All posts filed under: Book Reviews

Book Review: Why She Buys by Bridget Brennan

This book is considered a milestone in marketing (and selling) for women, and for this reason, I decided to read it. According to Bridget Brennan, 80% of sales are influenced by women. Moreover, at the time this book was written, most of the marketing effort was made towards man. No relevant communication, no specific advertising, no tuned-in marketing. Stop: we all assume there is a ton of marketing addressed to women. However, one of the most exciting chapters of this book is dedicated precisely to Marketing to Women, and is titled “The Difference between Sex Appeal and Gender Appeal“. In short: if you thought that women lingerie advertising are typically done for women, think again. The sexual charge of it is generally addressed to man. Gender is the most powerful determinant of how a person views the world and everything int it. it’s more powerful than age, race, or geography. Bridget Brennan, Why She Buys, page 11 If seen this way (although some might disagree), we understand the fact that the entire process of designing, producing, selling …

Book Review: Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Definitely not a traditional management book, of the types I would typically review on this Blog. I found some aspects of this reading relevant, and have decided to add this review. Also, have to admit I read this book in the Italian version (with the title Errore di Sistema). The book is a memoir of the life of Snowden, and of the events that led to his massive whistleblowing, that led to the scandal of the mass-surveillance project led by the NSA. I don’t want to take a stand here on the various judgement of what Snowden did, with the extremes being of being agile spy, or a liberty hero. Also considering there are still open cases, also related to this specific book.  I’m more interested in a subtle reading that comes through the book: a lot of the actions of Snowden have been made possible by an organisation that had yet not adapted to the way Digital Technologies influence ways of working. How many very young System Analysts exist in our organisations, with almost unlimited access …

Book Review: The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Why the Many are Smarter than the Few. It’s this subtitle (appeared own the last edition of the cover) that has attracted me to this book by James Surowiecki. He makes the case that large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant the individuals are. Crowds are better at solving problems, innovating, coming to wise decisions, and predicting the future. The title The Wisdom of Crowds pays homage to Charles Mackay’s 1841 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, yet challenging its premise. By focusing on a lot of social research, and giving tons of anecdotal evidences, the author breaks a lot of assumptions that we have on how groups reason, and how they can effectively reach better results that individuals. But don’t take everything for granted: Groups are not more efficient always. To function properly, “collective intelligence” must satisfy four conditions: Diversity: Individuals have “private knowledge” and insights that stem from their varying levels of knowledge, personal experience and ways of thinking about the world. No …

Book Review: The Employee Experience Advantage by Jacob Morgan

In today’s business world, experiential organizations are far and away the most successful when measured by almost every metric. The key to their success is that they provide their employees with optimal physical, technological and cultural workplace environments. These environments, in turn, are fine-tuned by infinite design loops, fueled by a focus on teamwork and driven by a strong sense of purpose, which provides an experiential organization with its reason for being. This in a nutshell the summary of the book by Jacob Morgan. His focus on Experience descends from one of the key ideas of the book: the recent business focus on employee engagement has not exactly led anywhere. He maintains that relevant statistics, for example engagement as measured by the Gallup Institute is stalling. Instead he proposes that organisations focusing on employee experience rather than employee engagement have an actual competitive advantage. Experience, in his view, requires a more holistic, all encompassing view of work than ‘mere’ engagement. Through a number of interviews with HR leaders, he has established a scorecard of 17 factors, grouped into three …

Book Review: What Works: Gender Equality By Design by Iris Bohnet

The topic of Gender Inequality has been addressed by several books in recent years, often coming from different theoretical and ideological backgrounds. Broadly we can find two extremes: a) the corporate self-help strategies of leaning in and b) the revolutionary defiance of leaning out. The work of Iris Bohnet finds a place for itself based on a vast and comprehensive review of research across the social sciences. Focusing on inequalities primarily within workplaces and schools, she does not try to position herself into one or the other ideological fields. Instead, she emphasises the complementarity of a behaviourally-based and empirically-driven approach with broader feminist strategies. The author focuses on de-biasing environments rather than individuals as a solution to tackle gender inequality. By identifying behaviours and processes that take root in institutions and explicating how they impede gender equality, it may be possible to intervene and design around the point at which bias is most likely to take hold. This approach, often identified as ‘Nudging’, allows for faster achievements, moving the needle through quick wins in faster …

Book Review: Kids These Days, by Malcom Harris

A book about Millennials written about a Millennial. Demonstrates that many of the stereotypes of this generation are incorrect. But then falls short in theorizing a global conjure that is pushing the risk of Human Capital formation from organizations to individuals. A strong j’accuse of modern America, with sound evidence, fails to show a global outlook of this generation. Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials by Malcolm Harris is a bit of an unusual work of social and economic criticism. Like many books in its genre, it tours the current status of human misery and exploitation. But, on the contrary to many other similar works, it doesn’t end on the bright side offering potential solutions. When we talk about generations, we always assume that the world is split upon into them, which leads to continuous assumptions about characters and stereotypes of generations, which we have seen already have not real basis. However, if you build a big enough cluster of people, you start discerning a number of characteristics that people belonging to …