LIBERATION MANAGEMENT

NECESSARY DISORGANIZATION FOR THE NANOSECOND NINETIES

Apparently bent on doing for management science what Timothy Leary did for psychology, Peters here extends the cheerfully anarchic precepts advanced in Thriving on Chaos (1987)—which in turn represented a sharp departure from the more conventional wisdom of the two coauthored works (In Search of Excellence and A Passion for Excellence) that helped make him an archguru in the first place. In the brave new on-line real-time world of the near future, Peters asserts, traditional (i.e., hierarchical and bureaucratic) corporations will have ceased to exist, victims of the ongoing fragmentation in global markets. By his account, the commercial dinosaurs will be replaced by pro-tem networks of project-oriented teams able to take immediate advantage of fleeting opportunities for dernier-cri goods and services. In this demanding if Delphian context, Peters offers a lengthy name-dropping manual chock full of anecdotal advisories on how latter-day executives might adapt themselves and their enterprises, entrepreneurial or otherwise, to tomorrow's unruly economy. Evidently formatted to facilitate browsing, the six-section guide has nearly 50 chapters, more than a few of which boast cheeky titles—e.g., ``Glow! Tingle! Wow! (Yuck!).'' While Peters focuses on (among other major concerns) what he characterizes as necessary disorganization, hustle, information technology, innovation through deconstruction, and fashion, those who read straight through the text will be struck by his reliance on shock value—at one point, he does a riff on quantum mechanics to stress the absurdist aspects of what's in store for business. When (by his own admission) words fail him, Peters goes with coinages—e.g., ``customerization''; ``faith in the unexpected''; ``marketizing,'' etc. Nor does he shrink from ambiguity and paradox. As in his previous outings, here again, in the final analysis, Peters broaches a wealth of ideas without ever managing to be genuinely thoughtful—though you wouldn't know it from the 250,000- copy first printing. (Book-of-the-Month Dual Selection for January)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1992

ISBN: 0-394-55999-1

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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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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A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE

A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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