Shingo Prize winner Steven J. Spear’s critically acclaimed book Chasing the Rabbit) Spear describes what sets market-dominating companies apart and provides a detailed framework you can leverage to surge to the lead in your own industry.

Spear examines the internal operations of dominant organizations across a wide spectrum of industries from technology to design and from manufacturing to health care. While he investigates several great operational triumphs, like top-tier teaching hospitals’ fantastic improvements in quality of care, Pratt & Whitney’s competitive gains in jet engine design, and the U.S. Navy’s breakthroughs in inventing and applying nuclear propulsion, The High-Velocity Edge is not just about the adoration of success. It also takes a critical look at some of the operational missteps that have humbled even the most reputable and respected of companies and organizations.

THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO

How to Get Things Right

By Atul Gawande    [ Link to eBook ]

Atul Gawande shows what the simple idea of the checklist reveals about the complexity of our lives and how we can deal with it. The modern world has given us stupendous know-how. Yet avoidable failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the law, the financial industry—in almost every realm of organized activity. And the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail.

Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist. In riveting stories, he reveals what checklists can do, what they can’t, and how they could bring about striking improvements in a variety of fields, from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses of all kinds. And the insights are making a difference. Already, a simple surgical checklist from the World Health Organization designed by following the ideas described here has been adopted in more than twenty countries as a standard for care and has been heralded as “the biggest clinical invention in thirty years.”

THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS

Building a Business When there are No Easy Answers

By Ben Horowitz    [ Link to eBook ]

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.

A WHOLE NEW MIND

Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future

By Daniel H. Pink   [ Link to eBook ]

The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic “right-brain” thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t.Drawing on research from around the world, Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment–and reveals how to master them.

A Whole New Mind takes readers to a daring new place, and a provocative and necessary new way of thinking about a future that’s already here.

SPRINT

How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

By Jake Knapp    [ Link to eBook ]

From three partners at Google Ventures, a unique five-day process for solving tough problems, proven at more than a hundred companies. Entrepreneurs and leaders face big questions every day: What’s the most important place to focus your effort, and how do you start? What will your idea look like in real life? How many meetings and discussions does it take before you can be sure you have the right solution?

Now there’s a surefire way to answer these important questions: the sprint. Designer Jake Knapp created the five-day process at Google, where sprints were used on everything from Google Search to Google X. He joined Braden Kowitz and John Zeratsky at Google Ventures, and together they have completed more than a hundred sprints with companies in mobile, e-commerce, healthcare, finance, and more

A practical guide to answering critical business questions, Sprint is a book for teams of any size, from small startups to Fortune 100s, from teachers to nonprofits. It’s for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.

THE SECOND MACHINE AGE

Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

By Erik Brynjolfsson    [ Link to eBook ]

In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee―two thinkers at the forefront of their field―reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.

Drawing on years of research and up-to-the-minute trends, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.

THINKING FAST AND SLOW

By Daniel Kahneman    [ Link to eBook ]

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

THINKING IN TIME

The Uses of History for Decision Makers

By Richard E. Neustadt    [ Link to eBook ]

Two noted professors offer easily remembered rules for using history effectively in day-to-day management of governmental and corporate affairs to avoid costly blunders.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING 'HUMAN ERROR'

By Sidney Dekker

When faced with a ’human error’ problem, you may be tempted to ask 'Why didn’t these people watch out better?' Or, 'How can I get my people more engaged in safety?' You might think you can solve your safety problems by telling your people to be more careful, by reprimanding the miscreants, by issuing a new rule or procedure and demanding compliance. These are all expressions of 'The Bad Apple Theory' where you believe your system is basically safe if it were not for those few unreliable people in it. Building on its successful predecessors, the third edition of The Field Guide to Understanding ’Human Error’ will help you understand a new way of dealing with a perceived 'human error' problem in your organization. It will help you trace how your organization juggles inherent trade-offs between safety and other pressures and expectations, suggesting that you are not the custodian of an already safe system. It will encourage you to start looking more closely at the performance that others may still call 'human error', allowing you to discover how your people create safety through practice, at all levels of your organization, mostly successfully, under the pressure of resource constraints and multiple conflicting goals.

