3 Unexpected Books that Add Value to Your Business
There are many books on running a business, increasing productivity, or becoming a leader, but sometimes the best lessons come when you least expect them (and from books you would never have imagined).
Here are 3 of our favourite books that made us think about specific business trends and challenges our clients have faced in the past.
How we make decisions based on intuition vs “slow thinking” and where data fits in
“Thinking, fast and slow”, by Daniel Kahneman
You might be familiar with Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking fast and slow”, an in-depth analysis of the human mind and behavioural psychology, but have you ever stopped to think how it can help you minimise the risks that come with biased decision-making processes and, ultimately, improve how you run your business or your team?
One of the most essential ideas you’ll find in this book is that our judgment is shaped by two systems, intuition and slow thinking. Kahneman explains how, depending on the amount of energy our minds need to allocate to a task, we generally use one system or another. When little energy is needed, our minds go into a state of cognitive ease, whereas if we’re up against a difficult task, our minds use more energy and enter a state of mental strain.
So, can managers leverage this information and make better decisions?
Even though we’ve been taught to make informed decisions, we’re unconsciously influenced by a confirmation bias, which processes information by interpreting it consistently with our existing beliefs. We often rely on intuition because there’s not enough data available, or it’s incomplete. An unconscious bias from intuitive decision-making processes unwillingly fosters inequality and discriminatory behaviours. However, there is a way to minimise its effects.
In today’s data-driven mindset, a well-defined and structured data strategy helps ensure that data is managed efficiently and used as an asset. By having access to reliable information for a diverse range of needs, decision-making would not rely so much on singular intuition, which would eliminate potential inequalities and widen the customer base and talent pool.
How communication put humans at the top of the food chain and why it’s currently one of our most significant shortcomings
“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, by Yuval Noah Harari
In his brilliantly insightful book that takes us through the evolution of humanity, Harari explains how our ability to communicate sets us apart from other species and was instrumental in Homo Sapiens’ domination.
The fact that valuable information could flow freely and that our ancestors used this form of communication to build cohesive communities ultimately ensured the survival of mankind; the difference between struggling to survive on your own and having the support of a community.
Nowadays, languages are more diverse and complex than ever, so logic dictates that communicating should be easier.
The lack of acknowledgement for a job well done, being ignored when asking for help, or the lack of personal boundaries are some reasons employees feel they’re not being appreciated. This leads to negative sentiment and, consequently, a high employee turnover; one of the biggest problems most companies face today and the main reason they should invest time and effort in building a strong organisational culture, especially if they work on a global scale.
Where globalisation has brought together diverse cultures and backgrounds in workplaces, a solid organisational culture will help bring people together, improving their communication and encouraging innovation.
Humans are no longer banding together for collective survival but should band together for collective purposes in business. With over 40% of employees considering leaving their company this year, organisations need to cultivate employee loyalty to not lose out.
Automated behaviours and how, ironically, the same principles might not apply to processes
“Atomic habits”, by James Clear
“Atomic habits” is a must-read for anybody interested in optimising their time, increasing productivity, and simply becoming a better version of themselves. In his insightful book, Clear takes us through how habits are formed, why they exist, and how we can change those that aren’t good because, after all - we are our habits.
To summarise, our brains figure out how to respond to new situations through a process of trial and error. A habit begins with a trigger or a cue, such as waking up in the morning. Next comes the craving for a change, such as needing to activate the body, followed by the response. In this case, that could be making coffee. The final step is getting the reward, which in our example is feeling awake. A new habit is formed if this process is repeated a few times.
An essential difference between a human habit and process automation (which are similar now that we know how habits are formed) is that we instinctively trust our processes to successfully implement a habit. We rarely consciously form a new habit, and when we do, we trust whatever system we use to put it in place.
However, when it comes to implementing process information in companies, companies fall to typical complications - significantly because they fail to consider human instinct in their design. This is because process automation is seen as the end in itself rather than a means of achieving customer success; companies ignore the bigger picture or merely replicate manual processes instead. Organisations need to embrace human-centred automation as part of their digital transformation journey to be effective.
Valuable lessons can be learned in the most unexpected places. “Thinking, fast and slow”, “Sapiens”, and “Atomic habits” are just some of the books that can shed light on current challenges that many businesses are facing and even offer insights into their solutions.