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10 Books That Will Change How You See The World

10 Books That Will Change How You See The World

Henry David Thoreau once said “a book should contain pure discoveries.” Some books can do even more and change how you see the world. Here are 10 eye-opening books that might just do that for you. Many of the themes in these books connect and while reading any one will give you some new insights, reading all of them may just revolutionize how you see the world and your place in it.

The Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons

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    You don’t see everything you think you see. Through a series of experiments Chabris and Simons show that, due to attention blindness, we often fail to see what is right in front of our eyes. The implications of this are important. We may be missing very useful information and failing to make connections. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to improve our intuitive and observational skills.

    Think Like a Freak Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

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      To solve problems you need to be willing to change how you think. This entails changing how you see the world in several important ways. Among these, they discuss the importance of thinking like a child, saying you don’t know, and learning how incentives work to affect behavior. Their tips often seem counter intuitive because they are based on seeing connections among events in non-obvious ways. As you learn to think like a freak you will learn to see these non-obvious connections everywhere.

      Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Dan Ariely

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        Everyone assumes they act rationally most of the time, but as Dan Ariely points out there are many cases where we do not.  We base our decisions not on rational considerations but irrational ones.  Often our mistakes are simple and predictable.  That means knowing more about them can actually help us create rules and incentives to improve our lives.  We can learn about how we make decisions and how to improve them by seeing our lives as experiments.

        The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives Leonard Mlodinow

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          We think what happens to us is the result of our education, skills, and deliberate decisions. We often see patterns to events where there are none and we see causes and work when the reality is much more random. It is difficult to see randomness at work not because it is rare but because our minds are biased to see order, correlation, and causation. However the role of chance and randomness in our lives is much greater than we realize.

          How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life Roman Krznaric

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            We’ve all been taught that we can learn how to live from studying the past but this lesson is rarely taught in concrete ways, which makes it difficult to see the truth in this. With concrete examples of ideas from the past in such areas as love, work, dealing with death, raising children, and travel it becomes clear that the past is a wealth of knowledge that we can use to improve our lives.

            The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands Eric Topol

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              Major disruption is coming to health care and you will benefit. One of the biggest changes this will bring is that you will collect and control your own medical information using your smartphone. Armed with this information you will have greater control over your health decisions and greater choice about how to improve your health. Doctors will have to adapt or patients will choose other options. The doctor will no longer be in control of your health, you will.

              Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes Mark Penn

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                On an individual level it is almost impossible to see trends as they unfold because we mostly base our ideas about what is going on in the world on our own limited perception. The places we go and the people we know serve as our data set. But, since many large social changes start out as small micro-movements we often miss these trends until they explode on the scene seeming to come out of nowhere. By examining these microtrends up close we can learn more about how societal change happens and how to predict which microtrends will become major social changes.

                Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think Viktor Mayer-Schonberger & Kenneth Cukier

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                  We can now see the world in vastly new ways because we now have the ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data. This data will show us how seemingly unrelated events are connected, help us determine whether those connections are mere correlations or cause and effect relationships, and even allow us to predict future events in ways we’ve never been able to before.

                  How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World Steven Johnson

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                    We have a very linear view of history – especially the history of inventions. But these inventions rarely arise in a completely deliberate fashion as the result of intentional effort. As often as not, they arise as the result of accident or chance connections. Innovations in one area of life can trigger changes that seem entirely unrelated. The most ordinary things in our lives such as glass, the clock, and air conditioning not only arose in surprising ways but led to surprising changes as well.

                    The Knowledge Web James Burke

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                      Schools teach us that academic subjects are discrete entities with no relationships between them but this is untrue. In reality, you can pick any person, place, or event and connect it with virtually any other because they all exist together and connected on the knowledge web. The internet reveals this better than ever but it has always been so. Seeing how the stories of the past relate to each other helps you see that you too are connected to these same people, places, and events. You are part of the knowledge web too. Creativity and problem solving both involve making connections. This takes good examples to draw upon, practice, and an awareness of our cognitive biases and how to address them. Each of these books provides insights and examples to help improve your ability to make connections. The more connections you can make, the more knowledge you have. And, as James Burke once pointed out, when a big enough part of your knowledge changes how you see the world also changes.

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                      Last Updated on September 30, 2020

                      Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

                      Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

                      When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

                      Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

                      Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

                      Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

                      Effective vs Efficient

                      Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

                      A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

                      Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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                      The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

                      Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

                      When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

                      Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

                      Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

                      The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

                      If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

                      When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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                      • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
                      • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
                      • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

                      Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

                      Efficiency in Success and Productivity

                      Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

                      When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

                      Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

                      The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

                      If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

                      Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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                      The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

                      Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

                      Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

                      If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

                      It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

                      Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

                      Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

                      Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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                      By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

                      It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

                      Bottom Line

                      Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

                      • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
                      • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
                      • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

                      And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

                      More on How to Improve Productivity

                      Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
                      [2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
                      [3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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