The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing

Michael J. Mauboussin. Harvard Business Review (Perseus, dist.), $27 (280p) ISBN 978-1-4221-8423-3
Investment strategist Mauboussin (Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition) offers an intricate and academic look at the relationship between practiced skill and pure luck. As he writes, “much of what we experience in life results from a combination of skill and luck,” and the trick is to be able to recognize and gauge the presence and effects of each so we can avoid the pitfall of “twist[ing], distort[ing], or ignor[ing] the role that luck plays in our successes and failures.” Mauboussin explores why we have such a difficult time comprehending the influence of luck and the possible analytical tools necessary to understand luck and skill, and attempts concrete suggestions about how to take these findings and put them to work. His analysis focuses on his areas of interest and knowledge: business, sports, and investing. Mauboussin excels at explaining his ideas, many of which are based on complex neuroscience in accessible terms, using case studies and examples from investing decisions, college rankings, and hospital procedures. He is less successful relating theory to specific takeaways for readers, and the writing would have benefited from further editing. Readers should wait for his next attempt. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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