A vigorously written, ultimately encouraging method for rescuing a messed-up situation.

TURNAROUND

HOW TO CHANGE COURSE WHEN THINGS ARE GOING SOUTH

A program for turning around downward-spiraling businesses and projects.

Drawing on three decades of helping organizations solve seemingly intractable problems, Gable presents the tenets and principles of her method for turning around situations when things go south and all hope seems lost. “The organization is hobbled by competition,” she posits, or “a revolving door of project leads, managers, consultants, and leaders” try without success to fix the problem. She begins by breaking down some of the most common reasons why things go wrong—founders stick around long after their original dreams and motivations have become outdated, bosses indulge in company-damaging hubris, the raw economics of the project make its ultimate results impossible, and, perhaps most importantly, managers become stuck in one “cookie-cutter” model and resist trying new things. Gable writes, “Today we recognize that to solve problems creatively, you need as many diverse voices working on them as possible.” Gable claims that her method has been “battle-tested” out in the real world, and it’s based on four basic steps: visualizing the future, analyzing the past, creating a plan to move from the present to the future, and then executing that plan with “speed, confidence, and heart.” Gable fleshes out these general principles with specific examples from her own past and case studies where her ideas have been executed properly. 

Her own anecdotes, all smoothly and invitingly told, are all teamwork stories (when she’s hired as CEO of a food allergy research company, for instance, the changes she describes are all community-based, as are so many descriptions throughout the book). A crucial current running through the various “turnaround” principles is an implicit rejection of the savior complex that tends to rule the roost in the business world. As Gable’s recollections make clear over and over, salvaging an impossibly tangled situation requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. “You want to incentivize everyone involved in your turnaround to invest, work with you, and execute in a matter that supports the new future.” That “new future” is another key feature of Gable’s outlook: Although the temptation in any debacle is to obsess over the mess, Gable emphasizes the importance of having a clear plan for the future as the ultimate counterbalance to finger-pointing. She refreshingly ranges her advice regarding where a problem might reside, from a flawed corporate vision to poor management of assets. And although some readers may find her personal business-world anecdotes a bit too excessive (they very much outweigh the book’s more theoretical portions), those stories serve an important cumulative purpose: They show her principles in action, demonstrating how they work in real situations with real people. “Change brings anxiety,” she writes. “People feel bounced around as their reality shifts, and uncertainty grows.” Those “bounced around” people—Gable’s readers who’ve found themselves caught up in some horribly dysfunctional problem—will find a good deal of hard-won wisdom in these pages.

A vigorously written, ultimately encouraging method for rescuing a messed-up situation.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64687-058-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Ideapress Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more