Simple Habits for Complex Times by Jennifer Garvey Berger [Book Summary – Review]


The world is a complicated area and it is becoming more and more complex. Thanks to novel technologies, shifting social behaviors, and a rapidly developing economic view are presented with an ever-changing queue of chances and difficulties. A novel kind of leadership demands navigating these variable conditions.

In this review, it can be assisted to show you the way forward by training you the fine art of agile and lithe leadership. Instead of giving you tired stereotypes about working harder and forcing more, this guide explains how to improve elegant solutions to complicated issues.

In these episodes, you will find out the power of systematic thinking, the benefit of making amazing associations, and the magnificentness of asking the correct questions. These tried and experimented lessons are drawn from Jennifer Garvey and Keith Johnston’s decades of experience educating leadership talents. Now, you can reach with your fingertips to their specialty.


Buy this book from Amazon



Chapter 1 – Unique approaches to leadership are demanded by our complicated globe.


Here is a difficult scenario: Yolanda has been elected as the manager of a government agency responsible for allocating children in a foster family. It could be an excellent job, but the agency is chaos. More than one kid is injured or missing in the first year of the job.

She is doing everything in her power to solve the problem. For the reports, such as internal reviews, and information gathering tasks, she was assigned. In the end, tons of information are revealed thanks to all this research, but there is no answer. There are too many variables to examine and no models to discover.

The world is a very distinct place than before. Too many people are found, more ways to interact, and everything from supply lines to individual networks can now cover the whole world. All this complex interconnection leads to a set of conditions that we can abbreviate as VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

VUCA poses particularly difficult for managers, a category that involves everyone from tops of large businesses to parents and teachers. Leaders traditionally make decisions about the future by observing history. However, the past in our VUCA world is no longer a glorious forecast of what will happen.

Let’s consider this; 500 years ago, there were just a few careers to select from. Nowadays, picking the correct education course means a career prospect that doesn’t yet breathe.



Under these circumstances, by an efficient leader, three significant mental habits must be developed.

Initially, it is necessary to practice asking various questions by them. You must always ask questions that expand your thinking instead of narrow it down. For instance, if something goes wrong; “what occurred?” don’t ask, you should ask like that; “what else could it be?”

Secondly, multiple perspectives need to be taken by leaders. Don’t just trust only your point of view. Spend energy to comprehend how others view a circumstance. Even if you oppose, the diversity in thinking or reasoning can present important perceptions.

Third and last, systems must be seen by leaders. This means taking a step back and looking for surprising links. Although it is simple to look at the world as a series of single reasons and impacts, it is more correct to see the globe as a web where every action has various reasons and various influences.

Let’s see how these all result in action.


Chapter 2 – The thing that includes seeing beyond reason and impact is to comprehend complicated systems.


Let’s go back to Yolanda, the top of our government department. She was sitting at her table circled by piles of files and folders.   Every pile includes comprehensive reports on the separate situation of a lost kid. In each report, these are included with details, dates, and descriptions.

Although reading the reports is sad, not enlightening. While each tells a sincere tale about what transpired to a child but gives no idea why more than one child had to get in pain.

Yolanda is struggling with a complicated system. In such systems, adequate variables and interconnections to produce a field of potential consequences are found. And with so many moving parts involved, these results are hard to predict.

If the system that Yolanda is dealing with, desired to comprehend by her, she must switch her way of thinking.

It is the skill to learn the underlying concept of reason and impact that is a tremendous advantage to our ancestors. For early individuals, the difference between life and death was to attribute some past actions to positive outcomes and others to negative outcomes. To sum, our brains developed to see this basic narrative everywhere.

Sometimes history is a great predictor of the future. For example, if you got sick the last time you ate spoiled sushi, there is a chance that will occur if you’ll probably try again. But this model is not always valid. Just because people have bought tons of VHS tapes in the last ten years, doesn’t tell them they will do it again ten years from now.



If the linear cause and effect model is challenged by a system, it is a complicated system and demands a distinctive way of thinking. To rectify a split complicated system, you cannot analyze the negative consequences one by one. The same conditions that produced them may never happen again. Instead, concentrate on the processes made potential by a system.

