Category Archives: About Books

Book Review – “The Shift” by Lynda Gratton

 The Shift - Cover Title The Shift:
The Future of Work is Already Here
Author(s) Lynda Gratton
Initially Published In 2011
Publisher Harper Collins
Formats Available Paperback, and Kindle
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

The Shift by Lynda Gratton looks at the forces that will change the way we work in the next fifteen years, and the key ‘shifts’ that individuals need to make to survive and thrive.

“A compendium of modern management and social science theories … the novelty of Gratton’s book is her synthesis of so many contemporary ideas about the changes to our working lives ”

— FINANCIAL TIMES (book of the year) 

Summary

The Shift takes a long and hard look at the trends that will affect work in future. The author conveys this through short ‘stories’ of individuals in the future – these scenarios include the negative as well as positive.

The Shift starts by identifying five emerging forces and the way they will impact the future of work. The five important forces identified by the author are (1) Technology (esp. the Cloud), (2) Globalization, (3) Demography & longevity, (4) Society, and (5) Energy resources. The book goes on to describe the history, trends and how these will affect our lives in the decades to come.

Part 2 of the book paints a dark picture where these five trends create fragmentation, isolation, and for some, exclusion from work altogether as they are left behind. This is projected as the ‘default future’ where the five forces shaping the future take charge of people’s descent into hell if they are not proactively crafting their future.

The next part of the book focuses on the kind of work that people who actively craft their life can possibly have. These include increase in co-creation/ collaboration, greater social engagement, and creative micro-entrepreneurship.

So what does one have to do to proactively craft one’s future of work? The Shift identifies three main themes that one needs to work on: (1) moving from being the shallow generalist to the serial master, (2) moving from being the isolated competitor to an innovative connector, and (3) moving from being a voracious consumer to an impassioned producer.

At the end there are insightful notes for children, CEOs, and governments on what they can do to move towards a better future.

Well-written and Thought Provoking

I found The Shift entertaining and thought-provoking. It is a current masterpiece on the subject of ‘the future of work’.

The pace (across the 350 odd pages) is breathless, directed and self-assured. While reading the book, the analysis appears sound.

This book helped me think about the future. Though the future may not fully match Gratton’s prediction, it sure is going to be different and some of the things that book predicts will become true.

I think the book should be read by youngsters, parents, leaders (corporate & political), and HR folks.

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“Uses historical context brilliantly to put the megatrends … into perspective … simply brilliant. Inspirational and provocative”

—  HR MAGAZINE

The Shift  by Lynda Gratton is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Check out sample pages of the book by using the “Look Inside” feature in Amazon, here. You will get a feel of the book, and you can decide whether it suits you.

About the author

Lynda Gratton, an organizational theorist, consultant, and Professor of Management Practice at London Business School, is known for her work on organisational behavior.

Gratton has worked with many of the world’s biggest companies, including Vodafone, Shell and Unilever.

In 2008 The Financial Times selected her as the business thinker most likely to make a real difference over the next decade. In 2011 she was ranked by The Times as one of the top 15 Business Thinkers in the world today. In 2011, she was also ranked number one in Human Resources Magazine’s “Top 25 HR Most Influential UK Thinkers 2011” poll.

Gratton is the founder of the Hot Spots Movement, a specialist research and consulting team that works to identify where companies can future-proof their working practice, in order to foster innovation and enhance performance.

Here is a TEDx video featuring Lynda Gratton talking about the concepts in the book.

If the video does not open, use the link https://youtu.be/VbZ3eKbFi3g

The book is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky

Making Ideas Happen - CoverGenerating new ideas is easy, it’s executing that is hard. Whether you are an individual or an organization, perseverance and perspiration are a must to transform vision into reality.

In Making Ideas Happen, the author, Scott Belsky uses his observations and insights behind successful teams at Disney, IDEO, and Google — as well as highly productive and respected individuals like John Maeda, Seth Godin, and Chris Anderson — to present essential principles and a structured set of methods for converting any idea into reality.

Title Making Ideas Happen – Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
Author(s) Scott Belsky
Initially Published In 2010
Publisher Penguin
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

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“A Swiss army knife for Ideas”

Ji Lee, Director at Google Creative Lab 

Summary

Ideas for new businesses, improving productivity or capabilities and solutions to the world’s problems  are common. So are ideas for artistic breakthroughs. However, great execution is rare. Ideas don’t happen by accident or because they are unique or great. Ideas are taken to fruition with passion, focus, and hard work.

