December 7, 2009

Book Short: Innovation and Discipline

Book Short:  Innovation and Discipline The Puritan Gift, by Kenneth and William Hopper, is a bit of a mixed bag.  The authors have a wonderful point to make — that American businesses have thrived over the centuries due to a mix of innovation and discipline that descended from the country’s Puritan roots, and that when they lose their way, it’s because they diverge from those roots.  The book is also an interesting, if somewhat cursory, history of American industry.  And it playfully debunks some great myths of corporate American life over the last 50 years.  But the book has a few too many moments where assertions aren’t supported by data — where its theories overreach into explanations of other aspects of American life that may or may not be appropriate. That said, it is a good read.  The main point is that there are five driving principles behind American business success over the years, the first four coming from the Puritans and the fifth from the French: – the melding of the workplace with the search for a higher purpose in life – an aptitude for the application of mechanical skills – the subordination of the individual to the group […]