Six books have been chosen for the 2020 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year shortlist, which was announced today in London by McKinsey senior partner Dame Vivian Hunt during a virtual event hosted with FT editor Roula Khalaf.
“In a year when books were often an escapist respite and as many business ideas felt abruptly outdated, the 2020 shortlist reflects a rich diversity of mainstream books that not only look back, but also offer enduring and relevant lessons in resilient leadership,” Dame Vivian said. “They are potential guides on how to rewire companies, organizations and societies for the post-pandemic next normal.”
Three of the six books focus on individual companies, two offer big-picture looks at capitalism, and one outlines the way technologies will recast our world of work. This year’s shortlisted authors include a Nobel Prize winner, a CEO, university professors, journalists, and an economist. The inspiration for one book came to authors during summer days at a cabin in Montana; another, from decades-old company records in the archives of MIT.
“A good shortlist should include books that are provocative, well-written, with compelling character studies, ones that also offer lessons and remedies that inspire readers to reframe contemporary, essential issues,” said Raju Narisetti, McKinsey global publishing director and one of eight members of this year’s jury. “These six cover that gamut, but—more importantly for this extended pandemic moment in all our lives—they also stand the test of time, especially in the role business can and should play in how the next normal shapes up.”
A judges panel will select a winner of the award and the £30,000 prize that will be presented in London on December 1; runners up will receive £10,000.
Here’s a look at some of the most compelling business reading this year:
By Sarah Frier
This book traces the extraordinary rise of Instagram from a storytelling app to a cultural force that shapes the way we eat, entertain, dress and live, and along the way, created the new “influencer” industry.
By Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer
In terms of culture, Netflix breaks a lot of rules. This book, co-authored by the media giant’s CEO, reveals how the company values, cultivates, and inspires its people in ways that have allowed it to lead one wave of innovation after another in the entertainment industry.
By Jill Lepore
This is the story of Simulmatics, a company that gathered data and used it to track and model behavior in everyday life, from buying a dishwasher to tracking social trends to influencing votes. It may sound like business-as-usual today—but it all took place in 1959.
By Anne Case and Angus Deaton
This book offers a clear-eyed, sobering look at the reasons why capitalism is failing our working class today—exemplified by rising rates of divorce, suicide, drug use—and offers tangible solutions for a way forward.
By Rebecca Henderson
Businesses can solve the toughest issues we face today, including social and economic inequality and catastrophic climate change. That’s the argument this book makes—and supports, with examples of companies already creating positive change.
By Daniel Susskind
Based on a decade of research, Daniel Susskind looks at how technology will reshape our worlds of work. It explores the implications of losing whole labor segments, the increase in economic inequality, and need for new government approaches.