To do this, the current arrangement of the system must first be analyzed. Match all its nodes and connections. Then try to predict the future by using this information. What kinds of results are possible? Which ones have more potential than others?

Although this approach can be misleading, it can also exhibit natural trends within a system – that is, what a system does without you even apprehending it. By testing with little changes in the system, it is likely to change these trends to be more helpful.


Chapter 3 – Feedback must be created by loops, not lines.


Imagine this scene: It’s time to evaluate performance at a high-powered consulting firm. It has been a difficult year with many changes. The stressed senior manager is sitting at her table. She has a fairly angry worker in front of her. Now, here’s a question: In this case, who would you prefer to be?

It seems by most people, not being both would rather. Giving and receiving feedback is an important but unwanted part of any business. It can be tense and boring. If done badly, it could cause more problems in the future. But these problems can be escaped when you allow feedback to become a two-way street.

Sadly, the duty of most people is by providing feedback to accept a false strategy. According to them, the process is seen as a simple, one-way operation. In this model, by the supervisor, it is known the truth and it is enough for them to communicate this to their subordinates.

But, because this approach is so linear, it doesn’t build the feedback loop an organization needs to be successful.



Rather than this hierarchical model, feedback sessions should be approximated as a reciprocal shopping space. Both parties should have the power to present information to a shared pool of knowledge, and most importantly, both parties should be careful in examining the other person’s contributions.

Sure, it is simpler to tell than to make.

The reason for dividing your knowledge pool into three separate streams is that it’s best to keep things running sleekly.

The facts are the first following. This is just a real distillation of experimental data: numbers, situations, and concrete details. Feelings are the second stream. This is how every individual comprehends these facts. Which ones are positive and which are disappointing? The third and final one is the effects or actions that result from these perceptions.

When evaluations are shared in this way by any of the parties, it is likely to create a more correct picture of the world without producing tension. Both the executive and the worker have the opportunity to gain novel information, and both become possible change points. As a consequence, by the organization, the thing, that is much more likely, is to stay agile and responsive in unknown conditions.


Chapter 4 – The reason for needing a space to experiment is to plan for an uncertain future.


Spaghetti, string, tape, and marshmallow. Deliver the exact substances to three groups: a society of architects, a society of consultants, and a society of kids. Now, tell them to build the highest tower possible. Which team will climb to the top?

Unmistakably, architects. But most of the time kids are close to second. While in architects all the technical know-how is found, kids benefit from a treasure of creativity and free from care behavior to try out crazy thoughts. After all, even if their turret falls, they have a chance to still eat marshmallows.

Nowadays, what seems like an important aim first can be trivial when you arrive at it. Or the steps you plan to take could be taken in the wrong way. Since destiny is uncertain, your way ahead should be flexible.

Before VUCA dominated, what was a more direct process was leadership. A thriving director had an exact roadmap to achieve. They just had to gather all related information, decide on the best way, communicate a clear aim, and then assist the rest of the team to arrive at it. Nevertheless, in our changing world, data is always in flux and the aim can be a moving target.

Having a solid plan will not be enough, as the world is more slippery than used to be. In this regard, it is better to have a comprehensive vision and a flexible strategy to accomplish this.



What does a flexible approach seem like? The first is to escape solid goals. These are constant metrics such as “hold client calls under ten minutes”. While such statistics are simple to measure and comforting to hit, they can be extremely prescriptive. An organization with static goals will develop static approaches to meet them. If the outside world changes, it will not assort with it.

Preferably, try approaches to accomplish it by setting a more relaxed aim. Make sure your experiments are “fail-safe” by setting exact limits on acceptable results. For example, losing X amount of revenue to meet a relaxed aim like “more satisfied clients” may not be a problem, but breaking the law is unacceptable.

When net limits are applied, a team will be free to experiment with bold, fresh opinions, sometimes with unforeseen consequences. Thanks to such an arrangement, it will assist your organization move towards its general vision while open to novel paths. Even, you can be shocked where you are in the end.


Chapter 5 – Due to the individuals’ complications, institutions are complicated.


Net-headed, calculating, totally rational. When asked to define your perfect colleague, these are some of the adjectives that often head the list. Still, they presumably won’t define your co-workers if you’re not working on an intergalactic starship from Spock.

