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Blindsided

Book Description

Modern management science seeks to streamline and rationalise the business process; to base decision-making on proven facts and to eliminate risk and uncertainty. Unfortunately, businesses are run by human beings and depend on other human beings for their custom. Human beings, it seems safe to say, are irredeemably selfish, greedy, short-sighted and prone to mass delusion. Time and again throughout history, business and society have been blindsided by people's irrational and unpredictable behaviour. And it's not just the consumers: well-respected business executives and their advisors get swept up with euphoria and panic along with the rest of us; they succumb to greed; they fail to plan for likely crises (and sometimes even for inevitable ones). Blindsided looks at the history of such outbreaks of irrational behaviour, at the occurrence of unpredictable but likely events, such as global pandemics and collapses of law and order, and at changes that have caught forecasters by surprise, such as the ageing and declining population of some affluent modern societies. This fascinating book reminds the world of business that it needs to plan for the unexpected, and to realise that neither its consumers nor even its own executives must be expected to act with cool rationality at all times.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Introduction
    1. We Should Have Seen This Coming
    2. Rushes and Booms
    3. Brave New Worlds
    4. Riots and Credit Crunches
    5. Dust Bowls and Plagues
    6. In Search of Self-Knowledge
  6. 1 Sooners, Boomers and Boo
    1. The Race to be First
    2. On the Edge of a New Frontier
    3. Boom, Bubble and Bust
    4. Boo.com
    5. Grow Now, Make Profits Later
    6. A Runaway Locomotive, Fuelled by Banknotes
    7. Hire Now, Ask Questions Later
    8. Miss Boo’s Bad Hair Day
    9. Soft Launch, Hard Landing
  7. 2 Bubbles and Crashes
    1. To Market, To Market
    2. The Rational Market
    3. A Never-Ending Cycle
    4. A Licence to Print Money
    5. House of Cards
    6. A Very Big Baburu
    7. If the Price is Right
    8. Oscillations Around a State of Equilibrium
    9. Drift, Momentum and Irrationality
    10. Irrational Exuberance
    11. Short Memories
  8. 3 The Science of Desire
    1. The Id, the Ego & the Ad
    2. Selling a Cure
    3. A Broken Trust
    4. Consumption Engineering
    5. Techniques of Mass Persuasion
    6. The Id Goes Shopping
    7. Insights and Insults
    8. Playing to Our Emotions
    9. Selling Politicians to the People
    10. ‘Eisenhower Answers America’
    11. The Consumer Society
  9. 4 New Lamps for Old
    1. New Driver
    2. Banking On Gas
    3. ‘The Death Knell of Every Traditional Integrated Firm’
    4. Virtual Integration
    5. One Side of Every Trade
    6. Better Than the Market?
    7. An Environment Ripe for Abuse
    8. A Cool New Kind of Company
    9. The Unthinkable Happens
    10. Handsomely Rewarded for Losing Billions
    11. Accounting Held to Account
    12. The Slippery Slope
    13. Why Were We So Blindsided by Enron?
  10. 5 The Gunfight at the Ok Corral
    1. People Power
    2. When Tyrants Fall
    3. Walls Come Tumbling Down
    4. Rights, Rents and Total Democracy
    5. Law and Fair Play
    6. The Gunfight at the OK Corral
    7. The Earp Vendetta Ride
    8. Law and Peace
    9. Us and Them
  11. 6 Weapons of Mass Financial Destruction
    1. Anything Except Onions
    2. Transition and Trauma
    3. Why Did No One See It Coming?
    4. Infinity and Beyond
    5. Subprimes, Teasers and Balloons
    6. Mortgage Madness
    7. Originate and Sell
    8. The Financial Instruments Formerly Known as ‘Bonds’
    9. Rating Risk
    10. Repackaged Bonds
    11. Weird Beasts from the Wall Street Jungle
    12. A Collection of Betting Slips
    13. Synthetic Bets, Synthetic Assets
    14. At the Heart of the Credit Crunch
    15. Survival of the Greediest
  12. 7 Dust Bowl and The Dirty Thirties
    1. The Sale of the Century
    2. The Louisiana Purchase
    3. The Wrong Sort of Country
    4. Wild and Untamed
    5. Rain Follows Plough
    6. Wrong Side Up
    7. Black Sunday
    8. Sustainability
    9. The Tragedy of the Commons
    10. ‘We Know This Won’t Last Forever’
  13. 8 The Black Death
    1. Going Viral
    2. The Great Plague
    3. A Twentieth-Century Plague
    4. Not If, But When
  14. 9 The Blindsided Brain
    1. Fast and Slow Thinking
    2. Blind to the Obvious
    3. Unconscious Influences
    4. The Emotional Brain
    5. Iowa Gambling Task
    6. Fear and Reward
    7. The Left & Right Hemispheres
    8. Big Picture, Little Picture
    9. Two Different Ways of Experiencing the World
    10. Split-Brain Experiments
    11. Cognitive Neuroscience
    12. Right Hemispheres Do Empathy, Left Hemispheres Do Denial
    13. Who Are We?
    14. Taking Charge
  15. Acknowledgements
  16. Notes
  17. Bibliography
  18. About the Author