CMI book awards celebrate the power of Not Knowing

10 February 2015 -


Mould-breaking look at why managers should keep their curiosity alive named overall winner in CMI’s annual honours for the cream of leadership literature

Matt Packer

A book urging managers to tap the hidden potential of being in the dark scooped the Overall Winner gong at last night’s Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Management Book of the Year Awards. Penned by experienced consultants Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, Not Knowing encourages leaders to sense, lean into and make the most of future possibilities that are only just starting to emerge. In calling for the adoption of more courageous management styles, it makes a plea for approaches that are rooted not in tradition – but looking firmly ahead.

Its stance on leadership certainly resonated with CMI chief executive Ann Francke. “The managers who succeed in the 21st Century economy,” she said, “are those who learn to embrace change and uncertainty – not fight it. This book shows why, and should have managers asking themselves some big questions about how they lead. CMI’s Management Book of the Year is all about finding the ‘Management Gold’ that really makes a difference – and that’s exactly what this book does. If you only read one management book this year, make it this one.”

Competition judge and Imperial War Museum director-general Diane Lees explained that the book had impressed her panel by offering alternative viewpoints on the challenges associated with leading. “Managers can feel huge pressure to know everything, and to always have the answer to a problem,” she said. “This book goes against the grain, and offers reassurance that ‘not knowing’ can be a force for good decisions, as it allows for open questions and curiosity.”

Lees added that the valuable, new ideas contained in Not Knowing are likely to help its readers reassess and sharpen their leadership capabilities. “This book could inspire managers to rethink how they tackle all sorts of complex challenges, and how they approach business planning. It challenges the reader to think deeply about themselves and ask questions, which in turn will allow for better and more informed decisions to be made.”


According to D’Souza and Renner, the book’s angle was drawn from their personal experiences as leaders. “The inspiration for the book comes from our own lives, from our own stories and from those who have shared their stories with us from around the world,” they said. “We dedicate this book to anyone who’s been to the edge. We wrote it in honour of courage, curiosity and compassion and hope it inspires managers to take their teams into the unknown.”

Management Book of the Year is organised with support from the British Library. Its chief operating officer Phil Spence also had warm words for the top title. “The winner of this year’s competition,” he said, “reflects the need for impartial advice and information in the sometimes uncertain journey of a manager or business leader.

“We at the British Library specialise in providing practical support and information to the business and management community through channels like our Business & IP Centre – now being extended to city libraries across the UK – and our Management and Business Studies Portal. We were thrilled to celebrate the best of management writing in all five categories of the competition at the 2015 awards ceremony held at the British Library last night.”

Please note

Animated video interpretations of each book were produced by students from Ravensbourne College –

Here is the full list of winners from across the Awards’ five categories.  CMI members in the UK may borrow copies of these books from the CMI Management Library.
All the books entered can be viewed at the Management Book of the Year site

The Commuter’s Read (and overall winner)

Not Knowing by Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner

Published by LID Publishing Ltd, and available from the book’s own website

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Customer Innovation by Marion Debruyne

Published by Kogan Page

Management Futures

The Key by Lynda Gratton

Published by McGraw Hill Education

Practical Manager

The Little Book of {Big} Management Theories by James McGrath and Bob Bates

Published by Pearson

Management and Leadership Textbook

Organizations and Management in Cross-Cultural Context by Zeynep Aycan, Rabindra N Kanungo and Manuel Mendonça

Published by Sage Publications

You still have until the end of today to enter CMI's tie-in competition to win a gold Apple iPad Air 2 pre-loaded with the winning books. Get involved!

For more thoughts on the future shape of management, sign up to this forthcoming CMI seminar.

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