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10/20/2013

Be Careful Who You Trust

We read a lot at OA.  For a business person reading is strength training.  The right books will challenge your existing beliefs and make you refine or discard them.   In the past few months there have been a few authors who really have challenged us:

In today's world there is a tendency for much of one's reading to consist of tweets, blog posts and web pages.  For the most part, this type of reading won't fundamentally change your way of thinking. A book with an original point of view, and in particular an irreverent point of view, will teach you something even if you can't get your arms around everything the author says.

What these books have in common is that their authors do not accept conventional wisdom or popular business icons.   We can't do justice to what these authors have said in detail so we advise you to read their work. One thing we can suggest right now is to discard the notion that a popular Twitter feed is where you can really learn important fundamental ideas.  Some things just don't change.  People who write books, big thoughtful books, still demand our attention whether or not they blog or tweet.  

These authors will fundamentally challenge whose wisdom you should trust.  The authors slaughter the sacred cows - McKinsey and Company, the Boston Consulting Group, the banking industry, the entire profession of academic economists, Tom Peters, Jim Collins, and anyone who thinks they can make reasonable predictions about the future.  

They give you a new appreciation for the hard thinking style of a philosopher, and the analytical skills of a careful statistician.  Understanding the fundamentals of probability and statistics is an incredibly important skill many of us don't apply very well.

We think these books can help with big decisions because they teach skepticism in the extreme. Accept nothing and follow your instincts when things don't make sense.   If something doesn't smell right think hard about the possibility that there is something seriously wrong no matter what the reputation is of the person or firm saying it.

 

 

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