A 5 Minute Overview Of
The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know
About the Author
Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist. He currently serves as professor of management and psychology at The Wharton School. He is also a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, a popular keynote speaker, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife. Fortune named Adam Grant as one of the world's most influential management thinkers. He has written or co-written three New York Times bestsellers, Originals, Give and Take, and Option B. Adam Grant has consulted with numerous companies including Google, Facebook, the NBA, the Gates Foundation, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Navy. He formerly worked as an advertising director, and was a junior Olympic springboard diver. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard University.
The Main Idea
Humans have a tendency to suffer from "tunnel vision" — we assume the first idea that comes to mind will be correct, thanks to our natural intelligence. However, in a turbulent world, having the ability to unlearn and rethink is in fact far more powerful. Rethinking is the business superpower of the 21st century.
Specifically, rethinking needs to happen in three key domains:
- Personal You need to learn how to open your mind up to new and diverse sources of ideas. If you can become better at personal or individual rethinking, it will serve you well over the course of your career.
- Interpersonal If you can encourage the people closest to you to think again more frequently, that will result in better and richer relationships.
- Collective If you can create a community of lifetime learners at your workplace and in your other social interactions, that can lead to some impressive steps forward.
How to Rethink
1. Personal rethinking. To be able to rethink effectively, you first have to open your mind to other possibilities. This is harder than you might assume. Three suggestions are:
2. Interpersonal rethinking. Encouraging the people close to you to rethink their assumptions is tricky, but necessary. To achieve that, two good ideas are:
3. Collective rethinking. Belonging to a group that celebrates and practices rethinking is great. You should do all you can to turn all your groups into communities of lifelong learners. To pull that off, the ideas you should try include:
- Approach everything like a scientist -- let the data speak, not your opinions and assumptions. Run experiments to find what really works.
- Flexibility outperforms consistency when the world is in motion. Master the art of rethinking, and you'll adapt to changes much better than trying to hold back the tide of change.
Summaries.Com Editor's Comments
I thought Think Again by Adam Grant was a really interesting book. It's a warning against tunnel vision, and an invitation to get better at rethinking. The example he gave of a 15-man smoke jumpers team which lost 12 members as they were fighting a wildfire in Montana back in 1949 was quite striking. The team leader, Wagner Dodge, survived because he did something the rest of the team thought was crazy. Dodge started his own fire, burned of all the grass and trees, and then putting a damp handkerchief over his face lay down in the embers. When the main fire came along, Dodge survived because there was nothing left to burn where he was, and there was a layer of oxygen down at ground level where he was. Dodge survived by burning a hole through the blaze.
To me, that was a brilliant and vivid example of the need to rethink assumptions. I personally don't fight forest fires, but today's marketplace is certainly volatile and constantly changing. It seems like being able to rethink things better and faster is going to be a survival key for the future. This book is a manifesto for how to do that. Above all else, the key thrust of this book is you should think and act like a scientist. Form a hypothesis for how you think things are, and then run experiments to either validate or disprove your theories. Then use data to move forward, not opinions.
What's not to like about that approach? Scientists rock!
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Rethinking 101 Collection
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