Smarter Faster Better
Smarter Faster Better

Smarter Faster Better

Productivity, put simply, is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort. (Location 63)

Tags: productivity

Note: productiviity is about getting the best rewards with the least amount of effort

It’s a process of learning how to succeed with less stress and struggle. It’s about getting things done without sacrificing everything we care about along the way. (Location 64)

Motivation is more like a skill, akin to reading or writing, that can be learned and honed. Scientists have found that people can get better at self-motivation if they practice the right way. The trick, researchers say, is realizing that a prerequisite to motivation is believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings. To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control. (Location 264)

Note: to have motivation we must feel like we are in control

When people believe they are in control, they tend to work harder and push themselves more. (Location 269)

Note: people work better when they feel they are in control

The first step in creating drive is giving people opportunities to make choices that provide them with a sense of autonomy and self-determination. (Location 279)

Tags: choices

Motivation is triggered by making choices that demonstrate to ourselves that we are in control. The specific choice we make matters less than the assertion of control. (Location 292)

Note: Being in control increases motivation

“Internal locus of control has been linked with academic success, higher self-motivation and social maturity, lower incidences of stress and depression, and longer life span,” a team of psychologists wrote in the journal Problems and Perspectives in Management in 2012. People with an internal locus of control tend to earn more money, have more friends, stay married longer, and report greater professional success and satisfaction. (Location 339)

“Why are you doing this?” Quintanilla’s pack buddy wheezed at him, lapsing into a call-and-response they had practiced on hikes. When things are at their most miserable, their drill instructors had said, they should ask each other questions that begin with “why.” “To become a Marine and build a better life for my family,” Quintanilla said. (Location 428)

Note: when times are tough ask "why are you doing this"

If you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier, Quintanilla’s drill instructors had told him. That’s why they asked each other questions starting with “why.” Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge. (Location 432)

Moreover, to teach ourselves to self-motivate more easily, we need to learn to see our choices not just as expressions of control but also as affirmations of our values and goals. That’s the reason recruits ask each other “why”—because it shows them how to link small tasks to larger aspirations. (Location 448)

Self-motivation, in other words, is a choice we make because it is part of something bigger and more emotionally rewarding than the immediate task that needs doing. (Location 535)

As her research continued, Edmondson found a handful of good norms that seemed to be consistently associated with higher productivity. On the best teams, for instance, leaders encouraged people to speak up; teammates felt like they could expose their vulnerabilities to one another; people said they could suggest ideas without fear of retribution; the culture discouraged people from making harsh judgments. As Edmondson’s list of good norms grew, she began to notice that everything shared a common attribute: They were all behaviors that created a sense of togetherness while also encouraging people to take a chance. (Location 730)

Tags: teams

Note: good teams create an environment where peiiple can speak up and take chances

“We call it ‘psychological safety,’” she said. Psychological safety is a “shared belief, held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks.” It is “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up,” Edmondson wrote in a 1999 paper.17 “It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.” (Location 734)

Note: teams should be a safe space where ideas can be expressed

The norms that Google’s surveys said were most effective—allowing others to fail without repercussions, respecting divergent opinions, feeling free to question others’ choices but also trusting that people aren’t trying to undermine you—were all aspects of feeling psychologically safe at work. “It was clear to us that this idea of psychological safety was pointing to which norms were most important,” said Julia. (Location 740)

Note: do not judge the failures of others

It was the norms, not the people, that made teams so smart. The right norms could raise the collective intelligence of mediocre thinkers. The wrong norms could hobble a group made up of people who, on their own, were all exceptionally bright. (Location 881)

Tags: teams

Note: Group norms effect the collective intelligence of a group

There were, however, two behaviors that all the good teams shared. First, all the members of the good teams spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.” In some teams, for instance, everyone spoke during each task. In other groups, conversation ebbed from assignment to assignment—but by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. “As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,” said Woolley. “But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined. The conversations didn’t need to be equal every minute, but in aggregate, they had to balance out.” (Location 886)

