Writing is underrated. The discipline of getting thoughts from your head onto paper is very valuable and you can learn a lot simply by writing down your ideas and observations. Writing is the process of making your thoughts concrete and visible. it allows you to clarify what you are thinking and refine your ideas. Writing makes you smarter because it forces you deeper into a topic and shows you areas of your topic that you don’t fully understand. For example, I recently wrote a post about to help clarify my understanding and make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything in the 5 years since I took a class on the topic. Not only was the exercise good for me by forcing me to think deeply about the topic again, but the interactions with people who read it and had suggestions, corrections or disagreements was personally rewarding.
BOCK: I’m basically in charge of the care and feeding of our Googlers, our employees, and making sure they get here, they’re happy, they’re productive and they stay a long time.
DUHIGG: That’s exactly right. What we know is that you can train people to believe that they’re in control of their own life, and more importantly, to get them addicted to that kind of pleasant sensation that kind of comes from being in control. One of my favorite examples of this is something that , a neurologist, mentioned to me, is driving down the freeway. You know when you’re stuck in traffic on the freeway and you see an exit, and you know that it would take just as long to get home by taking that exit, but your brain wants you to turn the wheel and take the exit even though it won’t get you home any faster. That’s because we learn this kind of almost emotional pleasure that comes from taking control.
There are twelve things: technical skills, communications, teamwork, initiative, productivity, continuous quality improvement, customer satisfaction, innovation and creativity, integrity � that�s really become a big issue in industry, especially at Boeing when I was there with the merger and all, leadership, risk-taking, and developing people.
After controlling for many other factors, banks of different ownerships were found to experience the same level of productivity change during the deregulated period.
I can’t promise to reply. In fact, there’s a very, very good chance I won’t. Because one way I stay productive is by saying “no” to just about everything I possibly can, and that includes replying to about 99 percent of my e-mail. But I do read all of them, so please do let us know if you are getting more productive.
DUBNER: OK, so the implication is that there’s a certain kind of compliment or praise that is more powerful or that leads to higher productivity, yes?
The year-to-year change in efficiency and productivity has shown that banks were under intensive pressure to catch up with their moving industry frontier.
Productivity improvements were generally higher for banks that were relatively inefficient in the preceding year, smaller in size and less market-share driven.
OK, got that? Motivation, focus, goal-setting, decision-making, innovation, absorbing data, managing others, and teams. Some of these are obviously more geared toward workplace productivity, but we’ll see if we can’t smuggle them over the border into the personal realm.
DUBNER: Now, before we get into the specifics of what leads to a more productive life, whether in work or in the personal sphere, persuade us that the examples you’ll be using and the data that you’ll be presenting aren’t cherry-picked. In other words, persuade us that you’re not just telling success stories and then reverse-engineering them to present seemingly causal factors that might in fact be nothing more than correlation and perhaps even just coincidence.
On the positive side, by allowing new entrants to enter into the market, deregulation has stimulated competition and encouraged efficiency improvement and technological innovation in the industry.
DUHIGG: When electricity was first popularized, there was this huge wave of factories that replaced their steam engines with electrical engines. And almost none of the productivity of those factories rose initially. This has been referred to in economics literature as the productivity paradox. And as researchers went back and they tried to figure out why, what they found is that all the factory managers had arrayed all of the machines, had lined them up on the factory floor, so that they could have these steam pipes that would run from machine to machine. And when they electrified the plants, they left all the machines in the same places; they just replaced the pipes with wires. It took like 20 or 25 years for plant managers to start saying, “Look, the strength of electricity isn’t simply a new power source. It’s that we can move these machines in ways that we can have workers work more efficiently or we can use less people or we can create an assembly line.” And that’s where the productivity increase really came from. And the same thing is happening today.
The funny thing about thinking is that there really isn’t that much information on how to go about doing it. There are books like that are interesting but tend to focus on how to be creative less than on how to just think. On one hand this is disappointing, but on the other it makes sense. Thinking is a huge category and it is going to be very difficult for one person to explain how they think to someone else. What I’m going to do here is to try to give you some guidelines for productive thinking that work well for me. Obviously you’ll have to find what works for you and adjust things to fit your personal needs, but these should give you a start.