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


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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011


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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