The Halo Effect and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers
by Phil Rosenzweig
Many business books and articles have been written about what Phil Rosenzweig calls “the mother of all business questions… What leads to high performance?” This book explains why much of this analysis is “riddled with errors.”
Using the examples of Cisco, ABB, and others, the author demonstrates the phenomenon. When times were good—strong revenue growth and a soaring stock price—these companies were praised for their exemplary strategy, culture, and CEO. When financial performance fell, the same strategy, culture, and CEO were ripped apart as severely flawed.
Why does this happen? Because we love stories. “As long as Cisco was growing and profitable and setting records for its share price, managers and journalists and professors inferred that it had a wonderful ability to listen to its customers, a cohesive culture, and a brilliant strategy. And when the bubble burst, observers were quick to make the opposite attribution. It all made sense. It told a coherent story.”
“Yet there’s a bit more to it. Our desire to tell stories, to provide a coherent direction to events, may also cause us to see trends that do not exist or infer causes incorrectly. We may ignore facts because they don’t fit into our story.”
Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities
by George L. Kelling and Catherine M. Coles
The origin of broken windows theory was an article in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson about the link between disorder and serious crime. The term comes from an analogy: “Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This is as true in nice neighborhoods as in rundown ones… One unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares.” Continue reading →
Using Systems Thinking to Solve Real-World Problems
by Jamie P. Monat and Thomas F. Gannon
“Systems thinking focuses on the relationships among system components and the interactions of the system with its environment, as opposed to focusing on the components themselves… Those relationships typically dominate the behavior of systems.” As an antidote to myopia, systems thinking takes a holistic and integrative approach.
This is a book about integrity and character. It is about leadership as well as personal development. “There’s no such thing as organizational behavior, only individual behavior… Leadership is communicating to another person their worth and potential so clearly they are inspired to see it in themselves… The common thread in the best thinking on management and leadership is this: People both want and need to feel that their lives and work have meaning.”
“Primary greatness is who you really are—your character, your integrity, your deepest motives and desires. Secondary greatness is popularity, title, position, fame, fortune, and honors… Going for secondary greatness without primary greatness doesn’t work. People don’t build successful lives on the unstable sands of what is outwardly or temporarily popular, but they do build successful lives on the bedrock of principles that do not change.”
“Character is foundational. All else builds on this cornerstone. Even the very best structure, system, style, and skills can’t compensate completely for deficiencies in character… People get lost when they use a local norm or internal standard to justify covert or corrupt business practices… Universal principles like respect, empathy, honesty, and trust ultimately govern.” Continue reading →
A Consumer’s Guide to Information: How to Avoid Losing Your Mind on the Internet
by Katherine Pickering Antonova
“Critical thinking is a rational process of sorting and weighing information so that we can find what we need and have confidence in what we know… We have to train ourselves to work past our first reactions… Even people who have many years of training and experience in research fields still need to constantly remind themselves to question their own biases.”
The theme of this book by history professor Katherine Pickering Antonova is evidence-based critical thinking. She covers the structure of logical arguments, logical fallacies, reliability of sources, the charade of opposing-view talking head television, search engine tips, and some basic concepts about science and statistics.
The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace
by Dr. Patrizia Collard
Dr. Patrizia Collard is a psychotherapist, stress management consultant, and lecturer at the University of East London. She writes, “The goal of any mindfulness practice is simply to experience life as it unfolds. To stay present and calm and not slip back into thinking/worrying mode, we choose an anchor of awareness—a point of focus we direct our mind to.”
“Mindfulness is being aware of or bringing attention to this moment in time deliberately and without judging the experience. So, when we go for a mindful walk we really notice every little detail and all we encounter—trees, cars, flowers growing out of small cracks, or a cat crossing the road—rather than creating to-do lists.”
“When we procrastinate and distract ourselves with ‘busyness,’ we avoid engaging with the real thing—our lives… Living in the moment, and seeing everything afresh without judgment and worry lets us experience life rather than simply get through it.”
The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last
by Tom Peters
Tom Peters makes a renewed call to excellence in the context of an increasingly data-driven and dehumanized world. His “putting people first” mantra is even more on point than it was when his seminal work In Search of Excellence was published in 1982.
“The primary defenses against AI-driven job destruction are widespread, relatively unconstrained creativity and novel organizational arrangements designed to produce products and services that will stand out in an automated world. I unequivocally believe that such creativity is antithetical to algorithmic optimization of human affairs.”
“So what is this Excellence Dividend? In short, businesses that are committed to excellence in every aspect of their internal and external dealings are likely to be survivors. They are better and more spirited places to work. Their employees are engaged and growing and preparing for tomorrow. Their customers are happier and inclined to spread tales of their excellence far and wide. Their communities welcome them as good neighbors. Their vendors welcome them as reliable partners. That in turn translates directly into bottom-line results and growth. And, AI and robotics notwithstanding, it translates into jobs that last and the likely creation of new jobs as well.” Continue reading →