But don’t forget: they don’t define you also. The fact is, no one makes all sense. Although the human brain excels in analytical thinking, it also comes with a lot of irrelevant weirdness, prejudices, and idiosyncrasies.

There is a stubborn myth that people should leave their feelings and emotions at the door before work. Job is business, isn’t it? Yet this is far from the accuracy. Even a typical day at the office is loaded with passionate ups and downs, from the disappointment of long meetings to the delights of lounge jokes. However, this doesn’t have to be a wicked thing. It’s part of what creates us human-being.

And it also gives information about our decision-making process. Despite the fact that we love to think that our choices and actions are based on sound logic and empirical proof, this is not all time the case. The accuracy is that our brains trust many shortcuts that affect our thinking.

One before-mentioned shortcut is affirmation prejudice. This is our bent to view only facts and details that back-up our pre-existing faiths. Another shortcut is our prejudice against the acquaintance. We are more likely to prefer and trust people and ideas that we previously know or that evoke us of ourselves. And yet another is a basic attribution mistake. This occurs when we concentrate on a particular human or action as the root of a problem instead of looking at a broader state.



While these prejudices sometimes assist us to think, they often guide us to erroneous results. Let’s assume that a department fails to accomplish its aims. By you, the manager can be blamed for bad leadership. However, the real cause may be more diffuse and uncertain, such as an incipient economic recession or a seasonal cold that slows personnel down.

And with all this little weirdness, organizations are turned into complicated and sometimes illogical institutions. It is necessary to be aware of these when approaching any dilemma. When trying to determine a systemic problem, it is also likely to decrease its impacts by adding various perspectives. That way, a person’s inevitable weird won’t control the dialogue.


Chapter 6 – What needs fresh approaches to communication is a complicated globe.


A skilled chef with years of practice, written grade, and leadership. It needs too many things for an orchestra to reveal justice to a beautiful symphony. But this complex duty has been made simpler with a clear aim: to play a faithful interpretation of a composed piece.

A jazz band has a distinct difficulty. Every time a song is played, it can and should be distinct. This improvised approach needs a matchless kind of communication. There are no constant points to show the way, and each musician should be open to fine cues and abrupt riffs.

The risks and awards are found in this dynamic style of music. The band sometimes fails to spark, but what results are beyond comparison when they catch it.

The job of a leader in the old, uncomplex world was to communicate with open and easy narratives. Their job as a conductor was to ensure that each member of an organization knows the exact aim of the group. Then they had to fully explain the steps everyone had to take to get there. This was a very straight, hierarchical interaction model.



The world of VUCA is more similar to jazz. Due to the aim cannot be given in precise details, the wanted consequence is still unknown.

However, this does not indicate that complicated organizations should be pointless. They still need to understand the overall direction in which they desire to go. For instance, a firm may know that it desires to digitize more services without pinpointing, which services should be fully digitized.

Leaders need to switch their language because to convey more flexible aims. A useful approach is to reconfigure discussions about last destinations and concrete steps, with less and more travels and processes. What can assist is metaphors. Does your organization want to “open a new road” or just “tap to starboard”? Don’t get fixed on the endings, but concentrate on how you desire the organization to act right now.

If your institution is used to clearing messages, it can feel frustrating or awkward to adapt to this approach. Don’t be scared to take advantage of these emotions. Be clear that embracing uncertainty with your team members can be both scary and a little exciting. Feeling these contradictory passions is crucial to working in VUCA circumstances.


Chapter 7 – Treat each alteration as an opportunity to grow.


Let’s rethink the greatest differences in your life. Were they deliberate and planned like moving to a fresh city? Or was it any surprises such as an immediate accident or job failure? Perhaps the changes were so graded that even by you they aren’t noticed until they finish.

There is no rejecting that transition can take many forms. However, whatever shape it takes, the certain thing is to change itself. Therefore, doing this correctly is a very important ability for any leader.

The most proper people to face change and complexity are those who settle for changing conditions. They grow up to meet novel certainties, seeing new challenges as chances to develop fresh abilities and approach an unbalanced globe with agility.

