Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

130 of 138 people found the following review helpful
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.

This is not "the latest brain science" either. The study in question was reported in the Harvard Business Review issue for January-February 1965.

So the conclusion that "feedback doesn't work" turns out to be based primarily on a small study of one company's performance appraisal system as it existed almost half a century ago.

Other studies are also offered to support this "surprising lesson." There is one by Leon Festinger that is mentioned but not cited. It deals with cognitive dissonance produced when people are paid to lie.

Elliot Aronson is one of the greatest of psychologists. But his studies cited here involve children solving puzzles and playing or not playing with toys based on the reward system used. They don't relate to management and they aren't "the latest brain science."

The author also cites research by George Homans on how people respond when they do not get a reward they expect. Homans says they get angry. This is not exactly cutting edge, either.

So, let's review. The research cited is not "the latest brain science." This is old stuff.

The only study that involves the workplace involves a small sample in one company four decades ago. And the study was on the performance appraisal system, not feedback.

The other studies are the kind of laboratory psychology that is difficult to translate into practical actions you can take in the workplace. Even so, they are selectively quoted. If you read only this book, you would never know that there's a lot of solid academic research that comes to very different conclusions.

Weasel wording abounds in the book. Jacobs says, "Setting measurable objectives often backfires on the manager." But when you read that text it turns out that the real finding is that "setting measurable objectives without team member participation often backfires." Any manager who's ever tried that could have told you.

There are lots of other findings that just don't' seem all that "surprising." Here are some.

"Smaller rewards tend to be more motivational that larger rewards." This is not news. My grandmother knew it which is why she always gave us lots of small presents instead of fewer big ones.

"Being competitive is often the best way to encourage cooperation." This is a workplace staple when one team or shift or plant competes with another.

"Pay increases don't motivate." We've known for decades that for most people most of the time pay is a hygiene factor, not a motivation factor.

There you have it. The "surprising lessons" in this book are only sketchily supported by carefully selected "evidence." Other lessons really aren't that surprising. And only a pinch of those lessons have anything to do with the latest brain science.

Don't waste your time or money on this book.
99 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified 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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Interesting ideas and concepts of neuroscience applied to management and leadership. Lacks significant referenceing for further research.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I, as did several other reviewers, thought this book might be a little deeper in its discussion regarding management and its workings. It can be a little tough to read in some sections. At first I was disappointed with what was presented. However, after I finished the book I began to realize that I actually had started to think defferently about management and how it was to be practiced. It did not give me many case studies and examples as I might have liked, but it does sow enough seeds to get you thinking. The Author even said near the end that these seeds were planted and now it was time for the Reader to find the best way to water and nuture the seeds. It also reinforces that idea that there is no one best way to manage, but there is a preferred methodology of thinking about how to manage.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified 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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified 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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on March 19, 2012
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.

Overall, the book is engaging, thought-provoking, and well presented. And in the author's words, "Just the act of reading this book has rewired your brain and established new neural networks. Continuing to think about the ideas that are in it will develop habits of mind that will make you more effective in both work and life."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Management Rewired" is about making business organizations leverage actual human behavior rather than fight it, written by a management consultant. It strikes what I find a nice balance between practice and theory. It's not just a collection of war stories with no clear connection and no organization. Neither is it one of those "this should work, because our theory predicts it" tracts. It's much more meaty than many "new management" volumes. It doesn't come across as hopelessly starry-eyed, and it doesn't read like the product of a "motivational speaker".

Another way to describe what this book is is to describe what it isn't: If you're looking for a sweeping and comprehensive overview of the last decade of neuroscience, look elsewhere. If you're looking for neuroscience to be the "prime mover/principal motivation" behind everything, look elsewhere. If you're looking for detailed descriptions of experiments including their results, look elsewhere.

One of the book's themes is defined well by the dedication(!): To Jonas, the teacher who taught me the value of ideas, and to my daughters, Julia and Emma, who will only listen to stories. In other words: just marry great ideas to compelling stories, and detailed behaviors will take care of themselves. Another theme is that the competition reacts to us, it doesn't just roll around purposelessly and predictably like a billiard ball. For example if we drop our price, our competition is likely to drop their price too. Yet another theme is the author's thorough trashing of Frederick Winslow Taylor's "scientific management" ("Taylorism"). It badly mis-matches the way humans actually think and behave. Its probable origin from a military analogy was always dubious. It worked fairly well for a while, but it doesn't work very well any more, and we now know of much better ways. Unfortunately Taylorism's theoretical underpinnings survive deeply enmeshed in the very structure of too many business organizations, where rooting them out can be a major task.

The backbone of the book is the "personal guiding philosophy" of the author, which has presumably grown out of his many years of experience. Its presentation is considerably supported by stories from science and history. Much of the science is neuroscience and is recent ...but not all of it. The reproductive behavior of the Acrasiales slime mold appears. George Homans masterwork "The Human Group" from 1950 is mentioned more than once. There's talk of observing Jane Goodall's chimpanzees too. The history often veers into outright myth, and is presented largely as simple story lines and metaphors: The Trojan Horse, The Illiad vs. The Odyssey, Aristotle vs. Socrates, The Battle of Agincourt, etc.

