Astute and keenly observed business advice, yet down-to-earth in its use of real-world workplace examples and everyday...

Decoding the Workplace

50 KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE IN ORGANIZATIONS

Sound advice for interacting with others at work.

This debut has all the elements of a useful business book: lots of examples, authoritative advice, highlighted “keys” explaining main concepts, and short, easy-to-read chapters. Ballard covers a lot of territory, addressing such issues as the differences between people, working in groups, organizational structure and culture, how leaders gain power and influence, job satisfaction, and the meaning of work. Although some of his observations might be unsurprising to those experienced with workplace interactions, others are sure to be eye-opening, particularly for younger workers. For example, the author’s discussion of how one can be more successful at making decisions by adopting a “systems perspective” contains a valuable lesson: “Thinking of organizations as being systems…can be a strength,” Ballard writes. “Too often people see their parts of the organization as fiefdoms or silos separated from the rest of the organization.” Just as important are the numerous messages about how perception becomes reality; Ballard suggests that one’s perceptions of one’s performance are more important than the actual performance itself, as are the impressions one creates. The author shares deep insight into the culture of organizations and dramatizes the impact of the culture on the worker: “Differences between what an organization preaches and what it does could reveal the real core of an organization’s culture,” he asserts. He’s also acutely aware of how personal interactions relate to the quality of one’s work: “Even if you are not a manager, your effectiveness can be affected very strongly by your relationships with others.” This is the kind of high-level perspective that only a former management consultant and current professor of management could share, and it’s sure to be helpful to managers and lower-level workers alike.

Astute and keenly observed business advice, yet down-to-earth in its use of real-world workplace examples and everyday language.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4408-3826-2

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2015

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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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