A strong case for innovation, with supporting methodology that will appeal to executives in the risk-averse,...

FLIRTING WITH THE UNINTERESTED

INNOVATING IN A "SOLD, NOT BOUGHT" CATEGORY

Ferrante-Schepis and Maddock’s provocatively titled debut looks at the need for innovation in the deeply conservative insurance industry.

Insurance, as the authors put it, is a product “sold, not bought.” It’s not something people want, it’s something they grudgingly buy after a major life change or when a sales agent pitches them hard enough. Worse, the people who really want insurance are precisely the ones to whom the insurance companies don’t want to sell. The first part of this book explains how the insurance industry has gotten itself into this situation, while the rest of the book describes how it can dig itself out. Part 2 explores ways the industry can begin to entice consumers rather than having to hunt new customers down. Part 3 explores the use of language, transparency and social dynamics in connecting to potential customers, especially Gen Y customers, while Part 4 lays out a road map for creating and nurturing innovation. Finally, Part 5 toys with some ways that cultural icons, such as Mark Zuckerberg, American Express and the Occupy Wall Street movement could take over the insurance industry. Insurance executives have a well-earned reputation for being traditional and rules-oriented, which doesn’t exactly make them inclined toward major innovation. Yet, this book predicts that, eventually, some bright spark will come up with a new way of meeting today’s insurance needs—and the old-model insurance industry will go the way of the dodo. The authors make a compelling argument for the need for innovation and tell how to go about it, sprinkling the book with what-if scenarios designed to get the reader thinking. The suggestion of an innovation portfolio to diversify the associated risks is a particularly clever idea that will appeal to those counting the costs of creative thinking.

A strong case for innovation, with supporting methodology that will appeal to executives in the risk-averse, regulation-bound industry.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1599323695

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Advantage Media Group

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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