Smarter Faster Better
Smarter Faster Better

Smarter Faster Better

you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier, Quintanilla’s drill instructors had told him. That’s why they asked each other questions starting with “why.” Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge. (Location 475)

It’s not like that at all. It’s more about learning how to make yourself do things you thought you couldn’t do. It’s really emotional, actually.” (Location 481)

A critical difference, the researchers determined, was that the seniors who flourished made choices that rebelled against the rigid schedules, set menus, and strict rules that the nursing homes tried to force upon them. (Location 495)

We should reward initiative, congratulate people for self-motivation, celebrate when an infant wants to feed herself. We should applaud a child who shows defiant, self-righteous stubbornness and reward a student who finds a way to get things done by working around the rules. (Location 570)

Why are we forcing ourselves to climb up this hill? Why are we pushing ourselves to walk away from the television? Why is it so important to return that email or deal with a coworker whose requests seem so unimportant? (Location 577)

Self-motivation, in other words, is a choice we make because it is part of something bigger and more emotionally rewarding than the immediate task that needs doing. (Location 583)

“We had to manage the how of teams, not the who.” (Location 727)

The right norms could raise the collective intelligence of mediocre thinkers. (Location 951)

First, all the members of the good teams spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.” In some teams, for instance, everyone spoke during each task. In other groups, conversation ebbed from assignment to assignment—but by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. (Location 957)

Second, the good teams tested as having “high average social sensitivity”—a fancy way of saying that the groups were skilled at intuiting how members felt based on their tone of voice, how people held themselves, and the expressions on their faces. (Location 963)

Teams need to believe that their work is important. Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful. Teams need clear goals and defined roles. Team members need to know they can depend on one another. (Location 1051)

There were Google-designed checklists they could use: Leaders should not interrupt teammates during conversations, because that will establish an interrupting norm. They should demonstrate they are listening by summarizing what people say after they said it. They should admit what they don’t know. (Location 1055)

succeed when everyone feels like they can speak up and when members show they are sensitive to how one another feels. (Location 1063)

In both places, the groups will feel a sense of psychological safety. They will succeed because teammates feel they can trust each other, and that honest discussion can occur without fear of retribution. Their members will have roughly equal voices. Teammates will show they (Location 1094)

Are you encouraging equality in speaking, or rewarding the loudest people? Are you modeling listening? Are you demonstrating a sensitivity to what people think and feel, or are you letting decisive leadership be an excuse for not paying as close attention as you should? (Location 1098)

is a propensity to create pictures in their minds of what they expect to see. These people tell themselves stories about what’s going on as it occurs. (Location 1396)

They say when they daydream, they’re often imagining future conversations. They visualize their days with more specificity than the rest of us do. (Location 1398)

We envision the conversations we’re going to have with more specificity, and imagine what we are going (Location 1403)

As a result, we’re better at choosing where to focus and what to (Location 1404)

They engage in constant forecasting. They daydream about the future and then, when life clashes with their imagination, their attention gets snagged. (Location 1405)

Cognitive tunneling and reactive thinking occur when our mental spotlights go from dim to bright in a split second. But if we are constantly telling ourselves stories and creating (Location 1409)

“We started with a creative, flexible, problem-solving human and a mostly dumb computer that’s good at rote, repetitive tasks like monitoring. So we let the dumb computer fly and the novel-writing, scientific-theorizing, jet-flying humans sit in front of the (Location 1431)

The first was they tended to work on only five projects at once—a healthy load, but not extraordinary. There were other employees who handled ten or twelve projects at a time. But those employees had a lower profit rate than the superstars, who were more careful about how they invested their time. (Location 1441)

Instead, they were signing up for projects that required them to seek out new colleagues and demanded new abilities. That’s why the superstars worked on only five projects (Location 1447)

