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Books: What Were They Thinking?

What Were They Thinking?
Unconventional Wisdom About Management
by Jeffrey Pfeffer (2007)

This is an excellent airplane book, one I enjoyed on a flight to the west coast from my home in North Carolina. Comprised of 28 short chapters, Pfeffer covers a breadth of topics from creating effective workplaces, to rethinking organizational strategy, to policies regarding unions, executive pay, and ethics. Although brief, his articles give one meaty concepts to ponder, grounded by clear examples. “Pick people for what they can do, not what they may have done,” he tells us in one chapter. In another we are reminded that the most powerful way to build influence remains face-to-face human communication.

Pfeffer’s wisdom is unconventional, with a preponderance of common sense that is often lacking in organizations both great and small. The author says in his introductory chapter that he focuses on “common mistakes I see in how companies manage their people and their business, and also on how to do things better.” I found the book informative, engaging, and encouraging.

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