Charles Duhigg’s previous book The Power of Habit is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. And that’s saying a lot, considering how many books I read. The way he described habits and showed how they form and how to break them was life changing.
That’s why I was really looking forward to his second book: Smarter Faster Better.
Smarter Faster Better
The subtitle for this book is “The secrets of being productive in life and business” and it took me a few chapters to realize Duhigg was tackling this issue at a different level than I had expected. This book is not about productive habits on an individual every-day level; it’s about productive mind sets for both individuals and organizations. Once you realize that, the books truly starts to capture your interest. Duhigg is a storyteller, which makes his books so highly readable.
Using well-researched examples like a NICU nurse who could predict an infant’s medical situation, a kidnapping solved by an information system, an auto-plant that made the most incredible turn around ever and an epic airplane disaster (and another near-miss), Duhigg shows which mind sets make a difference. He comes up with 8 of them:
- Motivating yourself by creating a sense of control
- Creating a team with psychological safety
- Establishing the right (and flexible) mental models
- The right goal setting (stretch and smart)
- Putting decision power in the right hands
- Using correct predictive models for decision making
- Becoming truly innovative by disturbing things just enough
- Using and interpreting data the right way
These are not your easy-to-implement practical tips and tricks. But they all make sense on an intuitive level and challenge your way of thinking. To me, that’s Duhigg’s biggest talent (aside from being a really good non-fiction writer): to challenge our existing thought patterns and established mind sets and sparkle a new mental model.
Will Smarter Faster Better change your life?
That really depends on your willingness to adapt new ways of thinking. It’s definitely not a quick and easy fix, but man, the ideas described here are inspiring. However, unlike The Power of Habit I missed one cohesive underlying concept, which also explains the much weaker title of the book in comparison. The stories will help you remember the concepts, but you may need to reread some chapters a few times as well.
Also, don’t forget to read the appendix, as this contains way more application than you’ll get in the rest of the book!