As the year ends, a plethora of lists are published to note the top-selling product, film and sportsperson. Some are more scientific than others in their methodology.
Here at GoodPractice, we are unashamed bookworms. As the year draws to an end, here are our top ten favourite books of 2014. This is based upon, well, what we really liked.
For several years now, Ben Goldacre has been entertaining and educating his readers on misleading journalism, evidence-based policy and misuse of statistics, as well as his clinical debunking of various quacks. I Think You’ll Find It’s a Bit More Complicated Than That is a fantastic collection of his writing, and still enjoyable even if you've read some of it previously. If you haven’t, you won’t find a better guide to critically appraise concepts and evidence.
9. Think Like a Freak (Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner)
When Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner burst onto the scene with their first book Freakonomics they were part of the vanguard bringing behavioural economics to the masses. Their latest book draws out ways that you can apply their way of thinking to all manner of everyday problems. You could pick some of these suggestions out from their previous books, but in Think Like a Freak they’re collected into a handy single volume.
8. The Undercover Economist Strikes Back (Tim Harford)
How does the economy work? It’s the question the whole profession of economics is driven to answer and, despite the current high levels of interest in behavioural economics, it’s macro-economics that has the biggest impact on our working lives. In The Undercover Economist Strikes Back, Tim Harford guides his readers through the various concepts and pitfalls underpinning modern economic thinking in an engaging and thought-provoking way.
7. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Walter Isaacson)
History tends to simplify events into the tale of individuals and their heroic (or infamous) actions. But that’s not generally how innovation works, and in his story of the people who created the computer and the internet, Walter Isaacson highlights the combination of remarkable teams, situations and happenstance that led to our current digital world. Miles better than his Steve Jobs biography, The Innovators has lessons on how to create an environment that encourages innovation, through to what it takes to turn an idea into something real.
6. Flat Army (Dan Pontefract)
Stef Scott, Content and Lead Research Editor at GoodPractice recently interviewed Dan about this book. Pontefract says that the main problem with organisations today is a lack of employee engagement, which is costing up to $10,000 a year per employee. To tackle this, Pontefract presents his ‘Flat Army’ idea. Leaders must become more connected, inclusive, and collaborative than ever before so that employees become more engaged.
5. Joy, Inc. How We Built a Workplace People Love (Richard Sheridan)
Joy, Inc. offers an inspiring insight into Menlo Innovations, a software company based in Michigan. Told through the experiences of CEO or ‘chief storyteller’ Rich Sheridan, the book charts the development of a culture based on one thing – joy. The benefits of a truly joyful culture go way beyond the limits of traditional employee engagement, as Menlo has won numerous awards, has tripled in size and has an outstanding client roster. Sheridan is so confident in his company’s culture that he offers an open invitation to readers to come and experience it for themselves.
4. The Marshmallow Test (Walter Mischel)
Mischel is the creator of the marshmallow test, one of the most famous experiments in psychology. It looks at how children respond when presented with a marshmallow treat, who were offered a further treat if they could wait to eat it. The results showed that those who were able to exercise self-control (i.e. those who didn’t gobble the marshmallow immediately) fared better in later life in many areas. This book takes a look at the importance of self-control and the link between delayed gratification and achievement.
3. The Best Place to Work (Ron Friedman)
Described as ‘the Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace’, it's living up to the hype and reviews from Seth Godwin, Marshall Goldsmith, Dan Pink, David Allen and many others. Acclaimed social psychologist Friedman distills the findings of academic research on workplace environments into handy, practical nuggets that can be used by employees, managers and leaders alike.
2. The Accidental Instructional Designer (Carolyn Bean)
A must read for anyone involved in instructional design. This book manages to be both irreverent and respectful of this profession. It is packed full of great tips and advice about instructional design, and can help you avoid becoming known as the dreaded ‘CBT lady’ in your organisation!
But the winner, by some distance, of the GoodPractice award for favourite book of the year is…
1. Creativity Inc (Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace)
Almost every member of staff at GoodPractice has read this fantastic book by one of the founders of Pixar animation, Ed Catmull. Based upon his own experiences, it brings so much insight into how one of the world’s most successful, and creative, organisations breaks down the barriers to creativity at every level of their business. Taking inspiration from the book, we have already has our first “braintrust” meeting here at GoodPractice, and hope to emulate many more of Catmull’s ideas into our working practices.
We hope you will enjoy these books as much as we have.
Best wishes for 2015 from all at GoodPractice.