Think Again: Micro Review

And Adam Grant does it again. His book “Originals” is one of my favorites and he has come out with another winner. “Think Again” is the book that you need to read right now. It’s the book that will resonate with our personal lives, social life, political life and professional life.

We are all at a crossroads where everything around us is changing at incredible speed and we are adapting to those changes. Yet we cling to our beliefs/opinions/mindsets and defend them even though the context around those have completely changed. As he mentions in the book — “…We laugh at people who still use Windows 95, yet we still cling to opinions that we formed in 1995”

In this book, he challenges us to have an open mind, rethink and re-evaluate our thinking and beliefs, explore our biases (explicit and implicit) and be OK with being wrong. In his style, he has cited the psychological research on why we cling to our opinions, why its hard to question and challenge them and how we can overcome those challenges to keep up with the times (not just the latest iphone model but also our thinking).

I love his preacher, prosecutor and politician analogy for explaining the different positions we take while talking about our beliefs and opinions. I find checking my self sometimes to be more aware when I actually start playing one of those roles and try to pull back to the “scientist” role that is more fact based and objective. I think there is a place for all those roles but we need to be self aware.

Like I said, the topic is very relevant in these times and definitely can help with the extreme polarization that has happened in our society. However, the topic also applies to any transformation effort in an organization because if you have been in one, you know that there is a lot of rethinking required around existing and established beliefs, mindset and opinions.

The author covers each of these concepts in different parts of his book — how do we rethink in our own lives, how do we encourage rethinking with others and finally how do we create a community of learners. A must read.

I could fill pages and pages of quotes from this book but here are a select few that will give you a flavor:

“Some psychologists point out that we’re mental misers: we often prefer the ease of hanging on to old views over the difficulty of grappling with new ones.”

“We go into preacher mode when our sacred beliefs are in jeopardy: we deliver sermons to protect and promote our ideals. We enter prosecutor mode when we recognize flaws in other people’s reasoning: we marshal arguments to prove them wrong and win our case. We shift into politician mode when we’re seeking to win over an audience: we campaign and lobby for the approval of our constituents.”

“The risk is that we become so wrapped up in preaching that we’re right, prosecuting others who are wrong, and politicking for support that we don’t bother to rethink our own views.”

“Research reveals that the higher you score on an IQ test, the more likely you are to fall for stereotypes, because you’re faster at recognizing patterns. And recent experiments suggest that the smarter you are, the more you might struggle to update your beliefs.”

“If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”

“According to what’s now known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, it’s when we lack competence that we’re most likely to be brimming with overconfidence.”

“Our opinions can become so sacred that we grow hostile to the mere thought of being wrong, and the totalitarian ego leaps in to silence counterarguments, squash contrary evidence, and close the door on learning.”

“The absence of conflict is not harmony, it’s apathy.”

“Agreeableness is about seeking social harmony, not cognitive consensus. It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

Organizational learning should be an ongoing activity, but best practices imply it has reached an endpoint. We might be better off looking for better practices.

Process accountability isn’t just a matter of rewards and punishments. It’s also about who has decision authority.

It takes humility to reconsider our past commitments, doubt to question our present decisions, and curiosity to reimagine our future plans