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Publisher's Summary

Columnist for The Times and best-selling author of Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice, Matthew Syed argues that the key to success is a positive attitude to failure.

What links the Mercedes Formula One team with Google? What links Dave Braisford's Team Sky and the aviation industry? What is the connection between the inventor James Dyson and the footballer David Beckham? They are all Black Box Thinkers.

Whether developing a new product, honing a core skill or just trying to get a critical decision right, Black Box Thinkers aren't afraid to face up to mistakes. In fact, they see failure as the very best way to learn. Rather than denying their mistakes, blaming others or attempting to spin their way out of trouble, these institutions and individuals interrogate errors as part of their future strategy for success.

How many of us, hand on heart, can say that we have such a healthy relationship with failure? Learning from failure has the status of a cliché, but this book reveals the astonishing story behind the most powerful method of learning known to mankind, and reveals the arsenal of techniques wielded by some of the world's most innovative organizations.

Their lessons can be applied across every field - from sport to education, from business to health. Using gripping case studies, exclusive interviews and really practical takeaways, Matthew Syed - the award-winning journalist and best-selling author of Bounce - explains how to turn failure into success, and shows us how we can all become better Black Box Thinkers.

©2015 Matthew Syed (P)2015 Hodder & Stoughton

What listeners say about Black Box Thinking

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Great book, so-so audio performance

I absolutely loved the book. It's interesting, applicable, and very well written. The only downside was that the narrator was breathy and made so many mouth noises. It was incredibly distracting.

4 people found this helpful

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Everyone should be taught Black Box Thinking

This has changed my thinking towards tackling any situation or problem. Students of all ages will benefit from studying this material. Leaders should strive to develop organisational culture with this principle as one of the foundational layers.

1 person found this helpful

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Learning from mistakes. A must read for Everyone!!

This is a must read for everyone.. Except a small randomised control group 😂 Seriously, this is the best book about learning from failures. it starts off talking about how the Aviation industry is based around learning from their failures, from crashes and near misses. Hence they have the Black Box for recording what happened in the lead up to a crash. But the culture of the Healthcare system is almost the exact opposite, they try not to investigate problems and learn from mistakes and deaths. Instead being worried about blame being attributed. This book explains and extols the virtues of applying the scientific method to social concerns. All geisters, social entrepreneurs, organisers, managers, staff, students, parents and you should read this and ensure that you create and utilise feedback loops in your organisations and life.

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Very inspirational

This book really made me change the way I look at failure and made me feel more comfortable with it. Many of the concepts may be somewhat knows if you’ve studied business or so, but it’s brought in a very compelling way.

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Apt and to the point.

Resonates fully in what we experience in life, work, and relationships. A very good read.

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Worth reading

The book starts in an intriguing way and then develops a bit slowly, initially leaving you wonder where it will go. It then goes on to explain key human thought processes and behaviours (mainly around failure and how to learn from it) with quick introductions to theory and many practical examples, use cases. Worth reading.

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Should be taught in all graduate studies

This is the kind of book all organizations could benefit from. It should be taught as a course for any advanced degree, and many undergraduate professional studies.

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implementation

How to implement such cultural change and sharing system in large corporations in practice?

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The best audio book I ever heard

The book is phenomenal. The narrator brought it to life. I felt I was there in every corner of the stories mentioned. The book is written in unique style non fiction with a fiction taste. It certainly left a strong impact on The way I look to things specially failure the writer of this book indeed did tremendous job in bringing complex concept into life in a simple yet sophisticated flow of ideas I enjoyed listening to the book more than reading it I do have the Kindle version and I was planning to buy the hard copy but I really enjoyed it as an audible book well done audible this narrator is fantastic

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Great book

Great awakening especially for leaders at whichever level on how we handle mistakes. Embracing mistakes leads to growth and this can solve many problems organizations face or even as individuals ;how we come back after failing.

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  • Kenny Marshall
  • 10-09-16

Great book about learning from mistakes

Lots of critical life and death real life examples. It's a very enjoyable listen and challenged my thought processes. However, I was expecting some more ideas on what approaches can be used to encourage people to learn from mistakes and how to move current thinking forward.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Callum
  • 12-01-15

Insightful, entertaining and informative

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. It's well written, captivating, full of insight and is very persuasive. Writer clearly is passionate about his theories. Well worth reading. Thought provoking.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not applicable

What about Simon Slater’s performance did you like?

Narrated with the right amount of enthusiasm and without monotone. Get a real sense of interest from him as it piques your own interest too.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Mainly this book made me pensive. However I do find myself using a lot of the knowledge I've gained from it as part of the way I now approach my daily life. It really has changed my outlook on things. I think it's an improvement on bounce which was itself a very interesting read.

Any additional comments?

Well worth reading more than once. Picked up many things second time round that I missed to begin with.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Louise
  • 08-28-16

Must listen

I'm a careers adviser in a school in the UK looking for ways to improve my practice. Having heard the quote from this book that a psychotherapist with years of experience gets no better results than one who is newly trained, I was intrigued as I wondered if it may be the same for my profession. I got answers to this conundrum and much more besides. This is a book for anyone who wants to improve or help others to improve. It sits well alongside the likes of Gladwell, Seligman and Csikzentmahayli on issues such as the value or practice, the growth mindset and learning from mistakes. I will try to be much more careful in the future before apportioning blame on myself and others. The narrator is excellent too.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Maximus Decimus Meridius
  • 09-24-15

Simple, informative and bursting with ‘scribble th

Would you listen to Black Box Thinking again? Why?

