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Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely (High Reliability and Crisis Management) Hardcover – October 21, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0804759960 ISBN-10: 0804759960

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Product Details

  • Series: High Reliability and Crisis Management
  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Business Books (October 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804759960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804759960
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A pleasant surprise for anyone frustrated with the way complex problems are misconstrued and dumbed-down in daily life, this challenge from business scholars Mitroff and Silvers goes out to media, higher education, health care, and American institutions ranging from government to celebrity, to demonstrate the relevance of concepts in statistical analysis known as "type three" and "type four" errors. Though they're given to philosophical ranting, the authors never struggle with their complex ideas, keeping the text readable for anyone with problems to solve, resolve, absolve or dissolve (i.e., everyone). Those familiar with statistics will find their frustrations with the false type-one/type-two error dichotomy well articulated and addressed, but the theories will connect with anyone who enjoys thinking outside the box. The pair also advocates a new way of considering problems, not just a way of prioritizing them, demonstrating the necessity of new modes of critical thinking when approaching the orthodoxy of American institutions.

Review

"Ian Mitroff has done it again; He and Abraham Silvers have opened our eyes. Here's a lucid and thoughtful account of why we fail to be adequately lucid and thoughtful—and what we can do about it. Bravo!"
—Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, and author of Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Deomcracy, and Everyday Life


"A bracingly powerful book, which should be required reading for all professionals and experts of every stripe. It will liberate all readers from the tyranny of conventional reasoning. The authors give new meaning to Veblen's classic phrase, "trained incompetence." —-Warren Bennis, University Professor, University of Southern California and co-author of Transparency and Judgment


"Dirty Rotten Strategies is insightful, provocative, and important." —-Karen Armstrong, Best-selling author of The Spiral Staircase


"Ian Mitroff and Abraham Silvers nail one of the most pressing challenges of our time. In a deeper way, they show how we can get so distracted by our assessment of a problem that—no matter how well-executed the solution—it can be a complete waste of time, often making the problem much worse! The "War on Drugs" comes to mind as an example[]This book is a wake-up call for problem solvers."
—John Renesch, futurist and author of Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing


"Mitroff and Silvers suggest that our current challenges are 'wicked problems' that can only be managed by mixing conventional and highly unconventional ways of looking at the world. Incisive and original, Dirty Rotten Strategies demonstrates just how valuable systematic thinking can be in helping America to clean up all of its 'messes.'" —Morley Winograd, Executive Director of the Institute for Communication Technology Management, USC Marshall School of Business and co-author of Millennial Makeover

More About the Author

Ian I. Mitroff is an Adjunct Professor in the College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley. He is also a Senior Investigator in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, University of California, Berkeley. He is Professor Emeritus from the Annenberg School of Communication and the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, where he was the Harold Quinton Distinguished Professor of Business Policy. He is the President of the consulting firm Mitroff Crisis Management. He is regarded as the founder of the discipline of Crisis Management. He was the founder and director of the USC Center for Crisis Management. Known for his thinking and writing on a wide range of business and societal issues, Dr. Mitroff is the author of 30 previous books, including "Swans, Swine, and Swindlers: Coping with the Growing Threat of Mega Messes and Mega Crises," "Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely," "A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America," "Smart Thinking for Crazy Times," "The Essential Guide to Managing Corporate Crisis," "The Unbounded Mind" and "Managing Crises Before They Happen." With his wife Donna Mitroff, his latest book is, "Fables and the Art of Leadership: Bring the Wisdom of Mister Rogers to the Workplace."

