How the People Around Us Shape Everything We Do

This post is part of a series of blog posts reviewing our list of top non-fiction titles. These are the books that are being read by large groups in The Pigeonhole’s Company Book Clubs (click for more information). Our carefully curated list includes titles on technology, wellness, psychology, politics, geopolitics, the workplace and the economy. Expect a new post showcasing our ever expanding list twice a month.

The Power of Others by Michael Bond

Published by Oneworld Publications pp.300. Buy here.

The Relevance

Forming a life as an individual is a fundamental part of the human experience. It is ingrained in all of us that being unique is to be cherished, and a comment from others about our individuality is a clear-as-mud compliment. It is seen as less enriching to be told “Wow, you look and behave in an extremely similar way to your entire peer group” and yet, on the whole, people spend much more time trying to fit in, trying to say normal things, trying not to walk around naked in public, than they do trying to stand out.

Nowhere is this notion – the notion of imitation, autonomy, and creative, independent thought – more important than in the workplace. How can managers and leaders get the most out of their staff; guide them away from groupthink, copying, and routine based processes, and towards a fresh, innovative way of working that channels their most useful and exciting attributes – the attributes that made them employable in the first place.

While Michael Bond by no means limits the research in his excellent book to discussion of the workplace, his insights, analysis and logical conclusions shed light on the issues management teams are encountering on a day-by-day basis.

The Story

Drawing on a brilliantly diverse set of human groups, Bond uncovers the drives and motivations that unite collectives as diverse as football hooligans and polar expeditions. He guides us towards a conclusion that we as people are not guided by class or race or personality, so much as being at the mercy of our innate socialness.

He investigates how it was possible for unremarkable, law abiding citizens to become some of the most deplorable mass murderers at the top of the Nazi Party; how events like the Arab Spring demonstrate the fascinating interplay between the decision making bents of the individual and the masses; and how fundamentally damaging, in both a psychological and a physical sense, unsociability and loneliness can be for a solo person, with haunting examples like Anders Breivik, the child-murdering (but technically sane) Norwegian megalomaniac, whose withdrawal into solitude was so comprehensive and tragic.

The Creator

A world-leading expert on psychology and human behaviour, Michael Bond has been writing on these themes, amongst others,  for New Scientist, the Observer, and the Financial Time, for two decades, as well as consulting extensively on science policy in Egypt during the Arab Spring. In addition he researches and speaks about conflict, reconciliation and trauma, specifically in the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Jordan, Iran and Turkey. He frequently works alongside businesses in the education, development, marketing, and science sectors advising on policy and innovation.

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