Title: Thinking Guide for Busy People
Author: Harvey Smart
Adults make countless decisions every day. Some of them are trivial, like what to order for dinner or which tie goes best with a favorite suit. Some of them are monumental and potentially life-altering, like the decision to be in a committed relationship, or the decision to start a business. Thinking Guide for Busy People takes readers through that process and examines the various cognitive bias that, either consciously or subconsciously, affect some of the decisions we make.
From the introduction down to the conclusion, the author made it clear that this book was a practical approach to decision making rather than an in-depth discussion of the various cognitive bias. There was little discussion of findings from academic research or psychological studies; neither was there any in-depth analysis of why the mind works the way it does. It sometimes felt like an oversimplification of the complex maze that is the human brain. Some readers might prefer a more thorough exploration of the theories behind each cognitive bias.
However, the clue to the author’s vision for this book is in the title: Thinking Guide for Busy People. Harvey Smart clearly knew who his target audience was and what they needed. He kept it simple and consistent. The chapters can be easily digested in small, bite-sized portions, and there was uniformity in the format of each chapter so the reader would always know what he or she can expect to get out of it. The writing style was crisp and to the point, with a slight conversational tone that made the book easy to follow and kept it from being too dry.
The author made use of examples to illustrate the points he was making. These examples ranged from Rocky Balboa and Titanic to social media and the Covid-19 pandemic. There was almost a little too much variety in the examples and it ran the risk of confusing the overall message of the book. However, if the intent was to reach a wider audience, then the author largely succeeded in his endeavor. The beauty of this book laid very much in its transferability and applicability in a wide range of fields.
Cognitive bias is also present not just in our professional but also in our personal lives. Harvey Smart tackled this with remarkable insight. For example, one particularly strong chapter was one that talked about the Endowment Effect. This is a cognitive and emotional bias that speaks to the inherent human aversion to loss and is the reason why something automatically becomes more valuable to a person when there’s a chance that they might lose it. Mr. Smart cited how this can be used as a marketing strategy, but at the same time invited readers to reflect on their personal experiences with their partners, family, or friends.
This book is the perfect companion for navigating the intricate minefield of a world that lends itself to fallacies and mistakes when it comes to the decision-making process. It is a book for the times: relevant, in-touch with contemporary issues, and demonstrating a clear understanding of the context in which the modern professional operates. Thinking Guide for Busy People would be a valuable addition to any working person’s library.
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