Renowned business strategist Roger Martin is not one for drama.
However, in his new book, “When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency” (September 29, 2020), he sounds a weighty warning call about the current state of American capitalism. The core message of the book is that America’s growing obsession with efficiency has caused a downward economic spiral since 1976, when America had a healthy middle class and was the envy of the world.
In “When More Is Not Better,” Martin explains how the original shared model of the economy was supposed to produce a large and prosperous middle class, and allow us to increase efficiency by eliminating redundancy and increasing specialization. But, he argues, obsessive pursuit of economic efficiency is deepening inequality and making our economy more vulnerable to shocks, brutally undermining our capacity to deal with catastrophic events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last three decades, his approach to strategy and problem-solving has greatly influenced executives and managers at leading corporations, including Lego, IDEO, Verizon and Procter & Gamble.
“To repair our broken system, we need to recognize that no single actor can create the necessary shift on his or her own,” says Martin. “All the stakeholders in democratic capitalism have their parts to play.”
Advance Praise for “When More is Not Better”
A top book for September – an “important new book” – Financial Times
Short List – The Next Big Idea Club (curated by Adam Grant, Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, and Malcolm Gladwell)
“Martin makes a persuasive case for rethinking perceived wisdom about the economy. Policymakers and business leaders will want to take note.” — Publishers Weekly
“Roger Martin understands how we got to where we are in the United States today. He is not happy but refuses to give up, offering proposals to restore life in our political system, which is too far divided economically. His proposals won’t be easy to enact, but they need urgent attention if we are to save the best chance for democratic capitalism. A must-read!” — Paul Volcker, former Chairman, US Federal Reserve
“’In When More Is Not Better,’ Roger Martin leverages his deep knowledge of economic systems to precisely diagnose the systemic shortcomings of the modern economy, and his practical experience to lay out a pathway to an economy that works for all. A must-read.” — Paul Polman, cofounder and Chair, IMAGINE; Former CEO, Unilever
“Once again, Roger Martin has taken on a complex and thorny subject and provided compelling new insights and practical wisdom. ‘When More Is Not Better’ shows what will truly set up our economy for long-term success: a better balance of efficiency and resilience. And it’s also the prescription we need as individuals. A must-read for our time!” — Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO, Thrive Global
“A system can be shaped to meet society’s needs or it can be mismanaged so as to become unfit for any purpose. At the moment when America needs it most, ‘When More Is Not Better’ brilliantly reveals where democratic capitalism has gone wrong and what new design principles we need to fix it.” — Tim Brown, Chair, IDEO; author, “Change by Design”
“Roger Martin is my generation’s Peter Drucker. He enables us to see beyond the traditional boundaries of business theory to the bigger system at play in our efficiency-obsessed world. And, like Drucker’s, his prescriptions are clear, realistic and practical.” — Jim Hackett, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company
“Martin shows how leaders consistently fall short of achieving their goals because they confuse effectiveness with efficiency. Why? Because it’s what prevailing organizational norms teach them about how to win—but only in the short term. Shortchanging your employees and customers by giving them less isn’t the path to making your organization more effective. Martin guides you to frame your organization within a dynamic, complex system where adopting a less efficiency-obsessed and more human-centered approach results in the lasting, sustainable prosperity that it desperately needs.” — John Maeda, former President, Rhode Island School of Design; Author, “How to Speak Machine”