Working as part of the editorial team at GoodPractice, Stef Scott is lucky enough to have interviewed some great authors and inspiring leaders from the world of business. All of these interviews go into GoodPractice’s online toolkits as short, sharp video and audio resources.
You’ll find over 60 informative interviews with influential people such as Dan Pink, Dan Ariely and Marshall Goldsmith, as well as Dave Ulrich and Jeffrey Pfeffer in Goodpractice’s toolkits for leaders & managers.
“The Undercover Economist Strikes Back” author Tim Harford is the very latest business writer to receive the GoodPractice treatment and leaders & managers with full toolkit access can read an early review of Tim’s latest book and watch exclusive video of Tim’s interview now. Here, Stef Scott offers up a sneak preview of the new Tim Harford resources available in GoodPractice toolkits for leaders & managers from this month.
Tim is one of a new breed of economists who are serving up the once maligned subject of economics in a fresh and accessible way. Harford has a distinguished pedigree as an author, columnist and speaker. He writes for the Financial Times and presents the popular Radio 4 programmes More or Less, Pop Up Economics and Pop Up Ideas. He is also one of my mum’s favourite authors, so I had better make this review a good one!
Out in the UK at the end of August, The Undercover Economist Strikes Back follows up Tim’s 2007 bestseller, The Undercover Economist. While The Undercover Economist delved into the subject of microeconomics, this new book tackles macroeconomics. Whether you are a senior leader, an operational or team manager or someone who is responsible for learning and development, the workings of the wider economy affect us all. Getting to grips with how the economy works will greatly enhance the commerciality of your decisions, thus helping to give your organisation the edge when it really matters. As someone whose knowledge of economics could comfortably fit on the back of a postage stamp, I quickly discovered that there is no need to be intimidated by the breadth of the subject matter.
Using the chatty Q&A style borrowed from his ‘Dear Economist’ column in the Financial Times, Harford takes the reader on a journey of economic discovery. Drawing upon a variety of quirky and funny stories, he illustrates not only how the economy works but also its inherent problems. The thorny topic of recession is cleverly illustrated using the example of a babysitting circle in America, which failed to function due to problems with demand, and a German prisoner of war camp economy, which had problems with the supply of goods to trade. The book also considers inflation, unemployment and the pivotal role played by money. My favourite story is the tale of two members of pop band The KLF. They famously burnt one million pounds in cash in 1994. Harford uses their crazy antics to illustrate some powerful misconceptions that we make about money. Another of the book’s strong points is its attention to detail. The case studies contain lots of interesting facts and are well researched. I found myself looking many of them up, as I wanted to find out more.
The Undercover Economist Strikes Back opens with an inspiring tale about the life of Alban William (Bill) Phillips. Indeed, Bill’s amazing life story was the focus of Harford’s talk at the Book Festival. From humble beginnings in rural New Zealand, Phillips became a highly regarded economist. His ideas changed the face of economics forever, most notably through his invention of a particularly cool piece of technological kit known as the MONIAC, or more simply put, the Phillips Machine. This machine was groundbreaking because, for the first time, the complex inner workings of an economy were represented in basic computerised form. The point Harford makes about Phillips is that he was a radical thinker – not only did he have a strong inquisitive streak, more importantly, he was driven to find ways to solve the economic problems of his day.
For all of the book’s witty stories and amusing anecdotes, there is a strong message that runs throughout. Our economy, and indeed the wider global economy, has suffered some hard knocks, with dramatic consequences for some. Consequently, economists themselves have also faced criticism, particularly since the financial crash and the economic turmoil that has followed. Despite this uncertain backdrop, Harford’s enthusiasm for his subject leaps from the page, as does his desire to make economics interesting and above all, easier for everyone to understand.
Mum, I hope you are pleased!
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