According to Making Ideas Happen, the three essential elements behind successful implementation of ideas are:

  1. Organization and Execution
  2. Leveraging the Forces of Community
  3. Leadership

‘Organization and Execution’ includes details of the ‘Action Method’, which covers management of lists (e.g., action steps, back-burner items, and references), prioritization, managing constraints, tolerance for change, with a focus on ‘always moving forward.’

Harnessing the forces of the community through sharing of ideas, processing feedback, transparency, commitment to others, and using the power of the network is the second essential element of success. The book also covers the benefit of physical shared space and self-marketing.

The third essential element is leadership that one needs to drive a team. Motivation, rewards, weeding out of ideas, engagement, decision making (e.g., ‘don’t be burdened by consensus’, ‘leaders talk last’) are some of the aspects covered. Self-leadership is also covered in detail – this includes aspects of handling ambiguity, failures, and conflicts and also being a deviant.

The essence of the book is depicted in this diagram reproduced from the book:

Making Ideas Happen - Equation

Worth Reading (More than Once)

The book is extremely well-written and easy to read and fast to absorb. It is around 240 pages, including the Appendices. The structuring of the book is also done very well, with three major sections and chapters within them. Once you have read the book, it is easy to refresh the concepts by just going through the table of contents.

There are diagrams and tables used to explain or reinforce concepts, wherever needed.

The book was on the bestseller lists for a long time. I recommend this book for entrepreneurs, managers, and anyone unable to start on his/ her pet ideas.

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“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. This book helps you with the hard part.”

— Guy Kawasaki, former Apple guru and author of
The Art of the Start

Making Ideas Happen  by Scott Belsky is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Check out sample pages of the book by using the “Look Inside” feature in Amazon, here. You will get a feel of the book, and you can decide whether it suits you.

About the author

Scott Belsky is a speaker, writer, and entrepreneur with a focus on the creative industries. As the founder and CEO of Behance (https://www.behance.net/), he oversees the Behance Network, the world’s leading platform for creative professionals with millions of visitors every month. He also looks after ‘The 99%’ (http://99u.com/), a think tank and annual conference devoted to execution in creative teams and Action Method, a popular online/mobile productivity application and line of organizational paper products.

Here is a TEDx video featuring Scott Belsky talking about the concepts in the book.

If the video does not open, use the link https://youtu.be/lsQtptwMCFI

The book is available at: Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).

 


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

More on Multitasking

This is a continuation from the previous post titled: Is Multitasking Still a Skill to Boast About? Click here if you have not yet read it.

Books on Multitasking

Here are some good, easy-to-read books that explain more of the concepts and can also help you manage the situation better:

 The One Thing Book Cover The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller Amazon.com,
Amazon.in,
Flipkart
The Myth of Multi-Tasking Book Cover The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done by Dave Crenshaw Amazon.com,
Amazon.in,
Flipkart

Other Articles on the Internet

Read more about the uselessness of multitasking in the articles listed below (links provided):

Videos on Multitasking

Here is a video that talks about why we can’t multitask efficiently.

If the video does not load use this link: https://youtu.be/BpD3PxrgICU

Here is another short video:


If the video does not load use this link: https://youtu.be/MJuXV6AD93s

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available. You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

CIA-OSS Manual for Workplace Sabotage

Recently, the CIA declassified a document titled ‘Simple Sabotage Field Manual’. This manual was created by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II–era precursor to the CIA. It is dated 1944, for use by CIA operatives in Europe who were trying to recruit civilians living in countries occupied by the Axis Alliance (Germany, Italy and Japan).

A scanned version of the document is available in the pdf form at the CIA’s website, here.

OSS-CIA Manual Cover

The documents has around 32 pages. The most interesting parts for me were in the last few pages in a section titled ‘General Interference with Organizations and Production.’

One sub-section of this part is reproduced here:

(a) Organizations and Conferences

(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to, expedite decisions.
(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.
(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.
(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
(5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to reopen the question of the advisability of that decision.
(7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision -raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

The manual continues to other such sub-sections titled (b) Managers and Supervisors, (c) Office Workers, and (d) Employees. You can read all the sections in pages 28-32 of the manual available here.

What is amazing is that I see this behavior in most organizations, displayed by most people, though they may not have been recruited by the CIA (at least, I think CIA has better sense than to spend money when there is no need).

And that is why you have management gurus and management consultancy firms, much in demand, trying to reverse the situation, with maybe negligible effect. We have experts in OD, employee motivation, leadership development. operational efficiency, process management, organizational alignment, Balanced Scorecard, Six-Sigma, Lean, Agile, ISO, CMMI®, People CMM®, and so on…, but nothing seems to change.

