by Margaret Heffernan ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2011
Former CEO turned blogger explores the reasons why we don’t or won’t see what we should.
In a brisk, easy-to-ready foray into vast interior territory, Heffernan (How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business Success, 2007, etc.) ranges broadly in examining willful blindness in its many forms, all potentially ruinous to people, companies, even countries. The author suggests we overlook the obvious for love, for ideology, out of sheer fatigue or an abundance of riches. Often, those with blinders are happy to follow orders, scared to stand up to power or lulled into oblivion by the comfort of the familiar. Her cast of villains is ripped from recent headlines; Heffernan cites culpably oblivious Kenneth Lay of Enron, incurious Bernie Madoff investors and negligently aloof BP executives as prime examples of her hypothesis. As the book progresses, the author warns that the repercussions of ignoring the obvious have already lead to the near-collapse of the global economy, and extols readers to take heed of the approaching havoc that will result from our collective inattention to climate change. There is little in these pages a reader with a liberal education doesn’t already know, but the author provides a fresh retelling, as well as a call to arms to any whistle-blowers who see what lies ahead and have the courage to speak up. We need more of these people, writes the author. Not a bolt of lightning, but a sharp-eyed perspective on the ever-gathering storm.
Pub Date: March 1, 2011
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011
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by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...
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
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
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by Erin Meyer ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2014
These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.
A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.
“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.
Pub Date: May 27, 2014
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014
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