This one will be quick. And while it might typically fall under my Word of Praise series it won’t for various organizational reasons. It will also speak, separately and serially, to two unrelated matters. What both share is that they emerge from a corner of the world that usually has earned my skepticism.
Let’s start with Professor Phil Rosenzweig. In 2007 Rosenzweig published The Halo Effect…and Eight Other Delusions that Deceive Managers. I’m not going to do a full review because I read the book nearly 4 years ago and the pile of unread volumes is too tall to allow for a rereading. Here’s the short story: this might be one of the most important books about business you will ever read. After finishing it you may never again be able to look at any business bestseller with less than a jaundiced eye.
For me the most rewarding part was at the end where Rosenzweig notes that important discoveries in the social sciences explain, at best, 20% of any observed phenomena so we should approach claims of human behavior with outlandish results (those well in excess of 50%) cautiously. I think so highly of the book I linked the title to its website and the thumbnail to alibris.
Meanwhile, over at the Harvard Business Review (a precinct I usually avoid) a post by Tony Schwartz from earlier this month showed up on my radar screen (delayed as usual). In it Schwartz provides a side by side list of 30 things we need less and more of respectively. Ignore the chatter in the comments. The list is a triumph, advocating humanity, humility and common sense where exceptionalism has come to rule. Highly recommended.