A novel, refreshing way of characterizing business challenges.

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FRICTION

THE UNTAPPED FORCE THAT CAN BE YOUR MOST POWERFUL ADVANTAGE

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...

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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Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

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CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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