The transportation sector is a rewarding and multidisciplinary field. It’s alive with new opportunities from smart cities and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) to AI and autonomous electric vehicles.
This makes it an incredible industry to work in. As dedicated transport and mobility professionals, we’re passionate about helping people move around. Whether we’re making transport more accessible and inclusive or reducing environmental impact, we all have an important role to play.
Yet, to be the best at what we do means improving our knowledge and skills on a continuous basis. Then applying the tools we learn to make our organisations and systems better for everyone.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 great business, tech and transport books that mobility professionals should read. Some of them are specific to transport others are more generally business-orientated in nature. Either way, they will hopefully give you a better perspective on how you can excel in your role – whatever that might be.
1. Work The System: The Simple Mechanics Of Making More And Working Less, by Sam Carpenter
A simple, powerful book that offers solid practical advice. Sam’s story highlights the importance of business efficiency. The 100-hour working week, constant firefighting in his struggling business, and a single parent of two children. He eventually reached a breaking point.
In an attempt to turn things around, Sam created a systems mentality. This meant breaking down processes, understanding the moving part and their sequence. He then either eliminated or refined them, creating standard operating procedures for each task.
With an “outside and slightly elevated” approach, Sam shows that working at the micro level can produce positive macro results. It enabled him to improve business income and reduce the hours he worked. This same method can help transport professionals of all levels – from CEO to team member. Whether it’s improving performance or providing a better service – everyone stands to benefit from greater organisational efficiency.
2. Understanding Mobility As A Service (Maas): Past, Present And Future by David Hensher, Corinne Mulley, Chinh Ho, Yale Wong, Göran Smith and John D. Nelson
We all know the transport sector is undergoing massive disruption. From the ubiquitous smartphone to shared mobility and electric vehicles, they’re all part of the mix – including mobility as a service (MaaS).
This book explains what MaaS is, how it sits in the transport landscape, and the lessons from MaaS trials. It also dives into the barriers, governance and the wider impact on ‘transport and societal goals’. Case studies serve to illustrate the potential of MaaS – and SkedGo also gets a mention!
Understanding Mobility As A Service is for all transport professionals. From researchers and consultants to decision-makers and team members, it will help anyone wanting to learn more about MaaS and its evolution.
3. How To Own The Room by Viv Groskop
The perfect guide to help women become great at public speaking. From overcoming ‘performance anxiety’ to what to do if you clam up, you’ll find Viv there with ‘how to’ advice.
Michelle Obama, J.K. Rowling and Oprah Winfrey are a few of the examples she uses to bring her advice to life. The result: talk with confidence and take your rightful place in the world of public speaking.
“We still need more female representation in transport and tech, especially in leadership positions. This is a great book to give women the right tools to show up with confidence and feel comfortable in their own skin. The author also runs a very popular podcast. I highly recommend it!”Sandra Witzel, Head of Marketing, SkedGo
4. The Brand Bucket: Make Your Marketing Work by Barnaby Wynter
One of the best, practical books on marketing out there. The Brand Bucket is a six-step decision-making model to turn prospects into long-term customers. It’s one of those books you’ll keep going back to time and time again.
Insightful and informative, it provides the perfect template for all your branding exercises. Most importantly, it provides you with a marketing system that actually works. Packed full of great advice, this book will help you think about marketing and sales in a systematic manner.
5. The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, And Our Lives by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
We can all relate to the speed of technological transformation. It hasn’t gone unnoticed in the transport sector! In this book, futurists Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler illustrate the way our world will change over the next decade as tech continues to disrupt industries and our lives.
The authors set out a technology roadmap. It is particularly poignant where tech collides such as AI, virtual reality and sensors fusing with blockchain and high-speed networks. This book gives us a glimpse of what the future holds and is a reminder of how much technology shapes our everyday world. And it will continue to shape transport too.
6. Serious Creativity by Edward De Bono
Creativity and innovation are vital components of any successful organisation. Edward de Bono, the father of lateral thinking, offers a wide variety of tools for this purpose. Serious Creativity allows readers to master the fundamentals before putting them into practice. Commercial enterprise, government department or public transit authority – every organisation stands to benefit.
The book shows that creativity is a systematic process – and one where generating ideas or problem solving becomes easier with practice. The result? Serious Creativity can bring profound benefits on both a personal level and to the wider mobility field. Well worth a read.
7. Algorithms To Live By: The Computer Science Of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
Decision-making – like creativity – is another critical business skill. This book takes computer algorithms and applies them to problems we humans have to solve. Algorithms To Live By highlights how to make better choices, deal with tough decisions and when to leave things to chance.
The authors provide some interesting examples: hiring a secretary, locate a parking space or organise emails. The practical tools it suggests will help to solve everyday decisions. It may be a bit of a detailed read if you’re not a computer programmer but it offers some valuable perspectives that can be applied to your own circumstances and the choices you have to make.
8. Beyond Mobility: Planning Cities For People And Places by Robert Cervero, Erick Guerra and Stefan Al
City design around the world has come at a cost. The focus on speed of travel has resulted in poor air quality, congestion and inadequate pedestrian safety. However, Beyond Mobility looks at the alternatives. This includes prioritising community and individual needs and building better environments and economies.
The authors highlight that transportation isn’t just about the speed with which people can get to their destination. It calls for a rethink on how we plan and design our urban areas, making sure mobility is socially inclusive too.
Providing an optimistic viewpoint, the authors draw from global examples such as retro-fitting and reclaiming neglected spaces. Old railway lines and other brownfield sites are a case in point. They show that we can make a difference and transform the places we live and work for the better.
9. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide For Building A Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf
The detailed step-by-step instructions laid out in this book focus on building successful startups. Major universities such as Stanford and Berkeley teach this process. In practice, the method outlined is relevant for any organisation from enterprises to public transit authorities.
The Business Model Canvas, for instance, is an excellent tool for examining the detail of an organisation on just one page. The customer development process is another valuable asset that the mobility sector can benefit from using too. In MaaS, we always place the traveller at the heart of what we do. This manual will help to focus your attention firmly on the user to give your project the best chance of success.
10. Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World by Cal Newport
Our final book in this list focuses on your most valuable asset – your time. Jumping from task to task can leave us feeling like we haven’t achieved much by the end of the day. Enter Deep Work.
Deep Work is the “ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task”. Noisy open-plan offices, endless emails, social media and the demands of others make it harder to give time to those all-important projects. Projects that would shift the needle for our organisation or department.
How you put this into practice will depend on your personal circumstances. A CEO, manager or team member might need more or less time to spend on ‘deep work’. But as the book points out: the practice of deep work could be the best decision you make. At the very least, in a distracted world, this book will guide you in the right direction.
Now you’ve read our list, let us know what books have helped you in your role? How have they helped your wider organisation? A project you’ve worked on? Or to build your startup? Share your favourites in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!