By Fareeha Qayoom
Tim Harford is not a new author for me – I have read his “Undercover Economist” cover to cover and am planning to finish reading ‘The Logic of Life’ sometime in the near future. In fact, I bought ‘adapt’ and ‘the Logic of Life’ because I liked what he had to say in the ‘Undercover Economist.’
He has interesting turn of phrase and unique way of looking at things. In this highly readable book, he doesn’t disappoint either – he picks examples from as diverse backgrounds as military (Iraq war), to retail (Target Stores) to banking (Lehman Brothers) to Insurance (AIG) to dominos and off shore drilling and oil spills to nuclear reactor accidents to coffee to Google to come up with three universal principles that ensure survival, evolution and success of your business and of you as an individual:
He insists that innovation must happen if progress is to be made. As an entrepreneur, you need to start small, in many directions at once all at the same time, let your ideas work in isolation (giving your ideas room to breathe), while you keep the scale small and costs minimal, limit bureaucracy, (keep the communications simple, two way, easy to understand and transparent), have contingency plans (because safety systems often fail, mistakes happen, whistle blowers should be listened to so problems are fixed quickly), create an open culture, “regular culture and priorities and politics of old corporation do not apply,” he asserts.
“Adapting is not necessarily something we do. It may well be something that is done to us,” he insists in the book.
In conclusion he asserts, “The ability to adapt requires this sense of security, an inner confidence that the cost of failure is the cost we will be able to bear. Sometimes that takes real courage; at other times all that is needed is the happy self-delusion of a lost three year old. Whatever its source, we need that willingness to risk failure. Without it, we will never truly succeed.”
Bottom line, an interesting take on the science of success and a good read. It is short, to the point, and doesn’t labor the point. You can finish it in one sitting or over a weekend.
Adapt (Abacus 2010 edition) 310 pages, available at Readings for PKR 645- Lahore, Pakistan.
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