Editor’s Choice: Six Operations Books from 2016

Although 2016 may have been full of surprises, the year's best books provide enduring insights for operations practitioners.

Digital

Pinpoint: How GPS is changing technology, culture, and our minds, by Greg Milner.
A biography of a technology whose ubiquity has made it almost invisible, belying its impact on the way human beings interact with the world around us.

Manufacturing

The smartest places on earth: Why rustbelts are the emerging hotspots of global innovation, by Antoine Van Agtmael and Fred Bakker

Van Agtmael, who coined the phrase "emerging markets" while a World Bank employee in 1981, and Dutch financial journalist Fred Bakker now see a new "emerging" phenomenon: the rise of innovative manufacturing in cities long synonymous with decline, such as Eindhoven in the Netherlands and Akron in the US state of Ohio.

Procurement/Purchasing and Supply Management

Alibaba: The house that Jack Ma built, by Duncan Clark

An in-depth profile of the former English teacher and the business he founded: the world's second-largest internet company, an emporium-of-everything that's become a default supplier almost everywhere.

Product Development

The revenge of analog: Real things and why they matter, by David Sax.

For generations, new technologies looked like they would eliminate tangible competitors—from TV news savaging evening newspapers to TripAdvisor supplanting travel books. But people like real things more than many techno-utopians appreciate.

Service Operations

Hug your haters: How to embrace complaints and keep your customers, by Jay Baer.

First, a basic statistic: 80% of companies think they give superior customer service, but only 8% of customers agree. How to fix that ratio? Start by embracing the embarrassing—that means listening and responding when customers complain.

Supply Chain Management

The power of resilience: How the best companies manage the unexpected, by Yossi Sheff.

For people who like unpredictability, 2016 was a banner year. Businesses must learn how to anticipate and profit from shocks, rather than simply survive them.