The Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford wins the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2015

Christopher Clearfield and András Tilcsik are winners of the Bracken Bower Prize 2015

17 November 2015: The Financial Times and McKinsey & Company today announce that Martin Ford has won the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award for The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment, published by Basic Books and Oneworld Publications. The book discusses the impact of accelerating technology on our economic prospects, and whether the future will see broad based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity.

The award recognises the book that provides the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues. It was presented this evening to Martin Ford at a ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City by Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times and chair of the panel of judges, and Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Company. Keynote speaker at the ceremony was Wendell P. Weeks, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Corning, who said, “It’s a pleasure to participate in an event that celebrates the greatest business books of the year, because I know how much I have personally benefited from expert insights, well timed, and well-illustrated – including past winners of this award.”

Martin Ford saw off strong competition from a shortlist of titles that ranged in theme from the economic recession to technological disruption, to win the £30,000 prize. Each of the five runners-up received a cheque for £10,000.

Lionel Barber said, “The Rise of the Robots is a tightly-written and deeply-researched addition to the public policy debate du jour and du demain. The judges didn’t agree with all of the conclusions, but were unanimous on the verdict and the impact of the book.”

Dominic Barton commented, “While no one can be certain how the future will unfold, this year’s winner delivers an important message: Companies and governments are racing into a world where both work and the work force will need to be radically redesigned.”

The distinguished judging panel for the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award comprised:

  • Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economics Advisor, Allianz Chair, President Obama’s Global Development Council (winner, 2008, When Markets Collide)
  • Reid Hoffman, Entrepreneur, Co-founder, LinkedIn; Partner, Greylock Partners
  • Herminia Ibarra, Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning Professor of Organizational Behavior, INSEAD
  • Rik Kirkland, Partner, Global Publishing, McKinsey & Company
  • Dambisa Moyo, Director, Barclays Bank, SABMiller, Barrick Gold
  • Shriti Vadera, Chair, Santander UK; Director, Shriti Vadera Ltd; Non-Executive Director, BHP Billiton and AstraZeneca

Also announced today at the same ceremony by the Financial Times and McKinsey & Company, co-authors Christopher Clearfield and András Tilcsik are the winners of the 2015 Bracken Bower Prize. The award is designed to encourage young authors to tackle emerging business themes, with a focus this year on the challenges and opportunities presented by growth.


Christopher Clearfield and András Tilcsik’s proposal stood out from the many entries, received from 33 countries and on topics ranging from technology to globalisation.

Lynda Gratton, Professor, London Business School said, “It was an incredibly impressive shortlist, with some knockout ideas, which made it hard to choose between them.”

Their book proposal, Rethinking the Unthinkable: Managing the Risk of Catastrophic Failure in the Twenty-First Century, which examines the forces transforming the contemporary risk landscape and the steps that executives can take to ready their organisations to manage a crisis before it becomes catastrophe, was awarded £15,000.

Stephen Rubin, President & Publisher, Henry Holt & Co, said, “I admired the quality of the proposal as well as the idea. Rethinking the Unthinkable takes on a really important subject.”

The distinguished judging panel for the Bracken Bower Prize comprised:

  • Vindi Banga, Partner, Clayton Dubilier & Rice
  • Lynda Gratton, Professor, London Business School
  • Jorma Ollila, Chairman, Outokumpu
  • Stephen Rubin, President & Publisher, Henry Holt & Co

Photographs of the presentation of the Business Book of the Year Award, the winner of the Bracken Bower Prize, shortlisted authors, the judges and speaker Wendell P. Weeks will be available for download from after 10.00pm EDT on 17 November.

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The Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2015:


The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment by Martin Ford Oneworld Publications; Basic Books

What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? We might imagine and hope that today’s industrial revolution will unfold like the last. Even as some jobs are eliminated, more will be created to deal with the new innovations of a new era.

In Rise of the Robots, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford argues that this is absolutely not the case. As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making ‘good jobs’ obsolete; many paralegals, journalists, office workers and even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots and smart software. As progress continues, blue and white collar jobs alike will evaporate, squeezing working and middle class families ever further.

