Editor’s Choice: 9 Operations Books from 2017

Advanced Analytics

The Woman Who Smashed Codes, by Jason Fagone

Today's analytics and computer modeling owe an enormous debt to early 20th-century code-breakers such as the unjustly overlooked Elizebeth Smith Friedman, whose work proved crucial not only to the Allied war effort, but also to the founding of the US National Security Agency.

Capital Projects and Infrastructure

Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, the man who built the Brooklyn Bridge, by Erica Wagner

The story of the groundbreaking bridge, one of the industrial age's most important megaprojects, is also an extraordinary tale of leadership pushed to its uttermost limits.


Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our digital future, by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

The authors of The Second Machine Age are back, focusing on three critical dimensions of the digital transformation: from human minds to machines, from individual projects to broad platforms, and from an organization's core to an almost infinite crowd.


Janesville: An American Story, by Amy Goldstein

The 2017 winner of the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award looks at the long-term effects of the wrenching changes rippling through manufacturing. The focus is on what has happened in Janesville, Wisconsin since the largest employer, a GM factory, closed for good at the end of 2008.


The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese investment is reshaping Africa, by Irene Yuan Sun

Chinese entrepreneurs are replicating the development model they honed at home to Africa, creating a new manufacturing base that, if it works, could finally bring lasting prosperity to a continent that has known too little of it.

Product Development

The One Device: The secret history of the iPhone, by Brian Merchant

In 2017 the iPhone broke the $1,000 price threshold and celebrated its 10th birthday—long enough to earn its first in-depth biography, a fascinating look at how one of the most valuable products ever sold ($750 billion in cumulative revenue) came into being.

Service Operations

Capitalism Without Capital: The rise of the intangible economy, by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake

Advanced economies are now investing more in intangible assets such as services, design, intellectual property, and software, than they do in the physical, tangible world of machinery and factories. The authors argue that as a result, economies now behave fundamentally differently than they did previously, with major implications for companies and governments.

Supply Chain Management

Fifty inventions that shaped the modern economy, by Tim Harford

From the light bulb and barbed wire to refrigeration, department stores, diesel engines and bar codes, economist Tim Harford provides a tour of the inventions that made the modern economy possible.


Learn Better: Mastering the skills for success, by Ulrich Boser

For years, companies have touted their capabilities as "learning organizations." But few go about learning in the right way. New research reveals techniques that help people retain more of what they learn and use more of what they retain.