The  beauty of the principles in the document are so inherently ‘aligned’ to human nature, that these principles have insidiously and organically crept into all aspects of all organizations, maybe even in the CIA.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions. Read pages 28-32 of the manual available here.

Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available. You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Quiz Book: People CMM® (V2.0) available on Amazon Kindle – with 3 Quizzes of 35 questions each

Quiz Book: People CMM® (v2.0) Book CoverTitle: Quiz Book: People CMM® (Version 2.0)

Authors: Rajesh Naik and Swapna Kishore

ASIN: B00PN2IE0I

This eBook includes 3 tests, each with 35 objective-type questions.

These quizzes are suitable for:

  • Human Resource personnel
  • People CMM® specialists, consultants, and trainers
  • Process/ QA professionals
  • Appraisal Team Members (ATMs)
  • Candidate lead appraisers and instructors
  • Process compliance auditors

The Kindle eBook is available here: Amazon.com and Amazon.in

Note: You can read Kindle eBooks on laptops, tablets, and phones by installing free apps available from Amazon .

 

Use the Look Inside! feature at Amazon for a sample.

 

Please feel free to to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available.
You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Quiz Book: CMMI® – DEV (V1.3) available on Amazon Kindle – with 3 Quizzes of 35 questions each

Quiz Book: CMMI® - DEV (v1.3) Book Cover

Title: Quiz Book: CMMI® – DEV (v1.3)

Authors: Rajesh Naik and Swapna Kishore

ASIN: B00IWJIWJM

This eBook includes 3 tests, each with 35 objective-type questions.

These quizzes are suitable for:

  • Process/ Quality Assurance/ EPG/ PEG professionals
  • CMMI® – DEV specialists, consultants, and trainers
  • Appraisal Team Members (ATMs)
  • Candidate lead appraisers and instructors
  • Process compliance auditors

The Kindle eBook is available here: Amazon.com and Amazon.in

Note: You can read Kindle eBooks on laptops, tablets, and phones by installing free apps available from Amazon .

 

Use the Look Inside! feature at Amazon for a sample.

 

Please feel free to to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available.
You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper” by John Allen Paulos

This is the book from which I had adopted two puzzles that I used in the last few posts.

A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper Cover

Title A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper: Making Sense of Numbers in the Headlines
Author John Allen Paulos
Publishing Date 1995
Publisher First by Basic Books, then by Penguin
Formats Available Paperback, Kindle
Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart.

Here is an example of mistaken precision quoted in the book:

“…museum guard who claimed the dinosaur on exhibit was 65,000,038 years old. When pressed about the precision of the number, the guard says that a scientist told him the dinosaur was 65 million years old when he was hired 38 years before”

In this book, John Allen Paulos takes us through the various sections of the newspapers and explains how math and numbers are key elements behind every story that we read. The book is quirky, perceptive, and uses a ‘light’ approach. Each chapter is very short (about 2 to 3 pages) and covers one topic or one segment of the newspaper. He keeps using analytical thinking and logic together with numbers and simple formulae to keep us hooked. Surprisingly, I found that the longer chapters were more engrossing than the shorter ones.

There are sections on population, taxes, horoscopes, sports, literacy, SAT scores, gender issues, rodent population, rate of technological changes, health care plans, drug approvals, the super collider, and other such topics that we read in the newspapers every day.

Here is something I found interesting in his coverage on obituaries:

“I wonder about the relationships among the obituary’s length, L; the deceased’s achievements, A; his or her fame, F (which is largely independent of achievement); the interval between these and death, I; and the number of other “important” deaths that day, D. Maybe it’s something roughly like L = (A X FXF)/ Sqrt (I X D)….”

Another interesting concept was how minor differences between two populations can seem huge when we consider the behaviour at the extremes of the populations. For example, if we compare student admission percentages to top colleges across different communities, we may find that a minor difference in education levels in the two communities can result in huge differences in the number of admissions, because we are looking at the extremely talented population of both communities.

And through many examples, he illustrates that human beings do not have an intuitive grasp of probability. For example, we are likely to get many continuous sequences of heads (or tails) in real flips of a coin, than we expect (we expect the results to keep changing from head to tail more frequently).

Having read this delightful book, I think I will end up applying a bit more critical thinking to newspaper articles I read from now on…

About the author

John Allen Paulos is an American professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Professor Paulos is famous for his work on mathematical literacy and illiteracy.

Other books by Paulos are Innumeracy, Mathematics and Humor, Irreligion, I Think, Therefore I Laugh, Beyond Numeracy, A Mathematician Plays The Stock Market, and Once Upon A Number.

