Books

Chris Clearfield & András Tilcsik win $30K prize for book exploring meltdowns in complex systems

The National Business Book Award is a yearly prize recognizing the country's best nonfiction business books.
András Tilscik and Chris Clearfield have written Meltdown, a book which looks at how systems that are overly complex can experience catastrophic failures. (Penguin Random House)

Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik have won the $30,000 National Business Book Award for their nonfiction book Meltdown. The National Business Book Award is a yearly prize recognizing the best Canadian business books. 

The award was announced at an award ceremony in Toronto on June 5, 2019.

Meltdown analyzes how disasters in the transportation, medical and nuclear sectors often share common causes. The book combines real-life stories and social science research to explain how the ever-increasing complex systems we rely on are making it harder for our brains to keep up. 

Clearfield is a trained pilot, a former derivatives trader and a founder of research and consulting firm System Logic. 

Tilcsik is a fellow of the Michael Lee-Chin Institute for Corporate Citizenship and holds the Canada Research Chair in strategy, organizations and society at University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

The jury for the prize is chaired by former CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge and includes Deirdre McMurdy, Hydro One chairman David Denison, senator and former journalist Pamela Wallin and the dean of the Degroote School of Business, Leonard Waverman.  

The other finalists were David Shoalts for Hockey Fight in Canada, Phil Lind and Robert Brehl for Right Hand Man and Howard Green for Railroader.

Last year's National Business Book Award winner was Chris Turner for his book The Patch.

Clearfield and Tilcsik were on The Current discussing system meltdowns in 2018. Listen to their conversation below:

The authors of a new book say we need to learn how complexity causes failure in all kinds of modern systems — from social media to air travel — so we can prevent meltdowns in society, and our daily lives. 25:36

 

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