Monday, September 17, 2012

MBR: Wait: The Art and Science of Delay

I decided I was going to read a book a week every couple of weeks for a year, here's a quick review of this week's book.  You can see the ongoing list here.

Basic Info

Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy

Why I read it

The giant 30% off sticker caught my eye in the book store; I flipped it over and Dan Pink had a blurb on the back endorsing the book, that was enough for me.

How it connects to the Public Sector

The book is essentially about how moving/acting/reacting as late as possible to a given situation is likely to produce the best results and that success is determined by the effort and knowledge expended in the lead up time before the action is required.  In other words, delaying until the last possible minute to pull the trigger on something doesn't mean that you are slacking off but rather building the capacity to understand precisely how to move quickly when the situation finally merits it.

What I got out of reading it

If you buy into the the argument that upstream effort makes you nimble and allows you to reap significant downstream benefits than you may also need to accept the fact that work - the real rewarding work of decision-making - only comes in fits and starts and that if we are to continue to find meaning in our work we must learn to derive it not from the crucial decision making nodes but rather the preparatory work that goes into getting us there.

In closing, I suppose its worth mentioning that I took over two weeks to read this book (maybe it has something to do with the title). I read it slowly, and was initially unimpressed with it, but as time passed and I dug deeper into the book, it steadily got better.

If you're interested in some concrete examples on how delaying decision making leads to better results across a bunch of different scenarios you may want to consider picking up a copy of Wait.

Originally published by Nick Charney at
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