A Secret to Being Productive?

Charles Duhigg’s book are always entertaining. The central thesis make me dubious but the stories are full of interesting observations. This is true of Smarter, Faster, Better.

I’m not a fan of some of the literature at the basis of the book so it would be a bit tough for Duhigg to fashion something that appealed to me from it. The stories however nicely illustrate a key points. The discussion of the making of Frozen helps show how the film got turned round into the megahit that it is today. The big changes in direction also may explain some of the puzzling plot twists that didn’t really seem to be properly foreshadowed. (That said I found the story of the doomed airline a bit much, I didn’t need to hear quite so much about it).

He has some interesting suggestions. He describes how “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 roughly equal.” (Duhigg, 2016, page 70).  I think this advice could be useful, if you have a problem with some people always dominating discussions. That said there are obvious problems if team members really have nothing to say. You wait for them to make some irrelevant comments. Furthermore, some people are less talkative than others naturally and may feel nervous about being made to speak. Forcing them to say something for the sake of it seems a bit much.

The general point is that I’m all for good ideas to try, we can definitely be inspired by what others do well. That said people and teams differ. What works for you in one situation, what works for Google, won’t necessarily work for you in another situation.

Why not read Duhigg for fun stores and some ideas of things to try. That said I’m yet to be convinced there are secrets to being productive that you can apply off the shelf.

Read: Charles Duhigg, 2016, Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets to being Productive in Life and Business, Doubleday