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Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

#177: Aug. - Oct. 2021 (Non-Fiction)
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Robert Tulip

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Re: Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

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Page 4 asks why we prefer ideas that make us feel good over ideas that make us think hard. Why is human psychology so brittle? We allow our opinions to fossilise into rigid dogmas at a young age, and then bitterly resist any evidence that suggests we should change our minds. This cognitive laziness arises from fear of threats to our identity. People renew their possessions far more easily than their beliefs, even where good evidence shows their belief is wrong.

And did you know that the story of the frog jumping out of hot water is untrue? People have actually done this experiment, and found the frog will jump out of gradually warming water when it gets uncomfortable, but will get badly scalded or killed by being put into hot water. But we can’t let facts get in the way of a good story. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog explains that the traditional fable only works when the frog has had its brain surgically removed. I wonder if that is a metaphor for the mentality of people who insist on believing things that are untrue.
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Re: Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

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Fun fact that Grant was a creator of a social network group at Harvard prior to Zuckerberg. I heard it was the Winklevoss BDags only. Was that the same group? In any event... That initial network was abandoned as not something that needed to be continued when folks were physically on the same campus.

So close...so far.
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Re: Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

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I have now received my audio book copy of Mr. Grant's book. I have also 'read' (listened to) the Prologue and Chapter 1. Forgive for using the term 'read' in these posts - it is shorter. :blush:

The prologue took me back some 60 years to a summer, when a college student took a summer job in central Idaho fighting forest fires. Yes, we considered all fires 'bad' in those days. Had a few close calls, but actually enjoyed the adventure. His note on rethinking the "fires are bad" attitude, and current thinking brought me forward several decades to a trip through Yellowstone National Park. Driving along a road, we saw smoke in the distance, and sign along the roadside which read "Natural Fire - Do Not Report."

Chapter 1 really put my mind in gear, as I am sure it did many other readers. I especailly enjoyed the various 'modes' he uses to label mindsets. I try to think of myself as 'scientist,' but realize i often slip into one (or more) of the others.

I have to add one bias of my own to technological change - comfort. I must confess to being comfortable with my desk-top computer, as it is easier for me to use. Blame advancing age, with its inevitable symptoms.

I am looking forward to contiinuing to read "Think Again." :wink:
Love what you do, and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. -Ray Bradbury

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it. -Robert A. Heinlein
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Re: Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

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Page 5 notes that under stress we revert to automatic learned responses, which may often not be adequate for new situations. The extreme example of the Montana wildfire escape shows how improvisation can save us by doing something we have never learned. People see such resourcefulness under acute pressure as genius, something outside the potential of normal people.
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Page 6 is about the problem of deeply ingrained psychological habits and assumptions. The firefighters who died in Montana had been taught to care for their equipment. So, even though their gear was very heavy and slowed them down, they did not think until the last minute to drop it and run, and only when their leader told them to. Hanging onto their tools and packs was assessed later as the factor that killed them. When habits like this have worn a deep furrow in our neural pathways, it simply does not occur to us to think about changing them. In a crisis we need to think again.
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Re: Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

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Pg 31: "The curse of knowledge is that it closes our minds to what we don't know."

Well that gave me chills. How true. Some more than others. This is something of which I strive, more successfully than not (I hope), to always remain cognizant.

I have had more than a few convos recently with folks at my workplace. They are a very good group of people, and have grown a successful business in an industry where their company is the only experience they have in running a business in that industry. I have worked for 5 different companies in this industry over 25 years. It is a very heavily regulated industry to boot.

I do not doubt their savvy. The owner is a beast that is driven far beyond most. The staff is all eager to help the company continue to strive and thrive. But there are glaring red flags looming in the mix, time bombs in the system, mainly in how they process and document their work, which is so important in this industry.

As I converse with the one other person there with similar industry experience as myself, as well as others who struggle within the quicksand of working hard to just get to the point where you can do your actual work (finding accurate info in the systems, understanding how clients are entered in the system, being confident in what you find, etc), I find I am not alone in seeking changes that all agree will put us in a better position for further success.

I have been having a hard time communicating my thoughts effectively to the leaders, the owner included, but he seems to at least recognize the need for change. Overall, they are suffering from the overconfidence cycle. They have always done it this way. They don't know what they don't know. There is extreme confirmation bias and fear of change. This chapter has some good examples of leaders who did change (Steve Jobs) and who did not (Mike Lazaridis.)

I am definitely going to use the example of the firefighters, Apple, and Blackberry and try to use the approaches that are so well communicated so far. And there are other ideas I have already gleaned from this one chapter. It's helping me think a little differently. Go figure.

Cant wait to read on!!
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Re: Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

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Page 7 picks up how instincts constrain us – rethinking our assumptions and beliefs seems subjectively to mean admitting failure and shedding part of our identity. People prefer to stick with stupid rather than do that. Habits weigh us down.
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Re: Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

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Page 8 is about mental flexibility and agility, the type of thinking that enabled Mark Zuckerberg to create Facebook, when others with similar ideas (like Adam Grant who helped create a Facebook precursor at Harvard) failed to capitalise on their innovative ideas.

It wasn’t just that MZ was flexible and agile in his thinking – he was also strategic, with the imagination to see how a social network powered by the internet could achieve wide popularity and utility.

Our opinions and beliefs constitute our identity, and can weigh us down just as essential tools weigh down a firefighter, and have to be dropped in an emergency. It is interesting that our tools both enable and constrain our flexibility and agility.
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Page 9 expands on why Adam Grant failed to start Facebook and become a trillionaire. A series of flawed assumptions meant he is now only a super-successful psychology professor and author instead of running the world’s biggest company. The point is that rethinking can change your sense of identity, for example from student to entrepreneur. Mental pliability is urgent now in thinking how we work together creatively, including in urgent problems like how we respond to the pandemic.
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Re: Ch. 1: Think Again by Adam Grant

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Robert Tulip wrote:Page 4 asks why we prefer ideas that make us feel good over ideas that make us think hard. Why is human psychology so brittle? We allow our opinions to fossilise into rigid dogmas at a young age, and then bitterly resist any evidence that suggests we should change our minds. This cognitive laziness arises from fear of threats to our identity. People renew their possessions far more easily than their beliefs, even where good evidence shows their belief is wrong.

And did you know that the story of the frog jumping out of hot water is untrue? People have actually done this experiment, and found the frog will jump out of gradually warming water when it gets uncomfortable, but will get badly scalded or killed by being put into hot water. But we can’t let facts get in the way of a good story. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog explains that the traditional fable only works when the frog has had its brain surgically removed. I wonder if that is a metaphor for the mentality of people who insist on believing things that are untrue.
Interesting, Robert, that we picked on the poor frog in our parable, when that animal has more sense to "get out" than we often have!
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