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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Slow Fix
This book is a collection of ideas and anecdotes of how organizational problems can be solved by using a slower problem-solving method. Make no mistake - this book is for solving organizational problems, it's not a self-help book. But still, it's a good guide for solving real problems that utilizes approaches we may not be aware of. There are many stories and examples...
Published 17 months ago by caffeinebrain

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Long Haul and the Short Attention Span
As an amateur reviewer, I have no greater frustration than agreeing with a book's core thesis, but feeling disappointed by its execution. Take this one: I like Carl Honoré's claim that we must abandon the myth of the "quick fix," in which we want to spot-check problems with spit and string and fairy dust. Particularly in light of recent hot-button news, we need to...
Published 19 months ago by Kevin L. Nenstiel


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Long Haul and the Short Attention Span, December 17, 2012
This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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As an amateur reviewer, I have no greater frustration than agreeing with a book's core thesis, but feeling disappointed by its execution. Take this one: I like Carl Honoré's claim that we must abandon the myth of the "quick fix," in which we want to spot-check problems with spit and string and fairy dust. Particularly in light of recent hot-button news, we need to dispel that illusion and reawaken our passion for long-term investment in slow, fundamental remedies.

But when Honoré stops talking abstractions and gets into the details, he becomes an object lesson in his own point. He anchors each of his fourteen very short chapters on a narrative that supports his point, but only spends about half of each chapter on his exemplar story. He name-drops sources old and new, caroms among interesting but loosely organized anecdotes, and doesn't so much make his point as circle it, waiting for us to make his connections.

What Honoré terms "the slow fix" comprises a range of solutions to life's problems, which we can apply individually or (ideally) in some combination. We might think of these solutions as character traits, or leadership skills. They include, but are not limited to, long-range thinking, preparing for diverse circumstances, heeding the right advice, and honing our intuition. Our parents tried to teach us these traits as kids, but as adults, we too often need to be reminded.

Again, I agree with this, in principle. But Honoré explicates what each of these means in ways that sprawl all over the map. He will anchor a chapter about, say, fine detail thinking, on the story of an oil rig inspector who accurately predicted a major blowout. But he'll veer off, for little visible reason, to a paragraph about Steve Jobs, two paragraphs on classical music, a brief discourse on surgical antibiotics. It's like watching a ADHD student trying to paint.

In my favorite example, Honoré stops a discursion on a successful effort to revive a decrepit urban school, to quote a French marriage counselor. Honoré's source wants us to understand the importance of finding the unstated story behind one incident: "You cannot understand a Shakespearean play by listening to one soliloquy... A relationship is like a large and complex puzzle, so you need to examine all the pieces and then work out how to fit them together."

That's a clever quote, to underscore a valid point. But in context, what does it mean? It's a prime example of what rhetorician Gerald Graff calls a "hit-and-run quotation," where an author will throw some citation in, expecting the audience to instinctively understand why it matters. That line deserves to be unpacked more, because thrown out as it is, it looks like an inexplicable digression that slows the pace of an already rocky narrative.

I so much wanted to like this book. Research has shown, time and again, that the key to success rests on long-term investments and tenacity. You can tell how someone will handle work, education, and life by how long they can work on a math problem before they give up. Education journalist Paul Tough stresses the point that long-term perseverance makes more of a difference than sudden flashes of genius.

But Honoré just gives me no place to hang my hat. As he slaloms through his list of bromides, anecdotes, and pointers, he pauses on none of them long enough for them to have any sense of depth, or for them to feel particularly real to me. Though I did take a few valuable lessons from this book, one by one, I really felt Honoré expected me to supply the overarching narrative for him.

Honoré fixes his book among writers like Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, and Charles Duhigg. And not only among them, he quotes them. I keep wondering if Honoré has a new idea for his context. The New Republic reviewed a book by the disgraced Jonah Lehrer as "self-help for people who would be embarrassed to be seen reading it." I didn't know what that meant at the time, but reading this book, I think I now understand.

In his introduction, Honoré admits he falls into the trap of the quick fix, and that he wrote this book as much for himself as for us. To which I reply: and how! Excluding the back matter, this book runs less than 200 pages. Honoré's important, timely thesis deserves much more conscientious unpacking. Instead, it becomes an object lesson in our society's addiction to haste.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow read, April 10, 2013
By 
Mindy (North Carolina, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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This is one of those books that, while reading it, I had to tell myself, "Well, what did you expect? This is a book about taking things slow!" And the author has taken that to heart, it is a very slow read.

