Social Media reading list


This spring I start teaching “Social Media” at BI – Norwegian Business School (Stavanger). here’s a happy reading list for anyone venturing into the field. 

Social media and digital are increasingly popping up as ‘items’ in several of our executive education programs. An increasing number of managers are happily using Facebook on their own time, but realize that their firm is nowhere to be found in the social media space. A larger number still have come to realize their company is simply not prepared for some of the digital challenges that are coming their way. While some (mostly the attackers) see great opportunity, many of today’s established firms are unsure how to deal with social, digital and disruptions.

For my students, for my executives and for anyone looking to understand more in this space, this reading list is for you.
I’ve added a selection of sources. Don’t hesitate in telling me if you believe something crucial is missing.

The Quick Read
If you only have a few hours or a few days to spare, this list is for you. It’ll give you the basics (and hopefully tickle your brain enough to make you keep reading down this list).

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (Li and Bernhoff)
This 2008 classic should be the starting point for anyone venturing into the field. It’s packed with examples, cases and useful tools like the POST method ,Social profile and more.

Open leadership

Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (Charlene Li) 

Li’s second book, this one looks at social technolgies and what it means for your leadership role. It’s really the first book to take this view, and does a great job at it. Powerful work, this should be included into every executive’s reading list.
Leading Through Connections: IBM Global CEO Study
(IBM, 2012)


“In less than 5 years, your social channels will eclipse your website as a customer touchpoint”. That’s the conclusion of IBM’s CEO Study. The findings are remarkable in the growth rate of social technologies in the 1700 firms IBM interview. Read it.

Why Software is Eating the World
(Andressen, 2011)
Marc Andressen’s Wall Street Journal Essay lays out the most clear and coherent business case for all things digital. A must.

In-depth readings: Seek to understand digital 

Those four are the quick and easy reads. A great place to start.
But to truly understand the massive implications, opportunities and disruptions coming from the increasing level of digital, I recommend digging into these. These are the classics. In terms of the Internet age, they are old. But their implied age gives them perspective and insight in an industry that is moving faster than most.

Blown to Bits: how the new economics of information transforms strategy
Blown to bits(Evans and Wurster, 1999)
A personal favorite.

To prepare corporate executives and entrepreneurs alike for a fundamental change in business competition, warns the book.

“The authors think that the Internet can blow away practically any business, and examine how the new economy is “deconstructing” industries such as newspapers, auto retailing, and banking while creating new opportunities for others. …even “the most stable of industries, the most focused of business models and the strongest of brands can be blown to bits by new information technology.”, writes Amazon.

Truth is, Evans and Wurster foresaw the last 12 years of digital disruption, brought on industries like news, stocks, travel and retail. Reading this book 14 years later, and realizing most industries are just starting their digital disruption phase is an eye-opener.

Cluetrain Manifesto: the end of business as usual 
(Levine, Locke, Searls and Weinberger, 1999)
With the Internet just taking hold, these 95 theses were brought forward to help understand and examine the effects of this “newly-connected marketplace”

Summarizing, the authors write “A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies”.

Digital Darwinism: 7 Breakthrough Business Strategies for Surviving in the Cutthroat Web Economy
(Schwarz, 2001)
One author’s early attempts to understand how e-business (as it was called at the time, now it’s just business…), could succeed. The conclusion from his 7 case studies:  integrate the Web into every part of your business.

Here Comes Everybody: the power of organizing without organizations
(Shirky, 2009)
Great read on how social technologies drive new organizing principles. Very wide selection of interesting case studies.

Socialnomics: how social media transforms the way we live and do business
(Qualman, 2009)
A wide look at how social media has, is and will affect businesses around the world. Qualman’s focus is marketing and how digital ans social is driving change in society.

The Ultimate Question 2.0
(Reichheld and Markey, 2011)
“Would you recommend us to a friend?” That simple question, now well-documented as the most powerful question in all of marketing, fits perfectlywith the ideas and culture of digital and social. While orginally a marketing book, the Ultimate Question, is truly worth reading for anyone looking to generate connections, relationships and recommendations in the digital space.

Onwards, to the mix and merry of Social Media 

The field of what is today called social media is still developing and unfolding. Any reader will find a good stack of books claiming to be “The Bible” to Social Media. They are not.
But, some of them are truly useful, insightful and absolutely worth reading. Here’s my stack of recommendations.

SheepThrowing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work and World
(Dutta and Fraser, 2008)

The Connected Company
(Gray and Wal, 2012)

Socialized!: How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social
(Fidelman, 2012)

11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era
Merchant, 2011

The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change
(Aaker, Heath and Ariely, 2010)

The Social Media MBA: Your Competitive Edge in Social Media Strategy Development and Delivery
(Holloman, 2011)

Den Perfekte Storm (in Danish, for now)
(Svarre, 2012)

The Social Organization: How to Use Social Media to Tap the Collective Genius of Your Customers and Employees
(Bradley and McDonald, 2011)

Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges
(McAfee, 2009)

The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World
(Kirkpatrick, 2010)


This mix of readings should provide a good insight to most readers. It should be enough to get you and your team started on the one question that matters: how do we become a ‘social business’?

