Book Review: Smarter, Faster, Better – Charles Duhigg

Well Written

Charles Duhigg displays his writing acumen in “Smarter, Faster, Better” and that, perhaps, explains my ambivalence toward the book. The book’s title, “Better, Faster, Smarter” sets expectations of being focused on productivity, which it does, but it takes some work to get to the productivity discussions. Duhigg uses two or three antidotes and stories per chapter, tying them together to frame productivity help, which overshadow productivity insights. I found myself wanting to skim the stories to get to the point of the chapter, and the book, which was productivity.

Focus

Duhigg used great stories that were written quite well, but I was expecting to learn the “how” of productivity, rather than how pilots prepare for disasters, Saturday Night Live staff created great shows, or how the movie Frozen ended up being a hit. The stories were engaging nonetheless. If you are looking to discover how productivity works (Duhigg’s goal), and like to read interesting antidotes displaying how productivity works in specific contexts, you will probably be happy with the book.

However, if you are wanting to learn more of how productivity works, but don’t have the time, energy, or desire, to read a 400 page book that is, in my opinion, summed up in the appendix, then there are many “summary” books on Amazon that, I assume, provide more focus on productivity. I took four pages of notes in a Moleskine notebook, so I did find quite a bit of value. While I ended up skimming the first part of several chapters, I found, at times, the strong writing pulling me back into the Duhigg’s accounts of productivity at work.

The chapter titles describe the productivity area addressed in the chapter; Motivation, Teams, Focus, Goal Setting, Managing Others, Decision Making, Innovation, and Absorbing Data. The appendix was especially helpful as Duhigg outlined how he used these productivity methods as he was writing the book.

Still Helpful

Despite myambivalence there was insightful productivity advice amid all the stories. While some of the advice has been outlined elsewhere, I found the connections and combination of productivity methods helpful, such as connecting SMART and stretch goals, team norms, decision making, and the chapter outlining innovation. In retrospect, there was quite a bit of insight throughout, it is unfortunate that those insights get dwarfed by lengthy background accounts. I recommend this book if you want insightful productivity advice and don’t mind the background accounts, or, don’t mind skimming. If you have grown weary of business and productivity books that are mostly stories, you might want to check out one of the many summary options.

I received the ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Viral – Dr. Leonard Sweet

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Full Disclosure: I received this book as a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

I must start out by confessing that I am a Leonard Sweet fan. I was unaware of how much a fan I was until I read his book Viral. Through 198 pages Sweet leads an expedition into two convergent cultures. That of the written word (Gutenbergers) and that of the technological (Googlers). The goal is to get the Gutenbergers to realize it is a Googler world and if we are going to be faithful to the call of God we must be willing to not only recognize the changes in our culture, but find ways to connect and love in this new world.
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Review: Answering God

Answering God

Over the past few months I’ve been reading through the Psalms and Proverbs each day. As I’ve read, I’ve become more interested in the book of Psalms. I picked a used copy book up by Eugene H. Peterson hoping it would give me some insight into the Psalms. What it did was give me desire to read the Psalms more, but also a desire to pray through the Psalms.

If you have ever read The Message you already know Peterson has a flowing style of prose. You will find that same style here. Every so often you run into a nuggets such as, “Human beings are in trouble most of the time. Those who don’ t know they are in trouble are in the worst trouble.”

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Introduction To The Missional Church by Alan Roxburgh

Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One by Alan J. Roxburgh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is probably the best book I’ve read introducing the missional church. Roxburgh does an excellent job describing what missional ministry is, and what it isn’t.

The one critique I do have is the time he spent describing the process he takes churches through (I’m guessing in a consulting role). I wished he would have given some more direction for local pastors in cultivating “missional imagination” within their congregations. Perhaps he does this in his book “Missional Map-making” which I have not read yet.

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