Review: A Mind for Business by Andy Gibson


Psychology and neuroscience fascinate me, even if I do have trouble spelling them when writing a blog post.

With every day that passes I become more convinced that genuine leadership requires leaders to have a good understanding of these two disciplines and what they mean for the human interactions that make up our day-to-day working lives.

So that’s why when a copy of A Mind For Business by Andy Gibson dropped on my doormat (yes, a real life paper copy), I was keen to get stuck in and see what it had to offer.

As my interest in psychology and neuroscience has grown over the past couple of years, I’ve read some pretty heavyweight books on the subjects. This has been intellectually rewarding but, to be honest, pretty hard work.

A Mind For Business is different – and refreshingly so. For the newcomer to this field it does a good job of cantering through contemporary thinking on the subject and giving a broad overview of the key issues and insights. It avoids the generalisations and trite assertions that characterise so many management books.

What I really liked is that while the breezy and practical style of the text is easy to read in the short bursts of time I seem to have to read nowadays, it’s backed by decent references and ideas for further reading that help you delve further into the topic and understand the evidence behind the assertions that Andy makes in his book.

My favourite bit is the section about Inner Drive – which explores the value of intrinsic motivation in the workplace. If there’s anything I’d recommend managers read, it’s this section.

It explains succinctly, and without some of the usual corporate bullshit that characterises motivational thinking, why people are motivated and why they’re not. Definitely worth checking out.

And he quotes one of my favourites too – Dan Pink, author of the excellent Drive:

We have oversold carrot and stick motivators and undersold motivators like autonomy, mastery and purpose.

As a brief aside, a lot of what I’ve learnt through my reading on this has been put into action at digital agency Deeson over the past few months. Tim Deeson and I have worked hard to build a culture based on intrinsic motivation and he’s written about what we’ve done on the Deeson blog.

So back to A Mind For Business and to summarise, this is a great primer for anyone involved in people management, leadership or teamwork. It provides a superb overview of contemporary thinking and is well grounded in evidence.

And if you want to delve deeper, it points you in the direction of some of the best sources around on the subject. This is one I’d definitely recommend.

Disclosure: Free review copy supplier by publisher