Summer Reading List on the Future of Work

This mind map shows my reading list for the futures of work - loads better in non-Chrome browsers. (Here is a link to an Amazon page including all the entries -- and I will update it as new books are added). This has been my homework as I develop the ideas for my next project. I see these contributions as providing a great foundation for how we think about what the future may bring, but I think we’re just at the beginning in terms of making these ideas reality for most of us.


We don't have a guide for work in the modern age -- something that acknowledges the forces for change but also acknowledges that our experience and education haven't prepared most of us to work in a world of increasing transparency, mobility, and jobs shared with automation of increasing intelligence.

I'm writing the book I hope will fill this gap and I need your help to be sure I'm on the right track.

For organizational leaders there are books on the forces for change (e.g., Brynjolffsson & McAfee’s Second Machine Age), predictions around the future (e.g., Malone’s The Future of Work), strategies that companies can and are taking (e.g., Wang’s Disrupting Digital Business), and examples of what some of the most forward looking companies are doing (e.g., Bock’s Work Rules! -- Google).

There are also books to help with specific techniques like creating a results only work environment (e.g., Ressler & Thompson’s Why Work Sucks and What To Do About It ) and possible actions for individuals inside and outside of organizations (e.g., Simon’s Message Not Received, and my own, The Plugged-In Manager).

What I have yet to find is a book that acknowledges the full reality of the futures of our work. All of us will be playing all of these roles simultaneously: Leading, strategizing, shifting work methods, and planning our own professional development -- while moving between traditional employment and freelancing.

Design and Redesign Throughout Our Careers

We will design and redesign our jobs and organizations. The organizational rate of change, reorganization, new initiatives, product development life cycle is all increasing. Additionally, many of us will be freelancing, at least part time, so we become the designers of our personal organization.

This last is a reality acknowledged in Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha’s book, The Start-Up of You (p. 8 ): where they talk about the "...challenges of today's fractured career landscape." You and your career, they argue, needs to function as an entrepreneurial startup.

Even if you aren't part of the growing ranks of freelancers (see the forthcoming book, Lead the Work: Navigating a World Beyond Employment, by Boudreau, Jesuthasan, and Creelman for more), whatever your span of control, take on the responsibility as if you were the CEO. That's part of the advice Maynard Webb (past COO of eBay and CEO of LiveOps) offers in his book with Carlye Adler, Rebooting Work: You have to be CEO of your own destiny.

Valuable advice, but most of us have never been a CEO nor do we have the broad organizational skills set necessary to be a good one.

What’s Missing?

What seems to be missing in this reading list is an overview -- and a project that acknowledges that a book is not enough. Like this mind map, we need an overview with options for deeper dives. More than a book; a book as an introduction and then connections to a living outline and community for future learning. Do you think there a place for a book, and more, on how to lead, strategize, shift work methods, and plan for our own futures of work?

Am I on the right track? What else should I be considering?

I've been hinting at this project for a while. Some of these older posts were trial balloons, others are sneak peeks. Please let me know here, on Twitter, or Facebook, which seem the most valuable and where you'd like to know more. I'll be working on a full outline to share as I hear back.

If you are not reading this on, please click here to provide your comments. I would love to hear about your own futures of work.