He mostly uses anecdotes to illustrate his points but the stories are not very compelling. And they're told with dense words and details that made my eyes glaze over sometimes. With an ironic smile, I kept silently urging him to get on with it. Apparently I read his message but did not internalize it.

Sure, there is wisdom in the book and I give it props for that. Honore is right about how our society is addicted to quick fixes and rarely do these quick fixes solve any underlying problems. He has solutions but they're more proverbial than practical.

If you're interested in a slow read about taking things slow, this book would be perfect for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Slow Fix, January 31, 2013
This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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This book is a collection of ideas and anecdotes of how organizational problems can be solved by using a slower problem-solving method. Make no mistake - this book is for solving organizational problems, it's not a self-help book. But still, it's a good guide for solving real problems that utilizes approaches we may not be aware of. There are many stories and examples of how "slowing down" is truly more efficient than the speedy "do it yesterday" approach of our culture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected, November 24, 2012
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Book Fanatic (Houston, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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I struggled with giving this book a 3 star rating but I simply feel that 4 stars is just too high. I read Carl Honore's previous book In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed (Plus) and thought it was excellent. In this book Honore attempts to apply the slow philosophy to solving problems, thus the title "The Slow Fix".

This is where I have a problem with the book. Much of the material is only tangentially related to the slow movement. Honore is really stretching when he tries to relate online gaming solutions to the slow movement as he does in this book. Yes, there is actually a chapter on that.

This book is really just a bunch of chapters that do a fine job of explaining why the problems we face cannot be solved with a "quick-fix" approach. They are much too complicated for that. But I think the author is a little deceptive when he tries to use his well known (and well deserved) place in the slow movement to push this book. I think "slow" is the wrong label for this material. And I think it rather dishonest and deceptive in that it may pull in readers (like me) expecting something else.

So I really don't have much of a problem with the material in this book and would probably have given it 4 stars, although even then I feel it is a little disjointed in presentation. There is a lot in this book that has nothing to do with the slow movement and it is a real stretch to pretend like it does. There is a chapter on crowd sourcing to solve problems. OK, that is legitimate topic for a book on problem solving, but what does that have to do with "a world addicted to speed"?

This book is pretty good, but not great in content. But you have to accept the content does not live up to the title or sub-title nor to Carl Honore's history in the slow movement. In that regard I feel it is being marketed dishonestly. It's really about problem solving with a long-term perspective. That's really something different.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haste Makes Waste, December 4, 2012
This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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Most of us grew up hearing that admonition from our parents and teachers. But things have changed, we live in a world where we expect instant results. We have microwaves to cook our food in seconds, weight loss programs that promise miracle results in days, programs which promise we can learn a foreign language so we speak like natives in a few weeks ... the list is endless.

There are certain problems with our fast food thinking. We have come to expect instant results no matter what the problem. Because of our instant fix mindset, we are less willing to put in the time and effort to find and fix our real problems, preferring a pill that masks the symptoms to radical surgery that would solve the real problem.

Carl Honoré, the author of The Slow Fix has given us a very interesting and entertaining look at a better approach. The basic premise of this book is that to fix most problems, we need to take a Slow Fix approach. We need to first find out what the real problem is and ask many deep questions so that we get to the root problem instead of offering a quick fix that masks the problem for a short term and often makes the problem worse.

The book is very interesting and you will be taken on a very diverse journey as the author discusses a wide variety of applications to the Slow Fix philosophy. You will learn how the prison system is Norway is employing the Slow Fix philosophy to lower the cost of housing prisoners and raising the rate of successfully reintroducing them into society. You will get a tour of a coffee grower in Costa Rico and learn about how the Slow Fix philosophy transformed the streets of Bogota, Columbia. After the financial collapse of Iceland, the citizens embraced the Slow Fix philosophy to reshape their government. There are many other interesting stories describing how the Slow Fix philosophy has transformed businesses and lives of those who embrace it.

I found the book very interesting and insightful. I believe we have become addicted to the quick fix. I see too many governments/politicians and people offerings quick fixed and simple solutions to very complex problems. I think a large percent of the worlds problems are the result of attempts at quick and easy solutions to complex problems.

While the Slow Fix is certainly not popular with lots of people, I believe in the long -run we must adapt this approach if we hope to solve the growing number of social issues facing our nation and world.

