A straightforward overview of organizational theory and practice.

THE REGENERATIVE BUSINESS

REDESIGN WORK, CULTIVATE HUMAN POTENTIAL, ACHIEVE EXTRAORDINARY OUTCOMES

A handbook for creating a responsive company culture that offers employees a chance to shine.

In this work, Sanford (The Responsible Entrepreneur, 2014) encourages business leaders to move away from top-down authoritarian decision-making to a more collaborative process that incorporates the needs of all stakeholders. Drawing on organizational theory and her own consulting work with a number of large companies, such as the bottled-water company Deer Park, Sanford offers examples of successful organizational change and the logic underlying such corporate evolution. The book also addresses what she calls “toxic” elements (hierarchical decision-making, performance reviews and feedback, restructuring) in many traditional workplaces. These, she says, must be eradicated before one can implement the titular “regenerative” process successfully—a sort of whole-lifestyle makeover. In the book’s third section, Sanford guides readers through the process of applying her regenerative principles to their businesses, dividing the process into five thematic sections, or “phases,” such as “Evolve into Strategic Disruption” and “Evolve a Courageous Culture.” Several chapters conclude with questions designed to drive discussion and generate ideas (“What principles should guide the way we redesign our systems so that their original purposes are fulfilled, even as we make them more workable and developmental?”). Although the more theoretical portions of the book do indulge in jargon, Sanford’s prose is mostly unambiguous: “bad work design relegates human beings to activities that are repetitive, uncreative, unrewarding, and spirit killing.” The author makes a compelling case for adopting a new approach to structuring work, with solid examples of successful practices and guidance for business leaders who are just starting their evaluations of their own workplaces. Business-book connoisseurs will find plenty of new material in this text along with a cogent, persuasive argument.

A straightforward overview of organizational theory and practice.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4736-6910-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Nicholas Brealey

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

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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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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