The halo effect is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties. It was named by psychologist Edward Thorndike in reference to a person being perceived as having a halo.

Have we not uttered ‘I cannot believe that he or she did that’  when someone does something that goes against the impression we had about that person.

This book is about ‘The halo effect’ surrounding organizations and how we could be misled about some company’s performance and attempting to replicate the best performance of that company in our own settings.

The author goes on to prove that how best sellers like ‘In search of Excellence, Built to Last, Good to great‘  have arrived at their conclusions ignoring the halo effect.

The author takes on the mother of all questions about a organization ‘What leads to high performance’ and he places facts and figures before us and asks us to evaluate any template of high performance with a critical lens. He identifies nine delusions that we generally fail to identify when replicating best practices and summarizes in the following way on what possibly a wise manager should do

“Any good strategy involves risk. If you think your strategy is foolproof, the fool may well be you

Execution, too, is uncertain – what works in one company with one workforce may have different results elsewhere

The link between inputs and outcomes is tenuous. Bad outcomes don’t always mean that managers made mistakes; and good outcomes don’t always mean they acted brilliantly.

But when the die is cast, the best  managers act as if chance is irrelevant -persistence and tenacity are everything”

The author argues while the above may not guarantee success, it will improve your chances of success, which in his view is a more sensible goal to pursue

Actually, I read this book after reading the three books that I have mentioned here and I have to accept that it made me aware of my own ‘Halo’ in every aspect of my thinking about people, organizations and brands.

I feel this is a book any one getting into management should have as ‘Must Read’ and preserve it in their book shelves. Leaders who are able to see past the ‘Halo’ as well may take a relook at this book so as to ensure they are not getting entrapped into one of the nine delusions

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)


PS : I am thinking of giving a twist to this section. Watch out for a better presentation of this section in the coming weeks.