We interrupt the regularly scheduled Friday Favorites to bring you . . . something new! I’m experimenting with a new content schedule for TheKaiZone, aimed at bringing the community a wider range of information that (hopefully) you will not find anywhere else in the wide world of Lean blogs. As part of the changes, TheKaiZone Friday Favorites will now be posted on a biweekly basis – which should strengthen the quality of the curated articles significantly – with two new features filling the week-ending voids.
The first change to the Friday lineup is the Recommended Reading series brought to you by The Lean Book Shop. Think book reviews, without all the fodder. The posts are not meant to be full-fledged book reviews; I let the critiques to the experts (but will provide associated links in case you are interested in that sort of thing). Recommended Reading will present a concise summary of the key themes and concepts in the selected text, as well as the key learning points that will contribute to your Lean journey.
The books that I review will fall into two distinct categories. First, I intend to keep you up-to-date and informed of all the new releases within the world of Lean and continuous improvement publications. And second, I will highlight books that I believe you will find useful on your journey, but which may not necessarily be written directly about Lean-related topics. As the tag line to the Lean Book Shop says, Recommended Reading is dedicated to the continuous improvement . . . of you!
So, without further ado, I present the first post in the Recommended Reading series:
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Full Book Reviews
Why You Should Read It
Lean produces its greatest impacts not on the shop floor, but in the mind. A desired outcome of many, many cycles of learning, the practice of Lean fundamentally alters the way that we think. That practice makes perfect is a commonly held misconception; the pace at which we learn, the degree to which we comprehend, and the fidelity of our understanding is largely affected by our ability to overcome the systematic biases in our intuitive thought processes.
Thinking, Fast and Slow assimilates decades of research by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman – with significant contribution from the late Amos Tversky -into a master study of the pseudo-conflict that rages in the minds of every thinker between System 1 – fast, reactive, intuitive, sub-conscious thinking – and System 2 – slow, deliberate, effortful, conscious thinking.
Through an understanding of the two Systems that battle in all of our minds, the book teaches us the systematic and repeatable ways in which our brains are likely to produce errors in judgment, to act irrationally and illogically, and to assume a distorted view of reality. As these undesirable side effects of human cognition occur without our consent or control, our only ability to overcome them is to be aware of the situations that give them rise. Thankfully, in Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman not only makes us aware of the many way in which we are likely to err, but also provides practical and sound advice for identifying and correcting these flaws.
Simply put, the book will provide you with a deep understanding of your amazing – but highly flawed, mind. One that will help you to learn faster, to make better decisions and to see the world as it is. This book is an operating manual for the mind and should be required reading for any Lean thinker.
- Your brain consists of 2 competing systems of thought. System 1 is fast to come to judgment, operates with a high capacity, and functions almost entirely within the background of your consciousness. Although brain processing speed is critical to our survival, the mental shortcuts (heuristics) that are called upon by System 1 leave us highly prone to incomplete and inaccurate views of the world. And, still worse, because System 1 processing occurs in the subconscious, we are left completely unaware of our own ignorance.
- To counter the ill effects of System 1, System 2 sacrifices speed and throughput to operate more deliberately, more accurately and more logically. The penalty, however, is that System 2 thinking is highly energy-demanding and requires conscious thought to engage. Given the choice between System 1 (low-energy) thinking and System 2 (high-energy) thinking, we tend to gravitate to the least-demanding course of action. As Mr. Kahneman states, “laziness in built deep into our nature”.
- There are specific, repeatable situations in which System 1 thinking is likely to produce a mental misunderstanding. These tendencies, called cognitive biases, are too numerous to detail here (do go and read the book!), but examples include:
- Confirmation Bias: We have a tendency to search only for information that supports our points of view, while ignoring or discounting information that runs counter to our beliefs.
- WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is): We tend to make decisions based upon only the information that is available at the time; little or no attention is paid to the information that may be missing or the quality of information on which we have formed a judgment.
- Outcome Bias: We tend to evaluate decisions based on outcomes, and not based upon the soundness of the decision-making process. In doing so, we fail to acknowledge the role of randomness and probability in our ability to succeed.
Thinking, Fast and Slow can be purchased via Amazon.com by clicking the link above. It is also available in The Lean Book Shop under the Self-Improvement category.