A largely involving story-oriented breakdown of how to chart a steady managerial course in uncharted territory.

The Journey of Not Knowing

HOW 21ST CENTURY LEADERS CAN CHART A COURSE WHERE THERE IS NONE

Benezet offers a management handbook geared toward the unconventional in the modern business world.

In her nonfiction debut, Benezet, a consultant and executive coach, takes an unusual approach to laying out a broad selection of business-manual maxims about flexible thinking, team building, and workplace productivity. A great portion of her book takes the form of stories about a fictional company called “Arrow, Inc.,” its bosses, and its employees. Her main topic is mapping the ways that individual behaviors and complex interactions can create blind spots and unanticipated “box canyons.” After an opening section, in which Benezet very amusingly tells some anecdotes from her years as a manager at Amazon.com, she addresses the problems that Arrow employees face in dealing with a particularly important client. It’s a risky tactic, as it shifts much of the book’s performance from the author’s skill at distilling business-world lessons from her own extensive experience to her talent for writing fiction. But it’s a choice that largely works, and readers will likely be interested in the Arrow workplace adventures. However, business students, who likely make up a significant part of the book’s target audience, may find the concluding sections more to their liking, as they revert to more standard management-handbook exposition. In those parts, Benezet makes crystalline sense; for example, she writes relatively early on that it’s more important than ever for managers to know themselves—to know, as she puts it, “who you are and for what you stand” in a world of shifting expectations and constantly looming unknowns. This idea is related to the “core drivers” of her book, concentrated in the “Core Four” components (“Bigger Bets,” “The Risks of the Unknown,” “Hooks,” and “Drivers”) that deal with “the relationship between leadership and the unknown,” which she explains in a later section. In her explorations of these components, Benezet is at her most authoritative.

A largely involving story-oriented breakdown of how to chart a steady managerial course in uncharted territory.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9978139-0-6

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Morton Hill Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 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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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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