Book Cover

Read the book!

We are quickly closing in on the completion of the re-read of Thinking Fast and Slow. Today we are tackling the last two chapters before Kanhneman’s conclusions. Assuming “God willing and the creek don’t rise” (an Americanism), we will begin Crucial Conversations in three weeks. I have purchased my copy and have started reading the book. 

This first chapter (chapter 37) is titled Experienced Well-Being which is defined as the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. In the chapter Kahneman discusses the idea of measuring well-being so that psychologists and economists can gain an understanding of what impacts well-being. 

One of the primary points in the chapter is that attention plays a huge roll in the perception of well-being. Kahneman shows that our emotional state is heavily influenced (Kahneman uses the word determined) by what we pay attention to. People, as a rule, focus on what they are currently doing and their immediate environment. This is one of the reasons that games are a powerful tool when rolling out new ways of working. Games shift how people interact and provide trainers with a way to guide what people are doing by creating a fun environment that affects the player’s emotional state. 

Another take away in the chapter is the link between an improved perception of experience and active involvement. Games, a training tool again come to mind, because they let players move away from scenarios they are passively involved in such as a lecture. Outside the laboratory of classes, things that we do actively to like more than things we are told to do (or made to do). Coaches need to help teams and team members spend more time actively doing what they like to do and less what they passively resist. As an example, I have never found a team that really LOVES sprint planning and story points. Last year, I helped shift the discussion from story points to using throughput. The shift increased the involvement of the whole team and yield more satisfaction with planning.  

The chapter ends with the realization that people’s evaluation of their lives (perceived well-being) differs from actual experience. Biases such as duration neglect cause us to focus on what is currently happening rather than what has happened over the long run. 

Chapter 38: Thinking About Life is the final chapter before the conclusions. Recently, Scott Ambler tweeted “An individual’s poor judgment can bring down the entire team. Work together. Decide together.” The team is a central focus of agile — arguably almost every piece of software I have seen required a group of people to build and maintain — the focus makes sense. One of the points Kahneman makes in this chapter is that there is a low correlation between individual circumstances and their satisfaction with life. Experienced happiness and life satisfaction are largely determined by the genetics of temperament. People with good temperaments are more satisfied. Viewed from a team perspective, good teams need to select for temperament. While that might sound harsh, we are influenced by the satisfaction of those around us. The quote on page 402 describing the focusing allusion is a fitting outro before we jump into the conclusions next week.

“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you were thinking about it.”

Just joining the re-read?  Buy a copy of Thinking, Fast and Slow and go back to the beginning and have fun!  

The last week’s installment of Re-read Saturday is:

Week 36 – Life As A Story – 

Or start at the beginning

Week 1: Logistics and Introduction

Two things before we go 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, the 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!