The quote by Henry Miller at the beginning of Chapter 5 really sums up the Slow Fix philosophy, "In this age, which believes that there is a shortcut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest."
This book does not offer a step-by-step method of applying the Slow Fix. One size does not fit all. In my view, it is more of a philosophy than a how-to manual. But there are many lessons you can take and apply to your life, business, government or society as a whole.

Well written, very interesting and thought provoking. Good read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in awhile, January 30, 2013
This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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Maybe this book hit a cord but I suspect it's a message that could be taken to heart by a lot more people. Years ago I started my "serious" career during the height of the dot-com start-up craze. I went from one start-up to another each with a corresponding rise in salary, duties and stress. I was also pursuing graduate school and married. Like a lot of people, the pace eventually started to catch up. I made major changes and slowed down...or so I thought.

This book opened my eyes to many ways in which my life is still on high speed. Yes, I have slowed down from the break neck pace I was living in the past but not to the point where I could/should be to really enjoy life without the guilt, without having to feel obligated to multi-task or squeeze in a bit of extra productivity during my down time or while relaxing.

This book provides great reasons on why the slow fix is often the better option both for finances, problem solving, relationships and even your individual health. Case after case after case of the negative impact of the quick fix became obvious both at the macro and micro level...to the point it really begins to open your eyes to the trade off we are making as a society and as individuals. Some of the examples - like Iceland - should be required reading. Others act as merely interesting tidbits. All provide food for thought.

Sadly, I suspect this book will receive little of the attention is so desperately deserves nor will it likely reach the very people that will most benefit from the message...however, that doesn't mean it won't reach some. For those willing to take an earnest look into why things aren't working and how to build long term solutions, THIS is the book you have been searching for.

The only single topic I would like to have seen covered in more depth is the interrelationship between organizations/individuals seeking to adopt slow change while having to grapple with the fall-out of those that don't. Sadly, it's not always possible to go it alone and in a world filled with quick fixes, even the most long term thinker is likely to be negatively impacted by the whims and short term thinking of others.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solution in search of problems, December 8, 2012
By 
Jim Tenuto (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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Carl Honore has offered up a solution for those of us who feel pressured to make snap judgments and decisions. We now live in a world where everyone and every thing cries out for our immediate attention and response. In THE SLOW FIX he argues, convincingly, that the best decisions occur when we consciously avoid our genetically programmed addiction to the quick fix.

Honore's work is derivative, as others have plowed this ground previously. Readers should consider Nobel Prize-winning Daniel Kahneman's THINKING FAST AND SLOW and the more recent book WAIT, by Frank Partnoy. What Honore has accomplished is to make this body of work more accessible to a casual reader. For example, Kahneman's work is heavy lifting and worth the effort.

The best chapters are those in the first half of the book. Here Honore suggests that complex problems cannot be solved with "the quick fix", offering a number of examples. The usual result of applying the knee jerk reaction to these issues is the treatment of the symptom rather than the root cause. The consequence is usually a deepening of the issue with the concurrent squandering of resources. Climate control, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and many of the education initiatives fall into this category.

Perhaps one of his most dramatic examples is the approach to the cycle of poverty taken by Brazil. Rather than throwing money at the immediate needs of the poor the money is deployed by Conditional Cash Transfers. Certainly education and health are important foundations in breaking the cycle of poverty; thus the conditions for these welfare-type payments are given when children attend school and the family has routine medical check-ups.

The book is marred by Honore's use of the occasional "F"-bomb; in fact, his use of it when describing inner schools in Los Angeles is condescending. One feels that he is burnishing nonexistent-and unnecessary-street creds. There are also a number of chapters where the universal solution of the slow fix leave the reader scratching his or her head. While the slow fix may be a great approach it is in these chapters that Honore offers a solution in search of problems.

In all, an entertaining book, long on anecdote though short on research, and a credible initial introduction into the Slow Movement.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow Down ... And Acknowledge !, December 5, 2012
This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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First of all, hats of for writing a book to slow down, when the world is getting faster and faster.

Once I started reading the book, in the very first chapter ( page number 14) there is a section on the brain that thinks slow ( 16 x 23 ) vs fast thinking segment of the brain. Nice section, but the problem is it is a copy of the central theme of the book Thinking, Fast and Slow . There is no harm in doing it; after all the world is built on top of each others ideas.. and is a basic courtesy to acknowledge the idea. The author mentioned "Daniel" on Page 20 on a totally unrelated topic - Bad! .