Yes, it is one of those books you'll come back to, to remind yourself of things.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not applicable, seriously audible, this generic form does not work. Listen to the Black Box Thinking book and then TAKE ACTION!

Have you listened to any of Simon Slater’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I've not, yet, I have just bought one though.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

None of the above, don't be silly.

Any additional comments?

Stay strong during the first 9 minutes of chapter one, do, as I was, be tempted to stop listening and go back to your Archers podcast. As the campaigns says It Gets Better.

I am just starting chapter four and already this book has been worth the money / credit. Even if the rest of the book turned out to be Winnie the Pooh singing along to ABBA this book would have been worth it. Three chapters in and I’ve got a page of notes for both my professional and my personal life.

I can happily recommend this book, it’s one that I can see myself listening to repeatedly over the coming months / years. (Less than a week after buying Black Box Thinking, I’ve logged on to Audible to buy his other book Bounce.)

38 people found this helpful

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  • Margarita Millere
  • 02-01-16

Great book to understand importance of mistakes

Any additional comments?

It's a great book, which helps to understand importance of making mistakes and learning from them.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Greysnowogre
  • 10-16-17

Unnecessarily graphic

I shouldn't have to hear of the graphic details of child rape cases in order to learn about success in business. The book should come with a warning. The distressing detail I've heard far undermines the value of the rest of the content on the book. Consequently, I didn't finish it.

19 people found this helpful

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  • D. Faulkner
  • 10-07-15

Truly brilliant. Should be mandatory reading

Thoughtful, insightful, compelling and incredibly important, this is a real page turner of a book which kept me glued to my headphones for hours on end. If I were King of the World I would make this mandatory reading in all schools and social institutes, not just because it's a great read but because the information within should shape our future.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Genc Tasbasi
  • 10-03-16

So repetitive

What disappointed you about Black Box Thinking?

This book is really repetitive. It keeps talking about the same thing. It says something, then you hear about it again in next 10 mins. It repeats things. Repetitive book. Same thing. Oh my I think you get it now.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Guy
  • 02-02-16

Really, really interedting

Really interesting concepts discussed and brought to life with real case studies. The first chapter wasn't a pleasant read, but that was just because of the nature of the story being told.

Before I had finished this book I has already ordered the author's other book, Bounce.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Finnur
  • 02-23-16

very interesting and mind changing

I loved this book and the ideology it brings forth in a very clear, simple and fast flowing way. I was hesitating before I began because of some reviews stating a slow and difficult first three chapters. I did not experiance the book like that, I got suck into the story right away. I have already changed few things in my personal way of looking at things and how to respond to "failures" both my own and those of my loved ones. It will be harder to implement at my office but I will strive to do just that though.

I do also expect to listen to the whole book again this year to freshen myself up on the whole message it brings.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-13-18

great read

Both my husband and I really enjoyed this book and intend to listen to it again. Just so much to learn and grow in

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chris Brady
  • 03-15-17

Brilliant

a practical and insightful book about learning from mistakes.

a fantastic read, especially if you work in health care

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 10-17-20

Anyone who makes decisions should know about Black Box thinking

This book has changed my approach to almost everything I do. The ideas, or rather, evidence presented is so compelling that it will make you look at how you make decisions and why. You will question the media and the noise of social media so that you can see through it. Please open your mind to Black Box thinking.

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  • Col Trengove
  • 03-29-20

A brilliant read

I was captivated by this book - very well researched, quite revealing about the human psyche and the chapters are interwoven in an entertaining style. It drove me to document brief notes along the way regarding the unique terminology used and invaluable quotes. Like all books it has its slow patches but overall full marks to Matthew Syed.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-24-19

Mind blowing and potentially life changing.

This book should be made compulsory reading for all medical, legal, legal and law enforcement professionals, and local and State Government managers etc. The narrator had me so engaged that I often sat on my driveway, just listening to the last few minutes of a chapter. The contents of this book are ood for thought; let's hope more digest it.

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  • GT
  • 09-14-18

Awesome

If you haven’t read this book and consider yourself to be a leader or influential you’re delusional.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-18

absolutely amazing book! really gets you to think

this book changed the way i look at failure in all aspects of my life. well worth it

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  • Sharron
  • 06-29-17

Worth every second of listening.

Best audio book and by far best narration so far of all audio books. (Listened to 10 books) So many facts, so many stories. Well organised information that is easy to follow. This is a book full of lessons that I suspect, all of us need to be reminded of. Fear of failure is so big. But learning from failure is so powerful and we can change the world if we learn our lessons well.

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  • Alex Crossley
  • 12-07-16

Perhaps the best non fiction book I've ever read

Gripped from the beginning and relevant throughout with brilliant examples. I'm already searching for the next great book that might be able to match this.

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  • Daniel
  • 07-03-16

Perspective Changing Book

Some very powerful messages, which can be implemented in all facets of life
For example, move forward with plausible business ideas before checking if everything will be 'perfect' from day one - failure and adjusting accordingly is part of the journey to ultimate success, rather than an outcome
One of the best quotes from the book is along the lines of " what you are telling me contains elements of the truth, but is not the whole truth" - particularly relevant when people do not want to accept responsibility, acknowledge errors and look to then improve from those errors (applies to ourselves too)
Another wonderful business lesson is not to unfairly penalise colleagues / team members nor yourself if a genuine unintentional error occurs in the field - this encourages open discussion on how to improve and challenge the status quo and improve the whole business
Will listen to this book again