Olympic reading

(faster, higher, stronger: Citius Altius Fortius)
Title: Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg

Publisher: Random House. 400 pp

Genre: non fiction, self help, team building

4+ stars

Author: Duhigg is an award winning reporter for the NYTimes (since 2013, previously he worked freelance). He studied history at Yale, MBA from Harvard. He is the author of the best selling and excellent Power of Habit (2010), about the science of habit formation. His books are well researched and informative. He has a clear writing style, if somewhat wordy.

Story line:

Subtitle is secrets of being productive in life and business.

There are 8 chapters including motivation, teams, focus (the best chapter), goals, managing others, decision making, innovation and absorbing data. The appendix has readers guide, with suggestions. Each chapter includes a variety of stories/ examples, e.g. the marines, Disney, Detroit to airlines that reinforce the 8 concepts. I found them too detailed and not necessarily the best examples. It is overall positive thinking with helpful advice, often with suggestions which will appeal to particular individuals. Hence people will get different messages from this book. Suggestions need greater prominence, or brevity within the text. This is still a good reference book for team building and project management.

Bottom line? Take time to smell the roses too. Life isn’t all about being productive. I was probably the wrong audience for this book as I am already too efficient. Most of this seemed obvious, not secret. You need to set goals, focus on them, recognize choices, use discipline and better leadership to strengthen team efforts. And know you are never finished. In short (“cliff notes”):

1) frame decisions as opportunities, not problems

2) construct teams where positive interaction is crucial

3) engage with the vast data stream (recognize the difference between finding an answer, understanding what it means, and then incorporating it)

4) set goals that push you beyond the “to do lists”, and toward something large (stretch goals/ objectives that can spark outsized leaps in productivity)

Read on

If you like Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Lewis, Matthew Syed

Quotes:

These are the things, that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive.

There are some people who pretend at productivity, whose resumes appear impressive until you realize their greatest talent is self-marketing. 

The need for control is a biological imperative. When people believe they are in control, they tend to work harder and push themselves more. They are, on average, more confident and overcome setbacks faster….One way to prove to ourselves that we are in control is by making decisions. Each choice, no matter how small, reinforces the perception of control and self-efficacy. 

For psychological safety to emerge among a group, teammates don’t have to be friends. They do, however, need to be socially sensitive and ensure everyone feels heard. 

Teams need to believe that their work is important, feel their work is personally meaningful, clear goals and defined roles. Team members need to know they can depend on one another. But most important, teams need psychological safety…..

It’s important to manage how you think, rather than what you think.

Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley.

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