Executive Instinct: Managing the Human Animal in the Information Age
by Nigel Nicholson, Crown Business, 280 pages, $25.00 Hardcover, November 2000, ISBN 0812931971
When I started Jack Covert Selects I promised myself that I would only write and talk about books I liked and got excited about. Well, once again I have broken a promise I made to myself. This book is a fascinating look at managing people in modern organizations in a very unconventional way. Executive Instinct is a book that has caused me to think about some very fundamental issues in a different light. The author is at the forefront of a new field called Evolutionary Psychology. That field believes that we are struggling with the complexities of modern life and the modern organization with our brain hardwired to Stone Ages. Issues like gossip is bad, he believes that gossip is an essential feature of all human communities and cannot be eliminated from business. Also Boundaryless organizations are good, The author believes "people will always need contexts in which they can work and interact face-to-face. Many traditional forms of organization will persist for this reason."
I really got hocked on the book by reading his foreword. He uses a mugging incident to illustrate many of his points. Points like emotion before reason, confidence before realism, etc. A couple other premises are: We often put confidence before realism and ignore clues of impending disaster (been there, done that) and that some people just aren't born to be leaders. He also uses the Baring's Bank failure in 1995 as an example of his beliefs in action. He breaks down the actions of Nick Leeson of Berings and shows how his actions apply to the author's beliefs.
One of my best books of all time is a book called The Age of Unreason
by Charles Handy. It took me awhile to assimilate and appreciate the brilliance of that book. I have a feeling that this book will be the same. It may take a rereading to digest it completely. Reading the book has shown me that managing needs to take into account human nature to succeed and that Nicholson's approach has quite a bit of intuitive logis to it.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.