Smarter Faster Better is Charles Duhigg’s follow up to the Power Of Habit looking at the subject of productivity. Drawing on the latest thinking in neuroscience, psychology and behavioural economics, the book looks at narrative illustrations of eight key principles fundamental to improving our productivity in the workplace.
Smarter Faster Better Summary
Smarter Faster Better is a book packed with narratives about productivity, creativity and endeavour. Looking at motivation, goal setting, teams, focus, decision making, innovation, data and managing others, Duhigg illustrates universal principles behind productivity with compelling examples from Google, Toyota, SNL, Poker, Aviation and more.
Below are some of the key insights from the book.
- Our ability to motivate ourselves is largely determined by the strength of our locus of control. Those who believe they are in control tend to push themselves harder to an eventual outcome. Chores become choices.
- Effective teamwork is typically governed by the principle of psychological safety. Participants in a group work best when everyone has clear roles, believes their work is important, believes their work is personally meaningful and depends on others in the group – creating psychological safety (Google internal study)
- To become truly productive, we must create mental models for our attention allowing us to visualise what happens next and extract the right signals from competing stimuli. Otherwise we have a tendency towards cognitive tunnelling where we look for data that supports our preexisting mental model.
- SMART goals are psychologically rewarding but should be combined with stretch goals to create truly powerful results. Otherwise our need for psychological closure overwhelms our big picture thinking. (GE and Japanese Bullet Trains)
- Empirical studies suggest that a culture of commitment and empowering those at the coalface with Agile/Lean methodology can unlock dramatic results. This is because employees work better when they believe they have more decision making authority.
- Instruction in Bayesian decision making theory with multiple futures and probabilities averaged from events can improve the accuracy of our predictions by as much as 50% – this can be honed by playing Texas Hold ‘Em Poker.
- As much as 90% of creative innovation is actually connecting the dots between pre-existing concepts. In many cases, acute pressure and intermediate disturbance can foster creative breakthroughs that go on to define a project.
- Despite the exponential increase in data available, our productivity only improves when we adopt a psychological frame for success. An effective frame allows us to look at the same phenomena and spot patterns that others miss.