Tags: teams

Note: giving all team members equal air time increases team performance

Second, the good teams tested as having “high average social sensitivity”—a fancy way of saying that the groups were skilled at intuiting how members felt based on their tone of voice, how people held themselves, and the expressions on their faces. (Location 892)

Note: an ability to interpret others emotions increases the effectiveness of a team

While men, on average, correctly guess the emotion of the person in the photo only 52 percent of the time, women typically guess right 61 percent. People on the good teams in Woolley’s experiment scored above average on the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. They spent time asking one another what they were thinking about. The good teams also contained more women. (Location 898)

Note: an ability to read emotion improve teams performance. women are better at reading emotion. more women in a team is better

In Edmondson’s hospital studies, the teams with the highest levels of psychological safety were also the ones with leaders most likely to model listening and social sensitivity. They invited people to speak up. They talked about their own emotions. They didn’t interrupt other people. When someone was concerned or upset, they showed the group that it was okay to intervene. They tried to anticipate how people would react and then worked to accommodate those reactions. This is how teams encourage people to disagree while still being honest with one another and occasionally clashing. This is how psychological safety emerges: by giving everyone an equal voice and encouraging social sensitivity among teammates. (Location 949)

Note: allow team mates to speak up and be sensitive to their emotions

succeed. It’s important that everyone on a team feels like they have a voice, but whether they actually get to vote on things or make decisions turns out not to matter much. Neither does the volume of work or physical co-location. What matters is having a voice and social sensitivity.” (Location 972)

Onstage, Bock brought up a series of slides. “What matters are five key norms,” he told the audience. Teams need to believe that their work is important. Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful. Teams need clear goals and defined roles. Team members need to know they can depend on one another. But, most important, teams need psychological safety. To create psychological safety, Bock said, team leaders needed to model the right behaviors. There were Google-designed checklists they could use: Leaders should not interrupt teammates during conversations, because that will establish an interrupting norm. They should demonstrate they are listening by summarizing what people say after they said it. They should admit what they don’t know. They shouldn’t end a meeting until all team members have spoken at least once. They should encourage people who are upset to express their frustrations, and encourage teammates to respond in nonjudgmental ways. They should call out intergroup conflicts and resolve them through open discussion. (Location 974)

Tags: teams

Teams succeed when everyone feels like they can speak up and when members show they are sensitive to how one another feels. (Location 983)

But one thing will remain true if those teams work well: In both places, the groups will feel a sense of psychological safety. They will succeed because teammates feel they can trust each other, and that honest discussion can occur without fear of retribution. Their members will have roughly equal voices. Teammates will show they are sensitive to one another’s emotions and needs. (Location 1012)

Some team leaders at Google make checkmarks next to people’s names each time they speak, and won’t end a meeting until those checks are all roughly equivalent. (Location 1027)

Tags: meetings

Note: record the number of times each team mate speks to ensure evvryone speaks an equal amount of time

In optimal conditions, a human might fly for only about eight minutes per trip, during takeoff and landing. Planes like the A330 had fundamentally changed piloting from a proactive to a reactive profession. (Location 1073)

Even without technology’s help, all humans rely on cognitive automations, known as “heuristics,” that allow us to multitask. That’s why we can email the babysitter while chatting with our spouse and simultaneously watching the kids.10 Mental automation lets us choose, almost subconsciously, what to pay attention to and what to ignore. (Location 1111)

Tags: heuristics

Note: heuristics are ohnitive auutoomations

Studies from Yale, UCLA, Harvard, Berkeley, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and elsewhere show errors are particularly likely when people are forced to toggle between automaticity and focus, and are unusually dangerous as automatic systems infiltrate airplanes, cars, and other environments where a misstep can be tragic.12, 13 In the age of automation, knowing how to manage your focus is more critical than ever before. (Location 1117)

Note: errors are more likely when a system switches between automation and manual

Bonin was in the grip of what’s known as “cognitive tunneling”—a mental glitch that sometimes occurs when our brains are forced to transition abruptly from relaxed automation to panicked attention. (Location 1125)

