BCG Henderson Institute

BHI’s Summer Reading List — 2024

In keeping with our annual tradition at the BCG Henderson Institute, we are excited to kick off the vacation season by unveiling our 2024 Summer Reading List.

As has become our annual tradition, we are kicking off summer (for some of our readers) with a list of notable business books that have been featured on our Thinkers & Ideas podcast. If you are taking some time to unplug, bring one (or more) of these books along and listen to our interviews with the authors. The discussions reinforce why the books’ ideas are relevant to leaders—adding some inspiration to your vacation.

Making Sense of Chaos with Doyne Farmer

Farmer, a complex systems scientist at the University of Oxford and the Santa Fe Institute, argues that with technological advances in data science and computing, we are now able to apply complex systems thinking to build models that more accurately capture reality and enable us to make better predictions about the economy.

The Intelligence of Intuition with Gerd Gigerenzer

Intuition is a form of unconscious intelligence shaped by experience and evolution in dealing with uncertain and dynamic situations—situations for which logic and algorithms are often ill-fitted. As such says Gigerenzer—director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the University of Potsdam—it will be an important tool for leaders managing increased complexity.

Survive, Reset, Thrive with Rebecca Homkes

Homkes, who teaches business strategy at the London Business School, has developed a framework for leading through uncertainty based on three principles: setting up the firm for continuity through shocks (survive), making strategic choices for growth as the situation changes (reset), and ensuring implementation of the new business model (thrive).

Co-Intelligence with Ethan Mollick

Several recent books deal with what GenAI can do (versus humans), the impact that it will have, or the risks associated with it. Mollick, a professor at The Wharton School, takes a different tack in his latest book: He asks how we can live with it, basing his answer on emerging scientific evidence, as opposed to plausible projection.

Why We Die with Venki Ramakrishnan

While the spotlight is currently on AI, significant money is being poured into longevity research and innovation. In his new book, Ramakrishnan—a Nobel prize laureate in chemistry—explores what we know about how humans age and die and the prospects for expanding maximum lifespan, life expectancy, and health span.

Climate Capitalism with Akshat Rathi

Rathi, a senior reporter for Bloomberg News focusing on climate and energy, argues that the best way to cut carbon pollution is by harnessing capitalism. Combating climate change requires a combination of smart policies, financing, technological innovations, and leadership—without killing markets or competition.

Slow Down with Kohei Saito 

Saito, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Tokyo, argues that to have any chance of achieving true sustainability, we must move to a system that deemphasizes growth. His propositions will likely seem quite radical to many of our business listeners—but as Saito notes, sometimes utopian ideas can be a stimulus for generating new thinking for complex intractable topics like climate change.

Look Again with Cass Sunstein

Are the clues to the future of your business right under your nose? Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Kennedy Law School, identifies ways that company leaders can strategically avoid habituation to ensure their organizations do not get stuck in mental models that limit adaptability to new trends and challenges.

The Friction Project with Bob Sutton

Sutton, an expert on organizational psychology at Stanford University, shares insights on friction—the forces that make it harder, slower, more complicated, or even impossible to get things done in organizations. He discusses the practical steps leaders and employees can take to remove and add friction in the right places.

Higher Ground with Alison Taylor

Company leaders taking a public stand on social and ecological issues has evolved from being unthinkable, to being highly fashionable and most recently to becoming fraught with political and reputation risk. NYU clinical professor Alison Taylor has tried to create a clear path through this treacherous minefield in which ideals can quickly morph into nightmares.

Perspectives on the Future with Esther Dyson, Rita McGrath, and Gary Shteyngart

Finally, a special podcast to celebrate the 100th edition of Thinkers & Ideas. We discussed how to see around corners and shape the future with three special guests: McGrath, the business strategist, author, and entrepreneur; Shteyngart, best-selling fiction author and teacher; and Dyson, the investor, social entrepreneur, company director, and expert all things health and space-related.

Sources & Notes