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Andrew Burroughs + IDEO
To see the world through engineers' eyes, browse this pocket-size photo book aimed at making readers take note of the choices that shape our built environment. The book focuses on creation (good craftsmanship, clumsy design, elegance) and degradation (ugliness, materials, the ravages of time). Thought-provoking photos backed by one-sentence captions make it an intriguing "read."
"A corner," says one chapter introduction, "is a change of direction in a surface or line, and corners are inescapably problematic….Basic engineering classes teach students how weak sharp corners are and that eliminating them is the best strategy." At left, one of the book's photos: "Broken ground-pin holes are a problem that was designed-in and replicated," Burroughs explains.
Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World
By David Koenig
This fun history of Disney World traces a twisted path from secretive 1960s land grabs to the post—September 11 attendance crisis. Especially intriguing is Walt's original goal: Build a utopian city, the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow," or EPCOT (the book debuts on Epcot's 25th anniversary). Disney's death doomed his dream, but the theme park meant to be a sideshow became the main attraction.
Innovation Nation: How America is Losing Its Innovation Edge, Why it Matters, and How We Can Get It Back
By John Kao
Kao, a consultant, says the United States is no longer the country on top of Mount Innovation. He explains how that happened (declining public and private spending on basic science played a big role) and how to spur a turnaround, drawing lessons from the Manhattan Project and Lockheed's Skunk Works.
The Future of Management
By Gary Hamel With Bill Breen
London Business School professor Hamel, writing with Fast Company senior projects editor Breen, argues that the reigning management paradigm—efficiency above all else—discourages innovation. Among the prescriptions, as seen in cases on W.L. Gore and Google: less management, more incentives for employees at all levels, and clearer ties between results and recognition.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.