Customer Reviews

Type 2 Errors mean that decision makers conclude there is not a meaningful difference when there is.
Laurence J. Stybel
Two succinct points are the following: o People tend to cling very hard to what they already believe or practice. o People really do not want to deal with reality.
cgilbert
Though I generally agree with the authors political leanings, this book was far too simplistic to hold my interest.
Casual Observer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Laurence J. Stybel on November 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
These are two powerhouse authors: Mitroff is one of the great figures of 20th Century organization behavior. He is Visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Abraham Silvers was Associate Professor of Statistics at the Baylor College of Medicine and now provides environmental statistical consulting services.
An interdisciplinary perspective pervades in this book.
If you purchase this book, be aware you are really buying two books. And the title gives away the problem as you will see in this review.
One book is superb.
The superb book is called HOW WE TRICK OURSELVES AND OTHERS INTO SOLVING THE WRONG PROBLEMS PRECISELY. The authors make the case that statistics only looks at Type 1 and Type 2 Errors. Type 1 Errors mean that the decision makers conclude that there is a meaningful difference when there is not. In other words, affirmatively getting the wrong answer. Type 2 Errors mean that decision makers conclude there is not a meaningful difference when there is. In other words, a failure to get it right.
Any leader will have at least an hour worth of Type 1 and Type 2 horror stories. We have all been victims. And we have all been perpetuators.
The authors then introduce a Type 3 Error: precisely solving the wrong problem.
This is a helpful perspective and a valuable one for Boards when they review strategy submitted by the CEO. Instead of asking, "Will it work?"Why not start with "are we looking at the right problem in the first place?"
Because Type 3 errors are part of the human condition, organizations can set up checks and balances to deal with it.
Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lon Roberts - Author "SPC for Right-Brain Thinkers" on March 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Regardless of your political leanings, this is a must-read book for anyone who cares about clear-headed thinking and the ploys that are used to trick us into solving the wrong problems. When "solving the wrong problem" is done unintentionally, the authors refer to this as a Type III error; when it is intentional, they refer to this as a Type IV error.

In essence the book is about qualitative analysis involving high-stakes situations, though the authors don't refer to it as such. It speaks to the logic that is involved (or should be involved) in properly framing and characterizing complex societal problems ... long before the statistician starts crunching numbers. I highly recommend the book to policy makers, decision makers, aspiring statisticians, or anyone, for that matter, who wants to recognize when and how they are being manipulated by politicians, the media, advertisers, think tanks, SIGs, etc. Also, as one who instructs and consults project managers, I believe PMs would benefit from recognizing that many of the requirements-related problems they encounter are essentially Type III errors.

But make no mistake, the authors go after some sacred cows: politics (especially right-of-center politics), the health insurance industry, religion, science, and education. So, you may need to check your sensitivities at the door if you wish to read the book with an open mind.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Casual Observer on May 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In view of the authors' credentials and experience, this book is quite poorly written. It is full of weakly documented assertions - most of which I agree with, but not owing to their logic or evidence. The writing is exceedingly repetitive. And it's laced with numerous irritatingly sophomoric phrases like: "Their views of the world - that is, their worldviews - ..." It would seem that the Stanford Business Books series does not employ professional editors.

The idea that we often tackle the wrong problem and the few insights into why this is the case are valuable offerings. The overly grandiose dubbing of this notion as a Type 3 (and Type 4) error gets to be a bit much, especially after reading "Type 3 error" a few hundred times. In general, this is a book that richly deserves to be a 10-page article.

I saw a CSPAN broadcast of Mitroff's talk to the Commonwealth Club of California, which was pretty interesting. As a result I thought this would be an interesting read. I was quite wrong. It's more of a polemic. Though I generally agree with the authors political leanings, this book was far too simplistic to hold my interest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Eells on July 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Things I liked or thought were well said: the preface, the Armstrong-religion paragraph, the bullet holes story, and others. Things I did not like or thought were not done very well: the analysis of Coca-Cola, the oversimplification of Type Two errors, the roundabout definition of Type Three errors. There are insightful thoughts here and there, but they seem rather too sparse for my taste. I stopped reading after the first two chapters, so maybe it gets better from chapter 3.

This book is good for people who are beginning to realize that there is more to reality than the one touted by governments, public schools, naive adults, and corporations. This book is not for people who can detect "straw man" arguments. This book is also not for people who think too much and spend too much time writing reviews of books.
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