Note: the transition from relaxed automation to panciked ttention if called cognitiive tunneling

To become genuinely productive, we must take control of our attention; we must build mental models that put us firmly in charge. When you’re driving to work, force yourself to envision your day. While you’re sitting in a meeting or at lunch, describe to yourself what you’re seeing and what it means. Find other people to hear your theories and challenge them. Get in a pattern of forcing yourself to anticipate what’s next. If you are a parent, anticipate what your children will say at the dinner table. Then you’ll notice what goes unmentioned or if there’s a stray comment that you should see as a warning sign. (Location 1508)

By the 1980s, this system had evolved into a system of so-called SMART goals that every division and manager were expected to describe each quarter. These objectives had to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and based on a timeline. In other words, they had to be provably within reach and described in a way that suggested a concrete plan. (Location 1705)

Tags: goals

In particular, objectives like SMART goals often unlock a potential that people don’t even realize they possess. The reason, in part, is because goal-setting processes like the SMART system force people to translate vague aspirations into concrete plans. The process of making a goal specific and proving it is achievable involves figuring out the steps it requires—or shifting that goal slightly, if your initial aims turn out to be unrealistic. Coming up with a timeline and a way to measure success forces a discipline onto the process that good intentions can’t match. (Location 1730)

Tags: goals

Note: smart goals forces people to convert vague ideas to plans

Numerous academic studies have examined the impact of stretch goals, and have consistently found that forcing people to commit to ambitious, seemingly out-of-reach objectives can spark outsized jumps in innovation and productivity. (Location 1864)

Tags: goals

Note: stretch goals help achieve jumps in innovation

“By forcing a substantial elevation in collective aspirations, stretch goals can shift attention to possible new futures and perhaps spark increased energy in the organization. They thus can prompt exploratory learning through experimentation, innovation, broad search, or playfulness.” (Location 1871)

writing to-do lists that pair stretch goals and SMART goals. Come up with a menu of your biggest ambitions. Dream big and stretch. Describe the goals that, at first glance, seem impossible, such as starting a company or running a marathon. (Location 1908)

Tags: goals

Madrid’s trainers explained that the Toyota Production System—which in the United States would become known as “lean manufacturing”—relied on pushing decision making to the lowest possible level. Workers on the assembly line were the ones who saw problems first. They were closest to the glitches that were inevitable in any manufacturing process. So it only made sense to give them the greatest authority in finding solutions. (Location 2102)

Note: push decision making to those who see the problems first

These approaches emerged in different industries, but they and other adaptations of lean manufacturing shared key attributes. Each was dedicated to devolving decision making to the person closest to a problem. They all encouraged collaboration by allowing teams to self-manage and self-organize. They emphatically insisted on a culture of commitment and trust. (Location 2301)

Note: allow the person closest to the problem to solve

This, ultimately, is one of the most important secrets to learning how to make better decisions. Making good choices relies on forecasting the future. Accurate forecasting requires exposing ourselves to as many successes and disappointments as possible. We need to sit in crowded and empty theaters to know how movies will perform; we need to spend time around both babies and old people to accurately gauge life spans; and we need to talk to thriving and failing colleagues to develop good business instincts. (Location 2818)

Note: in order to succeed you should understand the reason for failure

How do we learn to make better decisions? In part, by training ourselves to think probabilistically. To do that, we must force ourselves to envision various futures—to hold contradictory scenarios in our minds simultaneously—and then expose ourselves to a wide spectrum of successes and failures to develop an intuition about which forecasts are more or less likely to come true. (Location 2894)

Note: to make beter decions about the future we should imagine a few scenarios and determine the probability that each will occur

The people who make the best choices are the ones who work hardest to envision various futures, to write them down and think them through, and then ask themselves, which ones do I think are most likely and why? (Location 2906)

“A lot of the people we think of as exceptionally creative are essentially intellectual middlemen,” said Uzzi. “They’ve learned how to transfer knowledge between different industries or groups. (Location 3077)

Note: transferring knowledge from one domain to another often results in innovation

