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Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons fromthe Latest Brain Science Paperback – April 27, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Jacobs, founder of the Amherst Consulting Group and managing partner of One Eighty Partners, debunks management myths in this provocative, counterintuitive volume, demonstrating how relying on emotions—rather than logic—leads to better business decisions. Jacobs draws on the latest research showing that positive and negative reinforcement don't improve performance, quantifiable objectives cause workers to fixate on the short term and sacrifice long-term focus and certain common management practices produce the opposite of the intended effect. He examines the limitations of current organizational strategy in light of brain science, using layman's language to map out how the brain interprets experience and responds to feedback, reward and punishment. He asserts that organizations that are able to apply brain science to their businesses will have a decided advantage over the competition, and he shows how his findings can enhance performance at every level of a company. Well argued and substantiated, this book turns prevalent management theory on its head and will have lasting impact on how it is taught in business schools and implemented in organizations. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Jacobs suggests that the latest developments in brain science transform our understanding of the way people think and behave, contending that emotions rather than logic lead to better business decisions. Each of us sees the world differently, with a wide range of views about everything, and hence direct actions do not create the desired results sought from employees. We learn “the management revolution is about no longer forcing people to do things but encouraging them.” Stories affect change and the transformational leader creates a story about the kind of change necessary to align the needs of employees with those of the organization. With that story, individuals understand that the changes are necessary to meet their personal desire to be part of something bigger than themselves and realize their fullest potential. Not everyone will agree with Jacobs, but he presents thought-provoking insight from new developments in brain research combined with his broad experience as a consultant to major corporations. It is a must-read for managers and aspiring managers. --Mary Whaley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591843375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591843375
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,333,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Walter H. Bock on July 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw heard about the book, Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons from the Latest Brain Science, I got excited. There's been a lot of research in the last decade about how we perceive the world and how our sensory systems and brains work. I expected the book to be about what we've learned.

The subtitle and publicity material make some very provocative claims. We're told that "feedback doesn't work" and that "setting measureable objectives often backfires on managers" to name two. I expected the book to support those assertions.

But this book doesn't do either of those things. Instead it's filled with selectively chosen research that is more from the last century than the latest brain research.

The author claims that "feedback doesn't work." The way he supports that assertion seems characteristic of the book.

To quote the book:"a landmark study at General Electric found that the company's performance appraisal system didn't work, it produced results that were virtually the opposite of what was intended."

First, it's not a "landmark study" within any common meaning of the term. The article is cited only six times in scholarly literature

The researchers did not study feedback. They studied the performance appraisal system in place at GE. Their comments on feedback were about feedback as delivered in an annual performance appraisal and a system where it was common that the annual appraisal was the only time a worker received feedback. GE has since changed this procedure in several ways.

The study (named "Split Roles in Performance Appraisal") was based on the analysis of less than one hundred questionnaires. Not a real big or broad sample.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read several books by some of the authors that Jacobs cites (Dawkins, Dennett, Cialdini). I do applaud Jacobs for being well-read. And I do congratulate him on writing a book...to which many of us aspire to do. Beyond that, Jacobs as a consultant does a poor job as Jacobs as a scientist. The title and subtitle of this book make bold claims; the body of the book doesn't reveal any surprising lessons as most of the data/knowledge is stuff we have already learned. The sub-headings in each of the chapters were distracting and didn't necessarily tie into cohesive agruments of the chapter. The linking of brain science to Jacobs' claims and examples were weak, at best. I'm not a big fan of linking fiction to science. Jacobs consistently talks about Odysseus and Shakespearean characters like Henry V. To Jacobs credit, he does acknowledge that fiction isn't scientific, yet he continues to use fictional characters throughout his book as examples.

I am also reading Daniel Kahneman's latest book "Thinking, Fast & Slow". You will get a ton more insights about how to manage from Kahneman's book than this painful read by Jacobs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book provided a good connection between:
1. The idea of everyone having a different mental model of the world and the need to try and understand others mental models
2. The power of stories and metaphors to influence and create a shared narrative.

The author oversold the idea of this being a new paradigm and the value of advances in neuroscience. People have been using story telling for thousands of years and the best leaders understand this. Still, it was worth reading about as a reminder.

I would like to have seen the author present more collaborating evidence of this approach being a paradigm shift. Also, I felt the book could have been better organized.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A refreshing look at an alternative to the current management techniques employed by most organizations especially those that are publically held. There always seems to be amazement on the part of management when things don't go as planned and equal amazement on the part of those closest to the action that there was ever the expectation that things would go anywhere near as planned given the disconnect between the assumptions behind the plan and reality. Although the new proposed approach is rooted in science, upon reading one is prompted to say "of course - it is common sense". I hope more companies read and adopt the thinking put forward in this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was amazing! I've read it twice. I always read great books for a second time a few years after the first reading; it was just a great the second time!

I love neuroscience, psychology, management, leadership, and marketing books. If you love these things then this is the book for you. This book sits on my small shelf of favorites.
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Format: Hardcover
This book applies neuroscience research to the field of management.

The trend in business has been toward making data-driven decisions, but Charles Jacobs explains why using only the logical side of our brain would lead to myopic decisions. Fortunately, the prefrontal cortex is connected to the amygdala, the portion of the brain which deals with emotion and memory, and this helps us make judgments based on previous experience. This reminded me of what Jack Welch has written about managing from the gut, which Welch says is basically pattern recognition.

Most of the book is about managing people. Jacobs shows how extrinsic rewards can diminish intrinsic motivation. This is consistent with the writings of the late quality-guru W. Edwards Deming.

Rather than trying to manage behavior, it is more effective to "change the thinking that drives the behavior." Jacobs explains that stories are a much more effective way to shape thinking than a logical argument. "The most successful CEOs I've ever worked with... convey a narrative about what they're trying to do with their business that gets me as excited as they are."

Jacobs also has some interesting insights on conflict and dissonance. "We should think about actively seeking out dissonance. It is dissonance that teaches us and changes the way we think... [However,] we should also accept that no one ever wins an argument." He encourages the use of questions to resolve conflict.

On page 139 the author describes an experiment with a dolphin conducted by Gregory Bateson. On subsequent pages, the animal is sometimes referred to as a porpoise and other times a dolphin--a bit sloppy with the facts for a nonfiction book which claims to be based on science.
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