HYPERCOMPETITION

THE DYNAMICS OF STRATEGIC MANEUVERING

If D'Aveni were not a professor at Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School, one could easily imagine that his grandiloquent management guide was meant to be an absurdist spoof of a publishing subgenre not especially teeming with useful or readable works. Drawing almost wholly on secondary sources, however, the deadly earnest author has cobbled together a repetitious handbook that combines a fevered appraisal of a new menace supposedly convulsing the global marketplace with programmatic recommendations for combating it. According to D'Aveni, the present danger is hypercompetition, a notably merciless form of commercial conflict that can be conducted in a host of ways. By the author's account, preternaturally aggressive enterprises may seek to erode, neutralize, or (more likely) obliterate the comparative advantages of their rivals in areas such as market access, cost, know-how, quality, resources, and timing. Moving on from his anecdotal audit of the no-quarter games cutthroat companies play, D'Aveni identifies the distinguishing characteristics of hypercompetition. He then segues into another by-the-numbers exercise known as the New 7-S's, the collective designation for a series of interactive initiatives that may be employed to sustain momentum (rather than equilibrium) in operating environments subject to sudden change. Similar cases in point range from ensuring superior stakeholder satisfaction and strategic soothsaying through simultaneous and sequential strategic thrusts. Offered as well are tedious takes on such techniques as escalation-ladder analysis and price-quality mapping. Even after allowing for the transforming aspects of advanced technologies, D'Aveni's big-picture perspectives and addled advisories could strike most corporate executives as the virtual realities of an academic theorist convinced he can impose order on a perdurably adversarial business world. The jargon-marred text has tabular material throughout.

Pub Date: April 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-02-906938-6

Page Count: 500

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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