Succinct and skillfully written; an eye-opener for business leaders.

DO THE RIGHT THING

IN BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT, INCLUDING PROCESS AND TECHNOLOGY

A debut book precisely defines a business improvement model.

Duryea, who spent three decades as an innovation specialist and worked on over 60 enhancement projects, clearly lays out a plan for implementing a strategy for business improvement. The author is nothing if not direct; he states that the common thread in every improvement project failure is “that leadership did not implement a project that empowered the organization’s most basic goal. The most basic goal is the organization’s core business model.” He goes on to discuss this model in detail but first defines “The Law of Business Reality—Organizations serve customers in a profitable way or cease to exist.” This description is typical of Duryea’s exceedingly lucid prose, one of the assets of the book. Equally strong is the volume’s tight organization into three parts with chapters that treat discrete aspects of a business improvement model, building one upon the other. Part 1 addresses three basics: the business reality law and core model as well as “influencers” of the model. Part 2 concerns business processes, smartly divided into two sets—one comprises courses generally applied to all businesses, and the other is industry-specific. Of particular interest in Part 2 are three industry examples: professional services, financial services, and manufacturing. Processes for these industries are described in text and illustrated in a useful chart that identifies similarities and differences. Part 3 discusses how processes are enabled within businesses. Describing implementation, this last part includes a discussion of internal and external resources and their applications as well as a particularly engaging commentary on technology enablement. Here, the author makes a key point: While technology is critically important, it “is not a core business model. More specific technology cannot fix a broken core business model or replace the need for a core business model.” At the close of each chapter of this impressive book, Duryea adds another step to his business improvement model so that, by the end of the work, it comprises a complete 15-step program—a nice technique.

Succinct and skillfully written; an eye-opener for business leaders.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4908-8607-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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