You can also view this rather long video where the author talks about randomness and many mistakes we make while dealing with it (uploaded on youtube):

If the clip does not load click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__-S2WXmJwU

The book is available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart.

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “Made To Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The messages from this book have ‘stuck’ to me over seven years. I remember this book very well and have been implicitly and explicitly guided by concepts that I learnt when I read the book long ago.

The authors have managed to implement what they are trying to teach :-)!

The full title of the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck – makes the intent of the authors very clear. It is about conveying ideas and messages more effectively to achieve whatever you are trying to achieve Anyway, here is a passage from the Introduction of the book:

“We wrote this book to help you make your ideas stick. By ‘stick’, we mean that your ideas are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact – they change your audience’s opinions and behavior.”

 — Introduction: What Sticks? – Made to Stick

Details of Made to Stick

Made to Stick Book Cover
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck

Authors: Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Publishing Date: 2007

Publisher: Arrow Books

Formats Available In: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

This book is an entertaining, practical guide to effective communication. Extremely well-written, it uses the principles that are proposed in the book for effectively making ideas stick with the audience. It continues with the idea of ‘stickiness’ earlier popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point.

The book contains a number of examples, cases, urban legends, personal stories, and analysis that are used to support the principles of effective communication proposed by the authors. The “Clinic” in each Chapter is used to illustrate the application of the principles discussed to a specific case study or idea.

According to the book, there are six principles of effective communication that combine to form the acronym SUCCES (the last S from “success” is absent). These six principles are:

  • Simplicity. Strip an idea to its core. Keep prioritizing the ideas till you have something simple and profound.
  • Unexpectedness. Use surprise to grab the audience’s attention.
  • Concreteness. Avoid the abstract. Avoid ambiguity. Use vivid images.
  • Credibility. Use whatever will make people believe in the idea. This could be the ‘messenger’ or the way the message is conveyed. (“For instance, if you have the security contract for Fort Knox, you are in the running for any security contract“)
  • Emotional. Form an association between something they do care about to connect to things they don’t yet care about. (The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments – ‘the world’s best seed!’ – that they forget to tell us why we should buy it  – ‘to have the world’s best lawn!‘)
  • Stories. People remember stories compared to abstract messages. (For example, Subway used the story of a man who lost a lot of weight while eating their diet sandwich instead of providing data on calories and fat content of the sandwich).

There are over a hundred examples of successful messaging to illustrate each of the six principles. The book is extremely easy to read and difficult to put down once you start.

I strongly recommend at least one read of the book to following professionals – they can keep the principles in mind while crafting messages and campaigns:

  • Executive management
  • Marketing/ sales folks
  • HR Policy makers
  • Consultants/ Trainers
  • People trying to handle change management

The book is available in multiple formats at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart. The book should be equally readable in all the formats – I read the paperback format.

About the authors

Chip Heath is a Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. His research examines why certain ideas – ranging from urban legends to folk medical cures, from Chicken Soup for the Soul stories to business strategy myths – survive and prosper in the social marketplace of ideas.

Dan Heath is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports entrepreneurs who are fighting for social good.

Chip and Dan Heath have jointly co-authored another book Switch: How to change things when change is hard.

You can also view this 4:44 min video where the authors Chip and Dan Heath are being interviewed (uploaded on youtube):

If the clip does not load click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zlld9TA-Vg

The book is available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

Quick Quiz

In the two you tube clips below, can you figure out which of the principles of SUCCES are most prominently used?

Clip-1: Series of “You Don’t Mess With Texas” ads used to address littering in the state of Texas with celebrities conveying the message

If the clip does not load, use http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYp1gc5joQg&list=PLilaP-sCTPd2aCHcVHdnNpNT7AXXKXxO5

Clip-2: A “Belt Up” ad that won a lot of awards

If the clip does not load, use http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ2EKswyTao

Please use the comment feature below to send in your responses.

Other Book Reviews

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Book Review – “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz

I had read this book around four years ago, and had liked it. So posting a review of the book on this blog has been on my list for a while now.

The full title of the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (How the Culture of Abundance Robs Us of Satisfaction) makes the author’s thesis / proposal pretty clear. Anyway, here is a passage from the book that contains the key theme:

“Freedom and autonomy are critical to our well-being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefitting from it psychologically.”

Chapter 5- The Paradox of Choice

This engagingly written, semi-academic book on consumer psychology brings in new insights into impact of excessive choices available to consumers in terms of speed of decision making (and whether a decision is made at all), and the statisfaction with the decision after it is made. The book also looks at two types of people – the ‘maximizers’ and the ‘satisficers’ in the context of decision making (when faced with many choices).

