What Were They Thinking: Unconventional Wisdom About Management

Book cover for What Were They Thinking

What Were They Thinking: Unconventional Wisdom About Management

Harvard Business School Press, 2007

Every day companies and their leaders fail to capitalize on opportunities because they misunderstand the real sources of business success.

Based on his popular column in Business 2.0, Jeffrey Pfeffer delivers wise and timely business commentary that challenges conventional wisdom while providing data and insights to help companies make smarter decisions. The book contains a series of short chapters filled with examples, data, and insights that challenge questionable assumptions and much conventional management wisdom. Each chapter also provides guidelines about how to think more deeply and intelligently about critical management issues. Covering topics ranging from managing people to leadership to measurement and strategy, it’s good organizational advice, delivered by Dr. Pfeffer himself.

Selected Editorial Reviews
In 28 succinct chapters, Pfeffer provides a kind of alternative MBA in how not to run a business. While this may not be a book you would want to sit down and read from cover to cover - we can only take so much reality - its thematically grouped chapters would serve as a useful crib whenever you are faced with apparently insoluble management dilemmas.
Stefan Stern, Financial Times, July 17, 2007
I love this book because it is so much like sitting down and talking with him. It contains a series of "rational rants" -- that is how I think of Pfeffer, an emotional and persuasive person, but one whose passions are driven by evidence and logic ... his opinions on everything from stock options, to incentive pay, to leadership, to the suspect monetary value of most MBA degrees, to the sometimes questionable ethics of Stanford MBAs are filled with stories and passion, Jeff's grasp of evidence and logic is always present ... although his ideas may strike some people as unconventional, what Pfeffer is doing is toppling the dangerous half-truths and total nonsense that so many people believe with facts -- which are wrapped in vivid examples so you can remember them and figure out how to use them..." ... What distinguishes Jeff from other star academic organizational theorists, however, is that he uses so much of this academic knowledge to influence what organizations and their managers actually do ... ... If you want to read something by one of the greatest organizational theorists, if you want to be entertained, if you want to confront some good ideas that will make you squirm, and that might just cause you to change how you manage for the better, What Were They Thinking? is the book for you ...
Bob Sutton's Blog
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