Book Review by Taylor Berrett
You would be hard-pressed to find a name in the world of organizational psychology more widely known than Adam Grant. Grant, who teaches and conducts research at the Wharton School, has become a bestseller on the strength of his ability to take the principles of behavioral psychology and apply them to workplaces and organizations. His previous books, including Originals and Give and Take, have confronted established wisdom and addressed all of the ways in which it misses the mark. Often, these books are centered around offering wisdom that will be welcome news to a wide range of readers. For example, in Originals he discusses how many of the world’s most successful people aren’t obsessive geniuses who excelled at a young age but rather people who procrastinated and tried lots of things before finding their passion and success.
Now, Adam Grant is back with Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. Like his previous books, Think Again is short on truly surprising insights but packed with powerful examples and genuinely helpful guidance on how to take what we know about rational thought and apply it to our own lives for powerful benefit.
The basis of Think Again is fairly simple— it’s centered around the idea that knowledge can help us until it hurts us. Often, being an ‘expert’ in an area can cause us to stop seeing any truth that doesn’t fit with what we already believe. The book opens by powerfully illustrating this truth with a story of wildfire fighters who have perished on the job for one simple reason: they couldn’t put down their tools, which are heavy and cumbersome but which their training tells them should never be abandoned.
The Danger of What We Think We Know
In Think Again, Adam Grant asks each of us to assess what our heavy ‘tools’ might be, and how they could be weighing us down on the path to true insight.
For example, how did the founder of BlackBerry revolutionize the mobile device industry but then utterly fail to adapt to challengers like the iPhone, tanking BlackBerry in the process? BlackBerry exploded in popularity to the tune of a $70 billion valuation thanks to its focus on email capabilities— but that same obsessive focus led the company’s founder to become blind to all of the other features that people wanted in a mobile device, features that other innovators like Steve Jobs were able to capitalize on in their products.
Think Again requires us all to ask ourselves— How are the things we think we know keeping us from learning the things we don’t know? Think Again is a scientifically backed look at the way we think, and while Grant may tend to present solutions that are comfortable for readers to accept, that doesn’t make them any less impactful. If you’ve enjoyed his previous books or others like them, you’ll definitely find much to love in Think Again, too.