Top L&D books for ambitious learning leaders in 2020

What are the best Learning and Development books to keep you a step ahead in your career? We’ve asked some of the biggest names in L&D this year on the Learning at Large Podcast for their book recommendations! Read on for the ultimate list of top L&D books that all learning leaders should read.

top learning and development books

Top 10 L&D books recommended by the experts

1. Leading Change, John Kotter

Recommended by Dr Iris Ware, CLO, City of Detroit – Episode 14

“It goes through the different components of the change process, but you can also use those different criteria and apply them, and create the scenarios to help drive change, because that’s the most difficult thing. You don’t have to do them in that order; it’s a model, but it doesn’t have to happen in that particular order”

2. The Post-Capitalist Society, Peter Drucker

Recommended by Miguel Primoli, VP of HR, Walgreens Boots Alliance – Episode 15

“I think it’s a brilliant book – not only for learning managers, but in general it’s a book on economics and capital and policy. But he talks about the knowledge economy, and what are the changes and what are the different models and structures that need to change as we go through the knowledge economy. I think it was written more than 20 something years ago, and it’s impressive how relevant it is today and will be in the future.”

3. The Leadership Pipeline, Charan, Noel, and Drotter

Recommended by David Defilippo, Principal, DeFilippo Leadership – Episode 13

“The reason I recommend that book is the idea and model for segmenting your talent within an organization is really the beginning point for everything that follows next around the various learning solutions that need to be developed and implemented. I think their model is a really, really good one, in that it’s both theoretically quite sound, and it’s very practical and applied that a practitioner can go ahead and take the model and implement it again back to the idea in their context.”

4. Execution, Larry Bossidy

Recommended by Nigel Travis, Executive Chairman, Dunkin’ Brands – Episode 11

“…the Larry Bossidy book talks about a corporate strategy, operational strategy, and people strategy, and HR is very important in my mind, and people management is very important. I think Larry possibly gets the balance of all that right in his book.”

5. Everything Bad For You Is Good, Steven Johnson

Recommended by Jon Kaplan, Principal and Founder, Corcantus Consulting – Episode 9

“… essentially his premise is that, your parents always told you that watching TV would turn your brain to mush and video games are not good for you, and it turns out that there’s really good data to suggest that because all media is getting richer and more complex all the time, that sifting through popular media actually makes us smarter.”

6. Competing Against Luck, Clayton Christensen

Recommended by Nick Shackleton-Jones, Director  Learning & Performance Innovation, PA Consulting – Episode 6

“Clayton Christensen talks about and has written about jobs to be done and the jobs to be done approach. He’s kind of really rethinking from more of a kind of consumer-centered approach or user-centered approach, how we design things—I think it’s really enlightening.”

7. Brave New Work, Aaron Dignan

Recommended by Lars Hyland, Chief Learning Officer, Totara – Episode 4

“This is about organizational structure and thinking about organizations; he terms it an operating system. How does your organization operate, and what are the systems inside it that define the operating system?”

8. Workplace Learning, Nigel Paine

Recommended by Sam Taylor,  Digital Learning Manager, Tesco – Episode 3

‘This book really helped with the work I was doing earlier on this year’

9. Map It, Cathy Moore

Recommended by Gemma Critchley and Paul O’Hara, Global Learning Team, Aviva – Episode 7

‘Paul:  “I’ve found that quite useful in our role, I think. She’s got a lot of good practical advice.”

Gemma: “Yeah, we love Cathy Moore. She’s a bit of a living legend in our team.”

10. Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahnema

Recommended by Paul Goundry, Head of L&D, Utilities Warehouse – Episode 1

“…he essentially distinguishes between our ability to make generalizations in life and in business versus really analyze, be genuinely analytical.”

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