Top positive review
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sometimes absorbing, sometimes misguided, but overall strongly recommended
on 21 July 2012
A professor of business studies applies his learning and knowledge to the question 'how should we lead our lives?. He is, incidentally, a deeply religious person (a Mormon) and so is very interested in that question anyway.
The book starts from the observation that many colleagues who should have led deeply fulfilling lives have failed to do so. And asks why? We start with some truths that are very elegantly expressed and illustrated that will remain in the memory. First there's the pursuit of money, when this is really a 'hygiene' factor rather than a goal worth pursuing in its own right. Then there's material on the balance to be struck between planned strategies and the opportunities that arise serendipitously - you need to plan, but to be open to experience. Then there's the vexed question of prioritisation and incentives - your prioritisation is shown through your behaviour (what goods do you sell for preference if you are a salesman? what time do you leave the office?) - and your prioritisation reflects your incentives (what does your company reward you to sell?)
The next section, based on the author's knowledge of disruptive innovation, I found the most revealing - you need to invest in new ideas at the right time (you need to invest in your children at the right time), and not throw cash in large measure at it too late. You need to ask yourself about products 'what job are they doing for you?' (and ask 'what job is school doing for your children?' If the answer is 'making them feel successful' realise what the other ways to do this are. Just as if you design a milkshake which people drink in their cars on their commute to the office realise that the rivals are doughnuts, bagels etc as well as other milkshakes).
This is where however, I found the book slowly moved into less plausible translations from business to personal life. In business, if you outsource too much of your own capability, you may be in trouble. Is that really like sending your children to out-of-school activities though? Even more so, in business if you look only at marginal costs you may make the wrong decisions about fight potential disruptive rivals who don't have your sunk costs but do have a lower cost business model. Is this really like deciding not to play basketball on a Sunday because it is against your religious convictions?
So: I didn't believe everything; and some things confirmed my pre-existing convictions. But there was enough that was new to me and totally convincing for me to want to recommend the book strongly to others.