A concise, powerful call for responsible, long-term business practices.

GO LONG

WHY LONG-TERM THINKING IS YOUR BEST SHORT-TERM STRATEGY

A manual advocates a return to a more classic mode of thinking about business.

In this book, the authors direct concerted criticism at the drastic increase in short-term thinking in the business and management world in the last two decades. They cite the boom in things like investment hedge funds that stress short-term gains and hence short-term thinking, pointing out that this phenomenon goes hand in hand with larger changes in corporate culture. The tenure of most executives is shorter now, they explain, noting the obvious result: “CEOs tend to focus on shorter-term objectives.” Carey (Talent Wins, 2018, etc.), Dumaine (The Plot to Save the Planet, 2008), Useem (The Leader’s Checklist, 2011, etc.), and debut author Zemmel have aimed their arguments at executives, directors, and investors, laying out the values of long-term thinking and highlighting both its risks and rewards. “One of the toughest challenges any CEO faces is staying focused on a long-term strategy while having to deal with short-term distractions,” they write. They provide several prominent examples of major corporate executives who risked short-term consequences for long-term gain: the decision of Ivan Seidenberg, when he served as Verizon’s CEO, to redouble his investment in the growth of his companies in the face of investors calling for selling off assets; the willingness of CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo to incur a short-term $2 billion loss in getting his chain out of the business of selling cigarettes; and the readiness of 3M CEO Sir George Buckley to restructure his company’s finances to increase its investment in its own future. The authors deftly use these and other cases to emphasize that long-term thinking and long-game investing and strategizing are not only more responsible, but also more profitable if they are done with daring and determination. The narrative tactic of grounding all this in real-world examples from business headlines pays off, and each chapter in the book’s first section ends with a useful “executive summary” outlining the key lessons to be learned from the individual cases. Considering the enormous harm that short-term investing has done not only to companies, but to countries as well, this book should be required reading in boardrooms everywhere.

A concise, powerful call for responsible, long-term business practices.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61363-088-4

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Wharton Digital Press

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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