The Tyranny of Metrics

The Tyranny of Metrics

by Jerry Z. Muller

“This book argues that while they are a potentially valuable tool, the virtues of accountability metrics have been oversold, and their costs are often underappreciated.” There are chapters on the dysfunction of “metric fixation” in colleges and universities; schools; medicine; policing; the military; business; and philanthropy. Problems include gaming the system, costs exceeding benefits, and diverting effort from the core mission. A major theme is metrics as a substitute for competent judgment.  Continue reading “The Tyranny of Metrics”

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life

by Rory Sutherland

In Alchemy—published simultaneously in the U.K. with a punchier subtitle: The Surprising Power of Ideas that Don’t Make Sense—Sutherland writes with a humorous style filled with wisdom about consumer behavior, innovation, branding, hiring, the weakness of market research, and more. Continue reading “Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life”

Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean

Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean

by Karen Berman and Joe Knight

This outstanding book teaches corporate financial literacy to nonfinancial employees. There are 33 short chapters grouped into sections covering the income statement, the balance sheet, cash, ratios, return on investment, and working capital. “You’ll learn how to decipher the financial statements, how to identify potential biases in the numbers, and how to use the information in the statements to do your job better.”

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The Rouser Manifesto 2019

The Rouser Manifesto 2019

Rather than featuring a book in this post, I have selected a paper written by the team at the Swedish marketing firm Rouser.  The Rouser Manifesto takes a big-picture perspective on marketing effectiveness, calling out the problematic trend of focusing solely on short-term return on marketing investment (ROMI) while eroding brand equity.

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HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers

HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers

The objective of this book is to help managers make better data-driven decisions by working with data analysts and data scientists. The guide is a compendium adapted from 23 previously published Harvard Business Review and hbr.org articles.

“Framing a problem… is the most important stage of the analytical process for a consumer of big data. It’s where your business experience and intuition matter most. After all, a hypothesis is simply a hunch about how the world works. The difference with analytical thinking, of course, is that you use rigorous methods to test the hypothesis.”

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Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency

Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency

by Tom DeMarco

Slack is an outstanding management book full of wisdom about corporate culture, change, failure, learning, quality, risk management, productivity, and managing people.

“You can’t grow if you can’t change at all.” Slack is “the lubricant of change… Slack represents operational capacity sacrificed in the interests of long-term health… Learning to think of it that way (instead of as waste) is what distinguishes organizations that are ‘in business’ from those that are merely busy.”

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Good Charts Workbook: Tips, Tools, and Exercises for Making Better Data Visualizations

Good Charts Workbook: Tips, Tools, and Exercises for Making Better Data Visualizations

by Scott Berinato

A good visual representation of data can be invaluable for communicating the meaning behind the numbers. This book walks the reader through the thought process and choices in creating visualizations for a variety of cases. “It’s rare you don’t have to make a trade-off to create a good chart… Most of the time there isn’t one right answer, one right chart.” The main topics covered in the book are clarity, color, chart types, and persuasion.

Clarity. Berinato emphasizes decluttering to put the focus on what you want to communicate. “Take stuff away… Remove redundancy… Limit color and eye travel… Use your headline to describe the main idea of a chart, not its structure.”

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