NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The Power of Habit comes a fascinating book that explores the science of productivity, and why managing how you think is more important than what you think—with an appendix of real-world lessons to apply to your life.

At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key productivity concepts—from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making—that explain why some people and companies get so much done. Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics—as well as the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane pilots, and Broadway songwriters—this painstakingly researched book explains that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently.


Charles Duhigg has a way of writing that resonates so spectacularly with me. I find it to be so simple and obvious after reading each chapter. Some of the key takeaways I took away and shared with friends, family and colleagues:

  1. In a business setting, colleagues and employees must feel safe and empowered to be most productive. The “Andon Cord” metaphor is ironically something we have in place at AWS and so it is befitting in a multitude of ways. The original implementation by Toyota and then later by GM in America is a perfect example of something that now seems so obvious.
  2. Teams are most effective when they are the ones making the decisions. I do my best to structure my teams this way so software prioritization happens from the folks doing the actual work first. The example of the film Frozen being a cliche lackluster film at best until extracting the lessons and stories from the actual people making the movie script felt very empowering. It was exciting to hear how meaningful that was to the writers; something I aspire to enable as a leader in software.
  3. We talk about goals every day in one way or another. Whether a goal to lose weight, or to complete a project at work we all make goals. The most powerful lesson for me from this book was in the importance of setting deliberate goals that are both SMART and stretch; and most importantly that they are not merely TODO items to check off.

Overall I found this book to be about 50% redundant with other topics I’ve already read extensively, but that is more a factor of my reading choices than the author or this body of work. For me as always the real life examples and anecdotal stories outlining specific theories or studies are meaningful and valuable. In the end the return on investment of both time and money on this book is a no brainer and I will be adding this to my recommended list.