The one sentence summary

Do less, work hard on fewer things, learn diligently, and debate properly to generate better work and achieve more.


  • This is all about how top performers do less, work better and achieve more.
  • It is based on a 5-year study of 5,000 managers and employees, so it is thoroughly backed up by statistical analysis.
  • This has produced Seven Work Smarter Practices. Working smart is defined as maximising the value of your work by selecting a few activities and applying intense targeted effort.
  1. Do less, then obsess. Select a tiny set of priorities and make a huge effort in those areas. Those mastering this rank 25 percentage points higher in performance.
  2. Redesign your work. Focus on creating value, not just reaching pre-set goals.
  3. Don’t just learn, loop. Eschew mindless repetition in favour of better skills practice (quality learning). A learning loop means measure, feedback, modify, do/redo. This leads to better outcomes than mindless repetition, but you must push through the stall point.
  4. P-squared. This is passion (what you love) + Purpose (do what contributes). Seeking roles that match your passion with purpose (inner motivation) generates more energy per hour worked.
  5. Forceful champions. Shrewdly deploy influence tactics to gain the support of others (advocacy).
  6. Fight and unite. Cut back on wasteful team meetings that go through the motions, and instead promote rigorous debate. The unwelcome alternatives are groupthink, fight and undermine, or plain anarchy.
  7. The two sins of collaboration: undercollaborating, and overcollaborating. Carefully pick which cross-unit projects to get involved in, and say no to less productive ones (disciplined collaboration).


  • Functional fixedness is our inability to solve problems due to our fixation on how work has always been done.
  • 69% per cent of people say that their meetings aren’t productive.
  • The value of a person’s work = benefits to others x quality x efficiency (not hours worked).
  • Are you working on the right things? Concentrate on less fluff, more of the right stuff, and more high value activities.
  • Are you doing the things right? Higher quality, faster, cheaper activities.
  • “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Herbert Simon


  • Nothing. This is a rigorous survey with clear recommendations.