The Field Guide to Understanding 'Human Error' will help you understand how to move beyond 'human error'; how to understand accidents; how to do better investigations; how to understand and improve your safety work. You will be invited to think creatively and differently about the safety issues you and your organization face. In each, you will find possibilities for a new language, for different concepts, and for new leverage points to influence your own thinking and practice, as well as that of your colleagues and organization. If you are faced with a ’human error’ problem, abandon the fallacy of a quick fix. Read this book.

THE KNOWING DOING GAP

How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action

By Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton

Why are there so many gaps between what firms know they should do and what they actually do? Why do so many companies fail to implement the experience and insight they’ve worked so hard to acquire? The Knowing-Doing Gap is the first book to confront the challenge of turning knowledge about how to improve performance into actions that produce measurable results. Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, well-known authors and teachers, identify the causes of the knowing-doing gap and explain how to close it. The message is clear–firms that turn knowledge into action avoid the “smart talk trap.”

Executives must use plans, analysis, meetings, and presentations to inspire deeds, not as substitutes for action. Companies that act on their knowledge also eliminate fear, abolish destructive internal competition, measure what matters, and promote leaders who understand the work people do in their firms. The authors use examples from dozens of firms that show how some overcome the knowing-doing gap, why others try but fail, and how still others avoid the gap in the first place. The Knowing-Doing Gap is sure to resonate with executives everywhere who struggle daily to make their firms both know and do what they know. It is a refreshingly candid, useful, and realistic guide for improving performance in today’s business.

THE VISUAL DISPLAY OF QUANTITATIVE INFORMATION

By Edward Tufte

The classic book on statistical graphics, charts, tables. Theory and practice in the design of data graphics, 250 illustrations of the best (and a few of the worst) statistical graphics, with detailed analysis of how to display data for precise, effective, quick analysis. Design of the high-resolution displays, small multiples. Editing and improving graphics. The data-ink ratio. Time-series, relational graphics, data maps, multivariate designs. Detection of graphical deception: design variation vs. data variation. Sources of deception. Aesthetics and data graphical displays.

SENSEMAKING IN ORGANIZATIONS

By Karl E. Weick

The teaching of organization theory and the conduct of organizational research have been dominated by a focus on decision-making and the concept of strategic rationality. However, the rational model ignores the inherent complexity and ambiguity of real-world organizations and their environments. In this landmark volume, Karl E Weick highlights how the `sensemaking’ process shapes organizational structure and behavior. The process is seen as the creation of reality as an ongoing accomplishment that takes form when people make retrospective sense of the situations in which they find themselves.

THE ART OF THE LONG VIEW

Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World

By Peter Schwartz    [ Link to eBook ]

What increasingly affects all of us, whether professional planners or individuals preparing for a better future, is not the tangibles of life—bottom-line numbers, for instance—but the intangibles: our hopes and fears, our beliefs and dreams. Only stories—scenarios—and our ability to visualize different kinds of futures adequately capture these intangibles.

In The Art of the Long View, now for the first time in paperback and with the addition of an all-new User’s Guide, Peter Schwartz outlines the “scenaric” approach, giving you the tools for developing a strategic vision within your business.

Schwartz describes the new techniques, originally developed within Royal/Dutch Shell, based on many of his firsthand scenario exercises with the world’s leading institutions and companies, including the White House, EPA, BellSouth, PG&E, and the International Stock Exchange.

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

Everything You Need to Know to Write

By William Strunk, Jr.    [ Link to eBook ]

“The Elements of Style” is one of the definitive texts on all elements of English language style, usage, and composition. Strunk covers such topics as “elementary Rules of Usage,” “Elementary Principles of Composition,” “A Few Matters of Form,” “Words and Expressions Commonly Misused,” and “Words Often Misspelled.”

