Understanding Business: The Logic of Balance by Gary Moreau (CreateSpace, 188 pages, $9.95)
Understanding Business: The Logic of Balance by Gary Moreau is an engaging work. Moreau focuses on the point that business leaders tend to be guided either by their heard or their hearts (guts). Most see it as a choice between, say, the colors blue (head) or red (heart). But leadership may be purple; that is, it must rely on a balance between logical thoughts and instincts.
In Moreau’s words, “this book is all about context.” The business environment, its context, is rarely solely about reason or logic. It’s a blend of the two.
Moreau spends equal time illustrating the benefits as well as the weaknesses of relying on data-driven decision making and instinct-driven decisions. Both will work at some points, but will fail if relied upon to the exclusion of all else.
One of the fascinating points made by Moreau is that many of the visionary individuals that our society holds up as models of business and societal leadership – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Martin Luther King, Jr. – had significant ideas (the “what”). However, they had no specific plans (the “how”) for implementing their ideas. That’s because sky-viewing visionaries must rely upon ground-based planners.
A great leader, as Moreau notes, follows his or her conscience. This “sits at the crossroads of deduction and reduction.” Yes, true leadership, in implementation of great ideas, requires balance.
Another key point made by Moreau, a valuable one for business managers, is that the world is a very big and tough place. We tend to give too much credit to individuals for business successes and too much blame for failures. The truth is that business leaders – CEOs or managers, cannot control the world. A business failure may rest upon poor timing, poor global conditions, or many other factors.
There are a couple of issues with this work. Firstly, Moreau engages in political discussions that are out of place and simply do not belong in the book. In this, he fails to subscribe to his rule that context is key. (Since he mentions Trump and Clinton, it’s surprising that he does not use them as examples of contrasting leadership styles.)
Secondly, like Joshua Wolf Shenk, the author of Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs (2014), Moreau tends to go too far in separating matters into one camp or the other. In Shenk’s book, every artist was separated between being either a John Lennon (an instinctive artist) or a Paul McCartney (a hardworking artist). But the world is more complicated than that.
In Understanding Business, Moreau is like the proverbial hammer that sees everything as a nail. Everything is either mind or gut. I suspect that at some point a writer will produce a book about successful business leaders and artists who fall into the in-between category. (Joni Mitchell comes to mind as a musician who is equally instinctive and highly rational/logical/detail-oriented.)
Still, Moreau’s book provides valuable points for business executives. For example, at one point he notes that a business leader should make a deductive decision using logic, but then test this decision using instinct. That executive should ask, “Does it feel right?” Excellent.
Finally, Understanding Business drives home one major point in these stressful times. This is that business leaders must value and respect their staff members. Executives cannot just talk the talk, they must walk the walk, It does not take long for workers to realize that they are simply cogs in the machinery of their company. When this realization hits, the company they work for can and will suffer.
If you own or operate a business, large or small, you may wish to read Understanding Business. It will serve you well.