Adapt

  • by Tim Harford
  • Narrated by Jonathan Keeble
  • 9 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this groundbreaking work, Tim Harford shows us a new and inspiring approach to solving the most pressing problems in our lives. Harford argues that today’s challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinions; the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex. Instead, we must adapt. Deftly weaving together psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, physics, and economics, along with compelling stories of hard-won lessons learned in the field, Harford makes a passionate case for the importance of adaptive trial-and-error in tackling issues such as climate change, poverty, and the financial crisis.

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What the Critics Say

“Tim Harford has made a compelling and expertly informed case for why we need to embrace risk, failure, and experimentation in order to find great ideas that will change the world. I loved the book.” (Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality)
“Tim Harford could well be Britain’s Malcolm Gladwell. An entertaining mix of popular economics and psychology, this excellently written book contains fascinating stories of success and failure that will challenge your assumptions. Insightful and clever.” (Alex Bellos, author of Here’s Looking at Euclid)
“This is a brilliant and fascinating book - Harford’s range of research is both impressive and inspiring, and his conclusions are provocative. The message about the need to accept failure has important implications, not just for policy making but also for people’s professional and personal lives. It should be required reading for anyone serving in government, working at a company, trying to build a career or simply trying to navigate an increasingly complex world.” (Gillian Tett, author of Fool’s Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Will Prove Influential

Adapt will be an influential book. I read lots of terrific books, and Harford's latest is certainly terrific, but very few books make a long-term difference in how we think. Thaler and Sunstein's Nudge, Ariely's Predictably Irrational, Taleb's The Black Swan, and Wu's Master Switch are all influential books. They all creep into conversations, inform policy choices, underlie institutional strategies, and shape careers.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from John Maynard Keynes:
“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
(Note: when Keynes was around, the ed tech profession did not yet exist, but if it did I think we would have been included amongst "economists and political philosophers").

Ideas rule the world. And books are the way that ideas take shape and spread. Therefore, books rule the world.

Adapt may get you thinking about your ability to adapt. Accept that you will fail, that your institution, your company, your department and your division will fail. What matters is how we learn from failure. Harford builds his theory of adaptation and failure by telling stories.

How did the U.S. Army turn the Iraq war around? (Short story … by Colonels on the ground risking careers by defying their civilian and military bosses, and engaging in counter-insurgent tactics). How have successful companies, from Google to Whole Foods, to W.L. Gore drive innovation and profits? (Answer: by creating non-hierarchical cultures that push authority and accountability to the edges).

All this may seem like familiar ground, and some of it has been well covered in Schulz's marvelous Being Wrong and Watt's Everything is Obvious (among others), but Harford brings these threads together into a clear set of ideas that are actionable in our professional lives and organizations.

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- Joshua Kim "mostly nonfiction listener"

Hidden Agenda

Would you try another book from Tim Harford and/or Jonathan Keeble?

Possibly, first half of book was full of great examples and approaches but second half became too much of a political statement for Carbon tax and did not follow throught with the main theme as much as the first half.


Would you recommend Adapt to your friends? Why or why not?

Only as a casual read and but stop at Carbon Tax section. You got 90% of the book at that point


How could the performance have been better?

Narrator needs to narrate. There was absolutely no need for alternate voices or a performance. Took away from the narration too much, were not that good and as an audible book his accent was often difficult to pick up on key words requiring a slight rewind at times.


Did Adapt inspire you to do anything?

One key point was made in the beginning that has resonated with me. The decision you make after a bad decision (or result) is often more damaging than the original. Excellent point in everything from golf to realtionships to business.


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- Lawrence

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-03-2011
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books