Amy Edmondson’s ‘Fail’ is a Win: England’s Business Book of the Year

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‘Right Kind of Wrong’ by Amy Edmondson wins the £30,000 Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year.

Amy Edmondson, winner of the 2024 FT and Schroders Business Book award. Image: Business Book of the Year

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Is Failing Fast’ Really a Good Thing?
Amy Edmondson has won the United Kingdom’s Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year Award for her book Right Kind of Wrong: Why Learning to Fail Can Teach Us To Thrive from Penguin Random House’s Cornerstone Press in the UK and Simon & Schuster’s Atria in the United States.

Monday’s (December 4) awards program was held at Claridges in London for this prize which “recognizes a work that provides the ‘most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues.'”

Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf was quoted, saying, “Amy Edmondson lays out a powerful framework for how to learn from failure and deal with risk. Right Kind of Wrong is a highly readable and relevant book, with important lessons for leaders and managers everywhere.”

Peter Harrison, CEO of the Schroders Group, said, “Failure often lies behind progress but is ‘failing fast’ really a good thing or simply a cliché? Amy Edmondson’s Right Kind of Wrong provides clarity and practical prescription to address the issues businesses face every day. It is invaluable reading.”

It may be of interest to some that this is the awards program the jury of which called in Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography between the releases of the longlist and shortlist, something that organizers said when asked is permissible under the competition’s rules, although not a common event.

As it would turn out, the Isaacson book wasn’t the jury’s choice for the winning title.

FT Business Book of the Year 2023 Shortlist

‘Right Kind of Wrong,’ the US cover art on the right

As you’ll recall, Edmondson—whose biography refers to her as “the world’s most influential organizational psychologist”—receives £30,000 (US$37,779), while the remaining shortlistees are to get £10,000 (US$12,589) each, in this the 19th year of this competition.

Of course, it now would be great to see the Business Book of the Year follow the lead of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction, the Booker prizes in fiction and the British Academy Book Prize and report what the marketplace effect Edmondson’s win has on her book’s unit sales.

As high as the regard for a major awards program may be, until we get more information from the world’s many, many book and publishing awards programs—the majority of them based in the United Kingdom, as it happens—we don’t really know how much or how little promotional currency there may be in a given golden sticker.

Title Author(s) Publisher
Material World: A Substantial Story of Our Past and Future Ed Conway Penguin Random House / WH Allen (UK), Penguin Random House / Knopf (USA)
Right Kind of Wrong: Why Learning to Fail Can Teach Us To Thrive Amy Edmondson Penguin Random House / Cornerstone Press (UK), Simon & Schuster / Atria (USA)
How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors Behind Every Successful Project, 

From Home Renovations to Space Exploration

Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner Macmillan (UK), Penguin Random House / Currency (USA)
Elon Musk  Walter Isaacson Simon & Schuster (UK and USA)
Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives Siddharth Kara Macmillan / Saint Martin’s Press (UK and USA)
The Coming Wave: AI, Power, and the 21st Century’s Greatest Dilemma Mustafa Suleyman, Michael Bhaskar Penguin Random House/Bodley Head (UK), Penguin Random House / Crown (USA)

Jurors for this year’s competition include:

  • Mimi Alemayehou, founding managing partner at Semai Ventures
  • Daisuke Arakawa, managing director for global business, Nikkei
  • Mitchell Baker, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation and chairwoman of Mozilla Foundation
  • Peter Harrison, Schroders Group’s CEO
  • Herminia Ibarra, Charles Handy, a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School
  • James Kondo, chair of the International House of Japan
  • Randall Kroszner, Norman R. Bobins professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business
  • Shriti Vadera, chair of Prudential and the Royal Shakespeare Company
Previous Winners of the Business Book of the Year
  • Chris Miller for Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology (2022)
  • Nicole Perlroth for This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race (2021)
  • Sarah Frier for No Filter: The Inside Story of How Instagram Transformed Business, Celebrity and Our Culture (2020)
  • Caroline Criado Perez for Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (2019)
  • John Carreyrou for Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (2018)
  • Amy Goldstein for Janesville: An American Story (2017)
  • Sebastian Mallaby for The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan (2016)
  • Martin Ford for Rise of the Robots (2015)
  • Thomas Piketty for Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014)
  • Brad Stone for The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (2013)
  • Steve Coll for Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (2012)
  • Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo for Poor Economics (2011)
  • Raghuram Rajan for Fault Lines (2010)
  • Liaquat Ahamed for The Lords of Finance (2009)
  • Mohamed El-Erian for When Markets Collide (2008)
  • William D. Cohan for The Last Tycoons (2007)
  • James Kynge for China Shakes the World (2006)
  • Thomas Friedman for The World is Flat (2005)

Image: Business Book of the Year

More from Publishing Perspectives on awards programs in books and the publishing industry is here. More on the FT Business Book of the Year award is here, more on business books in general is here, more on the United Kingdom’s market is here, and more on the United States’ market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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