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What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom about Management
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What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom about Management

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  75 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
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
ebook, 241 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by Harvard Business School Press (first published June 1st 2007)
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Sep 04, 2008 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
According to Pfeffer, there seem to be three themes that unify many of the ideas he shares in this volume: “(1) the importance of considering feedback effects – the ideas that actions often have unintended consequences; (2) the naïve, overly simplistic, almost mechanical models of people and organizations that seem to dominant both discourse and practice; and (3) the tendency to overcomplicate what are often reasonably straightforward choices and insights.” Pfeffer provides an abundance of examp ...more
May 18, 2013 JP rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of distinct lessons was a very readable format on a long car trip with kids. I've always enjoyed organizational behavior topics and Pfeffer's background at Stanford gives him a rich set of examples to leverage. He organizes the lessons into three categories: failure to consider unintended consequences, reliance on naive theories of behavior, and ignorance of obvious answers. The range of points doesn't combine into a unified framework, but it's not intended to do so. These are th ...more
Feb 09, 2011 Eyad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t like this book….I loved it. It provides a lot of examples of the traps, mistakes and worst practices of management and suggested corrective actions. What I liked the most about this book is the way it was written. Each chapter is a quick-read (4-5 pages) based and has nothing to do with other chapters! In other words, you don’t need to read the book from cover to cover. You can select the chapter that you are interested in and just read it. It could be used as a resource for managers to ...more
I don't typically read management books but a recent course I went on made me start thinking about what it meant to lead and developing one's management style. The nice thing about Pfeffer's book is that you don't have to read it in order. You're meant to dip into whichever chapter interests you and go from there. Overall, a short snappy read with some interesting anecdotes from diverse sources such as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Jack Valenti, IDEO and Singapore Airlines. Not everything is go ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Abhishek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Ironically those who really should read this book are unlikely to and those who do will find themselves already aligned with its line of thinking. The book would appeal to the conscientious reader who perseveres to connect their immediate actions to long term implications toward the well being of all - the individual, the organization, the community. Though all should read this book to get fresh perspective on things the one who will benefit most is one striving to determine the right action in ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stadford business school professor challenges a number of eleemtns of business "conventional wisdom," including the ideas that technology trumps people, that downsizing the work force and decreasing employee benefits are the best way to cut costs, that one should never admit one's mistakes, and that unions are necessarily bad for the bottom line. Well-reasoned and documented and thought-provoking.
Krishna Kumar
Maybe it is because I have been reading a lot of Pfeffer and Sutton books, but this book didn't do as much for me as their previous ones. Perhaps it is because much of the same ground is addressed in the other books. And also the devil's advocate approach to some issues felt less analytical than a rationalization of certain viewpoints. The authors would have been better advised to include a better critique of opposing viewpoints.
Ed van der Winden
Sep 05, 2012 Ed van der Winden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short essays which touch on all of Pfeffers themes and ideas. Because other books I've read of him are sometimes a llittle too long and contain too many examples for my taste, this book is the perfect summary of his work. If you have this book you can skip a lot of the others!
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Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or co-author of thirteen books including The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First; Managing with Power; The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action; Hidden Value: How Great ...more
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