We are talking about Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham, Service Design: From Insight to Implementation by Andy Polaine and Funky Business Forever: How to enjoy capitalism by Kjell Nordstorm and Jonas Ridderstrale.
In his book Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age, Graham tries to explain what goes on in the world of computers, sharing his personal experience and information about his private life. He brings up a great question: why is it that, when we hear about a person who is extremely rich and successful, it is often someone from the IT world? These people are often marked as nerds in their teenage years, but as Graham says – that is only because they are a bit socially awkward and have other and greater things on their minds. But is it that they often come from the IT world? Partly, it is because we live in an extremely competitive world where computers and technology are taking over. We live in an actual intellectual Wild-West-like atmosphere, where we are at war with our ideas. Technology has made our lives much easier, but it has also changed the way we think and compete in the business world:
Everything around us is turning into computers. Your typewriter is gone, replaced by a computer. Your phone has turned into one. So has your camera. Soon your TV will. Your car has more processing power in it than a room-sized mainframe had in 1970. Letters, encyclopedias, newspapers, and even your local store are being replaced by the Internet. So if you want to understand where we are, and where we’re going, it will help if you understand what’s going on inside the heads of hackers.
You may think to yourself: why hackers, aren’t they criminals? Graham says hackers are extremely skillful programmers who could hack computers if they wanted to. They are worthy of being called hackers because they share a great trait: they question everything. So, here’s the first great lesson: no matter what your expertise is – in order to progress, you must be skeptical; you must consider that there is a better and more efficient way to do something. The title of the book has to do with the author’s personal epiphany. Graham took up painting as a hobby, although it was a bit challenging for him since he was a programmer and not very artistic. But it helped him to realize that it was important for him to know other things besides programming, such as the theory of computation, just as painters need to understand paint chemistry. So, the second great lesson: be versatile! It can help you to become more successful at whatever you choose to do. Maybe you’re wondering how you’re supposed to come up with new ideas. As Graham says, the best thing to do is to keep your eyes open, to look at the things people do or say which get them into trouble. Be curious even respecting what is forbidden, since it can often lead you to a great idea.
This is just a small example of the advice that can be found in the book. You can also learn a lot about the best way to earn money (hint: it is about startups!), but also how to create your audience, and earn your first clients and their trust.
In Service Design: From Insight to Implementation, Polaine tries to explain how important service design is, since it isn’t a topic that is widely discussed. The book has elements of a real case study, since it shows what service design is with real examples, such as the example of Norway’s largest insurance company, Gjensidige. Here, you can see how service design is integrated into the business plan. But, maybe you are in a puzzle as to what service design actually is and whether or not you should read this book? As the author explains:
Service design is an activity carried out by a multidisciplinary group of people that includes Web designers, interaction designers, user experience designers, product designers, business strategists, psychologists, ethnographers, information architects, graphic designers, and project managers.
So, it is a team activity that includes planning and organizing people and all the necessary components of service in order to improve its quality and optimize communication between service providers and customers. The book discusses the nature of service design and how some companies refuse to develop it by thinking that it is unnecessary.
On the contrary! Service design is extremely important when it comes to developing meaningful relationships with people, both the ones who are behind service design and the ones who are considered customers. This book helps you to understand the difference between service design and customer experience, user experience, and interaction design. By fully understanding these notions, you can work effectively towards creating a warmer and more successful working environment, and also towards strengthening your relationship with your clients. Good service design could potentially make your company a client’s first choice, opposed to choosing another company that offers the same quality service, but lacks great design. Great design can add value to your business. If you lack knowledge about service design, this book is a great starting point: you can find out more about strategies for picking the right people to develop your service design and how you can measure the results. Service design truly covers many disciplines and is complex in that sense. There are a lot of economic, ecological, and social challenges that need to be tackled when taking this into consideration.
And last and maybe the most interesting on today’s list: Funky Business Forever: How to Enjoy Capitalism! In the subtitle of the book, you will find four interesting words: talent makes capital dance. This is a humorous, but also a useful book on how to stand out in today’s competitive world. According to the authors, in today’s world, you cannot succeed if you run an ordinary business. You have to be creative enough to create a funky business. Referring to the notion of freedom as an unstoppable virus, the authors direct our attention to the great consequence of living in a liberal age: with great freedom comes great responsibility. The competitiveness of the world has left us all alone in this battle. As the authors say, in a humorous way:
The new Welfare Society – because this time it is a society rather than a state – is designed by IKEA. It comes in self-assembly flat packs and, as you may have noticed, there are no assembly instructions. To survive and thrive you need to arm yourself with the most lethal of weapons: knowledge.
Funky Business can be considered to be a self-help book, but instead of providing you pre-printed recipes for being successful, it invites you to understand fully the age you live in, because to adapt means to be smart enough for domination. Yes, we live in the age of capitalism, but that doesn’t mean you are doomed! The authors emphasize the importance of being aware of current trends (mainly technology and digitalization, as well as globalization) which have turned out to be the biggest factors that influence the balance of power between those who sell and those who buy, and between different kinds of investors (with respect to background and competence). This book is witty and easy to read, kind of a manual for dummies about capitalism and the economy (it worked for me!). Here, you can find everything you want to know about how to found a business creative enough (and sustainable enough) for today’s world; you can learn more about the mechanisms of the capitalistic society, about networking and establishing meaningful business relationships, about the ways to be innovative and organize yourself and your business, about management, power, leadership, and different kinds of revolution.
All of these books are definitely worth your time! They will help you to get a clearer picture of what you want to create, as they lead you through three big steps: conceiving and refining your ideas, considering the steps necessary to take action, and establishing a business and maintaining it.