Monday, January 8, 2024


I am reading Adam Grant's 'Think Again.' I have been a fan of Adam's work, but I find this book hard-hitting and relevant in today's times. I will come to this point in a bit, but before that, let me tell you a story:

Mike Lazaridis is widely considered the smartphone prodigy. He built the Blackberry phone like a scientist, overcoming several engineering challenges to create a device that allowed people to write emails using their thumb, send encrypted messages to other Blackberry users, and much more. By 2008, its valuation exceeded $70 billion.
Despite all the success, there was a twist in the tale. As early as 1997, one of the engineers suggested to Mike to experiment and include a web browser on the phone. A few engineers also suggested allowing sending encrypted messages to competitor devices. However, Mike shot down both ideas. He thought a web browser could drain the phone's battery and allowing encrypted messages could rob Blackberry of its differentiation.

Adam attributes a large part of Blackberry's success to Mike's scientific temperament. However, he also attributes Blackberry's demise to Mike's failure to rethink as a CEO.

In summary, Mike was trapped in an overconfidence cycle (check sketchnote). He took pride in his invention, which gave him a strong conviction (he preferred a solid keyboard over a glass keyboard, despite the iPhone gaining momentum). That led him to get caught up in confirmation bias (he kept calling Blackberry an 'iconic company' even in 2012 when the iPhone captured the majority market). Eventually, he fell victim to validation by fans. No doubt, Blackberry was an iconic product, but it failed to keep up with the times.

The rethinking cycle favors humility over pride, doubt over certainty, and curiosity over closure.

I believe 'Think Again' is one of the most important books of our times. In 2023, Generative AI tech is coming of age, and its impact is being felt across industries and domains. Applications like ChatGPT are letting machines get better at tasks previously thought to be the exclusive domain of humans. In this changing world, the ability to think critically, challenge assumptions, and remain open to new perspectives is more important than ever.

Closing with this quote - "We laugh at people who still use Windows 95, yet we still cling to the opinions we formed in 1995" - Adam Grant

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