The best books about bringing new ideas to life

Nektarios Oraiopoulos Author Of From Breakthrough to Blockbuster: The Business of Biotechnology
By Nektarios Oraiopoulos

Who am I?

I am a professor of technology management at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. I have interacted and learned from hundreds (or possibly thousands) of students and senior executives on how they develop new products and more broadly how they make better decisions in business and life. I am hoping that the books I shared with you will move you in that direction too. 

I wrote...

From Breakthrough to Blockbuster: The Business of Biotechnology

By Nektarios Oraiopoulos, Donald L. Drakeman, Lisa N. Drakeman

Book cover of From Breakthrough to Blockbuster: The Business of Biotechnology

What is my book about?

From Breakthrough to Blockbuster is an essential resource for students, scientists, investors, entrepreneurs, physicians, policymakers, and all others interested in how new medicines come into being, why the process is so breathtakingly expensive, and how small entrepreneurial ventures can compete in one of the world’s most expensive and heavily regulated industries. Beyond that, the account of how a vast collection of inexperienced, underfunded, and unprofitable small companies have created more life-changing new medicines than the largest global pharmaceutical firms is a David-and-Goliath story well worth reading.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon

Why did I love this book?

I love this book because it gives an insider’s view of Amazon’s decision-making processes and culture that enabled all these amazing products to be created.

It shows that Amazon’s exponential growth for over two decades was not the outcome of luck, but of excellent management and leadership skills at every step of the way. Even if you are not interested in business, you will learn a lot about thinking in productive ways and making better decisions. 

By Bill Carr, Colin Bryar,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Working Backwards as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Essential for any leader in any industry' - Kim Scott, bestselling author of Radical Candor

Working Backwards gives an insider's account of Amazon's approach to culture, leadership and best practices from two long-time, top-level Amazon executives.

Colin Bryar and Bill Carr joined Amazon in the late 90s. Their time at the company covered a period of unmatched innovation that brought products and services - including Kindle, Amazon Prime, Amazon Echo and Alexa, and Amazon Web Services - to life. Through the story of these innovations they reveal the principles and practices that drive Amazon's success.

Through their wealth of experience…

Book cover of Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

Why did I love this book?

Strategy is one of the most abused and confusing terms in the world of business.

This book explains clearly the essence of strategy and why it is so important for every organization to get it right.

It will be an eye-opener for the vast majority of people and organizations who typically do something completely different (hint: bad strategy) when they think they are designing a good strategy.  

By Richard Rumelt,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Good Strategy Bad Strategy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Richard Rumelt's Good Strategy/Bad Strategy was published in 2011, it immediately struck a chord, calling out as bad strategy the mish-mash of pop culture, motivational slogans and business buzz speak so often and misleadingly masquerading as the real thing.

Since then, his original and pragmatic ideas have won fans around the world and continue to help readers to recognise and avoid the elements of bad strategy and adopt good, action-oriented strategies that honestly acknowledge the challenges being faced and offer straightforward approaches to overcoming them. Strategy should not be equated with ambition, leadership, vision or planning; rather, it is…

Book cover of Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again

Why did I love this book?

When was the last time you deep-dived into a topic for an hour without being distracted by your phone?

This book offers some solid evidence about how we have lost our ability to focus, and why getting it back is so important.

For anyone feeling burn out from the overwhelming amount of information/distraction we receive every day…

By Johann Hari,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stolen Focus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A SPECTATOR AND FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2022 'If you read just one book about how the modern world is driving us crazy, read this one' TELEGRAPH 'This book is exactly what the world needs right now' OPRAH WINFREY 'A beautifully researched and argued exploration of the breakdown of humankind's ability to pay attention' STEPHEN FRY 'A really important book . . . Everyone should read it' PHILIPPA PERRY Why have we lost our ability to focus? What are the causes? And, most importantly, how do we get it back? For…

Book cover of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

Why did I love this book?

If you are fascinated by the way that Netflix revolutionized our home entertainment, you should read this book.

Written by the co-founder and executive chairman of Netflix, it explains how you can break all the traditional corporate rules, in a productive and fun way.

A great read for managers and leaders who are worried that empowering their people will lead to chaos. It doesn’t have to.  

By Erin Meyer, Reed Hastings,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked No Rules Rules as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hard work is irrelevant. Be radically honest. Adequate performance gets a generous severance. And never, ever try to please your boss.

These are some of the ground rules if you work at Netflix. They are part of a unique cultural experiment that explains how the company has transformed itself at lightning speed from a DVD mail order service into a streaming superpower - with 125 million fervent subscribers and a market capitalisation bigger than Disney.

Finally Reed Hastings, Netflix Chairman and CEO, is sharing the secrets that have revolutionised the entertainment and tech industries. With INSEAD business school professor Erin…

Book cover of Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

Why did I love this book?

If you want to make sense of data and numbers, this is one of the most fun books to read.

In very intuitive terms it shows why being able to read between the data is so important for making sense of the world. A great introduction to anyone who wants to make more evidence-based decisions. 

By Charles Wheelan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Naked Statistics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called "sexy." From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you'll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in management, statistics, and military strategy?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about management, statistics, and military strategy.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Four Agreements, Leaders Eat Last, and Horizontal Hold if you like this list.