A thorough but flawed attempt to penetrate a corporate icon’s blank white shell.




Fortune senior editor at large Lashinsky wonders if the success of Apple can be replicated, or even continued, in the wake of the death of Steve Jobs.

The author writes clearly and efficiently but is repetitive in his analysis of this secretive cultural giant. “For years it was an article of faith in Silicon Valley that Apple should not be emulated,” he writes. Yet his narrative picks apart Jobs’ entrepreneurial philosophy and the company’s remarkable post-1997 trajectory—when it first revolutionized personal computing, then introduced the iPod and iPhone—in attempting to discuss such a strategy. One problem, as Lashinsky writes, is the company’s cultivated lack of transparency. The author seems to rely on secondary sources, and comments from current and former Apple employees are often unattributed. The basic narrative of Apple’s resurgence is well known: After Jobs left his own company due to corporate squabbling, it declined rapidly in the Internet era. Yet Jobs’ return in 1997 ushered in a season of risky corporate paring-down, followed by a string of success, starting with the iconic iMac. Jobs introduced compartmentalization and hyper-competitiveness to every aspect of the company. For example, his annual “Top 100” meetings were pointedly exclusionary, which Lashinsky suggests is not the norm at such retreats. Apple as a workplace is portrayed as nearly monastic in employees’ willingness to sacrifice their personal lives, remain incommunicado and achieve the extreme interdepartmental cooperation Jobs sought, even at the end. Lashinsky describes Jobs’ successor Tim Cook as “a Mr. Fix-it who blended in but didn’t take no for an answer.” Among other late corporate innovations, Jobs quietly created a management-training program, Apple University, to “record, codify, and teach Apple’s business history.” Such points allow Lashinsky to support parallel assertions throughout—that Jobs’ management style may or may not be transferable, and that Apple’s special success may or may not endure once Jobs-approved projects pass through the pipeline.

A thorough but flawed attempt to penetrate a corporate icon’s blank white shell.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4555-1215-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Business Plus/Grand Central

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.


A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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