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Publisher's Summary

Columnist for The Times and best-selling author of Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice, Matthew Syed argues that the key to success is a positive attitude to failure.

What links the Mercedes Formula One team with Google? What links Dave Braisford's Team Sky and the aviation industry? What is the connection between the inventor James Dyson and the footballer David Beckham? They are all Black Box Thinkers.

Whether developing a new product, honing a core skill or just trying to get a critical decision right, Black Box Thinkers aren't afraid to face up to mistakes. In fact they see failure as the very best way to learn. Rather than denying their mistakes, blaming others or attempting to spin their way out of trouble, these institutions and individuals interrogate errors as part of their future strategy for success.

How many of us, hand on heart, can say that we have such a healthy relationship with failure? Learning from failure has the status of a cliché, but this book reveals the astonishing story behind the most powerful method of learning known to mankind and reveals the arsenal of techniques wielded by some of the world's most innovative organizations.

Their lessons can be applied across every field - from sport to education, from business to health. Using gripping case studies, exclusive interviews and really practical takeaways, Matthew Syed - the award-winning journalist and best-selling author of Bounce - explains how to turn failure into success and shows us how we can all become better Black Box Thinkers.

©2015 Matthew Syed (P)2015 Hodder & Stoughton

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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great read

Both my husband and I really enjoyed this book and intend to listen to it again. Just so much to learn and grow in

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

a practical and insightful book about learning from mistakes.

a fantastic read, especially if you work in health care

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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absolutely amazing book! really gets you to think

this book changed the way i look at failure in all aspects of my life. well worth it

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Worth every second of listening.

Best audio book and by far best narration so far of all audio books. (Listened to 10 books) So many facts, so many stories. Well organised information that is easy to follow. This is a book full of lessons that I suspect, all of us need to be reminded of. Fear of failure is so big. But learning from failure is so powerful and we can change the world if we learn our lessons well.

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Perhaps the best non fiction book I've ever read

Gripped from the beginning and relevant throughout with brilliant examples. I'm already searching for the next great book that might be able to match this.

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Perspective Changing Book

Some very powerful messages, which can be implemented in all facets of life
For example, move forward with plausible business ideas before checking if everything will be 'perfect' from day one - failure and adjusting accordingly is part of the journey to ultimate success, rather than an outcome
One of the best quotes from the book is along the lines of " what you are telling me contains elements of the truth, but is not the whole truth" - particularly relevant when people do not want to accept responsibility, acknowledge errors and look to then improve from those errors (applies to ourselves too)
Another wonderful business lesson is not to unfairly penalise colleagues / team members nor yourself if a genuine unintentional error occurs in the field - this encourages open discussion on how to improve and challenge the status quo and improve the whole business
Will listen to this book again

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Great book

Great book. Learning from failure.. Pretty simple but oh so powerful. Can't wait to give it a good try.

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  • ardyn
  • 13-01-2016

Great book, so-so audio performance

I absolutely loved the book. It's interesting, applicable, and very well written. The only downside was that the narrator was breathy and made so many mouth noises. It was incredibly distracting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-07-2018

Supporting evidence for Design Thinking

Design thinking is about truly understanding your wicked problem and through itterative ideation, experimentation and with frequent testing trying to learn early and as often untull you have a minimum viable solution. Through small continuous tests you learn where you assumptions and hypotheses is correct as well as where they are failing. this book support the methodology behind design thinking and why it's so successful in solving complex real world problems. to learn is to fail early through experimentation and having the grit to push through and not letting your ego stand in the way. it's a great book with lessons you can apply in business and on a personal level.

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  • Sami
  • 26-05-2018

Such a great package

I loved this book. It brought attention to issues in our learning. I liked how it weaved together our mistakes, the importance and difficulty to learn from them and the success one can achieve through them.

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  • Michael
  • 25-03-2018

Learning from mistakes. A must read for Everyone!!

This is a must read for everyone.. Except a small randomised control group 😂

Seriously, this is the best book about learning from failures.
it starts off talking about how the Aviation industry is based around learning from their failures, from crashes and near misses. Hence they have the Black Box for recording what happened in the lead up to a crash. But the culture of the Healthcare system is almost the exact opposite, they try not to investigate problems and learn from mistakes and deaths. Instead being worried about blame being attributed.

This book explains and extols the virtues of applying the scientific method to social concerns.
All geisters, social entrepreneurs, organisers, managers, staff, students, parents and you should read this and ensure that you create and utilise feedback loops in your organisations and life.

