I am currently reviewing a book called Wrong Why Experts Keep Failing Us-and How to Know When Not to Trust Them (Little, Brown and Company, June 2010) by David H. Freeman. You can see a full review later today at suite101.com.
Freeman's premise is that we consumers cannot trust any scientific finding or believe anyone that calls him or herself an expert in any type of profession. He also mentions that he believes that all of the business books with all of the many theories on improvements for business, procedural, and personal, are overburdening us and may be slowing down production versus helping.
He also mentions that some of the business book authors may not be the experts that readers are led to believe. His thoughts have some basis when considering the quantity of business theories represented and if the managers reading those books try to implement every theory within the company.
Professionals reading business books for personal and professional can benefit the most from the readings by keeping an open mind to all theories and then selecting only those theories that can most contribute to their individual needs. I have been reviewing business books off and on for over 20 years and I agree that with so many different takes on communication, leadership, management, Lean, and the list goes on, that trying to implement all or parts of all them can over complicate versus supply solutions.
Reading business books of any type from any author is an activity that I recommend to any professional. One does not have to feel deficient if they decide a particular theory doesn't have the right fit and they decide to pass on it. Or, readers can benefit by taking bits and parts of multiple theories to make a plan that feels right.
Freedman also mentions the overuse of case studies. I do agree with him on this point. So many business books are filled with case study after case study that it gets difficult to keep track of what worked when, how and for who. Case studies do have their value when used in moderation.
Regardless, of whether author's are or are not the experts they claim, or whether their theories are taken from other theories and then modified, it is vital that professions keep reading as part of their professional development. Take the experts' thoughts and writings for what they are worth and use the advice that seems to fit the situation.
Freedman's book is going to create a few waves in the worlds of science, business, and journalism. He himself uses case studies to bring home his point to dispute expert findings. After readers take the time to read his book, he asks at the end if the readers believes is an expert enough to believe his theories of if they think the book is wrong.
It is a thought provoking read. Just keep an open mind as you make your way through it.