Something else the superstars had in common is they were disproportionately drawn to assignments that were in their early stages. (Location 1449)

theories, about all kinds of topics, such as why certain accounts were succeeding or failing, or why some clients were happy or disgruntled, or how different management styles influenced various employees. (Location 1457)

you want to make yourself more sensitive to the small details in your work, cultivate a habit of imagining, as specifically as possible, what you expect to see and do when you get to your (Location 1475)

“We look for people who describe their experiences as some kind of a narrative,” (Location 1483)

“It’s a tip-off that someone has an instinct for connecting the dots and understanding how the world works at a deeper level. (Location 1484)

“The reality of a modern aircraft is that it’s a quarter million sensors and computers that sometimes can’t tell the difference between garbage and good sense,” (Location 1495)

“That’s why we have human pilots. It’s our job to think about what might happen, instead of what is.” (Location 1498)

“You can’t delegate thinking,” de Crespigny told me. “Computers fail, checklists fail, everything can fail. But people can’t. (Location 1633)

Yet Zeira’s craving for closure and his intolerance for revisiting questions once they were answered are among the biggest reasons why Israel failed to anticipate the attacks. (Location 2088)

The only rules, Fulgham told them, were that everyone had to make suggestions, anyone could declare a time-out if they thought a project was moving in the wrong direction, and the person closest to a problem had primary responsibility for figuring out how to solve it. (Location 2488)

But creating great software requires flexibility. (Location 2491)

Fulgham’s team started by coming up with more than one thousand scenarios in which Sentinel could be useful, everything from inputting victims’ statements to tracking evidence to interfacing with FBI databases that looked for patterns among clues. Then they started working backward to figure out what kind of software should accommodate each need. (Location 2495)

Lean management and agile methods helped fuel the ambitions and innovation of junior programmers who had been beaten down by bureaucracy. (Location 2518)

Rather, Janssen was rescued because hundreds of dedicated people worked nonstop to chase dozens of leads, and because an agile culture empowered junior agents to make independent decisions and follow the clues they thought made sense. (Location 2585)

Employees work smarter and better when they believe they have more decisionmaking authority and when they believe their colleagues are committed to their success. (Location 2592)

But, in the end, the rewards of autonomy and commitment cultures outweigh the costs. The bigger misstep is when there is never an opportunity for an employee to make a mistake. (Location 2604)

What Annie likes about poker are the certainties. The trick to this game is making predictions, imagining alternative futures and then calculating which ones are most likely to come true. Statistics make Annie feel in control. (Location 2643)

Many of our most important decisions are, in fact, attempts to forecast the future. When we send a child to private school, it is, in part, a bet that money spent today on schooling (Location 2673)

Contradictory futures can be combined into a single prediction. (Location 2800)

Rather, it is a multitude of possibilities that often contradict one another until one of them comes true. (Location 2808)

Losers, Howard said, are always looking for certainty at the table. Winners are comfortable admitting to themselves what they don’t know. (Location 2836)

Howard eventually realized that the hard part of poker wasn’t the math. (Location 2845)

No, the hard part was learning to make choices based on probabilities. (Location 2846)

She knows, from a probabilistic standpoint, it will pay off over time. It doesn’t matter that this hand is uncertain. What matters is committing to odds that pay off in the long (Location 2876)

“Probabilities are the closest thing to fortune-telling,” Howard said. “But you have to be strong enough to live with what they tell you might occur.” (Location 2923)

predictions with such little information and then adjusting them as we absorb data from life,” Tenenbaum told me. “But it only works if you start with the right assumptions.” (Location 3018)

“The best entrepreneurs are acutely conscious of the risks that come from only talking to people who have succeeded,” said Don Moore, the Berkeley professor who participated in the GJP and who also studies the psychology of entrepreneurship. “They are obsessed with spending time around people who complain about their failures, the kinds of people the rest of us usually try to avoid.” This, (Location 3036)

Accurate forecasting requires exposing ourselves to as many successes and disappointments as possible. (Location 3040)

