The latest blockbuster in optimistic books is set to be Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis (Abundance, XPrize) and Steven Kotler (Abundance). No reviews yet but it’s due out in both paper and audio-book on 3rd Feb 2015, billed as “a how-to guide for using exponential technologies”, meaning business fields “doubling in power on a regular basis”. Apparently… “The authors run through the mental adjustment required for this increased rate of change, the practical considerations involved in staging and scaling goals, and the process of building communities that can reach them.” The lessons from Google and other exponential companies are inevitably built into Bold‘s template, along with Google’s ethos of “hey, kids, there’s a big old world over there on the hill, let’s change it for the better!” Now of course I love Google, and have spent the last six years with their CSE making a public Open Access academic search tool. But I can’t help wondering if Matt Ridley’s next book may be headed in a more useful direction than Bold, asking what is being self-organised at the grass-roots and what actually works and scales to make the lives of low-income people better. Maybe the two approaches are not incompatible: we don’t get the Gates Foundation without first shipping Windows.
Well, now… I admit this hazy post is just having some fun by second-guessing two books I haven’t yet seen. My bad. But there comes a moment in one’s life when the annual torrent of management and techno-whizz books all starts to blur together, and one muses: if just a half dozen of these books worked, why would we need the other 5,994 that are published each year? My ever-increasing podcast consumption also leads me to wonder if authors — even those as illustrious as those of Bold — are going to say much we haven’t already heard in brilliant TED talks, podcasts interviews and suchlike. Other than something timely like: ‘Hey, build a platform like Uber!’ Great advice, if Uber-isation turns out to be the future of organisations and corporations. But I’ve seen too many ‘hot trends’ come and go to pounce on each and every one as they swing by. Let’s first solve the elephantine problem of the poor quality of middle management — something perhaps not evident in Silicon Valley, but very obvious in much of the UK. Hmmm, let’s see, how might that work… perhaps if they stopped reading so many management advice books?