At the same time, households are under assault from exploding costs, especially from the two major industries, education and health care, that, so far, have not been transformed by information technology. The result could well be massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the consumer economy itself.

In Rise of the Robots, Ford details what machine intelligence and robotics can accomplish and implores employers, scholars and policy makers alike to face the implications. The past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren’t going to work and we must decide, now, whether the future will see broad based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity. Rise of the Robots is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what accelerating technology means for their own economic prospects, not to mention those of their children, as well as for society as a whole.



Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, Flatiron/Macmillan

Losing the Signal is a riveting story of a company that toppled global giants before succumbing to the ruthlessly competitive forces of Silicon Valley. This is not a conventional tale of modern business failure by fraud and greed. The rise and fall of BlackBerry reveals the dangerous speed at which innovators race along the information superhighway.

With unprecedented access to key players, senior executives, directors and competitors, Losing the Signal unveils the remarkable rise of a company that started above a bagel store in Ontario. At the heart of the story is an unlikely partnership between visionary engineer, Mike Lazaridis, and abrasive Harvard Business school grad, Jim Balsillie. Together, they engineered a pioneering pocket email device that became the tool of choice for presidents and CEOs. The partnership enjoyed only a brief moment on top of the world. However, at the very moment BlackBerry was ranked the world’s fastest growing company, internal feuds and chaotic growth crippled the company as it faced its gravest test: Apple and Google’s entry in to mobile phones.

Expertly told by acclaimed journalists Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, this is an entertaining, whirlwind narrative that goes behind the scenes to reveal one of the most compelling business stories of the new century.


Digital Gold: The Untold Story of Bitcoin by Nathaniel Popper, Allen Lane/Penguin Press; Harper/ HarperCollins

Digital Gold charts the rise of Bitcoin from its origins in 2009 as the brainchild of a Wizard of Oz-like programmer, Satoshi Nakamoto, to its evolution into the prevailing currency for transactions on the deep web drug retailer, Silk Road, to its present incarnation as a rising, volatile force in the financial sector and an increasingly relevant part of consumers’ lives.

Nathaniel Popper’s book delineates the participation of dozens of unusual characters who came to be major players in the global digital currency movement. The book travels from Japan, the purported home of the reclusive Nakamoto, to Brooklyn College, where Charlie Shrem, a short, slubby senior co-founded BitInstant with an autistic Welshman named Gareth Nelson; to Seattle, where Peter Vessenes, an ambitious entrepreneur, first attracted and then repelled investors and also to the lava plains of Iceland, where Emmanuel Abiodun’s large scale Bitcoin mining company runs complex algorithms 24 hours a day to unearth new Bitcoins.


Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Oneworld Publications; Random House

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s 2012 article in The Atlantic, ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have it All’, which described her choice to leave a dream job in Washington to return to her family and academic career, outlined the obstacles women face in the workplace, immediately sparked intense national debate and became one of the most-read pieces in the magazine’s history.

Since that time, Anne-Marie Slaughter has re-examined and broken free of her long standing assumptions about work, life and family. The feminist movement has stalled and though many solutions have been proposed for how women can continue to break the glass ceiling or rise above the ‘motherhood penalty’, no solution yet has been able to unite all women.

Now, in Unfinished Business, Anne-Marie Slaughter pushes further, presenting a new vision for what true equality between men and women really means and how we can get there. Slaughter takes a hard look at our reflexive beliefs, the ‘half-truths’ we tell ourselves that are holding women back. Then she reveals the missing piece of the puzzle, a new focus that can reunite the women’s movement and provide a common banner under which both men and women can advance and thrive.

With practical individual solutions, compelling stories and a broad outline for change, Unfinished Business presents a future in which all of us, men and women alike, can finally have fulfilling careers along with the rewards of family life.


Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics by Richard Thaler, Allen Lane/Penguin Press; W. W. Norton

Professor Thaler shows us why classical economics, which assumes that human beings are always rational and always the same, can’t reveal the truth of how we really think about money and the economy. Why are we more likely to forgo the opportunity to sell a £100 bottle of wine rather than actually taking money out our wallet to pay for it, when ultimately the ‘opportunity cost’ of doing so is the same? Why would the ‘endowment effect’ mean that we value a free ticket worth hundreds of pounds more than the money we would get from selling it? As the most vivacious and vociferous founding member of behavioural economics, Thaler presents his insightful findings with stories about data and experiments, and as he breaks down the biases and irrational tendencies in our thinking, he shows us how to avoid making costly mistakes in our own lives.


