Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein release management book Noise

11 June 2021 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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A new book examining decision-making from a trio of best-selling authors – one of them a 25 year McKinsey veteran – may be a late-runner for this year’s Business Book of the Year award.

Renowned psychologist and Nobel-winning behavioural economics pioneer Daniel Kahneman has teamed up with former McKinsey & Company advisor and business strategy professor Olivier Sibony and la professor Cass Sunstein on the follow-up to Kahneman’s award-winning 2011 book, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’. The latest release, ‘Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment’, looks into how peripheral factors beyond bias can affect the decisions of individuals and organisations.

Noise here roughly equates to random variability, with there being substantial evidence that irrelevant matters can cloud judgement and impact decisions. The authors give the example of criminal sentencing, where a judge’s mood, fatigue, and even the weather or sporting outcomes can all have a detectable effect on the outcome. Naturally, they say, once you become aware of noise, you can look for ways to reduce it – a valuable advantage in business.

Danny Kahneman, Oliver Sibony, and Cass Sunstein

With a further contribution by former White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator and celebrated Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein, ‘Noise’ may be a late contender for the Financial Times and McKinsey £30,000 Business Book of the Year Award for 2021 – for the “most compelling and enjoyable” insight into business issues – with nominations to close in six weeks and the winner announced in December.

Outlining the conflict between the two, rational and non-rational modes of an individual’s decision-making process, Kahnemann’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ sold more than one million copies in its first year and won a swag of awards. A prolific author, Sunstein has penned more than three dozen books, including ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ with former Book of the Year short-listed behavioural scientist Richard Thaler.

Sibony meanwhile recently published ‘You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake!’, again drawing on cognitive psychology to forward tools for better business decisions, and earlier penned ‘Cracked It!’ together with business professors Corey Phelps and fellow McKinsey alumnus Bernard Garrette.

A senior partner, Sibony altogether spent two and a half decades with McKinsey in Europe and the US, including as the global leader of its Corporate Strategy practice.

While yet another McKinsey veteran has been added to this year’s business book award judging panel – social entrepreneur and former Twitter vice president James Kondo, who spent 15 years with the management consultancy all over the globe – Sibony et al. may also run into competition from further McKinseyites.

Another veteran, former Best Buy CEO and current Harvard Business School lecturer Hubert Joly, has recently released ‘The Heart of Business’.

Yet, both will be up against a thought leadership powerhouse in Roger Martin, who shortly after its founding spent 12 years building up strategy consultancy Monitor (now Monitor Deloitte) as a director and co-head, and in 2017 topped the Thinkers50 list as most influential management thinker in the world. To positive reviews, Martin in the back of last year released, ‘When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency’.