A readable, well-researched work on the factors that make teams succeed.



A business book offers a look at group dynamics in the workplace and beyond.

As Stewart points out in this compact study, humans are hard-wired to work in groups despite instinctively valuing their individuality. Striking this balance can be tricky, as the author acknowledges. When people lose their sense of self and become subsumed in a group, they compensate with greater differentiation. But if they’re too different, they feel an increased desire to belong. “It is a delicate equilibrium,” Stewart writes, and he’s organized his book into a series of maxims and examples designed to help readers in the business world achieve that balance. The examples range from astronauts to executives, with special detail and affection reserved for the world of professional sports, which the author uses to illustrate key rules of group dynamics. “Businesses are following the sports world’s lead by looking at how an individual impacts the team,” he writes. “If someone does not have the best individual performance metrics, yet the team still performs better when they are there, then the person is valuable for team chemistry.” In all of the scenarios he examines, Stewart stresses personality as strongly as he emphasizes functionality, and he takes a hard look at how to assess such a variable: “Your identity comes from the stories you tell yourself daily and is an unreliable indicator of personality.” Throughout the book, the author is a smoothly personable narrator, easily breaking down the wide-ranging research he’s done into clear summaries and knowing applications. His conclusions can sometimes be off-puttingly cold (when he writes admiringly about the cooperation found in ant colonies, for instance, every corporate drone will feel a bit nervous). But his clarity on the subject of what makes teams work well (and what doesn’t) is sharply thought-provoking.

A readable, well-researched work on the factors that make teams succeed.

Pub Date: Dec. 25, 2021

ISBN: 979-8794201505

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Independently Published

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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