INVITING DISASTER

Lessons from the Edge of Technology

By James R. Chiles    [ Link to eBook ]

Weaving a dramatic narrative that explains how breakdowns in these systems result in such disasters as the chain reaction crash of the Air France Concorde to the meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station, Chiles vividly demonstrates how the battle between man and machine may be escalating beyond manageable limits — and why we all have a stake in its outcome.

Included in this edition is a special introduction providing a behind-the-scenes look at the World Trade Center catastrophe. Combining firsthand accounts of employees’ escapes with an in-depth look at the structural reasons behind the towers’ collapse, Chiles addresses the question, Were the towers “two tall heroes” or structures with a fatal flaw?

ENVISIONING INFORMATION

By Edward R. Tufte

This book celebrates escapes from the flatlands of both paper and computer screen, showing superb displays of high-dimensional complex data. The most design-oriented of Edward Tufte’s books, Envisioning Information shows maps, charts, scientific presentations, diagrams, computer interfaces, statistical graphics and tables, stereo photographs, guidebooks, courtroom exhibits, timetables, use of color, a pop-up, and many other wonderful displays of information.

The book provides practical advice about how to explain complex material by visual means, with extraordinary examples to illustrate the fundamental principles of information displays. Topics include escaping flatland, color and information, micro/macro designs, layering and separation, small multiples, and narratives. Winner of 17 awards for design and content. 400 illustrations with exquisite 6- to 12-color printing throughout. Highest quality design and production.

EXECUTION

The Discipline of Getting Things Done

By Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan   [ Link to eBook ]

The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results . . . whether you’re running an entire company or in your first management job. Larry Bossidy is one of the world’s most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they’ve pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.

The leader’s most important job—selecting and appraising people—is one that should never be delegated. As a CEO, Larry Bossidy personally makes the calls to check references for key hires. Why? With the right people in the right jobs, there’s a leadership gene pool that conceives and selects strategies that can be executed. People then work together to create a strategy building block by building block, a strategy in sync with the realities of the marketplace, the economy, and the competition. Once the right people and strategy are in place, they are then linked to an operating process that results in the implementation of specific programs and actions and that assigns accountability. This kind of effective operating process goes way beyond the typical budget exercise that looks into a rearview mirror to set its goals. It puts reality behind the numbers and is where the rubber meets the road. Putting an “execution culture” in place is hard, but losing it is easy. In July 2001 Larry Bossidy was asked by the board of directors of Honeywell International (it had merged with AlliedSignal) to return and get the company back on track. He’s been putting the ideas he writes about in Execution to work in real time.

THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE

The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

By Peter M. Senge   [ Link to eBook ]

Peter Senge’s groundbreaking ideas on building organizations have made him a household name amongst corporate managers. His theories help businesses to clarify their goals, to defy the odds, to more clearly understand threats, and to recognize new opportunities. He introduces managers to a new source of competitive advantage, and offers a marvelously empowering approach to work.

Mastery of Senge’s five disciplines enables managers to overcome their obstacles to growth and creates brave new futures for them and their companies. The five disciplines are drawn from science, spiritual wisdom, psychology, the cutting edge of management thought, and Senge’s own work with top corporations that employ his methods. Listening to The Fifth Discipline provides a searching personal experience and a dramatic professional shift of mind.

