Hunch by Bernadette Jiwa

97FEF938-BD16-459A-B93F-FE3609A18274The subtitle of this book is a bit more descriptive: “Turn Your Everyday Insights Into the Next Big Thing.” Jiwa packs a decent amount of information into this short book that is all about trusting your gut and taking risks.

We’ve all had hunches – those times when we’re pretty sure something is going to happen, or that this way is the right way. Jiwa delves into what distinguishes a hunch from a guess, and boils it down to three things: curiosity, empathy, and imagination. She devotes chapters to each, but provides a half-page summary that everyone should print out and hang on a wall where they see it every day. It’s on page 81; below is a synopsis.

Curiosity = Interest + Attention – notice things and think about how to make them better.
Empathy = Worldview + Understanding – be able to put yourself in the shoes of someone experiencing a problem.
Imagination = Context + Experience – learn how to think about what already exists in a different way.

The most consistent theme throughout the book is the directive to pay attention – to your own experiences and to those of the people around you. There are several sections with activities the reader can perform to hone those paying-attention skills. Several years ago, I developed a set of observational exercises to examine and learn how people were currently using my library. Those exercises were grade school work compared to what Jiwa suggests. My mind was flying, imagining all the places I could use those exercises and what I wanted to learn from them. So much potential there…

Hunch is a slim book, and can be read in an hour or two, but it will leave you thinking about it for a very long time. If you are looking to change up your career, or are beginning any planning work within your organization, set aside some time and absorb this little gem.

Many thanks to Seth Godin and Niki Papadopoulos (Penguin Random House) and altMBA for sharing this book with me.


Finite & Infinite Games: a Vision of Life as Play & Possibility by James Carse


Update 6/12/17:

While I never did get past the chapter on Genius, I have to say that I have a solid appreciation for the content of this book. While it was a heavy read, the content, in its simplest form, has come to change the way I think about work. Described as simply as possible, you play infinite games just for the joy of playing, while you play finite games to win. I didn’t truly understand this until I went through the altMBA and carefully and joyously examined why I do what I do. During those 4 weeks, I was encouraged to dig deeper and slide to the edges of everything I know. I discovered that, while I played a finite game for most of my career (meaning, I’ve worked because I wanted to “win” my way to a position of influence), I have been playing an infinite game for a long time. I do what I do because I love the play.

The altMBA also gave me a new perspective on philosophy, which I have shunned for years. I spent 4 weeks thinking deeply about so many things. The difference between my early experiences with philosophy and my altMBA experience is that, while both involved hanging out with smart people having complex conversations, the altMBA required me to ship 12 projects, or, in other words, to get shit done. In the weeks since I finished my altMBA sprint, it seems I can’t stop getting shit done!

If you’re feeling ready to think deeply about what game you’re playing, read Finite & Infinite Games, then let’s talk.

Earlier Post:

I am enrolled in this intense, mind-expanding online course called altMBA. It starts at the end of April and is produced by author Seth Godin. I am anticipating a life-changing experience, or at least a month of utter craziness.

I received a big box of course materials two weeks ago and dove right in to reading all the books. I started with this one because, you know, PLAY! I had high expectations that were immediately dashed as I realized that this is, at its heart, a philosophical treatise. A six month stint with Aristotle in the early 90’s caused me to hate philosophy with the heat of a thousand suns. However, because this book is part of the altMBA course, I kept at it and, truthfully, found some really interesting nuggets that made me underline, write notes, and really think.

Until I got the the chapter on genius. Dude, I could not even get past the first page of that chapter. I even tried reading while listening to one of those “Deep Focus” playlists from Spotify. No go.

Maybe I’m just too old for this kind of philosophy. It was cool in college to sit around and debate the great philosophers. Now, I just find them all pretentious bull-shitters who lived their lives ambiguously. Make a decision. Take a side. Get shit done.

I think I read enough to grasp the concept Godin wanted to convey for the course. We’ll see.