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Publisher's Summary

From the award-winning columnist and author of the national best-seller The Undercover Economist comes a provocative big-idea book about the genuine benefits of being messy: at home, at work, in the classroom, and beyond.

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives celebrates the benefits that messiness has in our lives: why it's important, why we resist it, and why we should embrace it instead. Using research from neuroscience, psychology, and social science as well as captivating examples of real people doing extraordinary things, Tim Harford explains that the human qualities we value - creativity, responsiveness, resilience - are integral to the disorder, confusion, and disarray that produce them.

From the music studio of Brian Eno to the Lincoln Memorial with Martin Luther King Jr., from the boardroom to the classroom, messiness lies at the core of how we innovate, how we achieve, how we reach each other - in short, how we succeed.

In Messy, you'll learn about the unexpected connections between creativity and mess; understand why unexpected changes of plans, unfamiliar people, and unforeseen events can help generate new ideas and opportunities as they make you anxious and angry; and come to appreciate that the human inclination for tidiness - in our personal and professional lives, online, even in children's play - can mask deep and debilitating fragility that keeps us from innovation.

Stimulating and listenable as it points exciting ways forward, Messy is an insightful exploration of the real advantages of mess in our lives.

©2016 Tim Harford (P)2016 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I'm a neat freak with three kids...

Would you consider the audio edition of Messy to be better than the print version?

Yes, listening to the British accent of the narrator is soothing for considering the idea of thinking different to accept that sometimes Messy is just the right challenge to make us excel.

Which scene was your favorite?

Chapter 7 & 8 discussing the AirFrance flight 447 tragedy. It was an interesting and overwhelming doing a step by step of the final moments wishing you could help them.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

To consider that when I've been confronted with a mess, the best choices I've ever made were to take a deep breath and get to work.

Any additional comments?

As a mom of twin toddlers, I've had to give up my neatness, and it's not been easy to accept the 'mess' this helped me understand the positive side of that, and how I've thrived in the chaos.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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There is hope

Tim wrote a great book that put me at ease about messiness.
Tim references several pop culture reference making it easy to relate stories I knew to his argument.
Nick 'the nice' Guy Smith narrates perfectly making X1 speed a comfortable pace.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who has ever pooh-poohed another's messy workspace.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Making space for the mess

The principles explored in the book are as relevant for personal relationships as they are for organizations, communities, and other human systems. This is also an important book as virtual reality and artificial intelligence become more of a focus in the business and technology sectors. I also felt empowered as a parent to allow —and perhaps even create — space for messiness in my children’s lives. Lastly, as a “piler” rather than a “filer” I felt encouraged that my messy way of approaching my life is perhaps not as dysfunctional as it may appear on the outside. Of course there is always a balance to be struck but I think holding space for the messiness that is simply part of the human experience is something missing in so many facets of American culture.

The audio book was a delight to listen to.

In short, I highly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Formulaic Review of Randomness

I found it a bit amusing that book ascribing the value of mess, or as a scientist would call it "random noise" has such a predictable pattern. That is, this book like the vast number of other pop psychology and behavioral economics books out there all follow the same pattern: key in on a few personal and emotionally appealing anecdotes and make sweeping generalizations on human behavior based on these isolated stories. In fact, more than a few of the stories were borrowed from other pop psych books. That said, the stories are entertaining and the narrator has a pleasant, baritone voice (with a hint of a British accent) that made this book easy to listen to on my daily commute: which by the way I am very certain is the fastest way to/from work since I ride a bike everyday and have systematically reviewed all routes possible! Enjoy the ride.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Must read

Learned a lot.
Great narration.
I’d recommend it.
Life is messy, it’s what makes us human and at the cutting edge.

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Messy

I am enlightened by all I've learned reading this book. I see Messy in a whole new way. I would recommend this book.

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Meh-ssy

Sometimes it's good to mix things up a little bit. And scene.

This felt like a story that could have been better told in a shorter form Fast Company article. I found it more entertaining than insightful. In analytics, one of the best methods for avoiding a local optimization trap and to find a better global optimum is to introduce a little randomness into your equation, and so it is with life. This is a book of those illustrative examples from life.