Summary of Adapt

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  • Eloquent


No single, simple solution can solve the complex problems of today’s almost inconceivably complicated, interconnected world. Economist Tim Harford understands that evolution – gradual adaptive change – breeds far more success than revolution. In this thought-provoking book, Harford draws examples from multiple disciplines, illuminates the gap between how things work and how people think they work, and maintains reader interest with his entertaining style. getAbstract recommends Harford’s tactics for dealing with complexity to anyone who wants to think more clearly, assess policies or plan for the future.

About the Author

Tim Harford is the author of The Undercover Economist.



Adaptation Lies at the Heart of Survival

Even something as cheap and widely available as a toaster contains incredible complexity. To build one calls for expertise in several disciplines. Multiply that by 100,000 to imagine the complexity on hand at your average Walmart. To build products in the modern world, every decision involves the interplay of complicated forces, all of which must cope with constantly evolving change.

Change itself presents another layer of problematic intricacy. In 1982, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman studied the best organizations in business and held them up as model companies in their book In Search of Excellence. Within two years, 14 of the original 43 companies “were in serious financial trouble.” Greatness doesn’t last. Survival requires adjusting to changing circumstances and welcoming adaptation and experimentation as necessary aspects of evolution.

Leadership Error

Corporate organizational charts present the schematic of a widely held ideal of what leadership should be. In a perfect world, this model says, all information flows to the leader, who uses perspective and good judgment to make sound decisions with ...

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