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Annotated ideas from insightful books

Think Again - The Power of knowing what you don't know

“This book”, says Adam Grant, Wharton Professor and best-selling author, “is an invitation to let go of knowledge and opinions that are no longer serving you well and to anchor your sense of self in flexibility rather than consistency. If you can master the art of rethinking, I believe you’ll be better positioned for success at work and happiness in life” If it is such an invaluable cognitive skill, what stops us from working for it? Adam Grant points a finger at 3 tools we cling to – Assumptions, Instincts and Habits. Yet, as Grant compellingly argues, in a turbulent world, the set of cognitive skills that might matter most revolve around the ability to rethink and unlearn

Powerful learning for the sales domain 

There is a powerful learning for the sales domain here. The pandemic years forced salespeople to rethink many assumptions, beliefs and instincts that were regarded unalterable. For example, “Selling is best done only in person” “Virtual meetings and trainings are a sham” “Remote teams cannot deliver results” The Covid upended such pre-held ideas and initiated us into a new set of possibilities and beliefs. 

Rethinking can transform business results – Story of a European experiment 

A group of European researchers ran an experiment with more than a hundred founders of Italian startups in diverse businesses ranging from technology to retail, furniture, health care, leisure and machinery. 

The founders were split into two groups. One group was exposed to “scientific thinking” that looked at strategy as a theory, Customer interviews as tools to develop hypotheses and their minimum viable product as an experiment to test those hypotheses. They were encouraged to measure results and make decisions based whether their hypotheses worked or not. In other words, this group was asked to constantly rethink. The other group was given conventional training devoid of these inputs. The results were startling. The ‘rethinking group’ brought in 40X the revenue generated by the conventional group, apart from doing it twice as fast and attracting Customers sooner too. Founders using a rethinking frame were more willing to change their models when they were not getting the results they wanted 

What traps should we avoid to cultivate our ability to Rethink? 

Major Biases to avoid include: 

First-instinct fallacy: Preferring the ease of hanging to old views over the difficulty of grappling with new ones  

Desirability bias: Seeing just what we want to see and nothing else 

Confirmation bias: Seeing what we expect to see so that our pre-existing beliefs are confirmed 

Binary bias: Our tendency to seek clarity and closure by simplifying complex ideas and situations into two categories

9 Actions Grant recommends to promote Individual Rethinking 

  1. Think like a scientist (Be ready to pivot when you see strong data or sound logic) 
  2. Define your identity in terms of values not opinions (See yourself as someone valuing curiosity, learning, mental flexibility and quest for knowledge)
  3. Actively seek out information that goes against your views (Fight confirmation bias, burst filter bubbles and escape echo chambers) 
  4. Don’t get stranded on Mount Stupid (Don’t confuse confidence with competence) 
  5. Harness the benefits of doubt (If you doubt your ability, see it as an opportunity for growth) 
  6. Embrace the joy of being wrong (When you find you have made a mistake, celebrate it because you’ve just discovered something new) 
  7. Learn something new from each person you meet (Everyone know more than you about something) 
  8. Build a challenging network, not just a support network (Cheerleaders aren’t enough, you need critics too) 
  9. Don’t shy away from constructive conflict (Disagreements don’t have to be disagreeable) 

Action Question: What would you rethink with your sales practices?

In turbulent times, managers cannot assume that tomorrow will be an extension of today

– Drucker Managing in Turbulent Times –