A conversational and often humorous journey that reminds, strengthens, or for some, introduces to readers for the first time what it means to think clearly, rationally, effectively (in other words) critically, about business – and also about life.
Through a clear presentation of ideas and plenty of honest anecdotes, the book walks the reader from the basics of clear thinking to a discussion of business fundamentals, the reason they exist, and why it’s important to know them – of course, that is only if you are hoping to succeed at what you do. Then, with the simpler concepts understood, more complex ideas are discussed to show how coherent and consistent thinking can lead to well-reasoned and effective actions (yes, it really is possible). Readers then test their new skills by learning to write (painful but necessary) before tackling what it truly means to think through a full strategy. Finally, all these ideas are placed smack dab in the market – that is, into the mercurial world of business: the most complex game ever devised on this planet.
[I’ve been frequently asked what led to this book. After 30 years in the making, the answer seems simple: My focus on the topic of critical thinking in business, about which I’ve taught, lectured, and written extensively, was the unexpected but – in hindsight – natural result from my many years of studying philosophy, reporting and writing on business, and working in various senior positions at a couple huge banks. Whether applying the lessons of John Kenneth Galbraith’s book Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went and Plato’s Republic to the college course I took in Macroeconomics, or struggling to think of the most important couple questions to ask a bank chairman and how to sum up the fiscal crisis in just a few sentences, or working to design, market and sell products when expanding an international business – each of these called for the most rigorous critical thinking. I’ve not always succeeded as well as I wished. But it became clear over time that each of them shared parallels and similarities that could be developed, practiced and effectively taught. They were skills needed for any business, whether as owner or employee, and in most ways they were not substantially different than any approach we need take to create a good life. The task, then, was to structure a means for taking others on this journey, not merely through static definitions and theory, but through examples and anecdotes to which they can relate so as to open their thinking and help them develop this skill.]