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Reflections from our Bookshelf: Think Again

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
By: Adam Grant
Reflection by: Shannon Dermody


Why I read it?

A few months ago this caught my eye on Amazon and I preordered it. I recognize that I like to feel comfortable, which, in the wrong circumstances, can translate to stagnation. This book offers several ways to avoid the pitfalls of habit and coach yourself out of falling into an intellectual rut.

What is it all about?

Think Again explains why people struggle to rethink or question their beliefs, how to combat this in everyday life, and how a culture of rethinking can benefit organizations. Three concepts in particular resonated with me:

  • When advocating for change among a group that is resistant to change, you can make it more palatable by emphasizing the pieces that will remain the same as before.
  • Humility isn’t about not having confidence in yourself, it’s about being aware of your weaknesses. “You can be confident in your ability to achieve a goal in the future while maintaining the humility to question whether you have the right tools in the present. That’s the sweet spot of confidence.”
  • Constructive conflict – attacking flaws in an argument or process, not the person presenting it – is an incredibly effective method of problem solving. Teams that employ constructive conflict achieve greater progress more quickly, whereas teams that get bogged down in interpersonal conflict lose time to relationship issues and are “so busy disliking one another that they [don’t] feel comfortable challenging one another.” The author notes that disagreeable people are more likely to successfully engage in constructive conflict, finding new ways to solve problems and move the ball forward. He cautions that as leaders gain power, they are more likely to surround themselves with agreeable people than with those who they can trust to challenge them.

What caused me to pause?

As the author explained the value of constructive conflict, he observed that among a group who utilizes this well, “the tension is intellectual, not emotional… they disagree because they care.” The concept of professional disagreement that is not a personal attack is something that I have been aware of but haven’t been able to put into words. In my role with Foster Victor I use this technique frequently but have struggled to explain it before reading this book.

How will this book change my habits or influence me?

I really enjoyed the author’s advice on how to make a habit of embracing new ideas and questioning why you react a certain way to a situation. It’s easy to do what has always been done, but to continually question the status quo takes a lot more commitment. This book serves as a great tool to take the first steps in learning to rethink daily actions and question your assumptions.

Add this to your reading list if … you or your team/organization would benefit from refreshing your approach to problem solving.

Pickle Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Shannon Dermody

Shannon DermodyTEST

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