Follow This Path is a ten-step programme for making your company more profitable by understanding that both employees and customers are people with emotional and psychological needs and wants. People are not rational utility-maximizers acting on perfect information, as in economic theory. Rather, as both customer and employee, they want to form economic relationships - like any other kind of relationship - that are based on trust and emotional connection. If they succeed in forming such relationships, they engage (a key word in the book, and a central theme) with an organization, and will ultimately prove more profitable to it. The authors draw on years of Gallup surveys to show how engagement leads to profitability, and back up their claims with research and statistics based on Gallup findings.
Rejecting conventional "rational actor" theories, this dense volume of management theory argues that emotions deeply impact economics. Customer loyalty comes from a non-rational, even addictive "passion" (such that customers "can actually suffer from withdrawal" if "deprived of a specific brand") based on personal "emotional bonds" to a company's employees. Workers, in turn, must feel emotionally connected to managers who value their contributions and give talent its head. The authors, management consultants for the Gallup Organization, deploy a complicated theoretical apparatus-drawing on cognitive neuroscience and elaborate statistical analyses of mountains of survey data-to prove that companies profit when workers and customers feel appreciated and listened to. This is a welcome message, enlivened by anecdotes illustrating good employee relations, salesmanship and customer service, but in extolling "a management style that doesn't try to 'tell people what to do,'" the author's disparagement of training and organization in favor of "innate talent" and "emotional engagement" sometimes seems excessive. Worse, the passages celebrating "The Gallup Path" and the Gallup Organization's proprietary methodologies for assessing "talent themes" and emotional states read like excerpts from a brochure for the company's consulting services.