A fascinating anatomy of an iconic company’s colossal accomplishments.

MOVE FAST

HOW FACEBOOK BUILDS SOFTWARE

An inside look at the engineering culture that has distinguished Facebook from its competitors.

As Meyerson observes, the notorious engineering motto at Facebook is: “Move fast and break things.” However, that prioritization of velocity demands a corporate culture that sustains it, or it would devolve into chaos. “ ‘Move fast’ is a remedy for market adjustments, technology changes, and cultural stagnation. In order for a company to move fast, the entire company must be oriented around speed.” The author charts the Facebook cosmos that supports this insistence on breakneck innovation, assessing the issue from three complementary perspectives: product, culture, and technology. What emerges is a fascinating tableau of a company that delicately balances competing goods—an emphasis on individuality, creativity, and social cohesion, top-down management and “bottom-up innovation,” and speed and engineering rigor. Meyerson focuses on the company’s most critical years, 2011 through 2014, during which it had no choice but to pivot from is origin as a browser-based web application to a mobile service. Moreover, the competition Google+ presented was an “existential threat” that could have buried the company. Meyerson’s gripping account is based on scrupulous research. He interviewed 20-plus key players at Facebook; also, as a successful software engineer, he has an impressively deep understanding of both the technical work and the ethos that undergirds it. Facebook’s obsession with experimentation and speed may have initially seemed to many like an “alien civilization relative to the average big tech company,” but it’s now emulated by many, its core principles translated into easy platitudes about adaptability. Meyerson moves beyond these simplifications and limns a genuinely thoughtful—as well as meticulously detailed—peek into the principles of the Silicon Valley giant’s success.

A fascinating anatomy of an iconic company’s colossal accomplishments.

Pub Date: June 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-54-451755-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Software Daily

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2021

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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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Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

THE DYNASTY

Action-packed tale of the building of the New England Patriots over the course of seven decades.

Prolific writer Benedict has long blended two interests—sports and business—and the Patriots are emblematic of both. Founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots, the team built a strategic home field between that city and Providence. When original owner Billy Sullivan sold the flailing team in 1988, it was $126 million in the hole, a condition so dire that “Sullivan had to beg the NFL to release emergency funds so he could pay his players.” Victor Kiam, the razor magnate, bought the long since renamed New England Patriots, but rival Robert Kraft bought first the parking lots and then the stadium—and “it rankled Kiam that he bore all the risk as the owner of the team but virtually all of the revenue that the team generated went to Kraft.” Check and mate. Kraft finally took over the team in 1994. Kraft inherited coach Bill Parcells, who in turn brought in star quarterback Drew Bledsoe, “the Patriots’ most prized player.” However, as the book’s nimbly constructed opening recounts, in 2001, Bledsoe got smeared in a hit “so violent that players along the Patriots sideline compared the sound of the collision to a car crash.” After that, it was backup Tom Brady’s team. Gridiron nerds will debate whether Brady is the greatest QB and Bill Belichick the greatest coach the game has ever known, but certainly they’ve had their share of controversy. The infamous “Deflategate” incident of 2015 takes up plenty of space in the late pages of the narrative, and depending on how you read between the lines, Brady was either an accomplice or an unwitting beneficiary. Still, as the author writes, by that point Brady “had started in 223 straight regular-season games,” an enviable record on a team that itself has racked up impressive stats.

Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982134-10-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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