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Amy Edmondson has won the Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year Award for Right Kind of Wrong, about how to learn from failure and take better risks.
Her book won over the judges with its systematic, richly illustrated exploration of how to build on “intelligent failure” and its critique of the craze for failure that often hypnotises entrepreneurs and innovators.
Harvard Business School professor Edmondson is best known for her research into “psychological safety”. Right Kind of Wrong is the first mainstream management book to win the £30,000 award, now in its 19th year.
Roula Khalaf, the FT’s editor and chair of judges, said Right Kind of Wrong was “a highly readable and relevant book, with important lessons for leaders and managers everywhere”.
The book illustrates its point with important cases, from early heart transplants to the Boeing 737 Max crashes. Schroders’ chief executive, Peter Harrison, another judge, said it provided “clarity and practical prescription to address the issues businesses face every day”.
This is the first year of a new three-year business book award partnership between asset manager Schroders and the FT. Previous winners include
Chris Miller’s Chip War, an account of the global battle for semiconductor supremacy last year, and Nicole Perlroth’s This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends, about the cyber arms race, in 2021.
The winner of the award, also supported by FT owner Nikkei, was announced in London at a dinner on Monday.
The other 2023 finalists were Material World, by Ed Conway, which explores the origins and uses of six minerals that underpin the modern world; Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk, a biography of one of the highest-profile proponents of a “fail fast, fail often” philosophy; Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner’s How Big Things Get Done, which focuses on why megaprojects almost invariably run over time and over budget; Cobalt Red, by Siddharth Kara, which investigates the human rights abuses that taint the mining of that essential raw material; and The Coming Wave, by DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman (with Michael Bhaskar), which lays out how to contain the threat posed by new technologies such as generative AI, synthetic biology and quantum computing. Each shortlisted book receives £10,000.
The other judges of this year’s award were Mimi Alemayehou, founder and managing partner, Semai Ventures; Daisuke Arakawa, Nikkei’s managing director for global business; Mitchell Baker, chief executive of Mozilla Corporation; Herminia Ibarra, professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School; James Kondo, chair, International House of Japan; Randall Kroszner, professor of economics at University of Chicago Booth School of Business; and Shriti Vadera, chair of Prudential and the Royal Shakespeare Company.