Multiplication Center

I Was Not Swayed

March 27, 2009

After reading The Starfish and the Spider a couple of years ago I was interested in reading Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman [one of the authors of Starfish/Spider] and his brother Rom. It is not that The Starfish and the Spider is the best book I have ever read. But, it was good. It was a laudable attempt to deal with the issue of seeing organizational movements not as centralized or decentralized, but as distributive or networked. It just did not go far enough.

Sway Book Cover Sway appears to be a book where an author says, “my first book sold so well, let me see if I can produce another winner. Hey, brother, you want to write this one with me?” It had a big roll out by its publisher. The book itself, however, misses the mark.

I was not swayed!

[I was also not convinced by Malcolm Gladwell's second book, Blink; while at the same time loving his first book, The Tipping Point. BTW, Sway is in many ways a counterpoint to Blink. I'm not sure the core premise of both books can be true.]

Sway is like a one point sermon where the singular point is told over and over again to convince the congregation it is true, significant, and something about which they ought to shout “Hallelujah!”

Sway does have some great illustrations that may almost convince you it is possible to be certain of the truth or the right thing in a given situation while at the same time being totally wrong. However, I do not believe anything can be proven by a string of examples. So for me the idea of page 7 that this book will “explore several of the psychological forces that derail rational thinking” is legitimate, but I was not convinced nor swayed by the book that the authors had really found something of great value.

This book would make a great read by a sophomore study group in a college. It may have value in teaching people to be cautious about their assessment or diagnosis of strategic opportunities. But ultimately truth cannot be swayed. Buy and read this book at your own risk.

George Bullard, The Columbia Partnership, GBullard@TheColumbiaPartnership.org

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