From what I know from other sources, the science is neither grossly misinterpreted nor overly cherry-picked. In fact, the interpretation is pretty mainstream and reasonable. But to be fair, what the book presents isn't the _only_ reasonable way to interpret the science.

Detailed attention by the publisher seems to have been spotty. It's immediately clear just from the Table of Contents that --despite what the subtitle and the publicity say-- neuroscience plays a supporting but not the organizing role. On the other hand typos and misprints are virtually absent. More thorough fact checking might have clarified some murky references and cleaned up a few bloopers. For example although Julian Jaynes (in)famous book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" was clearly influenced by split-brain experiements, it was news to me (and apparently most others too) that he performed those surgeries himself. On the other hand things like good pagesize and margins and typeface make for very easy reading.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The brilliant and absolutely original point of the recently released book "Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons from the Latest Brain Science" by Charles Jacobs is to introduce the role that "story" should play in contemporary management theory and practice.

So, if you are a "smoke stack" 19th century style manager screaming orders at recalcitrant underlings who, for some unfathomable reason (to you), keep failing to implement your vision of robotically goose-stepping off to greater bottom-line efficiency, you'd better get this book. It's going to revise your flat-earth vision and save you from falling off the edge.

But if you are currently getting most of your information off the web,
you have a cell-phone that has more applications than your old desk-top computer, you are completely comfortable in a multi-cultural, global workplace and you're firmly rooted, both technologically and mentally, in the 21st century, you'd better get this book. It's going to do for your career what GPS can do for your car.

Jacobs debunks a bunch of motivational myths that still lurk in the consciousness of us all. Among the most prevalent of these is the old negative reinforcement strategy parodied in the dictum: "the flogging will continue until morale improves." Negative reinforcement produces negative results and Jacobs documents why. Enlightened positive reinforcement techniques? Studies show that even the carrot of salary increase has a limit to its effectiveness. Both the carrot and the stick have been superceded as management tools and neuroscience explains why.

Even the ostensibly neutral mechanism of "feedback," it turns out, is out of date. Try replacing feedback, both positive and negative, with the Socratic method of posing questions to employees. It's the high road to finding out what stories those brain bearing humans you're trying to motivate are telling themselves about their role in the workplace Sounds simple--but before this book, who knew exactly why?

Another key point of the book: Managers should abandon the prima donna conception of self that they lead by the sheer power of their personality. Perhaps some still subscribe to a Dale Carnegiesque strategy of how to win friends and influence people, but Jacobs points out that people ultimately follow story not personality. This book dispels the myth of cult of personality. Spielberg may be a personally charismatic but who among us has ever met him personally? We pay our money to see the work of a master storyteller. Personality may talk but story walks and it's the latter that we follow.

Give people a good story about what they are trying to accomplish and then get out of the way. Jacobs documents how the story motivated person works harder, is more creative and ultimately more dedicated to the task at hand. The scholar Joseph Campbell called it the power of myth; the more commercial minded Hollywood calls it weekend box-office. It's a fact: the most powerful motivational force in human history is story. One need only to look at the great religions or the propaganda practices of the politicians in the media to see that.
Jacobs is on to something.

You think you know what a story is? You probably don't know from the point of view of your brain. The reality, as Jacobs demonstrates, is that story speaks to both halves of our brain: the analytical, logical part which can break things down into component parts ad infinitum and the emotional, intuitive part that needs to see the forest before it counts the trees.

Evolution explains why and that most evolved organ of our body is our brain. Information, as we know in the digital age, may be broken down ad infinitum into binary bits or bites of data. Our brain, however is not a computer; it's more holistic. It intuits the whole rather than bean-counting the sum of the parts. Can you guess what this means? You guessed it--the brain is hard-wired for story. Any soft-ware motivational strategy that ignores this fact just isn't going to run very well is it?

Our brain doesn't need to know every fact about anything to draw conclusions; we do, however, need to know how to organize facts into a greater pattern called the story.

Perhaps the most surprising lesson of "Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons from the Latest Brain Science" by Charles Jacobs is reserved for those non-management employees, that is, for most of us who work for a living.

If your boss is a practitioner of what I call "The Adolph Hitler School of Management," in which your function is to "only follow orders," you should buy this book, read it, and then pass it on the your own personal Adolph. It will provide he / she with a compelling argument of why they should get off your back and stop meddling in the process of doing the job for which you were hired. They may even come to understand why you need to be treated like a competitive, cooperative, and ultimately "human" being. This book will teach them why.

Thinking that a book about neuroscience is going to be something to slog through as you resist the temptation to pick up the guilty pleasure of beach reading this summer? Wrong. It is a great read and doesn't require much of a time commitment either. Jacobs is a consummate storyteller and there is much to learn about the art of telling a story from him.

People should carry around this latest addition to what's really happening in the workplace like the Chinese once carried around Mao's "Little Red Book." It just might cause a revolution in the flagging sagging American capitalist economy that's needed today.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed


Leading Change, With a New Preface by the Author
Leading Change, With a New Preface by the Author by John P. Kotter (Hardcover - November 6, 2012)
$18.61
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.