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The Human Element

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by technology. Innovation occurs so rapidly that you sometimes wonder whether machines – not people – are best suited to adapt. But there’s hope for us humans if we play to our strengths – intellect, empathy, enthusiasm, intuition, tolerance, and on.

That’s one of the unifying themes among the five English finalists for the 16th getAbstract International Book Award. Two nominated titles from the English and German language categories will receive the award in an official ceremony on October 19 at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

When the getAbstract International Book Award launched in 2001, it was the first international prize of its kind to honor outstanding works in the field of business literature. This year, getAbstract assessed more than 10,000 English and German business books in the fields of leadership and management, strategy, sales and marketing, human resources, economics and politics, finance, and career development.

The five English nominees:

Humans Are Underrated, Geoff Colvin, Portfolio, PRH/Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Yes, computers already have taken over many job duties. And it’s impossible to halt the evolution of technology. Yet our ability to interact and relate is what separates us from machines. Colvin believes that human beings will never become obsolete as long as we practice empathy and mutual understanding.

Invisible Influence, Jonah Berger, Simon & Schuster

Though the American culture, in particular, values uniqueness, we are still products of social conditioning. It’s unavoidable – other people influence our choices, behaviors, likes and dislikes. Berger suggests that while we strive for individuality, we also unconsciously seek acceptance.

Simple Sabotage, Robert M. Galford, Bob Frisch, Cary Greene, HarperOne/HarperCollins Publishers

Even employees with noble intentions can create chaos in the workplace. In referencing a 1944 U.S. intelligence service field manual, the authors demonstrate how to disrupt an organization from within. Simple things like excessive e-mailing and long presentations can create confusion and hinder productivity.

Splinternet, Scott Malcomson, OR Books

Many people believe the atomic bomb was the seminal innovation of World War II. In fact, it was the computer. Malcomson explains how the U.S. military industrial complex actually spawned the Internet and also how the roots of venture capitalism can be traced to WWII.

Vaporized, Robert Tercek, Life Tree Media

Amazon has no stores and Uber has no cars, but they dominate their markets. Any company has the potential to go digital in the age of “vaporization.” Tercek believes that understanding this technological phenomenon can help businesspeople make the transition and remain relevant.

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