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le 3 avril 2013
Getting sidetracked form our plans and initiatives is all too common of occurrences. Weather it’s not sticking to our New Year’s resolutions, or not following up with contacting an important business contact despite our best intentions to the contrary, we’ve all had to deal with not sticking up with our plans. Francesca Gino’s “Sidetracked” is a book that aims to help us stick to the plan by mining many deep and valuable psychological insights.

This is a thoroughly well researched and informative book. Gino possesses a wealth of well-constructed research and experience – both inside the university labs and in the business world. This book is filled with carefully explained studies that have taken many years to collect and establish, as well as many insights from the business consulting. The book is well written and engaging, and Gino takes great care to explain the mechanisms of her and her colleagues’ research in great detail. These are some of the best explained social science findings that I’ve come across in popular accounts, and anyone who has even the passing interest in psychology and social sciences in general would greatly benefit from reading this book. After reading it I have a much better appreciation for my own motivations, drives and blind spots, as well as those of others around me.

For all its great qualities, this book is not without some shortcomings. Most of the “real world” examples come from the business world (I guess this is not surprising for a book published by the Harvard Business Review Press) and oftentimes have more to do with big-scale corporate decision-making than with individual and personal decisions. Furthermore, I found it hard to see how some of the psychological insights and principles that were investigated throughout the book have direct bearing on getting sidetracked. Finally, this is really not a “self-help” book despite what its subtitle may suggest. The actual advice that it gives, or the concrete steps that it espouses, are minimal and usually relegated to just a couple of pages at the end of each chapter. Turning deep insights into concrete actionable advice has always been one of the most difficult tasks in any field, and I was hoping that this book would have done a better job of it.

This a smart, insightful, and very well written book that has a lot to offer to everyone who is interested in psychological underpinnings of our decision making. However, it has a somewhat limited value as a practical guide that can be immediately applied in our daily lives.
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Nous aimons nous voir en être rationnel. Nous imaginons ainsi en général que nous allons prendre nos décisions en accord avec ce que nous avions prévu de faire, avec les critères que nous nous étions fixés, etc. Or, l'expérience montre que nos comportements réels sont souvent bien éloignés de cette vision idéalisée. Francesca Gino nous rappelle à notre condition de mammifère social ! Dans ce livre, elle fait le tour des nombreux facteurs qui nous poussent régulièrement à prendre des décisions éloignées de nos plans initiaux, sans même que nous en ayons conscience. Elle distingue ainsi trois ensembles de forces susceptibles de nous éloigner de nos objectifs :
– les forces propres à nous-même : impact de nos émotions sur nos actions et nos jugements, etc.
– les forces liées à nos relations avec les autres : mimétisme social, mécanismes instinctifs d’éviction des rivaux, etc.
– les forces induites par notre environnement : surcharge d’information, etc.
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