Think Again | Adam M. Grant

Summary of: Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
By: Adam M. Grant


In ‘Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know,’ author Adam M. Grant highlights the importance of rethinking and adapting beliefs in a rapidly changing world. The book delves into mastering the art of reassessing our beliefs and embracing change by adopting a scientific approach, questioning our own competence, and overcoming our blind spots. With convincing examples, Grant demonstrates how recognizing multiple perspectives on an issue can lead to better persuasion and ultimately fostering a learning culture within organizations.

Change Your Mind to Succeed

In a world where information is increasing rapidly, it pays to change your mind. The book highlights the downfall of Blackberry smartphones, which failed to adapt its technology despite Apple’s iPhone gaining market share. The key message here is that sticking to your guns is no longer enough to succeed. Training yourself to think like a scientist by testing your theories and adapting to incoming data can lead to success. Scientifically-minded leaders are more likely to pivot and adjust their business models when things go wrong, according to a study on Italian startups. As a business leader or entrepreneur, it’s crucial to learn how to rethink and integrate new information into your belief systems and strategies.

Humility is Key

Do you know what you don’t know? Most people have blind spots in their abilities that they overestimate. This makes it difficult to improve skills, particularly in areas like emotional intelligence. Humility opens doors for learning and competence without affecting self-confidence. Task-based conflict can also be helpful in illuminating blind spots, as long as it remains respectful and focused on improving strategy and methods. Successful teams experience both task conflict and relationship harmony, while unsuccessful teams focus only on personal disagreements. To succeed, we must first be humble enough to admit what we don’t know.

Master the Art of Persuasion

Effective persuasion involves finding common ground, using fewer arguments, and displaying a scientist’s curiosity towards your opponent. Author Adam Grant emphasizes that negotiators must avoid the tug of war mentality and engage in a more rhythmic dance of negotiation where both sides can gain ground. The best negotiators also present a few, strong arguments in favor of their case, instead of piling on weaker ones. Additionally, they are curious about their opponents’ viewpoint, asking questions to better understand their perspective. By following these three key steps, negotiators can change people’s minds more effectively.

Changing Deep-Seated Beliefs

The most effective strategy to overcome prejudice and bigotry is to demonstrate that arbitrary factors shaped our beliefs and by encouraging individuals to consider this, it can lead to a realization of the flaws in their beliefs, according to two distinct examples of bridging ideological divides presented in the book.

Daryl Davis, a Black musician, sets out on a mission to talk to Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members and succeeded in transforming many Klan members into leaving the KKK, including one member’s invitation to be his daughter’s godfather. Davis showed how the fundamental roots of their racist beliefs were due to their accidental upbringing in a family that openly upheld white supremacy, and by prompting them to self-reflect, it led Klan members to renounce their racism.

Similarly, two rival baseball teams’ fans held deep prejudice against each other. Grant, the book’s author, wanted to bridge the divide between them, so he requested both teams to write essays that demonstrated how random their dislike for the other team was. Yankee fans realized that they would have supported the Red Sox if born into a supportive Red Sox family, and the same was true for Red Sox fans who disliked Yankee fans.

The key takeaway from both examples is that the capacity to change lies in individuals’ realization they hold their beliefs only by chance. According to the book, confronting ignorant beliefs and supporting views through compassion key actions in overcoming ideological differences.

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