The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives
by Tim Harford | Riverhead Books © 2016 · 304 Pages pages

Tim Harford is an award-winning journalist, economist, and bestselling author. This book is a well-researched and equally engaging look at “The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.” Big Ideas we explore include messy creativity (focus + desirable difficulties), collaboration (team harmony vs. goal harmony), YES! (the habit of), Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s (messy!) story, and the fact that Ben Franklin mastered a lot of things but... was super messy (and that didn't seem to slow him down)!

“The argument of this book is that we often succumb to the temptation of a tidy-minded approach when we would be better served by embracing a degree of mess. … Sometimes, of course, our desire for tidiness—our seemingly innate urge to create a world that is ordered, systematized, quantified, neatly structured into clear categories, planned, predictable—can be helpful. It wouldn’t be such a deeply rooted instinct if it weren’t helpful.

But often we are so seduced by the blandishments of tidiness that we fail to appreciate the virtues of the messy—the untidy, unquantified, uncoordinated, improvised, imperfect, incoherent, crude, cluttered, random, ambiguous, vague, difficult, diverse, or even dirty. …

I hope this book will serve as Vera Brandes in your life—the nudge, when you are tempted to tidiness, to embrace some mess instead. Each chapter explores a different aspect of messiness, showing how it can spur creativity, nurture resilience, and generally bring out the best in us. That is true whether we are performing with a piano in front of a concert hall audience or a slide deck in front of a boardroom; whether we are running a corporation or manning a call center; whether we are commanding an army, dating, or trying to be a good parent. The success we admire is often built on messy foundations—even if those foundations are often hidden away.

I will stand up for messiness not because I think messiness is the answer to all life’s problems, but because I think messiness has too few defenders. I want to convince you that there can sometimes be a certain magic in mess.”

~ Tim Harford from Messy

Tim Harford is an award-winning journalist, economist, and bestselling author of a number of books including The Undercover Economist and Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy.

I got this book after reading Scott Barry Kaufman’s book Wired to Create. He reflected on just how MESSY the creative process is. Only problem was that I’m so committed to being structured and organized and *NOT* messy that I had a hard time reading it. (Hah.) Which, of course, is a good sign that I probably *should* read it, eh?

(Note: The last time I had a similar experience was when I couldn’t get myself to read Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing in the midst of trying to do 100 things. :)

The book is a well-researched and equally engaging look at “The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.” (Get a copy here.)

It’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author


Tim Harford

Economist, journalist and broadcaster.