Book Review – Simple Rules, How to Thrive in a Complex World

I thought that it would be good to track my reading list here and also capture a few thoughts as I go through each one.

Tonight as I passed through the Airport in Melbourne a book called out to me. This is often how I will buy a book. Initially I fight to resist the call but if the ideas on the cover keep pulling me back then I will usually succumb.

Simple Rules, How to Thrive in a Complex World.
By Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

The sight of this book was like someone reaching out and plucking forth the very ideas that I ponder every day. It was impossible to ignore. It’s introduction positions it as looking at the wonderfully unpredictable complex world that we live in, and then seeking simple guiding rules that can either model behaviours or guide decisions.

It differentiates its narrative from both popular science texts that provide technical insight but not practical usage, and self help guides and anecdotes that offer simple rules but lack scientific rigour.

The fun part for me is that one of the stories in this book relates to the flocking of starlings (birds) and how they can be modelled by 3 simple rules. This is the very same example that I use in my Essentials of Product Management training to try and distill the analysis of Product Management to just 2 simple questions.

I’ll update this post as I read further.