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

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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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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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