Skip to main content

Thinking, Fast and Slow written by Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, is a summary of Kahneman’s research conducted since the early 1970’s in collaboration with Amos Tversky (died 1996). Thinking, Fast and Slow offers a psychological basis for reactions, judgments, recognition, choices, conclusions, cognitive biases, fallacies and illusions. In short, the book is about how the different systems of our brain work whilst we are thinking.

Kahneman and Tversky did extensive research on the difference between the two systems of thinking. System one is fast, automatic, intuitive and largely unconscious. System one uses association, heuristics and other metaphors to produce a quick view of reality. On the downside this system’s thinking is often faulty and biased.

System two is the more deliberate, analytical and largely conscious mode of interpretation. Unfortunately system two suffers from ‘ego depletion’ and is content to accept the fast, inaccurate reality provided by system one.

Kahneman reveals when we can and cannot trust our intuition and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking.  He furthermore demonstrates our aptitude to an exaggerated sense of how well we think that we understand the world.  We are confronted with how choices are framed or substituted. And we are left wondering whether we can trust our judgment.

Thinking, Fast and Slow can be applied to everyday life by being aware of our cognitive biases and how it impacts on our daily complex, habitual and simple decision-making.  Through awareness of how the two systems shape our judgment and decisions, we are better prepared to guard against some of the mental flaws that might get us into trouble.

In conclusion, Thinking, Fast and Slow is an outstanding book.  It provides a profound insight into several decades of academic research in an easily readable format.  After reading Thinking, Fast and Slow, one cannot help but wonder: are we not all fundamentally irrational?

Why the lean practitioner should read this book:  The book teaches us to reflect a bit more whilst dealing with problems, to challenge our assumptions and how the systems combine to shape our judgment.  The book cautions against overconfidence, where we assume that we know the answers or causes.  There are some errors in our evolved cognition and for the lean practitioner it is vital to be vigilant about these errors, biases and assumptions.

Thinking, Fast and Slow has been awarded numerous accolades and made it on to various topseller lists.

Title: Thinking Fast and Slow
Author: Daniel Kahneman
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Publication date: 2011
Number of pages: 499 pages

Review written by Charmaine Cunningham

Lean Management the A3 Way Workshop

System two is the thinking approach that should be used when preparing an A3, a key lean problem-solving tool. Our instinctive response when faced with a problem, is to offer immediate solutions, based on little more than a reflexive response. The A3 should, however, use the second thinking system: the more considered system which insists on going to the gemba and collecting the facts before proposing countermeasures.

This book, Thinking Fast and Slow, is mentioned in the workshop Lean Management the A3 Way, to emphasise the importance of this approach when putting an A3 together to solve a problem in the workplace.