Toward the end of Antifragile, there’s a lovely confessional passage about how Taleb temporarily lost his soul when he suddenly became a famous author, permitted himself to be courted by journalists, and went around trying to explain his ideas to audiences who had little interest in trying to understand them. He found his way back to sanity by returning to his prior routine of spending most days reading and writing. Maybe the biggest surprise of all in the book is that despite the author’s best efforts to persuade you to the contrary, by the time you’re through reading, you almost kind of like the guy.
What might the redesigned Temple Mount of Great Management Ideas look like? Perhaps its central feature should be a multi-faced, possibly rotating edifice dedicated to the proposition that “business strategy is change as led by relentless innovators” and linking the systemic elements called out by McGrath, the author of the year’s best business book on strategy. It could have a few pillars, classical-strategy style, courtesy of Lafley and Martin. And on its roof, driven by gusts of useful paranoia from Taleb, wind turbines would continually turn.
- Walter Kiechel III has served as the managing editor of Fortune and the editorial director of Harvard Business Publishing. His most recent book is The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World (Harvard Business Press, 2010).