DRIFT INTO FAILURE

From Hunting Broken Components to Understanding Complex Systems

By Sidney Dekker

What does the collapse of sub-prime lending have in common with a broken jackscrew in an airliner’s tailplane? Or the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico with the burn-up of Space Shuttle Columbia? These were systems that drifted into failure. While pursuing success in a dynamic, complex environment with limited resources and multiple goal conflicts, a succession of small, everyday decisions eventually produced breakdowns on a massive scale. We have trouble grasping the complexity and normality that gives rise to such large events. We hunt for broken parts, fixable properties, people we can hold accountable. Our analyses of complex system breakdowns remain depressingly linear, depressingly componential - imprisoned in the space of ideas once defined by Newton and Descartes. The growth of complexity in society has outpaced our understanding of how complex systems work and fail. Our technologies have gotten ahead of our theories. We are able to build things - deep-sea oil rigs, jackscrews, collateralized debt obligations - whose properties we understand in isolation. But in competitive, regulated societies, their connections proliferate, their interactions and interdependencies multiply, their complexities mushroom.

This book explores complexity theory and systems thinking to understand better how complex systems drift into failure. It studies sensitive dependence on initial conditions, unruly technology, tipping points, diversity - and finds that failure emerges opportunistically, non-randomly, from the very webs of relationships that breed success and that are supposed to protect organizations from disaster. It develops a vocabulary that allows us to harness complexity and find new ways of managing drift.

THE BLACK SWAN

The Impact of the Highly Improbable

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb    [ Link to eBook ]

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book—itself a black swan.

THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR

When Humans Transcend Biology

By Ray Kurzweil    [ Link to eBook ]

For over three decades, Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine, in which the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will be combined with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our creations.

SIMULATING WAR

Studying Conflict Through Simulation Games

By Philip Sabin

Over the past fifty years, many thousands of conflict simulations have been published that bring the dynamics of past and possible future wars to life. In this new work, Philip Sabin explores the theory and practice of conflict simulation as a topic in its own right, based on his thirty years of experience in designing wargames and using them in teaching.

Simulating War sets conflict simulation in its proper context alongside such techniques as game theory and operational analysis. It explains in detail the analytical and modelling techniques involved, and it teaches you how to design your own simulations of conflicts of your choice. The book provides eight simple illustrative simulations of specific historical conflicts, complete with rules, maps and counters.

Simulating War is essential reading for all recreational or professional simulation gamers, and for anyone who is interested in modeling war, from teachers and students to military officers.

STRATEGY: A HISTORY

By Lawrence Freedman

In Strategy: A History, Sir Lawrence Freedman, one of the world’s leading authorities on war and international politics, captures the vast history of strategic thinking, in a consistently engaging and insightful account of how strategy came to pervade every aspect of our lives. The range of Freedman’s narrative is extraordinary, moving from the surprisingly advanced strategy practiced in primate groups, to the opposing strategies of Achilles and Odysseus in The Iliad, the strategic advice of Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, the great military innovations of Baron Henri de Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz, the grounding of revolutionary strategy in class struggles by Marx, the insights into corporate strategy found in Peter Drucker and Alfred Sloan, and the contributions of the leading social scientists working on strategy today.

The core issue at the heart of strategy, the author notes, is whether it is possible to manipulate and shape our environment rather than simply become the victim of forces beyond one’s control. Time and again, Freedman demonstrates that the inherent unpredictability of this environment―subject to chance events, the efforts of opponents, the missteps of friends―provides strategy with its challenge and its drama. Armies or corporations or nations rarely move from one predictable state of affairs to another, but instead feel their way through a series of states, each one not quite what was anticipated, requiring a reappraisal of the original strategy, including its ultimate objective. Thus the picture of strategy that emerges in this book is one that is fluid and flexible, governed by the starting point, not the end point.

A brilliant overview of the most prominent strategic theories in history, from David’s use of deception against Goliath, to the modern use of game theory in economics, this masterful volume sums up a lifetime of reflection on strategy.

MANAGING THE RISKS OF ORGANIZATIONAL ACCIDENTS

The Inside Story of How Adm. Hyman Rickover Built the Nuclear Navy

By James Reason

Major accidents are rare events due to the many barriers, safeguards and defences developed by modern technologies. But they continue to happen with saddening regularity and their human and financial consequences are all too often unacceptably catastrophic. One of the greatest challenges we face is to develop more effective ways of both understanding and limiting their occurrence. This lucid book presents a set of common principles to further our knowledge of the causes of major accidents in a wide variety of high-technology systems. It also describes tools and techniques for managing the risks of such organizational accidents that go beyond those currently available to system managers and safety professionals.

