These heretics offer valuable insight but no extraordinary formulas for business-minded success.

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The Heretic's Guide to Best Practices

THE REALITY OF MANAGING COMPLEX PROBLEMS IN ORGANSIATIONS

Best practices aren’t recipes for success, say information technology professionals Culmsee and Awati, and smart managers aren’t afraid to challenge the experts by asking rudimentary questions.

Culmsee and Awati devote nearly the first third of their book to the notion that most organizations have serious problems: troubled group dynamics, “catastrophic” overconfidence, cognitive bias, poor communication and/or several issues symptomatic of a lack of common sense. Identifying the problem is, of course, a necessary step in finding the solution, so the authors’ discussion is heavily peppered with real-world examples from business and government organizations. While the authors’ advice for the pursuit of common sense in the business world will appeal to experienced midlevel managers, the book might be of more value to new managers who could use some of these stories as lessons in how to avoid productivity pitfalls. Business school professors might also consider assigning the text to students to assist in the quest for effective organizations and innovative products. Fortunately, the writing is more engaging than a technical manual; nonengineers will appreciate humorous references to famous innovators like Willy Wonka, as well as silly yet practical examples, like applying Issue-Based Information System mapping to determine whether a 5-year-old should get a cat for Christmas. The guide is considerably longer and drier than the average consumer business book, however, and readers should not expect quick answers from these heretics. Nor should readers expect revolutionary, newfangled advice for typical organizational conundrums. In fact, the authors’ advice seems so commonsensical that it’s not nearly as unconventional as the authors suggest.

These heretics offer valuable insight but no extraordinary formulas for business-minded success.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462058549

Page Count: 420

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2012

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Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

THE DYNASTY

Action-packed tale of the building of the New England Patriots over the course of seven decades.

Prolific writer Benedict has long blended two interests—sports and business—and the Patriots are emblematic of both. Founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots, the team built a strategic home field between that city and Providence. When original owner Billy Sullivan sold the flailing team in 1988, it was $126 million in the hole, a condition so dire that “Sullivan had to beg the NFL to release emergency funds so he could pay his players.” Victor Kiam, the razor magnate, bought the long since renamed New England Patriots, but rival Robert Kraft bought first the parking lots and then the stadium—and “it rankled Kiam that he bore all the risk as the owner of the team but virtually all of the revenue that the team generated went to Kraft.” Check and mate. Kraft finally took over the team in 1994. Kraft inherited coach Bill Parcells, who in turn brought in star quarterback Drew Bledsoe, “the Patriots’ most prized player.” However, as the book’s nimbly constructed opening recounts, in 2001, Bledsoe got smeared in a hit “so violent that players along the Patriots sideline compared the sound of the collision to a car crash.” After that, it was backup Tom Brady’s team. Gridiron nerds will debate whether Brady is the greatest QB and Bill Belichick the greatest coach the game has ever known, but certainly they’ve had their share of controversy. The infamous “Deflategate” incident of 2015 takes up plenty of space in the late pages of the narrative, and depending on how you read between the lines, Brady was either an accomplice or an unwitting beneficiary. Still, as the author writes, by that point Brady “had started in 223 straight regular-season games,” an enviable record on a team that itself has racked up impressive stats.

Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982134-10-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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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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