Webb provides a logical way to sift through today’s onslaught of events and information to spot coming changes in your...

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THE SIGNALS ARE TALKING

WHY TODAY’S FRINGE IS TOMORROW’S MAINSTREAM

How to forecast emerging technological tends.

Don’t confuse the trendy with trends, warns Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute. Unlike hip, shiny objects, trends persist and can change everything. They include self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and other phenomena that will deeply affect our lives. “Too often,” writes the author, “leaders ignore the signals [of emerging trends], wait too long to take action, or plan for only one scenario.” In this useful guide, she offers a systematic way to interpret events and foresee how they will shape the future. In brief: watch fringe areas, where new ideas emerge; uncover hidden patterns; determine whether a pattern is a trend; calculate its arrival time; plan scenarios to act on the trend; test your scenarios. Her detailed explanation of these simple-seeming steps is based on many years of experience advising organizations and will undoubtedly help leaders contemplate what lies ahead. The author makes clear how difficult it is to recognize forthcoming changes in an era when change is commonplace. Also, we “tend to underplay the significance of something when it is not significant to our immediate frame of reference.” Companies like Nintendo have listened to the signals, adapted to change, and lasted since the late 1800s. Digital Equipment Corporation, once a leading vendor of computer systems, failed to anticipate personal computing, with disastrous results. Similarly, BlackBerry failed, its products eclipsed by new trends. Webb’s stories of these companies and her close examination of current trendiness help readers understand how certain fringe thinking is shaped by diverse external forces (wealth distribution, education, government, etc.) into genuine trends. “We know Uber represents a trend because it leverages our basic human needs and desires in a meaningful way and aligns our human nature with emerging technologies and breakthrough inventions,” she writes.

Webb provides a logical way to sift through today’s onslaught of events and information to spot coming changes in your corner of the world.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61039-666-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

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.

REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE

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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