Book notes: The Halo Effect

Illustration from the book cover, Simon & Schuster

If you have spent any time at all in the world of business, you will have come across different books that claim to have insight into how you can run your business better, be a better manager, and be more successful.

We’ve all read a lot of these books, and many of them suffer from different problems.  Often when I finish a book I can’t help but wonder things like:

  • “I just read that whole book, but it should have been a blog post… which could have been summarized in a paragraph” – sometimes a core idea gets expanded beyond its capacity, just to fill pages and justify the sale of a book.  Reading 250 pages for something that should have been 20 can be irritating.
  • “Did the authors run a study just to write a book? What were their motivations for their research?” – having quality data underpin any claim is a good thing, but the sources and motivations behind any studies and their accompanying data should be considered.
  • “Those conclusions sure felt forced… as if there was a point that the author wanted to make, and they were cherry-picking supporting information to get there” – sometimes it feels like the authors did a lot of jumping to conclusions, and you don’t come away with a lot of confidence that what you read is as applicable as the authors want you to think.

When I read The Halo Effect… and the Eight Other Delusions that Deceive Managers, it helped me put a finger on some of the uncertainty I felt when reading many popular business books and provided a framework to think more critically about the advice I hear or read.

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