Here are my 7 Lessons and Takeaways from Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Smarter Better FasterThis book, then, explores the eight ideas that seem most important in expanding productivity. …Connecting these eight ideas is a powerful underlying principle: Productivity isn’t about working more or sweating harder. It’s not simply a product of spending longer hours at your desk or making bigger sacrifices. …Rather, productivity is about making certain choices in certain ways. The way we choose to see ourselves and frame daily decisions; the stories we tell ourselves, and the easy goals we ignore; the sense of community we build among teammates; the creative cultures we establish as leaders: These are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive.
This is a book about how to become smarter, faster, and better at everything you do.
Charles Duhigg, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business


I presented my synopsis of the new Charles Duhigg book, Smarter Faster Better, at the May First Friday Book Synopsis. It is a terrific book, and my new “first book to present” when I present synopses within an organization.

It covers eight areas that can spur greater productivity, with substantive research and great story telling. Mr. Duhigg is a superior story teller!

Here are the eight areas:

  1. MOTIVATION Reimagining Boot Camp, Nursing Home Rebellions, and the Locus of Control
  2. TEAMS Psychological Safety at Google and Saturday Night Live
  3. FOCUS Cognitive Tunneling, Air France Flight 447, and the Power of Mental Models
  4. GOAL SETTING Smart Goals, Stretch Goals, and the Yom Kippur War
  5. MANAGING OTHERS Solving a Kidnapping with Lean and Agile Thinking and a Culture of Trust
  6. DECISION MAKING Forecasting the Future (and Winning at Poker) with Bayesian Psychology
  7. INNOVATION How Idea Brokers and Creative Desperation Saved Disney’s Frozen
  8. ABSORBING DATA Turning Information into Knowledge in Cincinnati’s Public Schools
Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg

In each of these chapters, dealing with these eight areas of productivity, he provides tangible “this is what others have done, or have learned, that you need to learn also” ideas. For example, in chapter two on TEAMS, he shares these two “master” findings (coming out of a major research project at Google):

#1 – Team members (group members) need to feel a sense of “psychological safety.” (with “high average social sensitivity”).
#2 – All members speak about the same amount of time in meetings.

At the end of the book, Mr. Duhigg provides his helpful “Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas,” with usable ideas that you can put into practice.

And here are my lessons and takeaways from this exceptional book:

#1 — A sense of an internal locus of control is critical to productivity. This is a learned skill. Cultivate this skill.
#2 — Make a choice that puts you in control.
#3 — More women members on teams is good, needed… the more women, the better. Women have higher average social sensitivity.
#4 — You can’t, you really can’t, work on too many things at once! Work on fewer things at a time.
#5 — Sometimes you have to go for really, really, really big Stretch Goals.
(The “faster train,” the “bullet train,” is born and built in Japan — 120 mph).
#6 – You probably should write more on paper.
#7 – And, you probably should read more widely.

We’ve had a string of really good business books lately. This book, and other recent books, Originals and Deep Work, come to mind. For the person wanting to learn, and ready to learn, the books are here to help. What a good time to be a business book reader.


Smarter Faster Better synopsisYou will be able to purchase my synopsis soon on our companion website, Our synopses come with our comprehensive multi-page handouts, plus the audio recordings of our presentations.


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