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A novel, refreshing way of characterizing business challenges.

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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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These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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