By Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
Review by Graham Seldon
This is the book by the pair who brought Freakonomics to the World four years ago, and it has much the same effect. Essentially this book takes popular conceptions about our understanding of the World and certain situations, and turns it on its head, using data, research and facts.
Some of it is entertaining, and provides good dinner party conversation; such as you are more likely to be killed by an elephant than a shark; whilst other issues explored provide us with a more rounded view of the world like the statistical data around male/female career opportunities (only 2.5% of highest paid executives in USA are women, yet 43% of MBA’s from the nation’s top business schools went to women last year).
This book is useful for anyone working in roles where influencing people to take a course of action (i.e. a marketing or BD strategy) is key to the success of their job. There maybe lessons learned from arming yourself with as much data and information as you can to help change the perception that exists within your firm. For example
- Do you have enough data on clients buying behaviour?
- Do you have compelling facts about your competitor’s market share?
- Do your clients respond to your brand in the way you think they do?
- Did marketing spend translate into fee income?
There are also some statistics that serve as useful analogies for how you position yourself within the firm. For example “Sometimes it pays to be low status. When a family of four goes for a drive, the kids usually get shunted to the backseat…..they are luckier than they know. In the event of a crash, the backseat is far safer than the front”.
The last chapter focuses on climate change and could not be more relevant today, particularly for those of us in Australia where this debate is at the top of the political agenda. Thoughtful and controversial, they authors argue that most pollution is a negative externality of our consumption and that as a population we are not incentivised enough to want to change. “collective behaviour change, as beguiling as they may sound, can be maddeningly elusive”.