I recently had the opportunity to read Think Again by Adam Grant. In some ways, I could draw a strong connection with some of my recent experiences and the core theme of the book.
I've often wondered what leads a group of extremely intelligent people to make terrible decisions? Think Again by Adam Grant provides some of the most convincing explanations to this question.
Adam asserts that intelligence is not just the ability to think and learn, but also to rethink and unlearn. He identifies historical examples of people becoming prisoners of their own beliefs and expertise, resulting in a false sense of confidence in a given direction. Among several other examples, Adam points to the demise of the Blackberry. In 2008, Blackberry was the market leader in the smartphone industry. In the subsequent decade, Blackberry lost most of that market share due to their resistance in not assimilating home entertainment platforms into the smartphone. Mike Lazaridis, the founder of Blackberry, didn't view the smartphone as a device that would have much to do with entertainment, and he didn't rethink his perspective until after it was too late.
Interestingly, examples of intelligent groups of people making poor decisions are ubiquitous -- perhaps the common thread in most of these scenarios is the resistance to rethinking perspectives. Grant introduces the concept of "intellectual flexibility", or the ease with which we are able to rethink our views when presented with compelling alternatives. I've recently been drawn to reading about the core principles of psychology, and about specific events that can impact our intellectual flexibility.
As I look back at my own experience in recent years, I made some of the worst decisions in instances when I wasn't constantly rethinking my views. Conversely, some of the best decisions resulted from a process of constant rethinking through an iterative process. The following quote from Charlie Munger reinforces this:
"The human mind works a lot like the human egg. When one sperm gets into a human egg, there's an automatic shut-off device that bars any other sperm from getting in. The human mind tends strongly toward the same sort of result. And so, people tend to accumulate large mental holdings of fixed conclusions and attitudes that are not often reexamined."