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  • acampbell
  • 16-12-2017

Insightful and enlightening

Provides a different perspective on approaching the world of failure .... Enables me in both my profession and life to accept failure as an inevitably to progress , to embrace upon occurrence and learn before striving.

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  • Joachim
  • 13-11-2017

An inspiring take on mistakes!

Matthew Syed introduces an interesting -- and genuinely inspiring -- take on what it actually means to make mistakes, and how approaching each mistake constructively is the only real way to success be it as an individual or as a company. A highly recommendable book for anyone interested in getting a new perspective on their life, work, relationship, or something else entirely. And, perhaps, an even more recommendable book for those who feel they do not need it. You will be surprised!

Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry

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  • Casper
  • 17-05-2017

Truly moving. Absolute 5-Star

This is required reading for anyone looking to better, more fully understand Why we must embrace failure as a stepping stone to succes, both personal, in business and for society at large.

The storytelling is captivating from start to finish. Great case studies are stringed together with really solid research and reasoning. This combines into a book that is truly moving, motivating and highly educational.

Another reviewer commented on the performance of the narrator, being too audible (no pun intended) - I find that the narrator did a very good job of keeping rhythm and tone linked to the nerve of the book, at any given point.

Highly recommended listen/read!

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  • Michael Assad
  • 14-12-2016

Enlightening study of the benefits of failure

These ideas can be applied to any profession or business to make profound improvements. The delivery is enthralling and the narrator is excellent.

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  • Nadav
  • 17-02-2016

Great facinating story, a lot to learn from!

What made the experience of listening to Black Box Thinking the most enjoyable?

They have very important true case examples that made very large impact to many people. Case studies of difference working and thinking cultures, such as aviation, health system and economy.
A gave only 4 (of 5) starts to the narrator. He has very pleasant English dialect and he is not boring to listen to, but sometimes it appears he has hard times breathing... :-) but he is mostly fine.

Which scene was your favorite?

Chapter 10 is excellent ... shows how creativity can arise from mistakes and iterative learning. Chapter 1 and other live examples, depict how important is to learn mistakes. Maybe one of the best scene is showing two groups of researches and developers of a product: one are group of experts that attack the problem from scientific designated point of view, attempting to optimize the product by means of mathematics, physics and flow. The other group know nothing of all these science, but they work in the same way evolution works: they try by means of trial and error many different variations of the product, and consider only those with any small improvements. Then they iterate further from these, and with each generation of products the final results become better. They produced excellent product (that the group of experts failed to do), after 400 something trials and errors...

What did you learn from Black Box Thinking that you would use in your daily life?

I am a 'natural born' scientist, ever critical and curious by why things are as they are. Maybe the most important thing I learned is to let go of devilish details sometimes, release products, articles and project with maybe flaws, but let other evaluate them, and learn to improve these from the feedback. Feedback is a key ingredient for success, yet, we forget sometimes to make the best out of the feedback we get. Moreover, not always we want to hear negative feedback because it may (and usually is) compromise our work and philosophies we worked so hard to achieve. However, by learning from critique and feedback, we almost always produce better results by large margines. By all means, stop being perfectionist because nothing is perfect, but accept that what we develop have flaws. The art is to learn from these flaws to improve.

Any additional comments?

It is important to remember that although when we start to read the book, we understand the main message: learn from failures. But few of us really understand the depths and what we can achieve by doing so. I heard by father dozens of times back in my teen days to learn from mistakes, and I mostly tended to ignore him, not really understanding what it means. This book does just that: by a serious of (many) examples, all real, show you how important and how you can use it for your benefit. Highly Recommended!

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  • Marcel Meijer
  • 04-02-2016

Nice

Nice chain of facts and previous events, followed by hindsight information and analysis. Real eyeopener and great speaker.

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  • Callum
  • 01-12-2015

Insightful, entertaining and informative

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. It's well written, captivating, full of insight and is very persuasive. Writer clearly is passionate about his theories. Well worth reading. Thought provoking.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not applicable

What about Simon Slater’s performance did you like?

Narrated with the right amount of enthusiasm and without monotone. Get a real sense of interest from him as it piques your own interest too.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Mainly this book made me pensive. However I do find myself using a lot of the knowledge I've gained from it as part of the way I now approach my daily life. It really has changed my outlook on things. I think it's an improvement on bounce which was itself a very interesting read.

Any additional comments?

Well worth reading more than once. