In various lectures I’ve given over the years, I often slip in recommendations for a few of my favourite business books for architects. What sets these books apart is that none of them are actually about or by architects. That’s not to say there aren’t some great books that merge business and architecture, but I believe strongly in the need for us to learn about business from beyond our educational horizon.
As you’ll see, I’m particularly interested in the worlds of technology and startup entrepreneurship, disciplines that relentlessly question their methods of production. I also prefer books with strong narratives, that match the weight of their instruction with equally engaging storytelling.
So here we go, the fourth of eight of the most influential books on my thoughts about architecture, creativity, business and entrepreneurship:
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, 1999
A powerful motivational fable for dealing with change.
Why I like it:
This is even shorter than The War of Art, clocking in at under 100 pages. It’s a criminally easy read that punches well above its weight, a little bible that distills the entire process of business disruption into one compelling metaphor.
Though written twenty years ago, it boasts remarkable prescience in charting the emergence of disruptive organisations over the last two decades. Johnson lays out a compelling theoretical framework that explains why Hilton, the taxi industry and Kodak were never going to predict AirBnB, Uber and digital photography.
Why architects should read it:
Change is a fundamental part of an architect’s life, no more so than in an era where supercharged regulations, irrational banks and tightening insurance policies are par for the course.
This book helps explain ways we can adapt to and even anticipate it, empowering us to position ourselves more critically within the building industry and beyond. It was also eye-opening for me, forcing me to think objectively about my own career trajectory. It made me hungrier and more restless as a businessperson, less content with the status-quo and more eager to celebrate the next challenge.
Stay tuned for the next article, where I share another of my favourite business books for architects. An archive of the series can be accessed here.
- Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, 1999