Review of The Radical Edge
by Steve Farber, Kaplan, April 2006
I read a lot of non-fiction, and I don't usually have much patience for business books written as stories. In fact, I wasn't sure what word to use to describe the genre until I looked up Farber's other book after reading this one. Ah, here we go: business fable. Also known as writing 150 pages of story to deliver 11 pages of ideas.
I came into this book cold. I didn't know anything about Farber. I hadn't read The Radical Leap. (Aside: When you take a Radical Leap
over the Radical Edge
, do you fly, or do you crash to the Radical Ground?) And I started with very low expectations of getting any useful substance from the book.
One thing about the business fable style: it's quick and easy to read. You can start it before takeoff on the East Coast and finish it before landing on the West Coast (eastbound, you might need to start in the waiting area). I read it in one evening at home. The characters are fun, the story is engaging, and Farber slides some interesting ideas in there, too. You can tell when he's getting to the point, because he's also a fan of capitalizing his Big Ideas. The thing is, the story really works to illustrate the specific techniques and thought processes. You could describe them in a few pages (which he does at the end of the book), but the story really does help them sink in.
The message of The Radical Edge is pretty simple: pay attention to the world around you, know what you're really about, and change the world. Oh, and it involves using a notebook. The ideas (and techniques) are few and deceptively simple, but they just might have the potential to lead to powerful change. As with any Big Think book, the results depend on what you do with what you learn.
I ended up liking The Radical Edge, and I'm going to try some of his ideas.
Reviewed by Nathan Gilliatt