“Creativity is just connecting things,” Apple cofounder Steve Jobs said in 1996. “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”36 People become creative brokers, in other words, when they learn to pay attention to how things make them react and feel. (Location 3197)

Tags: idea generation

When strong ideas take root, they can sometimes crowd out competitors so thoroughly that alternatives can’t prosper. So sometimes the best way to spark creativity is by disturbing things just enough to let some light through. (Location 3321)

Note: appropriately sized disturbances can encourage creativity and innovation

But the creative process is different. We can create the conditions that help creativity to flourish. We know, for example, that innovation becomes more likely when old ideas are mixed in new ways. We know the odds of success go up when brokers—people with fresh, different perspectives, who have seen ideas in a variety of settings—draw on the diversity within their heads. We know that, sometimes, a little disturbance can help jolt us out of the ruts that even the most creative thinkers fall into, as long as those shake-ups are the right size. (Location 3390)

Information blindness occurs because of the way our brain’s capacity for learning has evolved. Humans are exceptionally good at absorbing information—as long as we can break data into a series of smaller and smaller pieces. This process is known as “winnowing” or “scaffolding.”18 Mental scaffolds are like file cabinets filled with folders that help us store and access information when the need arises. If someone is handed a huge wine list at a restaurant, for instance, they’ll typically have no problem making a selection because their brain will automatically place what they know about wine into a scaffold of categories they can use to make binary decisions (Do I want a white or a red? White!), and then finer subcategories (Expensive or cheap? Cheap!) until they confront a final comparison (The six-dollar Chardonnay or the seven-dollar Sauvignon Blanc?) that draws upon what they have already learned about themselves (I like Chardonnay!). We do this so quickly that, most of the time, we’re hardly aware it’s occurring. (Location 3518)

“Our brains crave reducing things to two or three options,” said Eric Johnson, a cognitive psychologist at Columbia University who studies decision making. “So when we’re faced with a lot of information, we start automatically arranging it into mental folders and subfolders and sub-subfolders.” (Location 3528)

Tags: decisions, options, brain

Note: we automatically reduce a list of options down to two or three options

“The important step seems to be performing some kind of operation,” said Adam Alter, a professor at NYU who has studied disfluency. “If you make people use a new word in a sentence, they’ll remember it longer. If you make them write down a sentence with the word, they’ll start using it in conversations.” (Location 3546)

When we encounter new information and want to learn from it, we should force ourselves to do something with the data.

If you read a book filled with new ideas, force yourself to put it down and explain the concepts to someone sitting next to you and you’ll be more likely to apply them in your life.

When you find a new piece of information, force yourself to engage with it, to use it in an experiment or describe it to a friend—and then you will start building the mental folders that are at the core of learning. (Location 3831)

Tags: reading, sharing, learning, memory, favorite

Note: engaging with information helps to retain that information

Motivation becomes easier when we transform a chore into a choice. Doing so gives us a sense of control. (Location 3874)

Tags: motivation

TO MAKE TEAMS MORE EFFECTIVE: Manage the how, not the who of teams. Psychological safety emerges when everyone feels like they can speak in roughly equal measure and when teammates show they are sensitive to how each other feel. If you are leading a team, think about the message your choices reveal. Are you encouraging equality in speaking, or rewarding the loudest people? Are you showing you are listening by repeating what people say and replying to questions and thoughts? Are you demonstrating sensitivity by reacting when someone seems upset or flustered? Are you showcasing that sensitivity, so other people will follow your lead? (Location 4000)

Tags: teams

Note: Encourage people in the team to speak

TO ABSORB DATA BETTER: When we encounter new information, we should force ourselves to do something with it. Write yourself a note explaining what you just learned, or figure out a small way to test an idea, or graph a series of data points onto a piece of paper, or force yourself to explain an idea to a friend. Every choice we make in life is an experiment—the trick is getting ourselves to see the data embedded in those decisions, and then to use it somehow so we learn from it. (Location 4019)

Tags: sharing, learning, memory

Note: Play with information in order to better remember it