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Do Lunch or Be Lunch: The Power of Predictability in Creating Your Future Hardcover – October 1, 1997

2.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Everything we do is aimed at the future. Like our ancestors who millions of years ago took it upon themselves to do lunch instead of be lunch, the better we are at evaluating all possible futures, the better our future will be. Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson argues that predictability is a core human need and the more predictable we can make ourselves, the better we'll be able to predict our future and the futures of those around us.

Do Lunch or Be Lunch is a counterweight to the management trends that have swept business in the last few years. Trends such as reengineering, downsizing, and maximizing shareholder value will in most cases not be successful because they are fundamentally unpredictable for employees and employers alike. On the other hand, the more predictable a company can make itself, the more effective it will be. Stevenson peppers the book with his observations that come from his experience as an entrepreneur and founder of several businesses as well as his tenure on the board of directors for over 25 companies.

From Library Journal

In a refreshingly humanistic approach to economic forecasting, Stevenson (mathematics, Harvard Business Sch.) demonstrates how people must work together toward their common good to survive and prosper. From primitive hunting-and-gathering communities whose members can literally be eaten to modern business conglomerates where divisions can be consumed, the need for predictability is a powerful force for action and inaction, states the author. Using examples from law, religion, and mythology, Stevenson dispels the idea that efficient economic models can predict complex outcomes with certainty. However, he does show how we can as individuals and organizations create more predictable environments by recognizing the interconnectivity of our behavior. Highly entertaining, his work is a welcome addition to economics, business, and ethics collections in public and academic libraries.?Robert L. Balliot Jr., East Greenwich Free Lib., R.I.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875847978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875847979
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,190,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Stevenson captures a little discussed but wildly important business phenomenon; the power of predictability in relationships of all types. Written in an egaging, easy-to-read style, his freewheeling text covers everything from the stone age to contemporary conflicts. Very provocative, because it distills so much into one, powerful idea. Much more useful than most quick-fix books.
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Format: Hardcover
Howard Stevenson has identified one of the most powerful undercurrents of human relationships; predictability. I will admit that I read this book because I already knew him, but then found that the material pulled me in. As an entrepreneur, I had to convince many people to follow my ideas and plans. Although I prided myself on my sales skills, I was still sometimes humbled that people would trust me with hundreds of thousands or millions of their dollars. Do Lunch or Be Lunch helped me to understand how predictability impacted those decisions. It takes the lid off of one of the key ingredients to how people make decisions whether they relate to work, investments, love, or anything. Humans are constantly assessing and guessing their futures. If their future depends on you, it is wise to be honest, open, and easy to predict. By increasing your own predictability, you directly influence the comfort level of those around you. People will take on great hardships and difficulties when they know the risks. As a leader, you don't want to be one of them. This book should be read by managers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who needs to lead people.
-A retired CEO and current Venture Capitalist
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The basic ideas of predictability and projectability as laid out in Do Lunch or Be Lunch are powerful ones. Stevenson makes a very good (and generally overlooked) point about why communities and corporations exist and what they are expected to provide in terms of framework and structure. There are many many companies today that could do with absorbing some of these home lessons. This book is aimed straight at the companies that are so busy maximizing share price that they forget the expectations of workers and customers alike.

The book works best as a kind of system analysis and is least useful when it reaches its chapter on practical tips and models. While some of the models are good, they do not seem to follow as organically as the earlier chapters and felt less relevant than the earlier high level outline of ideas.

The title is unfortunately misleading, leading many to think that this is a book about networking and not predictability. I was also irritated by the footnotes. The footnotes are arranged by chapter number but the header bar in the page only lists the chapter title, so I was forced into some irritating flipping back and forth to find the correct note.

The interesting ideas and high quality writing would make it a book that I would recommend. I suspect that its appeal would be largest to managers, potential entrepeneurs, or strategy consultants.
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Format: Hardcover
More entertaining than informative, the content does not live up to the catchy and appealing title. Surprisingly, there is only one reference in the index to risk, a subject at the heart of predictability. References to Nikita Khrushchev, Richard Nixon, Bob Dole and the Rolling Stones add limited substantive value to the book. Chapter One did wet my appetite, but the rest was disappointing. By far the best book on the history, role and need for predictability I have read to date is Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter Bernstein.
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