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Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of October 2016: For those who think that a spick-and-span desk is an indication of high productivity, Harford's fascinating investigation of how disorder can spark innovation will open your eyes to all kinds of situations when tidiness is not a virtue. From Brian Eno's fury-provoking Oblique Strategy cards that wrung a new sound from already talented musicians to how mixing differently talented teams can help them find solutions and keep their eye on the goal, Messy bolsters the theory that disorder creates heightened alertness. That alertness, in turn, fuels creativity, problem solving, better driving, resilience, innovation, and much more. But if the only thing you get out of Messy is peace with the level of disorder at your coworkers', staff's, or spouse's workspace, then that alone is priceless. --Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review
“Harford’s argument goes beyond aesthetics, resurfacing over and over in his engrossing narrative.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Utterly fascinating. Tim Harford shows that if you want to be creative and resilient, you need a little more disorder in your world. It's a masterful case for the life-changing magic of cluttering up.” —Adam Grant, New York Times-bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
“[Messy] goes beyond the well-worn discussion over messy desks as a sign of creativity. . . Rather, he tackles the notion more conceptually, examining why rigid targets can wreak havoc, how unpredictable leaders get ahead, and when flexibility and improvisation matter more.” —The Washington Post
“Masterful.” —The Economist
“Messy is neither a broadside at Marie Kondo and her cult of minimalism nor a case for the hidden virtues of hoarding. Harford, an acclaimed economics journalist, isn’t so much extolling squalor as questioning the notion that order is inherently preferable for creative endeavors.” —Time
“[Messy] plays to Harford's prodigious strengths: the ability to tell engrossing human stories, and the ability to use those stories to convey complex, statistical ideas that make your life better.” —Boing Boing
“It's a very, very good book, full of wise counter-intuitions and clever insights.” —Brian Eno, musician and record producer
“A book that presents itself as an impossibly simple account of the virtues of a messy workspace, then builds to something extraordinary.” —The Age
“This absorbing book offers a different approach from instructional decluttering manuals by celebrating the successes derived from the unplanned, unscripted, and unknown.” —Library Journal
“Weaving together lessons from history, art, technology, and social and scientific research, Harford’s theories have many potential benefits for individuals and businesses seeking to remain on the creative cutting edge, as well as profound implications for society.” —Publishers Weekly
“Harford presents the strategies of disorganization as unique and enlightening and convincingly offers reinforced encouragement to those who may find themselves 'tempted by tidiness' to instead 'embrace some mess instead.'” —Kirkus
“Ranging expertly across business, politics and the arts, Tim Harford makes a compelling case for the creative benefits of disorganization, improvisation and confusion. His liberating message: you’ll be more successful if you stop struggling so hard to plan or control your success. Messy is a deeply researched, endlessly eye-opening adventure.” —Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking
“Tim’s best and deepest book.” —Tyler Cowen, New York Times-bestselling author of Average Is Over
Praise for Tim Harford
“Every Tim Harford book is a cause for celebration.” —Malcolm Gladwell
“One of the best writers who also happens to be an economist.” —Stephen Dubner
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The problem is not that our minds are messy, but that we don't accept that as a good thing. So we try to impose order on our working environment and in doing so risk stifling the creativity that can come from serendipitous connections. In Messy, Tim Harford shows how disorder takes many forms and can be stimulating and productive, whether in life, the workplace, the battlefield, or the mind. Every book of Mr Harford's is filled with insight, humour, erudition, intellectual delight, and refreshingly laser-focus logic, and this is no exception.