The gist is as follows:

  • The universal assumption that more choice is always better is not correct.
  • When people are given too many choices, they get paralyzed and often don’t make any decision. Shwartz quotes multiple studies to support his theory.
    [One such example: At a luxury food store, researchers set up a table offering samples of jam. Sometimes, there were six different flavors to choose from. At other times, there were 24. People could taste the jam before they purchased it. The sales when there were six flavours to choose from were singnificantly higher than when there were 24 flavours (subsequently there have been doubts expressed on the design of the experiment, sampling and possibility of random variation and other factors that may explain the difference)]
  • When we make a decision after evaluating many choices, we are more likely to be unhappy/ anxious about our decision, than if we had fewer choices to evaluate.
    [Example: Students from a photography course were allowed to keep one of their prints. Half of the students were later allowed to change the print they had earlier selected, the other half were not given such a choice. Even though very few of the students who were permitted a trade actually exchanged the print they had had earlier selected, the group that was not given an option to trade was happier with their print than the group that was given a second choice]
  • Decison making is a stressfull process, and when there are too many choices, the stress and anxiety levels increase (reviewer’s note: maybe that is why pre-plated meals are so popular!), during the decision making process and after it.
  • There are two types people – the ‘maximizers’ and the ‘satisficers’.
  • Maximizers try to take the best decision, and they try to make sure that they have evaluated all possible options. Maximizers tend to be slow in decision making and are more anxious about their choice even after the decison is made.
  • Satisficers make their decision as soon as they find an option that is satisfactory and stop looking at other choices. They normally do not keep validating that their decision was the right one. They are less stressed during and after their decision making.
  • Shwartz also provides some practical steps to derive more satisfaction from the choices that we make.

The book presents a new way of looking at decision making. Though availability of choices is empowering to the decision maker, too many choices are paralyzing, time-consuming, stressful, and eventually disatisfying. Excessive choices is a phenomenon of the developed nations in the West and this phenomenon is slowly spreading to all parts of the world. Shwatrz makes a plea to increase the choices for ‘have nots’ and reduce them for the ‘haves’, so that everyone is happier. The book does not say how to determine the right number of choices.

The book is written in a mix of academic and racy/ popular styles. Also, many of the concepts are repeated with multiple examples. In spite of that the book is engrossing and engaging.

I strongly recommend at least one read of the book to following professionals – they can keep the principles in mind while providing choices to their managers, staff, and customers:

  • Product and service designers
  • Process designers
  • HR Policy makers
  • Marketing/ Sales folk

The book is available in multiple formats (you have to make a decision :-)!) at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart. The book should be equally readable in all the formats – I read the paperback format.

About the author

Barry Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. In addition to the Paradox of Choice, he has authored/ co-authored many other books like Psychology of Learning and Behavior and The Costs of Living. He frequently publishes editorials in the New York Times applying his research in psychology to current events.

Here are some details, if you want to get a copy of the book:

Paradox of Choice Book Cover
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (How the Culture of Abundance Robs us of Satisfaction)

Author: Barry Schwartz

Publishing Date: 2004

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Formats Available In: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

You can also view this 20 min video where the author Barry Schwartz explains the concepts in the book in his TED talk (uploaded on youtube):

The book is available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

Quiz Book: CMMI® – SVC (V1.3) available on Amazon Kindle – with 3 Quizzes of 35 questions each

Quiz Book: CMMI® - SVC (v1.3) Book Cover

Title: Quiz Book: CMMI® – SVC (v1.3)

Authors: Rajesh Naik and Swapna Kishore

ASIN: B00EIC3WEW

This eBook includes 3 tests, each with 35 objective-type questions.

These quizzes are suitable for:

  • Process/ Quality Assurance/ EPG/ PEG professionals
  • CMMI® – SVC specialists, consultants, and trainers
  • Appraisal Team Members (ATMs)
  • Candidate lead appraisers and instructors
  • Process compliance auditors

The Kindle eBook is available here: Amazon.com and Amazon.in

Note: You can read Kindle eBooks on laptops, tablets, and phones by installing free apps available from Amazon .

[These quiz products have been built with valuable inputs from Prakash Hegde, Atanu Das, D Sankararaman, Neha Chouhan, Chinmay Pradhan, Channaveer Patil, and V Seshadri]

 

Use the Look Inside! feature at Amazon for a sample.

 

Please feel free to to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature available.
You may also forward the link to this post to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested.

Notes:

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author of this post :-).


I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.