“But the difference between prejudice and Bayesian thinking is that I try to improve my assumptions as we go along. So once we start playing, if I see that the forty-year-old is a great bluffer, (Location 3058)

She spends most of her time giving lectures to businesspeople about how to think probabilistically, about how to embrace uncertainty, about how, if you commit to a Bayesian outlook, you’ll make better decisions in life. (Location 3121)

Some of them are as simple as looking at our past choices and asking ourselves: Why was I so certain things would turn out one way? Why was I wrong? (Location 3134)

taking proven, conventional ideas from other settings and combining them in new ways—is remarkably effective, (Location 3272)

They were usually combinations of previously known ideas mixed together in new ways. In fact, on average, 90 percent of what was in the most “creative” manuscripts had already been published elsewhere—and had already been picked over by thousands of other scientists. (Location 3294)

Researchers have consistently found that labs and companies encourage such combinations to spark creativity. (Location 3311)

IDEO found that most of the company’s biggest successes originated as “combinations of existing knowledge from disparate industries.” (Location 3312)

essentially intellectual middlemen,” (Location 3320)

“Robbins could be brutal,” said Amanda Vaill, Robbins’s biographer. “He could sniff out creative complacency and force people to come up with something newer and better than what everyone else settled for.” Robbins was an innovation broker, and he forced everyone around him to become brokers, as well. (Location 3382)

forces people to use their own emotions to write dialogue for cartoon characters, to infuse real feelings into situations that, by definition, are unreal and fantastical. (Location 3456)

First, be sensitive to your own experiences. Pay attention to how things make you think and feel. That’s how we distinguish clichés from true insights. As Steve Jobs put it, the best designers are those who “have thought more about their experiences than other people.” (Location 3671)

Second, recognize that the panic and stress you feel as you try to create isn’t a sign that everything is falling apart. Rather, it’s the condition that helps make us flexible enough to seize something new. Creative desperation can be critical; anxiety is what often pushes us to see old ideas in new ways. (Location 3675)

Finally, remember that the relief accompanying a creative breakthrough, while sweet, can also blind us to seeing alternatives. It is critical to maintain some distance from what we create. Without self-criticism, without tension, one idea can quickly crowd out competitors. (Location 3679)

or memos or spreadsheets the central office sent around. In fact, the EI was succeeding because teachers had been ordered to set aside those slick data tools and fancy software—and were told instead to start manipulating information by hand. (Location 3752)

“With Google and the Internet and all the information we have now, you can find answers to almost anything in seconds,” said Macon. “But South Avondale shows there’s a difference between finding an answer and understanding what it means.” (Location 3764)

are the ones who know how to use disfluency to their advantage. They transform what life throws at them, rather than just taking it as it comes. They know the best lessons are those that force us to do something and to manipulate information. They take data and transform it into experiments whenever they (Location 4114)

Motivation becomes easier when we transform a chore into a choice. Doing so gives us a sense of control. (Location 4180)

General Krulak had told me something that stuck with me: “Most recruits don’t know how to force themselves to start something hard. But if we can train them to take the first step by doing something that makes them feel in charge, it’s easier to keep going.” (Location 4186)

Self-motivation becomes easier when we see our choices as affirmations of our deeper values and goals. (Location 4208)

Forcing ourselves to explain why we are doing something helps us remember that this chore is a step along a longer path, and that by choosing to take that journey, we are getting closer to more meaningful objectives. (Location 4212)

aid our focus by building mental models—telling ourselves stories—about what we expect to (Location 4273)

And so, every Sunday night, I got into a habit of taking a few moments with a pad and pen to imagine what the next day and week ought to look like. (Location 4275)

Envision what will happen. What will occur first? What are potential obstacles? How will you preempt them? Telling yourself a story about what you expect to occur makes it easier to decide where your focus should go when your plan encounters (Location 4288)

Envision multiple futures, and then force myself to figure out which ones are most likely—and why. (Location 4296)