James Reason deals comprehensively with the prevention of major accidents arising from human and organizational causes. He argues that the same general principles and management techniques are appropriate for many different domains. These include banks and insurance companies just as much as nuclear power plants, oil exploration and production companies, chemical process installations and air, sea and rail transport. Its unique combination of principles and practicalities make this seminal book essential reading for all whose daily business is to manage, audit and regulate hazardous technologies of all kinds. It is relevant to those concerned with understanding and controlling human and organizational factors and will also interest academic readers and those working in industrial and government agencies.

RED TEAM

How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy

By Micah Zenko    [ Link to eBook ]

Red teaming. It is a practice as old as the Devil's Advocate, the eleventh-century Vatican official charged with discrediting candidates for sainthood. Today, red teams—comprised primarily of fearless skeptics and those assuming the role of saboteurs who seek to better understand the interests, intentions, and capabilities of institutions or potential competitors—are used widely in both the public and private sector. Red teaming, including simulations, vulnerability probes, and alternative analyses, helps institutions in competitive environments to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses, challenge assumptions, and anticipate potential threats ahead of the next special operations raid, malicious cyberattack, or corporate merger. But not all red teams are created equal; indeed, some cause more damage than they prevent.

In Red Team, national security expert Micah Zenko provides an in-depth investigation into the work of red teams, revealing the best practices, most common pitfalls, and most effective applications of these modern-day Devil's Advocates. The best practices of red teaming can be applied to the CIA, NYPD, or a pharmaceutical company, and executed correctly they can yield impressive results: red teams give businesses an edge over their competition, poke holes in vital intelligence estimates, and troubleshoot dangerous military missions long before boots are on the ground. But red teams are only as good as leaders allow them to be, and Zenko shows not only how to create and empower red teams, but also what to do with the information they produce.

Essential reading for business leaders and policymakers alike, Red Team will revolutionize the way organizations think about, exploit, compensate for, and correct their institutional strengths and weaknesses. Drawing on little-known case studies and unprecedented access to elite red teamers in the United States and abroad, Zenko shows how any group—from military units to friendly hackers—can win by thinking like the enemy.

BLACKETT'S WAR

The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare

By Stephen Budiansky    [ Link to eBook ]

n March 1941, after a year of devastating U-boat attacks, the British War Cabinet turned to an intensely private, bohemian physicist named Patrick Blackett to turn the tide of the naval campaign. Though he is little remembered today, Blackett did as much as anyone to defeat Nazi Germany, by revolutionizing the Allied anti-submarine effort through the disciplined, systematic implementation of simple mathematics and probability theory.

This is the story of how British and American civilian intellectuals helped change the nature of twentieth-century warfare, by convincing disbelieving military brass to trust the new field of operational research.

MANAGING THE UNEXPECTED

Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty

By Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe   [ Link to eBook ]

The unexpected is often dramatic, as with hurricanes or terrorist attacks. But the unexpected can also come in more subtle forms, such as a small organizational lapse that leads to a major blunder, or an unexamined assumption that costs lives in a crisis. Why are some organizations better able than others to maintain function and structure in the face of unanticipated change?

Authors Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe answer this question by pointing to high reliability organizations (HROs), such as emergency rooms in hospitals, flight operations of aircraft carriers, and firefighting units, as models to follow. These organizations have developed ways of acting and styles of learning that enable them to manage the unexpected better than other organizations. Thoroughly revised and updated, the second edition of the groundbreaking book Managing the Unexpected uses HROs as a template for any institution that wants to better organize for high reliability.

"Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed before. It doesn't give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead," - James Mattis, Secretary of Defense