Smarter Faster Better – Charles Duhigg

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Smarter Faster Better Book Cover Smarter Faster Better
Charles Duhigg
Doubleday Canada
March 8, 2016

Glad I didn't listen to the critics who said it's not as good as "The Power of Habit".

It's an amazing book with so many vital lessons to our everyday lives; from understanding basic human psychology such as reactive thinking and mental scaffolding, to improving your creative process, to creating a rich and flourishing company culture.

5 Stars.

If you want to read my notes from the book, click Continue Reading --->

A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes, while someone with an external locus of control blames outside forces for everything. This concept was brought to light in the 1950’s by Julian Rotter.

People with ILOC are more successful in life

“We never tell someone he’s a natural born leader, because natural born is outside of your control. Instead we teach people It’s a skill that can be tought”

We things become difficult, people should ask their friends questions that begins with Why

Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self motivation will emerge

The biggest take from the Google survey on successful teams was that how teams operates means more than who are on those teams.

It’s important that everyone’s on a team feel like they have a voice, but whether they get to vote on things or make decisions turns out not to matter much. Either the volume of work a co location. What matters is having a voice and social sensitivity

There are 5 team norms that turn teams to a success:

  1. Team need to believe that their work is important
  2. Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful
  3. Teams need clear goals and defined rules
  4. Team member need to know they can depend on one another
  5. Team need psychological safety. That is done by modeling right behaviors (leaders should not interrupt teammates in conversations, they should show they were listening by summarizing what they say, they should admit when they don’t know, they shouldn’t end a meeting until all teammates spoke at least once, they should encourage people who are upset to express their frustrations and encourage teammates to respond in non judgmental ways, they should call out inter group conflicts and resolve them through open discussion.

Cognitive tunneling

Reactive thinking

Research from MIT found that most productive workers shared several traits:

  • They focused on only 5 projects at once, a healthy load but not extraordinary (there are other employees who dealt with 10-12 projects at a time)
  • They were more careful with how they invested their time
  • They were seeking assignments that were similar to previous work. But not in the obvious way. They were looking for tasks that required them to seek out new colleagues and demanded new abilities
  • They were drawn to projects at their earliest stages
  • They loved to generate theories
  • They would tell stories often about what they have seen and heard
  • They were prone to generate mental models

If you want to take control of your reactions and focus on things that matter instead of all the immediate distractions we experience everyday (emails, phone calls, notifications) and find ourselves in a situation called cognitive tunneling, what we should do is start telling ourselves stories,narrate your life as it occurring

Smart goals

Specific high goals lead to a higher level of task performance than do easy goals or vague and abstract goals such as “do your best”

Smart goals sometimes unlock a potential people don’t even know they possess

Work out system – balance the psychological influence of immediate goals with the freedom to think about bigger things

Stretch Goals

Essentially means using dreams as business targets with no real idea on how to get there. If you do know how to get there it’s not a stretch goal

The key element to successfully do this is by combining stretch Goals with Smart goals. Set an odetious goal and then break it down to smart small smart goals

Proximal goal – breaking a big ambition into proximal goal makes the larger objective more likely to occur

At Toyota the company culture believes that no one is coming to work and want to suck at what they are doing

There are 5 main company cultures (especially in startups):

  1. Star model – Executives hired from elite universities or other successful companies and gave employees huge amounts of autonomy. Offices have fancy cafeteria and lavish perks (VC love those companies)
  2. The engineering model – No a lot of individual stars but as a group engineers had the most sway. Engineering mindset prevails in solving difficult problems and hiring decisions (typical silicon valley startup). They are powerful because they all the company to grow quickly. When everyone comes from similar background and mindset, you can rely common on social norms to keep everyone on the same path
  3. Bureaucracy model – Cultures emerge through thick rank of middle managers, executives wrote extensive job descriptions and employee handbooks. Everything was spelled out and there were rituals that regularly communicated the firm’s value to its workers
  4. Autocratic Model – Same as the Bureaucratic model only it all was based on the CEO desires and goals of 1 person, usually the CEO
  5. Commitment model – Companies with a strong commitment to its employees. CEOs would usually say things like “I want to build a company where people only leave when they retire or die”. More slow and steady growth. These companies are more hesitant to let people off. The CEOs believe that getting the culture right, is more important at first than designing the best product.

After a 15 years study, it found that the star model produced some of the biggest successes, yet they also failed in record numbers. As a group, they were less likely to make it to an IPO than any other category (everyone wants to be a star).

The most successful model was the commitment model. Not one of the commitment model companies the research has covered failed, and there was less internal rivalries because everyone was more committed the company and its success than personal agenda

Probabilistic thinking –

“The future isn’t one thing, rather it’s a multitude of possibilities that often times contradict one another until one of them comes true. And those futures can be combined in order for someone to predict which one is more likely to occur”

Baizen cognition / Bazien psychology – Baiz rule (A mathematical formula that generally requires running thousands of models simultaneously and comparing  millions of results) even if we have very little data, we can still forecast the future by making assumptions, and then squing them based on what we absorb about the world

The best entrepreneurs are acutely conscious of the risk that come from talking to successful entrepreneurs

Success is easier to stair at

Learn from both the accomplished and the humbled

Creativity process

Scientific research has found that combinations of existing materials are centrepieces in theories of creativity

The thing researchers found that although there were many ways to write a creative paper, in more than 90% of the cases , it involved taking a combination of previously known ideas, but they were applied to questions in manners no one as considered before

Creative brokers – People who pay attention to how experiences make the react and feel

Creativity is just connecting things – Steve Jobs

Connect experiences you had and synthesize new things

Spinning – It occurs when you’re in a rout and can’t see your project from different perspectives anymore. So much of the creative process relies on achieving distance and not becoming overly attached to your creation

Intermediate disturbance hypothesis

Competitive exclusion

Information blindness – Refers to our minds tendencies to stop absorbing data when there’s too much to take in

Information overload – The quality of people’s decisions generally gets better as they receive more relevant information, but then their brain reaches a breaking point when data becomes too much. They start ignoring options or make bad choices, or stop interacting with the information completely.

Mental Scaffolding – Our brain is using small drawers of data and when information present itself, it uses a binary method. Let’s say a wine menu: Do I want white or red? Red. Do I want cheap or expensive? Cheap. Do I want merlot or cabernet sauvignon? Merlo.

But when there’s too much data, our mind chooses between two simple options – Do I want to try and figure all of this out or do I put it aside and leave it.

Creating disfluency – Grapple with the data in front of us, to manipulate information by transforming it to a sequence of questions to be answered or choices to be made.

When information is made disfluent, we learn more

Engineering design process

Short replies on email help to gain the internal locus of control

Sometimes a misstep is the most important footfall along the pass to success see

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