An impressive, well-told tale that illuminates several essential tenets of management.

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THE SIMPLE AND EASY MANAGER

WHAT MANAGERS NEED TO KNOW BEFORE THEY NEED TO KNOW IT

A debut business book that uses a story of a new hire to distill business leadership into easily understood principles.

Business coach/corporate consultant Parks deftly employs fiction to impart useful knowledge about being a manager and leader. He tells the story of Quentin “Quint” Spalding, who, after a stint with the U.S. Army and a subsequent, unfulfilling job, is hired by Critical Direct, a progressive company that values its “associates.” Quint meets the company’s president, goes through its comprehensive training program, interacts with associates at various levels, and rises in the organization. The lessons that he learns along the way are designed to highlight collaborative aspects of management at a humanistic company. For example, Quint is surprised to learn that the company’s founder instituted a policy of allowing associates to take off their favorite day of the year. The narrative goes on to reveal other employee-oriented techniques, as when Quint receives an orientation “passport” listing names of associates with whom he must meet. Parks cleverly embeds pertinent leadership lessons in Quint’s conversations with his supervisor, Tina; in one discussion about another associate, Tina asks, “does the person really have the knowledge of what your expectations are?” Other interactions offer similarly effective teaching moments. The author openly questions some typical company operations, such as mandatory meetings, and offers creative alternatives. At one point, Quint develops a management technique that impresses the company president, who tells him, “I learned a long time ago that bosses can learn quite a bit from their people if they don’t let their egos get in the way.” By the end of the story, Quint is ready to take on new management responsibilities—a finale that feels a bit obvious. Overall, though, the leadership messages throughout this short book are meaningful and worthy of consideration.

An impressive, well-told tale that illuminates several essential tenets of management.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5456-2230-8

Page Count: 88

Publisher: MCP Books

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2018

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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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