I find it ironic that I am doing another book report considering how much I hated doing them when I was in school. Maybe I hated doing them so much because they were usually on books that I would have never chosen to read on my own and I had little interest in them.
The freedom to read whatever you’d like makes the task that much more enjoyable and as a result, something I often feel compelled to share my opinions on. The last review I wrote was on an HDMI book, (no surprises there right?) and of course I offered my commentary as well.
This book, The End of Certainty, is much more of a general business book than an AV book specifically, however given the potential relevance to our industry, as well as the author Simon Dudley’s experience in the video teleconferencing space for so many years, it seemed natural to offer up my thoughts on it in this forum.
The End of Certainty starts with a personal anecdote about Dudley’s great grandparents, who are wealthy and successful wainwrights and wheelwrights, (they made exceptional carts and wheels). The story goes on to have a dire ending, being that the introduction of the automobile makes their business obsolete. This is the book’s first example of what Dudley calls an “Excession Event”; an unforeseen development that comes along and changes things rapidly in the blink of an eye, leaving both destruction and new opportunity in its wake.
Other Excession Events are also discussed, a familiar one to our industry being the demise of Blockbuster Video at the hands of Netflix, one I’ve written about as well in relationship to the video teleconferencing industry.
The book’s purpose though is not to be a complete history of these events, but rather to teach the reader to adopt a mindset and methodologies that allow for them and their companies to perhaps see the potential next event on the horizon and adjust accordingly.
There are veins of Freakonomics in Dudley’s suggestion of adopting a 10th man culture to bring counterpoints to light and question all assumptions as well as echoes of Peter Drucker in suggesting nothing in our businesses is sacred and that we need to be willing to slaughter today’s cash cow to fund our futures.
The End of Certainty also sheds a lot of light into the personality of the author himself and his self described “contrarian” nature. That nature allows him to take some well intention-ed shots at everything from the education system, to MBAs, to formal religion in a way that some may find slightly offensive but that all should find at least thought provoking.
In the end analysis, some may argue that too much weight may be given to Dudley’s individual experiences and to his families’ successes and failures. However I would also say that the personal nature of these stories, as well as the formative effects they have obviously had on the author are what makes the book both engaging and readable.
If you want to read a business book that is meant to help you plan for the future, one that is not written by an MBA from Wharton, but one written by a man with real world experience in the AV industry who knows how to tell a story, then The End of Certainty is well worth the cover price.