Join us for the upcoming six day course at BI or contact Christian Rangen directly to see how you can develop innovative digital strategies.

See Christian’s recent keynote talk on “Digital Business Models: the future is already here”

Social Media reading list

A social media,1968 classic

In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face.

That is a rather startling thing to say, but it is our conclusion.”

These are the opening words of the paper  “The Computer as a Communication Device“. Published by J.C.R. Licklider and Robert W. Taylor in 1968, this paper came to be called one of the groundwork pillars of the Internet and perhaps the first research article on what today is called Social Media.

It’s extremely fascinating to read this paper, some 45 years later, and see how IT has played out since its writing. The big question, next, is: what will the next 45 years bring?

Enjoy ” “The Computer as a Communication Device” here: 20.20.03_licklider-taylor.



A social media,1968 classic

The four types of innovative firms

Safe, linear, bold or long-term; which innovation type is your company?

Four types of innovators2

One way of using the Strategic Innovation Canvas is mapping out your type(s) of innovation work. In this example, we use four types of innovative firms

Safe – staying in the safe-zone they know
These firms keep it in the safe-zone. They have a deep-seated view of “this is how things are done around here”. They don’t drive change; they resist it. While they might believe they are innovating and changing, the world around them is changing so much faster.

They might have budget posts allocated to innovation, but it will be highly incremental innovations and only minor change. These firms will have an ample number of idea killers and Dinosaurs in their management ranks.
Simply put, they stay in the safe-zone they know.

Examples: Kodak, SAS and most of the firms you see crumbling around you.

Linear ¬– growth strategies without the zest
Following a logical, linear development track, these firms innovative and develop at a slow and steady pace. They will never become an Apple or Google, but they develop a steady stream of new improvements. Often, these firms will focus on product innovation. Their innovation efforts can work well in stable environments. Yet, these firms are often the victims of disruptive innovations.

Examples firms: Blockbuster, Borders….and most firms operating today.

Bold – creative and courageous
These are the crazy ones. They leap forward. Their innovation drive make them develop a series of highly experimental bets. They dare to try what most firms are unable to think of. These blazing pioneers can frequently disrupt existing industries and shape new ones.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? That’s these guys. That quote is also part of Facebook’s recruiting campaign. Only fitting…

Example firms include Red Bull, Spotify, Haier, Moods of Norway, Facebook, Twitter and of course, Google.

Long-term – patient, business model and industry innovators
These firms take the long view. A ten year horizon is nothing special. They look at the long-term effects of today’s developments, and are determined to be driving change for the future. They want to create the future, not get shaped by it.
They’ve built operating principles, processes, culture and people for long-term innovation. They develop, test and refine a portfolio of business models. Norwegian firm Telenor has expanded its innovation center in recent years and is testing wildly new business models in Asia. Novo Nordisk has over 100 growth teams, all tasked with coming up with future innovations. These teams often work with business cases with 20 – 25 year perspectives. Amazon is “leaning into the future”, to quote CEO Jeff Bezos and trying to reshape global shopping habits along the way.

Example firms include Amazon, Statoil, Telenor, Novo Nordisk and IBM.

Yet, a mix?
A combination of the four types can, in theory, be fully possible. Yet, in practice, one typology will emerge and drive the dominant logic in each company. Let’s say one firm has a wildly innovative R&D unit, but the overall management logic prevents these from getting the funding and support required to develop. Hence, one typology should emerge as dominant.

Where is your firm?
Can you recognize your company among the four types?

Want to change your innovation type?
Download and go to work on the Strategic Innovation Canvas. It is the natural starting point for any innovation effort. Learn more

Strategic Innovation Canvas

The four types of innovative firms

Strategic Management Society

Engage // Innovate and partner Christian Rangen, is now member of the Strategic Management Society.


The Strategic Management Society is a global society of strategy professionals. Bringing practicioners and researchers together to share, learn and advance the art and science of strategy “We are deligheted to join the society. The society is global hotspot to share, listen and learn as we work to develop Strategy Tools for the Next Generation. This is just the mix of research, network and learning, we are looking for in a global context“, says Rangen.

About Strategic Management Society
SMS is a professional society for the advancement of Strategic Management. The Strategic Management Society (SMS) is unique in bringing together the worlds of reflective practice and thoughtful scholarship. The Society focuses on the development and dissemination of insights on the strategic management process, as well as on fostering contacts and interchange around the world.

Learn more about the Strategic Management Society.

Strategic Management Society

Joining the MIX

Welcome to the MIX. The global Management Innovation Exchange.
Mission: reinvent manangement

Today is the final day of entering this round of the global innovation competition; Innovating Innovation Challenge. Set forth by Harvard Business Review, McKinsey and the MIX, the competiton gathers global thinkers and doers around innovation for mutual learning and inspirations. Among Norwegian firms, Statoil has been duly noted in 2012. This year, and our client Peanuts have both entered the MIX. We’re proud and delighted to see more Norwegian firms entering this global innovation network.
We’re also delighted to share that Strategy Tools for the Next Generation is now featured as one of the “Hacks”. Read more.


Joining the MIX