Book review – Too Fast to Think: How to Reclaim your Creativity in a Hyper-connected Culture

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Title: Too Fast to Think: How to Reclaim your Creativity in a Hyper-connected Culture

Author: Chris Lewis

ISBN: 978-0-7494-7886-5

Reviewer: Kate Wadia, Phase 3 Consulting

Reviewer’s Rating: 3 out of 5

Too Fast Too Think book cover

The compelling call to action of the sub-title ‘Too Fast to Think’ makes for high expectations of a book that will strengthen your previously held convictions about the value of creativity at work and at play. The author sets out to establish the potential danger to creative thinking of today’s digital world and to show us a way to thrive as imaginative, innovative beings despite that threat.

I doubt you will end up more creative, nor with more time. But you may well be inspired to go out there and seek it.

Chris Lewis’ style is easy, succinct and rarely cumbersome. He is an experienced coach and marketeer himself and effortless in his expression. This is not a difficult read.

The opening chapters are a reader comfort zone

Lewis backs up with facts and stories our commonly held belief that today’s always-on, 24/7, hyper-connected world reduces our abilities to concentrate and develop emotionally, socially and creatively.

The foreword is by Sir Ken Robinson, who made waves in the education world with his critique of the literal old school teaching methods. Because the education system, argues the central author, is an important place to focus in finding out how we can be inspired to fresh thinking again. And a significant proportion of pages do take that education system to task.

A book frustrating at times and not too deep, but making for a good night’s sleep before an inspired working day.

At this point, you might be wondering what place this commentary, albeit reassuring, has in a business book? I wondered what use this was to me in a mature (I fear so!) career context. Happily, the book grows up fast and moves apace to focus towards a more grown-up subject. The pace of writing is a strength of Lewis’ style. Perhaps that pace also has an irony in a message expounding the virtues of taking things slow – and I slip in a cliff-hanger that there is a confessional closing piece.

Analysis of the left and right brain - good if you need a revisit

Personally, I did not much enjoy the middle section, which analyses left and right brain process. It is a confusing tussle – and deliberately so – between the very left-brain analysis that Lewis must do to explain the science and the rather right-brain conclusions Lewis reaches.

However, these passages are helpful and simply put if you’d like left and right brain thinking revisited. This is the theory why genius in maths and music match, why notable polymath Da Vinci painted such a beautiful ceiling and why Van Gogh may have been led to chop his ear off when he and his mate Gaugin fell out over their art. ‘Too Fast to Think’ explains brains in a straightforward way and without flippancy.

The eight creative traits - more detail needed

Throughout I’m intrigued by the meaning of the eight creative traits: Quiet, Engage, Dream, Relax, Release, Repeat, Play, Teach. Where do these come from? And where will they lead you?

I’ll put you out of pondering in this review here. Lewis has conceived these eight verbs to provide a framework for his own professional coaching methods in his company, Rise. Fair enough, but I would have preferred to know that from chapter one.

‘Too Fast to Think’ reminds us of the hope that the upcycling of a tech-driven society will not necessarily end in the crushing of young ideas, creativity and fun.

I wanted more detail about Lewis’ ideas as to how to focus learning and talent efforts on those eight behaviours.

Why should you read ‘Too Fast To Think’?

Thus far you might not be too enthused. But there are three good reasons to read ‘Too Fast to Think’:

Firstly, there is real, tangible advice about nurturing creativity. Read widely. Seek quiet. Encourage argument. Engage with the arts. Bring time-wasting into your teams’ lives. Have tech-free time and zones in the office and at home. Work in wider spaces and places. Give attention to first-impression windows (the left brain dominates), for example at interview. Play games. Sleep well.

Secondly, the author’s career experience allows him to contribute some great stories from all manner of business creative types. You are sure to find characters you connect with and characters you don’t, be they artist, scientist, entrepreneur or maverick. It’s great to find role models and equally great to enjoy the slamming of a page shut at a truly awful quote. (“All ugly thinking has no metaphor” did it for me!)

Thirdly, this is an uplifting book. Therein is enough reason to read. It is light, bright and hopeful. ‘Too Fast to Think’ reminds us of the hope that the upcycling of a tech-driven society will not necessarily end in the crushing of young ideas, creativity and fun.

Lewis does not use the phrase but he’s talking about ‘augmented humanity’. As an expert in HR technologies, I’m frequently pointing out related concepts when buzzwords like this abound. As tech drives forward we can use it to augment rather than replace the things that only humans can do. That way tech and humankind can find a happy and compatible future.

A book frustrating at times and not too deep, but making for a good night’s sleep before an inspired working day.

About Kate Wadia

Kate Wadia - Phase 3 Consulting

Kate’s passion at work is for bridging the gap between technology and people at work, translating for HR professionals the language of HR systems and making meaningful their potential.

She believes that success with people technology is through people and that people are the differentiator. Using simple techniques drawn from HR experience, project management, business psychology and analogy with everyday life, Kate presents and explains how to work well with technology and technology projects in an HR leadership role.

With a background in contrasting private and public sector HR management, Kate developed her thinking in seeking for herself to understand her first HR systems project-work. Kate is currently the Managing Director of Phase 3 Consulting, offering an independent take on the HR systems market in the UK, through a network of experts and a talented, growing internal team.

Kate’s guiding principle is that openness offers knowledge-sharing, credibility and trust. Incorrigibly enthusiastic and up absurdly early for a working morning, she swears that she only drinks three good coffees a day, but nobody believes her!

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