21 March 2011

Book “Review”

The Little Big Things by Tom Peters

There are some books that are a pleasure to read in spite of their vapidity and there are some books that are annoying to read I spite of their profundity.  The Little Big Things falls into the latter category.

I say this because Peters writes like a crack-addled retarded bonobo randomly pounding away at a keyboard.  He also writes like an eighth-grader that just discovered caps lock and HTML formatting tags, for he never misses a chance to unnecessarily capitalize, italicize, or make bold any random word.  He’s also annoyingly repetitious.  For some reason, he thinks using the word “amen” at the end of some trivial observation makes said observation more profound.  In short, he writes like an annoying, pretentious douchebag.

In spite of this, the major themes of his book are quite profound and thought-provoking.  He “argues” that most experts are pretentious idiots (agreed).  Most of the so-called economic experts missed the biggest economic developments of the past decade.  Most organizational consultants tailor their advice to interchangeable Fortune 500 companies, and most of which is nonsense anyway.  And get him started on politicians.

There is a strong focus on addressing the details that matter, like human interaction, thank you notes, fresh flowers and the like.  This strikes me as a good idea, for treating people like valuable beings can’t go wrong.  People want to believe they matter to others, so appealing to this basic desire is a really good idea.  No, there aren’t any numbers backing his claim.  But then, there aren’t any numbers disproving it, either.

Most importantly, he criticizes number fetishism for driving people to trust data over intuition.  This is particularly important, for raw data actually reveals far less than anyone likes to admit.  In fact, most research is nonsense anyway, so it’s best to simply ignore it altogether.  As such, the best policy is to do that to which most customers respond positively.

Thus, I generally agree with what he has to say, but I intensely dislike how he presents it.  It’s just not enjoyable to read.  I actually quit halfway through the book because I found it to be that horrible.  Anyway, I halfheartedly recommend this book.  There’s a lot of good stuff in here, but a more appropriate title would be “The 4chan Guide to Business.”

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