ICE Book Review: Smart, Faster, Better

By Rob Cooney

Charles Duhigg’s first bestseller, The Power of Habit, opened my eyes to the influence of habits and rituals on daily living and the potential uses for the habit loop in teaching.  As soon as I learned that he was releasing another book, I was quick to pre-order. I was not disappointed.

In The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business Duhigg, a masterful storyteller, walks the reader through the science using case reports disguised as stories.  He explores motivation, psychological safety, cognitive tunneling, goal setting, agile thinking, culture of trust, Bayesian psychology, idea brokers, and knowledge management.

Interspersed amongst the stories, the reader will find a goldmine of applicable skills that will help adapt the science to teaching and personal productivity. Take motivation as an example.  The psychology of motivation has demonstrated that we need to perceive that we are in control.  Making decisions can reinforce this perception.  Therefore, making a decision about a task that you’re trying to accomplish can provide motivation to continue the task.  Want to write that paper you’ve been putting off? Duhigg would recommend choosing to write the conclusion first.

With my interest in ‘teaming’, I found the second chapter to be particularly enjoyable.  The chapter delved into effective teams and psychological safety.  Here, Duhigg relies heavily on the work of Amy Edmondson, author of the previously reviewed book Teaming.  As healthcare becomes more complex, we are going to depend upon effective teaming and the concept of psychological safety is essential to understand and promote.  Educators must be aware of these concepts. (Read an excerpt of this chapter).

Chapter by chapter, Duhigg unpacks the science behind effective individuals and teams. As you would expect from a best-selling author, the book is fun to read and will make you pause and think.  Read it, or better yet, get a group of faculty members together to digest and discuss the concepts as a team.