From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Author and Harvard business administration professor Tedlow (Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American Business Icon) asserts that "denial goes hand-in-hand with short-term thinking," a problem that arises when a business "that once might have focused on getting the job done now is concerned with getting done with the job." The history of industry is rich with such cases, a number of which Tedlow examines with thorough understanding of both business and psychology: the initial brilliance of Henry Ford's Model T assembly lines gave way to significant setbacks when they failed to take the threat of Europe's radial tires seriously; the "great" grocery chain A&P was sunk by executives who "celebrated the statistics they liked." Tedlow also surveys the "edifice complex," in which struggling but respected companies erect monuments to themselves (like the Sears Tower) rather than tackling real challenges. Contrasting successes include tenacious DuPont, Intel's chief truth-seeker Andy Grove, and Johnson & Johnson, which faced almost insurmountable challenges head-on during the toxic Tylenol crisis. Tedlow discusses ways to overcome the denial inherent to human nature as well as the institutional variety, cautioning against "yes" men, the vocabulary of euphemisms, and trash-talking the competition: "What am I using this derision to hide-perhaps from myself?"
“Richard Tedlow blends historical rigor with practical insights useful to today’s leaders—a rare and wonderful combination. His huge lesson—that the seeds of tragic demise are almost always visible, if only leaders would face them square-on—should terrify any successful person.”—Jim Collins, author Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall
“This lucid and scary history of our proclivity to deny uncomfortable truth is Richard Tedlow at his analytical best. But plan ahead before you pick it up. It is very hard to put down.”—Clayton M. Christensen, Author of The Innovator’s Dilemma
“In this absorbing study, Tedlow makes the case that the willingness to face harsh facts is what distinguishes great leaders from merely adequate ones. A must-read.”—Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
“Tedlow’s book forces the business executive to ask: ‘Is this about me?’ If the answer is yes, you’ve got a problem. The stories presented here can help you work your way out of it.”—Suzy Welch, author of 10-10-10
“Tedlow’s book is a fascinating look at the phenomenon of denial. It’s a great explanation of why smart leaders act dumb, and what you can do about it."—Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert