Eloquent tough love for nonprofit leaders.



A Canadian executive delivers a clarion call for community-based nonprofit organizations to up their games.

The mission of community-based nonprofit organizations is often to serve the most vulnerable groups of people in a local or regional area. Watts, the executive director of a Montreal-based CBNP, acknowledges that these organizations pursue a noble cause but “may be metaphorically stuck in the mud.” This provocative premise is explored in a sensible, forthright way in a debut book clearly intended for CBNP CEOs and board members. The volume begins with a discussion of why and how the good work CBNPs do can be made better. Next, the author debunks four myths about the typical recipients of care and support provided by CBNPs. For example: “Emergency shelters are an entirely reasonable response to the challenge of homelessness. Reality: Emergency shelters are just a patch and can contribute to the creation of a lifestyle of homelessness.” Here, Watts demonstrates a keen awareness of the complexities of serving a socially disadvantaged constituency. Following the myths is an insightful, high-level discussion of “misunderstandings” about CBNPs and “indicators” that suggest whether or not an organization “is likely to deliver a return on investment.” A chapter on leadership helpfully identifies four styles of leadership typical in CBNPs. A subsequent chapter, perhaps one of the most valuable, thoroughly examines the responsibilities and typical deficiencies of CBNP boards. The chapter includes an authoritative overview of governance, the strengths and weaknesses of various board types, and a highly instructional discourse that covers five symptoms of board “dysfunctionality.” The volume’s final two chapters concentrate on forward-looking content. One chapter challenges CBNPs to become “the disruptors rather than the disrupted.” The second provides a kind of road map to reinvention by outlining four specific opportunities CBNPs can pursue to go beyond traditional thinking. As Watts suggests in his afterword, “rather than trying to do more of what they have been doing,” CBNPs “must aim to achieve better outcomes for the people they serve.” Recognizing good stewardship but with an eye toward continuous improvement, the author articulately challenges his CBNP compatriots to strive for excellence.

Eloquent tough love for nonprofit leaders. (appendices)

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 97

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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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. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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