In this groundbreaking work, Tim Harford shows us a new and inspiring approach to solving the most pressing problems in our lives. Harford argues that today’s challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinions; the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex. Instead, we must adapt. Deftly weaving together psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, physics, and economics, along with compelling stories of hard-won lessons learned in the field, Harford makes a passionate case for the importance of adaptive trial-and-error in tackling issues such as climate change, poverty, and the financial crisis.
©2011 Original material © 2011 Tim Harford. Recorded by arrangement with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. (P)2011 Hachette Digital. Produced by Heavy Entertainment.
“Tim Harford has made a compelling and expertly informed case for why we need to embrace risk, failure, and experimentation in order to find great ideas that will change the world. I loved the book.” (Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality)
“Tim Harford could well be Britain’s Malcolm Gladwell. An entertaining mix of popular economics and psychology, this excellently written book contains fascinating stories of success and failure that will challenge your assumptions. Insightful and clever.” (Alex Bellos, author of Here’s Looking at Euclid)
“This is a brilliant and fascinating book - Harford’s range of research is both impressive and inspiring, and his conclusions are provocative. The message about the need to accept failure has important implications, not just for policy making but also for people’s professional and personal lives. It should be required reading for anyone serving in government, working at a company, trying to build a career or simply trying to navigate an increasingly complex world.” (Gillian Tett, author of Fool’s Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe)
mostly nonfiction listener
Adapt will be an influential book. I read lots of terrific books, and Harford's latest is certainly terrific, but very few books make a long-term difference in how we think. Thaler and Sunstein's Nudge, Ariely's Predictably Irrational, Taleb's The Black Swan, and Wu's Master Switch are all influential books. They all creep into conversations, inform policy choices, underlie institutional strategies, and shape careers.
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from John Maynard Keynes:
“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
(Note: when Keynes was around, the ed tech profession did not yet exist, but if it did I think we would have been included amongst "economists and political philosophers").
Ideas rule the world. And books are the way that ideas take shape and spread. Therefore, books rule the world.
Adapt may get you thinking about your ability to adapt. Accept that you will fail, that your institution, your company, your department and your division will fail. What matters is how we learn from failure. Harford builds his theory of adaptation and failure by telling stories.
How did the U.S. Army turn the Iraq war around? (Short story … by Colonels on the ground risking careers by defying their civilian and military bosses, and engaging in counter-insurgent tactics). How have successful companies, from Google to Whole Foods, to W.L. Gore drive innovation and profits? (Answer: by creating non-hierarchical cultures that push authority and accountability to the edges).
All this may seem like familiar ground, and some of it has been well covered in Schulz's marvelous Being Wrong and Watt's Everything is Obvious (among others), but Harford brings these threads together into a clear set of ideas that are actionable in our professional lives and organizations.
I don't try write a review as if it were the only review a potential reader will see. I write things that I noticed.
Interesting ideas expressed well.
Variety of examples.
Especially since this is non-fiction I dearly wish the (British) narrator had not attempted an American accent for any quote from an American. He does the usual things Brits do when (poorly) imitating Americans, for example very hard Rs and super flat "a" sound.
Probably not. Lots of ideas and history. One could, though, especially on a long drive or other trip.
Overall I like the narration. I am a half-Brit and Anglophile so I enjoy the basic British accent. He keeps the story moving and interesting. The writing is good, but it is non-fiction so it helps to have a good story-teller keeping it lively and supporting the writing.
Possibly, first half of book was full of great examples and approaches but second half became too much of a political statement for Carbon tax and did not follow throught with the main theme as much as the first half.
Only as a casual read and but stop at Carbon Tax section. You got 90% of the book at that point
Narrator needs to narrate. There was absolutely no need for alternate voices or a performance. Took away from the narration too much, were not that good and as an audible book his accent was often difficult to pick up on key words requiring a slight rewind at times.
One key point was made in the beginning that has resonated with me. The decision you make after a bad decision (or result) is often more damaging than the original. Excellent point in everything from golf to realtionships to business.
The book is based on one idea - success often comes from trial and error. There are anecdotes covering a wide range - business, healthcare, and charity work. At Google, employees are given time to experiment with new ideas. Although 80% of these ideas don't pan out, the 20% earns them huge profits. The book starts off slow and there is a chapter on military failures. I suggest starting on Chapter 3 where it has more relevance and then coming back to those chapters. There are also anecdotes about placing safeguards in the right places so that failures aren't disastrous. This is useful advice for industries like nuclear power generation and oil extraction.
The book is okay. Supposedly about how we need to adapt to situations and be willing to try with the risk of failure in order to succeed, but then the examples given seemed to go off on a tangent and while I liked the anecdotes, I had to stop and wonder a lot about "so what is he trying to convey here?" because he's not very clear about his point in a lot of these cases.
I didn't like the voice actor used in this. The British accent was a little difficult, though not a big issue (though I can see it being so for others)... but mostly my problem was with the pacing of his narration. He would switch between long drawled-out words and then a series of words rapidly read in succession, making it impossible to speed up the audio to get over the slower parts, and sometimes requiring a rewind to focus and catch what he was saying. His choice to do accents for the quoted texts was kind of... off-putting too. Dramatic performances are not needed nor desired in non-fiction texts....
I’ve read many books about adaptation including the ‘Righteous Mind’ and ‘That Used to Us’ to name two. Here the author goes through and give cases where individuals chose to adapt causing the end result to change. The author even references one of the two books I’ve referenced in their work.
Really this is a book you need to read as I don’t want to ruin it. In the end like the ‘Five Elements of Thinking’ I’ve found several things I can carry forward into my life. I recommend you read this book and listen to it to get the most from it as no review can never really express the book as they’re someone else’s perception on a book.
I love AUDIBLE! I never get mad at traffic jams and can listen to many different books, despite of my short time.
Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure is a book full of interesting stories, about some curious characters that I've never heard of. It is an easy listening that stresses trial and error and complexity of problems.
His 3 Principles- try new things/ ideas; make failure survivable; learn from your mistakes and adapt, and in the end, he gives the the forth principle: security (or delusion of security).
Business owner , philanthropist.
This book has some great ideas in it. Things that I have not heard before. Worth IT.
Adapt is a great listen, with compelling stories and a consistent theme.
Adapt is comparable to Wikinomics, in how they are both full of interesting examples illustrating different aspectsof their main themes.
My favorite part is the narration of how Jeff Bezos drives Amazon employees to maximize the rate of experimentation.
Currently western culture does everything it can to wish away risk, thinking if we don't acknowledge the risks that are part of life, they will never happen. However taking risks and overcoming them is the basis all growth. If we ever want to see growth in all aspects of humanity we need to increase the rewards for risk takers, and realize that failure in not some sort of killer plague, but rather part of the process.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.