Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant invites readers to challenge outdated opinions and knowledge and to favor flexibility over consistency. The book highlights ways to confront biases in your life and how to shape them into powerful tools that serve you better.
For the review, you’ll see book details, then an overview of Think Again, key takeaways, and the conclusion.
Author: Adam Grant
- Hardcover: 320pgs
- Audiobook: 6hrs 40mins
Date Published: February 2, 2021
The Prologue gives powerful examples of how rethinking current practices led to disaster or success. It prefaces the book’s outline and demonstrates to the audience how to reform current ways of thinking.
In light of the book’s theme, Think Again has four parts:
- Individual Rethinking
- Interpersonal Rethinking
- Collective Rethinking: Creating Communities of Lifelong Learners
Part I: Individual Rethinking
This part explains how people react to new information that challenges their assumptions. Then, to explain individual thinking, Think Again explains that there are four modes of thinking when confronted with a new idea:
- Preacher mode: Upon learning new information, preachers tend to persuade their audience that they’re right, similar to a preacher or salesman.
- Prosecutor mode: People in this mode try to prove others wrong when faced with a new idea.
- Politician mode: Like a politician, people want to win over their audience, even when it means sticking to an old idea.
- Scientist mode: Scientist mode approaches new ideas with humility and recognition that new ideas can be explored even when they conflict with long-held beliefs.
Part I also cautions readers about the confidence and competence scales. If you’re overconfident but not competent, that leads to the Armchair Quarterback, and if you’re more competent than confident, that leads to Imposter Syndrome. The book also talks about the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says that people who lack competence will overcompensate with overconfidence. Think Again refers back to these concepts throughout the book.
Part II: Interpersonal Rethinking
This section emphasizes thought experiments and open-ended questioning to get better answers and results. For example, Think Again gave examples of how stereotypes bleed into animosity and closed thinking and how those concepts cripple open-mindedness to new solutions.
Part II also talks about powerful open-ended questions–using how and what questions–to get to the root causes of thought patterns. Listening intently and being willing to change was also a central concept in this section. Essentially, conversations should be ‘dances’ instead of matches where people win or lose.
Part III: Collective Rethinking: Creating Communities of Lifelong Learners
Part III establishes uncertainty as the door to a deeper discussion. There isn’t much room for debate when two opposing viewpoints are presented. However, when uncertainty comes into the conversation, it’s a surprising relief to revel in the complexities of a specific issue, the book suggests.
Likewise, people should not believe everything they hear, read, and see. This section highlights that idea by inviting readers to think like a fact checker and explore new ways to think about polarizing ideas (and other important ideas, too).
The final thoughts of Part III discuss how a culture of learning in workplaces helps shape success for future projects. Humility should be at the forefront of that endeavor.
The book concludes with an invitation: rethink old ways of thinking and doing. What we do is not who we are, argues Think Again. Therefore, people are entitled to change their opinions and rethink how they see the world.
Takeaway one: The preacher, prosecutor, politician, and scientist concept is critical to accepting new viewpoints and rejecting old ones. In the Army, we do an After Action Review (AAR) following any operation or training. Productive AARs include a roomful of Soldiers thinking like scientists to dissect the training or operation to improve it.
That’s not to say that the other three modes aren’t good because they all have their place. However, we rely heavily on the preacher and prosecutor modes and less on the scientist mode because we want to save face. Despite the overreliance on preacher, prosecutor, and politician modes, there’s room for the scientist mode, and I argue that we need to make more room for thinking like a scientist. I feel like this was the best takeaway from the book.
Takeaway two: Treating difficult conversations like a dance was an empowering concept. It enables people to look at charged conversations differently because Think Again provides the audience with a tool to de-escalate them. Instead of confronting the opposing idea, ask open-ended questions to get to the root of an idea. Asking tactful questions opens up avenues to new ideas about complex subjects, which was a valuable concept taught in the book.
Think Again provides valuable tools to help shape opinions and challenge assumptions. In an ever-changing environment, it’s necessary to be at the forefront of change. To do so, leaders must think like scientists to take their organizations to new heights.
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Have you read Think Again? What do you think about the book? How has it helped you in your professional career?
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