The one sentence summary

Clear insights can transform how we view things, and we need to ditch our flawed beliefs to achieve them.


  • This is all about the remarkable ways in which we gain insights.
  • Performance improvements are all about reducing errors and uncertainty, increasing the chance and frequency of insights.
  • The old model of how we gain insights is: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification, but the author examined 120 cases and found that this doesn’t always apply.
  • Aha moments don’t necessarily occur either:

“Aha is to insights as orgasms are to conception. In both cases the experience is more noticeable than the achievement, but the experience doesn’t guarantee the achievement, and the achievement can happen without the experience.”

  • There are 5 strategies for gaining insights:
  1. Connections – spotting an implication.
  2. Coincidences – is this just an accident, or is there something deeper?
  3. Curiosities – what’s going on here?
  4. Contradictions – finding an inconsistency.
  5. Creative desperation – escaping an impasse.
  • In the cases studied, the author found connection insights in 82% of them, contradictions in 38%, coincidences in 10%, curiosities in 7%, and creative desperation in 25%. Some involved more than one type.
  • This leads to a Triple Path Model:
  1. Contradiction > use a weak anchor to rebuild the story.
  2. Connection/coincidence/curiosity > add a new anchor.
  3. Creative desperation > discard a weak anchor.
  • These insights change how we understand, and how we act.


  • Anti dots are data about differences. Study these carefully to look for insights. Non-dots are merely irrelevant messages.
  • Those who rarely have insights are usually gripped by flawed beliefs, lacking in experience, taking a passive stance, or wedded to concrete reasoning.
  • Those gaining them have escaped that fixation, used their experience, adopted an active stance, and toyed with playful reasoning to get somewhere.
  • People who want to cling on to their original thinking even when new evidence comes to light deploy knowledge shields to keep an entrenched position.
  • Goal fixation is refusing to change your target even in the light of new events. Many managers suffer from this.


  • Not much. It’s easy to read and makes some great points.