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9 Delusions of Management Books

In his book The Halo Effect, Phil Rosenweig lays out 9 specific delusions and shows how they distort the advice you find in management books. You can reduce most of his nine points to one: looking at successful organizations then mis-connecting cause and effect; trotting out one or a series of ’causes’ that are presumed, but often not causal at all. The nine delusions are:

1. The Halo Effect
Tending of analysis of a company to reflect only the overall results

2. The Delusion of Correlation and Causality
The lack of proof of causality in many situations

3. The Delusion of Single Explanations
One factor is unlikely to be the reason for success or failure

4. The Delusion of Connecting the Winning Dots
Problems with only considering “winners” is “losers” may have the same dots.

5. The Delusion of Rigorous Research
Mistaking large volumes of data for good data

6. The Delusion of Lasting Success
Most companies tend to the mean eventually

7. The Delusion of Absolute Performance
Companies can do well and still fail if a competitor does better

8. The Delusion of the Wrong End of the Stick
Successful companies may do various things but that does not mean that doing those things will make you successful

9. The Delusion of Organizational Physics
Business organizations are just not that predictable

To which you could add a tenth: The delusion that a leader at the top is the cause of the organization’s current success.

Source: Adapted from Phil Rosenweig’s book The Halo Effect

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