Book notes: Smarter Faster Better

by Charles Duhigg


Snap out of situations where you get cognitive tunnel vision. Assess the problem and put in a mental model that makes sense for the situation.

Example: Qantas Flight 32 – so many engines and flight controls were failing that it was overwhelming. Instead of continuing with practiced scenarios and fixes, he scrapped everything and changed his mental model to a small prop Cessna. He just needed to get the plane to stall just as it touched the ground.


Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis

Reefs, forests, etc are teeming with life due to fluctuating disturbances (i.e., lightning strike, spring floods (riparian zones), medium-sized waves, etc).

Somewhat related:

The most vibrant things are at the edge. Where two disparate things meet. The meadow and the forest.

Formula to the Creative Process:

  1. Use previous experiences – how did you feel during these experiences
  2. Creative desperation – time crunches make us flexible enough to seize something new
  3. Maintain some distance – force ourselves to critique what we’ve already done. Look at it from a completely different perspective. Disturbances are essential, and we retain clear eyes by embracing destruction and upheaval as long it’s the right size.

Absorbing Data

Mental Scaffolding / Filing

Example of choosing wine by year, color, varietal, price.

Creating Disfluency

Force yourself to manipulate the raw data and come up with meaningful trends. Don’t rely on fancy programs that does all the heavy lifting for you. Use spreadsheets.

Write things down by hand. The harder it is the better. Come up with your own sentences INSTEAD of copying verbatim. Draw things out.

This is mentioned elsewhere as “desirable difficulties.” Write things by hand. Don’t copy and paste. Make flashcards.

Book notes: Smarter Faster Better

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