First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Thinking, Fast and Slow: A book review by Bob Morris

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2011)

Why I think this is one of the most important books published during the past decade

Given the number and quality of the reviews of this book that have already appeared, there really is not much (if anything) I can contribute…except to explain what I have learned from Daniel Kahneman and why I think this is one of the most important books published during the past decade.

These are the questions that Daniel Kahneman has answered for me:

o  How to balance intuitive judgment with rational and emotional judgment?

o  What elevates self-esteem? How? What lowers it? How?

o  How to balance my memory-focused self with my experience-focused self?

o  When is a “nudge” (such as Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein describe in their eponymous book) in my best interests? When is it not? What to consider when making that determination?

o  To what is my intuitive judgment most vulnerable? Why? How to protect it from exploitation? And what about rational and emotional judgment?

o  In terms of my personal development (e.g. stimulating and nourishing my mind, increasing the capabilities of my brain), to what extent can “fast” and ”slow” thinking contribute to that process?

o  Which biases are beneficial? Why? Which are not? Why? How best to determine which are which?

o  To what extent do organizations (or at least teams) resemble individuals in terms of “fast” and “slow” thinking insofar as making correct decisions is concerned?

o  Finally, why – more often than not – is making haste slowly well-advised?

Thank you, Daniel Kahneman!

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Gerald Edelman’s Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On The Matter of The Mind, Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less, and Judgment Calls: Twelve Stories of Big Decisions and the Teams That Got Them Right co-authored by Thomas Davenport and Brooke Manville.

Saturday, March 31, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Quote for the Day from Rachel Maddow (about Success for Women – and Everyone Else)

I’ve read three reviews of Rachel Maddow’s new book, Drift:  The Unmooring of American Military Power, and have the sample pages loaded into my iPad.  It is on my “I want to read this book list,” which is long and ever-growing…  But, sadly, I doubt that this book fits into my “I will present this somewhere” list, so it may be a while.

On The Daily Beast, Rachel Maddow’s ‘Drift’ Probes America’s Uneasy Relationship With the Military by Allison Yarrow, the article ends with this terrific quote from Maddow:

“There are many ways to envision female success. Ultimately, you don’t do anybody any favors by putting people in jobs they can’t do well in. The best way to win is to be better than everybody else,” Rachel Maddow said.

Put people in jobs that they can do well.
Be better than everybody else.

It can’t be put much more simply…  what great insight!


Here’s another good article about the book – Bullet Points:  Rachel Maddow proposes solutions to decades of American military bloat, by Emily Bazelon, from


Saturday, March 31, 2012 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why and how to make “purposeful” mistakes

In Brilliant Mistakes: Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure, Paul J. H. Schoemaker observes, “Our schools and organizations are designed for efficiency and order. These are fine principles but rarely encourage mistakes, either brilliant or foolish. Students are graded on how much they know, not on the degree to which they learn from helpful errors. Similarly, companies strive for error elimination, hiring advisers and relying on sophisticated management tools such as Six Sigma…For most people, [however] it is not that they make too many mistakes but too few.” And deliberate and purposeful mistakes are most important because of what they reveal and what can be learned from those revelations.

Schoemaker includes throughout his narrative several brief quotations from a variety of sources. Here are the ones that caught my eye:

1. Mistakes…are the portals of discovery.” James Joyce

2. “Success is 99% failure.” Saichiro Honda (founder of Honda Motor Company)

3. “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” Winston Churchill

4. “Experience is the name we give to our mistakes.” Oscar Wilde

5. “So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because that is where you will find success. On the far side of failure.” Thomas J. Watson, Sr.

6. “Never test the depth of a river with both feet.” African proverb

7. “Chance only favors the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur

8. “Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.” Vincent van Gogh

As Schoemaker suggests, “The key question companies [and individuals] need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather, ‘Which mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?’”

I highly recommend Brilliant Mistakes, published by Wharton Digital Press (November 2011).

Saturday, March 31, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



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