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The Halo Effect: ... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers Hardcover – February 6, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This tart takedown of fashionable management theories is a refreshing antidote to the glut of simplistic books about achieving high performance. Rosenzweig, a veteran business manager turned professor, argues that most popular business ideas are no more than soothing platitudes that promise easy success to harried managers. Consultants, journalists and other pundits tap scientifically suspect methods to produce what he calls "business delusions": deeply flawed and widely held assumptions tainted by the "halo effect," or the need to attribute sweeping positive qualities to any company that has achieved success. Following these delusions might provide managers with a comforting story that helps them frame their actions, but it also leads them to gross simplification and to ignore the constant demands of changing technologies, markets, customers and situations. Mega-selling books like Good to Great, Rosenzweig argues, are nothing more than comforting, highbrow business fables. Unfortunately, Rosenzweig hedges his own principles for success so much that managers will find little practical use for them. His argument about the complexity of sustained achievement, and his observation that success comes down to "shrewd strategy, superb execution and good luck," may end up limiting the market for this smart and spicy critique. (Feb. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"In "The Halo Effect," Phil Rosenzweig has done us all a great service by speaking the unspeakable. His iconoclastic analysis is a very welcome antidote to the kind of superficial, formulaic, and dumbed-down matter that seems to be the current stock in trade of many popular business books. It's the right book at the right time."-- John R. Kimberly, Henry Bower Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743291255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743291255
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read "Good to Great" and "Built to Last" some years ago because they were bestsellers and had good reviews. Although I did enjoy reading them, a voice in my head kept asking questions regarding the reliability of the research and findings. After reading "The Halo Effect", I was relieved and happy to learn that I am not the only person asking these questions.

The world of business is complicated, uncertain and unpredictable. A company's performance depends upon a variety of factors beyond the actions of its managers. These include currency shifts, competitors' actions, shifts in consumer preferences, technological advances, etc. The first delusion is the Halo Effect, the tendency to look at a company's overall performance and make attributions about its culture, leadership, values, and more. Our thinking is prejudiced by financial performance. In good times, companies are praised and their success is attributed to a variety of internal factors. In bad times, companies are criticized and these factors, which may not have changed, are attributed for the failures. The reality is more complicated and dependent upon uncertain and unpredictable factors.

An interesting section of this book is the one on the delusion of absolute performance. Company performance is relative, not absolute. A company can improve and fall further behind its rivals at the same time. For instance, GM today produces cars with better quality and more features than in the past. But its loss in market share is owed to a myriad of factors, including Asian competitors.

This is an excellent book because it will make you THINK. Is an oil company great if its profits soared when oil prices went up? Can the formulas used by successful companies in the 80s or 90s be applied to guarantee success today?
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Format: Hardcover
This is a rare business and management book. But a warning is in order. It is not intended for those seeking the "secret to success" or the formula to "dominate the market."

Phil Rosenzweig, a professor at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland and strategy consultant, argues that much of business thinking is dominated by nine delusions:

1. The Halo Effect - many performance drivers are simply attributions based on prior performance.

2. The Delusion of Correlation and Causality - Two things may be correlated but we may not know which is the base cause.

3. The Delusion of Single Explanations - Many explanations are highly correlated; the effect of each one is usually less than suggested.

4. The Delusion of Connecting the Winning Dots - It is difficult to isolate the reasons for success. There is no way of comparing them with less successful companies.

5. The Delusion of Rigorous Research - If the data are not good, it does not matter how sophisticated the research methods appear to be.

6. The Delusion of Lasting Success - Almost all high-performing companies regress over time.

7. The Delusion of Absolute Performance - Company performance is relative, not absolute.

8. The Delusion of the Wrong End of the Stick - Highly-focused companies are often successful; yet highly-focused companies are not all successful.

9. The Delusion of Organizational Physics - Despite our quest for certainty and order, company performance does not obey the laws of nature and science.

In his final two chapters, Rosenzweig suggests ways for managers to replace delusions with a more discerning way to understand company performance.

This book carries no promises of success. Rosenzweig guarantees no successful results. He believes, and I agree, that a clear-eyed, critical and thoughtful approach to management is better than the causal tripe that dominates today's business bookshelves.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Halo Effect" may be the last business book you read. Not because it has answers, but because it shows you the answers just aren't there. For you who want Truth about business, this book's for you. If, on the other hand, you find comfort in a good fairy-tale, whose magical "Drink Me" formula takes your business to the Wonderland of business success, you'll find no Magic Mushrooms here.

If you've read many business best-sellers, you may have noticed they all sound the same. And jeez, are they trite. Focus. Treat people well. Be flexible, yet focused. Blah, blah blah. Nice generalities, slightly too vague to mean anything, yet specific enough to sound meaningful. And why are they all the same? Thank The Halo Effect that gives the book its title. The Halo Effect observes that when you ask people about a successful company (or successful leaders) after the success is known, they always give the same explanation: we had great culture, teamwork, focus, flexibility, and people. Thus, after-the-fact interviews are useless in understanding what really makes a business successful, since you can predict in advance what people will say. And they aren't saying it because it's true, they're saying it because of The Halo Effect.

The Halo Effect is the first of the "Business Delusions that Deceive Managers." Actually, the delusions chronicled deceive business _researchers_. Rosensweig travels from In Search of Excellence through Good to Great, mercilessly showing how each book's research is faulty. Very faulty. The books produce $60,000 speaking fees for the authors, but their business advice is dicey at best.

Some Delusions can be fixed by careful researchers. The Halo Effect vanishes when researchers look only at measurable data, rather than subjective reports.
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