The Future is Coming, and We Are Not Ready – a reading list: here are some books that might help us get ready

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past

The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
Bob Dylan, The Times They Are a Changin’


Years ago, a historian friend of mine told me that he lived in the last century, and that I (Randy) lived in the next century.

I suspect that that is not true.  I am probably as stuck in my ways as just about everybody else.  Personally, I’m not sure that I like to change at all

But, I do believe this:  change is coming.  And it is better, it is a smarter strategy, to embrace change rather than fight change.

Because…the times, they are a changin’!

And, if we are behind, even a little, we might miss the next opportunity.  The path is a short one from being behind to being obsolete.

I read books professionally.  I present synopses of books.  And the list of books to help you get ready for the coming future is a long one.  Here is a list of “the best” books I have read for getting ready for the future.  The list may seem a little long.  But tackle them one book at a time, and, if they don’t help you win the future, maybe they will at least help you survive the future.

Yes, I am sure that I am missing some very good books.  So, feel free to add your own recommendations to this list as you share it around.

future-shock-by-alvin-toffler-1970-1-728And, yes, I have actually read all of these books I have listed here.

Two books to start with.  Both of these are older books, and will help provide a framework for thinking about the coming future.

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman.

And, then, these books which I have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  I sort of have them listed in my suggested order of importance and value; kind of read these, in this order, thinking – at least, for the first few books listed.  But, you really could just jump in anywhere.Second Machine Age

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.  W. W. Norton & Company; (2014).

Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction by Thomas M. Siebel. RosettaBooks (July 9, 2019).

The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything by Bob Johansen. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.  (2017)

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford. Basic Books, 2015.

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2016.

Change: How Organizations Achieve Hard-to-Imagine Results in Uncertain and Volatile Times by John P. Kotter, Vanessa Akhtar, Gaurav Gupta.

Kai-Fu Lee + AI SuperpowersAI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 25, 2018).

Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI  by Paul R. Daugherty and H. James Wilson. Harvard Business Review Press (March 20, 2018).

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson. W. W. Norton & Co. 2017.

The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case. Simon & Schuster (April 5, 2016).

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant (Author), Sheryl Sandberg (Foreword). Viking (2016).

(XLR8) Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World by John P. Kotter.  Harvard Business Review Press (2014).Industries of the Future

The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross. Simon & Schuster. (2016).

Uncharted: How to Navigate the Future by Margaret Heffernan. Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (September 8, 2020)

Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life by Ozan Varol.  PublicAffairs (April 14, 2020).

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. Portfolio (October 15, 2019).

And, here two other books to recommend in this list:

This book, to help people deal with the emotions of dealing with change:
Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges and Susan Bridges. Da Capo Lifelong Books; Third Edition, Revised and Updated for the New Work Environment edition (2009).

UpstreamAnd this book, to help people get ready for the next big problem, which, alas, will come: 
Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath. Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (March 3, 2020)

You can purchase our synopses presentations from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  On that page, you can search by book title. And click here for our newest additions. My synopses for most of the books I have listed in this post are available. (Except for Future Shock and Technopoly.  I read those long before we began our First Friday Book Synosopis events).

Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation delivered at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

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