How Music Got Free: What Happens When an Entire Generation Commits the Same Crime? by Stephen Witt, The Bodley Head/Penguin Random House; Viking

How Music Got Free is a blistering story of obsession, music and obscene money. A story of visionaries and criminals, tycoons and audiophiles with golden ears. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, and an illegal website six times the size of iTunes.

It begins with a small-time thief at a CD-pressing plant, and a groundbreaking invention on the other side of the globe. Then pans from the multi-million-dollar deals of the music industry to the secret recesses of the web; from German audio laboratories to a tiny Polynesian radio station.

This is how one man’s crime snowballs into an explosive moment in history. How suddenly all the tracks ever recorded could be accessed by anyone, for free. And life became forever entwined with the world online.

It is also the story of the music industry – the rise of rap, the death of the album, and how much can rest on the flip of a coin. How an industry ate itself. And how the most successful music release group in history is one you’ve probably never heard of. How Music Got Free is a thrilling, addictive masterpiece of reportage from Stephen Witt. It’s a story that’s never been told – but that’s written all over your hard drive.


Notes to editors on The Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award:

Entry forms and details of the terms and conditions are available from The annual award aims to identify the book that provides the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues, including management, finance and economics. The shortlist of six titles was chosen from a longlist of 15. The winner will be announced at a gala event in New York on 17th November 2015. Submissions are invited from publishers or bona fide imprints based in any country.



Books must be published for the first time in the English language, or in English translation, between 16th November 2014 and 15th November 2015. There is no limit to the number of submissions from each publisher/imprint, provided they fit the criteria, and books from all genres except anthologies are eligible. There are no restrictions of gender, age or nationality of authors. Authors who are current employees of the Financial Times or McKinsey & Company, or the close relatives of such employees, are not eligible.


Notes to editors on the Bracken Bower Prize:

The Bracken Bower Prize is named after Brendan Bracken who was chairman of the FT from 1945 to 1958 and Marvin Bower, managing director of McKinsey from 1950 to 1967, who were instrumental in laying the foundations for the present day success of the two institutions. This prize honours their legacy but also opens a new chapter by encouraging young writers and researchers to identify and analyse the business trends of the future. The inaugural prize will be awarded to the best proposal for a book about the challenges and opportunities of growth. The main theme of the proposed work should be forward-looking. In the spirit of the Business Book of the Year, the proposed book should aim to provide a compelling and enjoyable insight into future trends in business, economics, finance or management. Winner of the inaugural Bracken Bower Prize in 2014 was Saadia Zahidi for Womenomics.

The best proposals will be published on A prize of £15,000 will be given for the best book proposal. Once the finalists’ entries appear on, authors are free to solicit or accept offers from publishers. The closing date for entries was 5pm (BST) on September 30th 2015. Entry forms and details of the terms and conditions are available from



Only writers who are under 35 on November 17 2015 (the day the prize is awarded) are eligible. They can be a published author, but the proposal itself must be original and must not have been previously submitted to a publisher. Authors who are current employees of the Financial Times or McKinsey & Company, or the close relatives of such employees, are not eligible.


About the Financial Times

The Financial Times, one of the world’s leading business news organisations, is recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. Providing essential news, comment, data and analysis for the global business community, the FT has a combined paid print and digital circulation of 747,000. Mobile is an increasingly important channel for the FT, driving almost half of total traffic.


About McKinsey & Company:

McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm, deeply committed to helping institutions in the private, public and social sectors achieve lasting success. For over eight decades, our primary objective has been to serve as our clients’ most trusted external advisor. With consultants in more than 100 offices in 61 countries, across industries and functions, we bring unparalleled expertise to clients anywhere in the world. We work closely with teams at all levels of an organisation to shape winning strategies, mobilise for change, build capabilities and drive successful execution.


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