“The human mind does not run on logic any more than a horse runs on petrol.”

This quote, from Rory Sutherland, has become like a pebble dropped into a pond for me. Having spent most of my career working in the technology industry, logic has led me everywhere. However, I worry logic and data have often blinded me to simple truths. We can solve every problem with logic. Except now I’ve read these five books, I realise logic has little to do with it.

Interwoven across these five books is a recipe for building successful companies, teams and products. They’ve given me a deep understanding of a journey I experienced, but didn’t fully comprehend at the time.

Having worked in some of the largest corporations in the world and in startups, I now realise they are different worlds. They feel almost exclusive, where each world will advertise jobs requiring experience of their world. Today, more than ever, that’s a mistake. Because each world can learn from the other, and to keep up with the rapid pace of technological progress, they should.

For the sake of brevity, today I’ll just introduce the books. In a set of follow-up posts, I’ll go into more detail about their relevance and the points I found most helpful.

  1. Daniel Kahneman — Thinking, Fast & Slow
  2. Ed Catmull — Creativity, Inc
  3. Safi Bacall — Loonshots
  4. Rory Sutherland — Alchemy; The surprising power of ideas that don’t make sense
  5. John Yorke — Into the woods

I could probably extend this list out to 10 or 20 without trying too hard. I often refer to anecdotes from Matthew Syed’s Bounce and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers too, for example.

These books have given me insight into why we all think the way we do, why I prefer working in small companies, how large companies can learn a lot from small ones (and vice versa) and how the immediate answer that comes to mind is rarely the one to take you forward in anything.

I’ve come away from reading each one of these books with renewed energy and a mind spinning with ideas. If you’ve read any of them too, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.