According to Carol Dweck who is a psychologist at Stanford, two kinds of human beings are found in the world. The first type sees themselves as totally steady. They think their personalities are constant and static. Seeing themselves dynamically is the second kind of person. Their character is a work in progress.

The thing that is not surprising is the second kind of person with a flexible feeling of self is more proper to the ever-changing globe of VUCA.

But if you see yourself as fitting to the initial category, don’t hopelessness – anyone can be this second type of person.  Adopting a self-changing mindset is a hint. This mindset acknowledges that when the world is unstable and beyond our control, we don’t have how we respond to this ambiguity.

An excellent way to develop a self-transforming mindset is to ask various questions. Don’t concentrate on that; “What am I?” or “what have I made before?” Rather, ask yourself “what can I switch?” and “what do I desire to be in tomorrow?”



Institutions as a whole can also own this mindset. Review your organization’s laws and worth. Are they strictly imposing a status quo or are they inviting experimentation, diversity, and adaptability? Even seemingly general-sense rules such as “employ just the most qualified individual” can prohibit a self-transforming mindset. Bringing in skill with a little less experience or a matchless background can provide the fresh energy and novel perspective required to adapt to changes.

It is significant to memorize that improvement and growth is an open-ended process for both people and groups. There is no endpoint or end line to cross. As the world of VUCA is all time changing, your society requires to be open to alteration with it.


Chapter 8 – The organizational alteration cannot be constrained, it must be developed.


As soon as you touch a light switch, your lamp turns on immediately. However, when planting a grain, you don’t foresee gathering fresh fruit within a few minutes. Rather, you should plow the soil, water the soil, and ensure your young sapling receives the correct amount of sunlight.

Just like growing a lush garden, improving an organization available for the VUCA world also takes patience. There is no sorcerous pin to press or hoist to pull. It’s all related to building the correct environment and then allowing nature to get in its way.

Until now, the importance of adapting to our probably more fluid, ambiguous, complicated, and uncertain world has been recognized by you. You are dying to tackle the novel challenges it shows. And this is wonderful!

However, the important thing is to memorize that you cannot do everything overnight. There is an advantage to doing things gradually.

The temptation is to manage each possible problem like a crisis that requires urgent action. However, this approach has two serious disadvantages. First, it can guide us to adopt solutions we previously have known without thinking of new alternatives. And second, it may cause us to apply changes without comprehending the possible range of results.



Prevent these problems by building a blank for slow contemplation. For smaller issues, this could mean putting the first part of the meeting aside to fix the problem without offering any solution. For larger projects, this could mean weeks of experimentation, trial and error, and clear preparation for open exploration without waiting for outcomes.

Creating a flexible and open environment, rather than solid and hierarchical, is the switch in both cases. Ensure feedback flows back and forth sleekly. State your heading without setting a final destination. And comprehend that every setback, balk, or unforeseen turn is a chance to discover.

Don’t get disappointed if things don’t seem distinctive right away. Adopting these attitudes is not a one-time event, but a process that occurs over time. The more effort you put into changing the mindset of your institution, the more it will sense at home in our changing, unknown, complicated, and ambiguous world.


Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders by Jennifer Garvey Berger, Keith Johnston Book Review


The globe is not as basic as it used to be. Due to the increasing connection to each other, fast-paced, and technological development, our community is becoming more and more variable, unpredictable, complicated, and ambiguous. These conditions demand a novel form of leadership that is lithe, changeable, and agile. The thing that must welcome change, admit feedback and empower their organizations to constantly experiment and discover while looking for what is likely and probable is accomplished leadership.


Tangle with.

Seldom, creating a novel place for conversation is the most excellent way to foster creativity. As you approach a problem, try building workgroups of unconventional combinations of people. The key is variety. Bring senior members and junior beginners from departments together. You might be shocked when unusual solutions will appear.



Download Pdf


https://goodbooksummary.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/Simple+Habits+for+Complex+Times+by+Jennifer+Garvey+Berger+Book+Summary+-+Review.pdf


Download Epub


https://goodbooksummary.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/Simple+Habits+for+Complex+Times+by+Jennifer+Garvey+Berger+Book+Summary+-+Review.epub


Audiobook


Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

Recent Content