In June, 2005, I presented my synopsis of The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century byThomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: April 2005). This was a truly significant book. Here is an extended excerpt from an earlier blog post (note especially the ten flatteners):
But… for today, let me begin with this. The World is Flat is a big, big book. What I mean is that it was such a “buzz” creator when it came out. It’s not that Friedman said what had not been said. In fact, he had already written much of it himself, in The Lexus and the Olive Tree, and in his columns. (A side point: the single most enlightening page I ever read to help me understand the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims was from his earlier book, From Beirut to Jerusalem – page 12, by the way). But, in this book, he looked at a world that is in the midst of true globalization, and came up with a way to describe it that made all of us say “Now I get it.” That is a great gift.
Here is his “summary” of this new world (emphasis added):
It is this triple convergence – of new players, on a new playing field, developing new processes and habits for horizontal collaboration – that I believe is the most important force shaping global politics in the early twenty-first century… The next generation of innovations will come from all over Planet Flat.
In my synopses, I always try to summarize each book “in a box,” which I put at the beginning of the second portion of my handout. (I always begin with key excerpts taken directly from the book, then I get to my summary of key content of the book. This “box” comes at the beginning of this second portion). So, here’s what was in my “box” for this book:
The playing field has been leveled. The world is flat. Everyone is your competition. Everyone, everywhere in the world. The only possible path to follow is the path of creative imagination. Or else…
The book describes:
- Three great eras of globalization:
1) From 1492 to about 1800 – Globalization 1.0. It shrank the world from a size large to a size medium. (brawn; horsepower; wind and then steam power) –Countries globalizing
2) From 1800 to about 2000 – Globalization 2.0. It shrank the world from a size medium to a size small. (multinationals) – Companies globalizing
3) From 2000 – Globalization 3.0. It shrank the world from a size small to a size tiny. – Individuals globalizing
And here are some other key points from my handout, beginning with the list that this book is most famous for:
The Ten Forces that Flattened the World
1. 11/9/89 – When the Walls Came Down and the Windows Went Up
2. 8/9/95 – When Netscape went Public
3. Work Flow Software – Let’s do Lunch: Have your application talk to my application
4. Open-Sourcing – Self-Organizing Collaborative Communities (e.g.: Wikipedia)
5. Outsourcing – Y2K
6. Offshoring – Running with Gazelles, Eating with Lions
7. Supply Chaining – Eating Sushi in Arkansas (Have you heard of Wal-mart?)
8. Insourcing – What the Guys in Funny Brown Shorts are Really Doing
9. In-Forming – Google, Yahoo, MSN Web Search
10. The Steroids – Digital, Mobile, Personal, and Virtual
He describes: The triple convergence
• new players
• on a new playing field
• developing new processes and habits for horizontal collaboration
And, here are quite a few other notable books we presented during those years, with the month and year we presented the book, and with a brief comment after each title:
August, 2005 — Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow: May, 2005) – these are the “freakonomics” guys, who teach us a new way to look at numbers and data.
September, 2005 — Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne. Harvard Business School Press (February 3, 2005) – look for an undisturbed market to enter; a “blue ocean.”
March, 2006— Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden. McGraw-Hill: (April, 2005) – This is a great book on leadership by the greatest Men’s College Basketball coach of all time.
May, 2006 — Never Eat Alone And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors) by Keith Ferrazzi (with Tahl Raz). New York: Currency • Doubleday. 2005 – this is the bible on networking; networking, a modern day survival skill.
August, 2006 — The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson. Hyperion (July 11, 2006). – the long tail helps explain the success of Netflix, and Amazon, and…
June, 2007 — Words that Work by Frank Luntz. Hyperion. (January 2, 2007) – This is a book with great insight on the importance of word choice in effective communication.
September, 2007 — The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Random House. (2007). – this book introduced us all to a new concept; a black swan. The utterly unexpected, unpredictable happening/development/crisis…
May, 2008 — What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. Hyperion (2007) – the title says it all. What got you here will not get you there. — (presented by my colleague Karl Krayer).
October, 2008 — Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2008). – In this book, we come face to face with dangers of global warming. Notice the publication date; over a decade ago.
January, 2009 — Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown and Company (November 18, 2008). – the book that introduced the 10,000 hour rule; it takes 10,000 hours to become a true master at practically…anything..
September, 2009 — Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay. HarperBusiness/HarperCollins. (2009). – women are still “behind’ (that proverbial glass ceiling)… This book helps us understand why.
April, 2010 — The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. Metropolitan Books (2009). – critical understanding of the importance of checklists; in medicine, for pilots; for all of us!
June, 2010 — Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. Riverhead Hardcover; (December 29, 2009) – motivation has to come from within; intrinsic motivation; not the carrot and stick extrinsic approach of yesteryear.
This is just a partial list of the books we presented during those years at the First Friday Book Synopsis. There are other very good selections.
21 years of books – two books every month. So many books; so much to learn; so little time…
(And a shout out to Karl Krayer — we miss him every month!)
ps — for many years, we have recorded our synopses, and made them available for purchase. (audio recordings, plus the pdf of the synopsis handout; multi-page; comprehensive. Click here for the newest additions).