The chapters are titled "Confess", "Think Hard', "Holistic" etc. All good, except the examples have very little to do with your personal life's... Here is an example :

Mea culpa emphasizes the need to accept and acknowledge one's mistakes but the problem again I had is that the examples were heavily corporate ( How Domino's reinvented Pizza, How BP did this etc) . Ask an employee who reinvented the pizza and he will probably mention how he had to speed up to get the work done. Similarly using a prison in Scandinavia to relate to a story for slow fix is ridiculous. For the most part, slowing down, organizing yourselves are done better by the people at the top. CEO's do find time to play golf but it is the 99 % of us who have problems doing a slow fix between the kids karate class and homework and cooking and long driving and watching 4 hours of TV!.

As I went past every chapter, it was examples after examples from corporate environment with a scanty reference to "relationships". I would have specifically be happy to find how you slow down, What factors cause you to speed up, How to curb the desire of empty feeling when you slow down, how to contain the desire to grow etc.

Safe to skip reading the book ! And you will be better served by re-reading an all time great classic The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slowly does it., March 14, 2013
This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
First in the spirit of full disclosure I must aver that, contrary to all other previous reviewers, I have NOT received this book through the vine program. Now that I have unburdened myself, I shall make another confession; I sped read the book! This is highly unusual for me because I enjoy a slow read when I can savor a clever turn of phrase or a "beau mot".
Having read Honore's previous "In Praise of Slow" (2004) I was looking forward to an insightful algorithm of a slower method to solve problems, work smarter and live better; but instead the book is a laundry list of anecdotes purporting to prove that there is no one quick fix for all problems and that instant results and immediate gratification are often not the best outcomes. The author's obsessive compulsion to include every minutiae of each example is distracting from the central intent and is quite simply boring.
The chapters are titled as "Collaborate", "Confess", "Devolve", "Catalyze" illustrate the instructive sketches and the solutions gleaned from collaborative efforts, consultation with experts and slow reflective thinking. The author quotes relationship experts, psychologists such as Daniel Goleman who promotes "Emotional Intelligence", Surowecki's "wisdom of Crowds" and motivational gurus to name a few in his search for the slow fix.
Honore appears to favor a socialist model of business by extolling Norway's spending on social programs.

In conclusion, this is a rehash of his previous book, expanded with different anecdotes and peppered with new expert opinions. There is no innovation and the solutions are not novel. New readers of Carl Honore's work will find this book to be interesting, informative and instructive.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading from a Programmer's Perspective, January 23, 2013
By 
Erol Esen (Rochester, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed (Hardcover)
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As you read this book, you maybe struck by the first quotation of the book: "You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew."
I develop software and frequently I have to read code written by someone else. It never ceases to amaze me to feel that I have entered a new puzzle. When it's not working, it's like looking at someone else's leftover in a public toilet. That's looking into some other human's mind. Einstein might have been seeing the world "anew" from no ordinary consciousness.

This book blossoms otherwise simple words into heavy meanings to: confess, think, prepare, collaborate, crowdsource, catalyze, devolve, feel, play, and evolve. These are the chapters. Think is the hardest, as it's divided into four separate chapters; as if looking at diamond from different angles.

Einstein was asked what stupidity meant to him. He said it's repeating the same mistake. Honore suggests to confess to end such stupidity. Once stupidity stops, it's time to ask the right questions, so that the right answer can follow--by thinking hard. As a programmer, who is trying to do more functional programming than imperative, I especially enjoyed Honore's perspective on thinking holistically, inspired by Paul Hawken, the environmentalist, who said, "All is connected...no one thing can change by itself." "Thinking long" is a challenge, yet the shortest path to a solution--try estimating how long you should be thinking; never forget to KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. Thinking small is why we programmers always think in modules--separating their individual concerns can be a challenge. It's this collection of modules and how they are related to one another is what we call design; hopefully it's prepared to be ready for any requirement change. Large software development is the most collaborative endeavor I know. The "Collaborate" chapter's subtitle is "two heads are better than one"; I can attest to that, it is especially true with a communications tool like Microsoft Lync to bring developers together in a chat-room and discuss work related problems and solutions; I say "work related" because anything else really seems boring. Having recently read Dava Sobel's "Longitude", it was clear to me what Honore means by "Crowdsourcing". Can "Catalyst" be included in a resume? Sounds like Honore would agree. To reflect, or to "devolve", is how we can learn from our own experience. When software works, its developer feels the gates of locked up emotion gush out...it's euphoric...it's the reward. It's your own buy-in to a programming career. Software development is "Play". It seems there is always a way to make your software better...it evolves...slowly.
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The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed
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