I kept waiting for this writer to get to the point. She has loads of interesting anecdotes and examples, but... at the end of every chapter, I kept wondering, "what am I supposed to 'take away' from this?" She keeps promising to "tell us what to do about the problem" but never really does.
To sum up as best I can the premise here, it is that we are becoming a risk-averse society, and that has profound consequences for our future. Helicopter parenting, the absolute fear of failing to get into the best schools, the aversion to bad grades, all lead to an inability to take chances in adult life. The author correctly points out that innovation is only achieved through taking risks.
Part of the problem is that the author sometimes seems confused about the difference between "calculated risk" and "failure." Sometimes a "failure" is foreseen, or rather, built into the plan - this might work, it might not, I'll take the chance, OK, it didn't work, next idea... That to me is not a "failure." It's a calculated risk - it's something that one undertakes KNOWING that it has a good chance of not working, but that you're going to learn from the attempt regardless of whether it works or not. "Failure" is when you think you are doing everything right, and it goes tragically wrong. Distinguishing between calculated risk and "making a huge mistake" would be helpful in the book.
I think the author's bottom line is that being willing to fail, and being able to get back up and move on from failure, is the key to long-term success, innovation, entrepreneurship, and so on. That's all true but not a blindingly new insight. The author also shows many ways in which Europe stifles innovation and entrepreneurship by reducing "risks" -- how good plans fail, in other words -- while elements like America's ability to easily declare bankruptcy actually improves the economy in the long term.
I enjoyed reading the book. I just didn't get a huge sense of having learned anything significant, or getting a "call to action" that might help me either learn more from my own failures or improve the state of the world at large.
- Paperback: 299 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Group USA; Reprint edition (24 February 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143126369
- ISBN-13: 978-0143126362
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 21.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 259 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 264,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)