book covers think again 2

A 5 Minute Overview Of

Think Again

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Interpersonal If you can encourage the people closest to you to think again more frequently, that will result in better and richer relationships.
  3. 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.
This is an invitation to let go of knowledge and opinions that are no longer serving you well, and to anchor your sense of self in flexibility rather than consistency. If you can master the art of rethinking, I believe you'll be better positioned for success at work and happiness in life. Thinking again can help you generate new solutions to old problems and revisit old solutions to new problems. It's a path to learning more from the people around you and living with fewer regrets. A hallmark of wisdom is knowing when it's time to abandon some of your most treasured tools — and some of the most cherished parts of your identity.
Adam Grant

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:

Key Takeaways

  1. Approach everything like a scientist -- let the data speak, not your opinions and assumptions. Run experiments to find what really works.
  2. 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.
We can all improve at thinking again. I think the world would be a better place if everyone put on scientist goggles a little more often.
Adam Grant

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!

Want in-depth 30-minute summaries?

In addition to this 5-minute overview, Summaries.Com has a premium 30-minute summary of this book and 1,000+ more, to help you advance your career and business.

Check Out Premium Plans Today!

Want more 5-minute Snapshots?

To get a new 5-minute business book snapshot each week, sign up for the free plan.

Sign Up for the Free Plan

Rethinking 101 Collection

If you enjoyed this summary, here is a collection of related business book summaries, to help you get ideas and strategies that will give you an edge over your competition.

This mini-course will help you see that unlearning and rethinking are the superpowers of the 21st century world

Buy Rethinking 101 Collection (5 x 30-Min Summaries)
book covers think again 2
Summary published 3/2021
Think Again

The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

by Adam Grant

book covers think again
Summary published in 2009
Think Again

Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep It From Happening to You

by Sydney Finkelstein and Jo Whitehead

book covers think twice
Summary published in 2009
Think Twice

Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition

by Michael Mauboussin

book covers think better
Summary published in 2008
Think Better

(Your Company's Future Depends on it. . . and So Does Yours)

by Tim Hurson

book covers thinking for a change
Summary published in 2003
Thinking for a Change

11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work

by John C. Maxwell

Buy Rethinking 101 Collection (5 x 30-Min Summaries)