Book Cover

Read the book!

Two things before we dive in this week.  

The next book in our Re-read Saturday Feature is Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler.  I have never read this book, I just ordered the book using the link (using the link helps support the blog and podcast). If you do not have a copy or have tossed it at someone during a crucial conversation, it is time to buy a copy. Please use the link above!  

Secondly,  Business Agility Conference (March 11 -12, 2020 in New York City) is sponsoring the Software Process and Measurement Podcast. If you are a friend on the podcast and blog and are shopping for a great business agility conference, this one I recommend. Check out the conference at, and use the special code “spamcast” to get a 20% discount!  

Chapter 36 of Thinking, Fast and Slow, is titled Life As A Story. This chapter focuses on two closely related biases that impact the stories we tell about our lives. Early in my career, the team I was working on had to do an install on a Friday evening just before midnight (retail organization and by midnight the stores were closed and settled).  We had been working on a piece of functionality for several months and tonight it was rolling out! We were psyched, it had been a great effort and we had done some very cool work. One weird thing had happened right after lunch, a team member had quit. He had just walked out. My memory of the project to that was stelling.  Telling the story after that night, it was different. We discovered the person who had walked out that day had written and committed a stub built to fool the tests about thirty minutes before the system was supposed to go live. A lot of coffee and 4 hours later we had coded the functionality and tested it. We were late and exhausted. This is just the kind of story that is illustrative of the points in this chapter. Afterward, none of the stories recognized the time before that fateful evening. Everyone of repackaged the events to tell the of our crazy evening. Kahneman calls the part of the person doing the remembering, the “remembering self.” People compose stories and keep them for future reference. The idea that stories are important is supported by how System 1 Thinking works. It connects ideas and memories to generate narratives.  

The two biases that are very similar are explored in the chapter are duration neglect and “peek end bias”.  The idea of duration neglect is that the duration of an event and the state of being during that time is less important than the state of being at the end of the story, therefore, duration gets squeezed out of the narrative. Peek end bias, originally explored in Chapter 35, holds that the state of being at the end of an event colors the whole event. The book uses an experiment two groups rate the overall happiness of a person described in a narrative. The first group is told about a woman lives happily until sixty then dies.  The second group is told about a woman who lives to sixty happily but then has an additional five years in which she is less happy before dying. People involved in the experiment felt that the second scenario yielded much less total happiness – they ignored the 60 years and focused on the five years. The overall duration of happiness is not considered (duration neglect) and because the last five years were so different they represent a negative peak event.  

As change leaders, how we package the story of the journey towards the future is important to establish momentum and to avoid being tripped up individual events that can be construed as peak events. Using short iterations that deliver incremental change peaks is a way of creating stories to generate motivating memories. A positive narrative of change will impact the probability that any organization will continue to invest in change. 

Remember, if you do not have a favorite, dog-eared copy of Thinking, Fast and Slow, please buy a copy. Using the links in this blog entry helps support the blog and its alter-ego, The Software Process and Measurement Cast. Buy a copy on Amazon,  It’s time to get reading!

Last week’s installment of Re-read Saturday is:

Week 35: Two Selves 

Or start at the beginning

Week 1: Logistics and Introduction