A novel, refreshing way of characterizing business challenges.



A writer offers an exploration of “friction” that should vault the term into the business lexicon.

Friction, a relatively simple scientific concept to understand, takes on far deeper meaning in the capable hands of the forward-thinking Dooley (The Persuasion Slide, 2016, etc.). In fast-paced prose, the author examines scores of examples to make a compelling case for friction, or the lack thereof, as a conceptual force that affects business. The book is nothing if not comprehensive; it covers friction in the retail, transportation, digital, technology, and nonprofit worlds as well as generally in business and interpersonal relationships. At times, the notion seems overdone, but the volume’s illustrations of increased or diminished friction are intriguing enough to sustain interest. One illuminating, extravagant example is the case study of how Disney decided to “eliminate friction at every touch point” at its Disney World theme park. Disney’s board approved a nearly $1 billion investment in “MyMagic+” technology, which employs digital wristbands to identify guests, act as hotel room keys, allow park entry, and even connect people with their photographs. The “largest single capital investment ever made in a theme park,” MyMagic+ could have been risky, but its implementation dramatically improved satisfaction rates and also increased in-park spending. Another example, less elaborate but just as impactful, concerns the management modifications made by Jack Welch when he was in charge at General Electric: “Welch’s delayering efforts had the desired effect of bringing senior managers closer to GE’s front lines and reducing waste from managerial roles with no operating responsibility.” One could easily label this leadership tactic something other than “friction,” but Dooley deftly relates the reorganization to his core concept. Throughout the thoroughly engaging book are “Friction Takeaways” that appropriately highlight pearls of wisdom. The examples used are clearly designed to turn doubters into believers that friction is a legitimate barrier in business. In the volume’s conclusion, the author advises readers to “put on your goggles” to “see friction everywhere” and “eliminate it at every chance you get.” The writing is lively and the enthusiasm for the topic evident.

A novel, refreshing way of characterizing business challenges. 

Pub Date: May 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-260-13569-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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

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.


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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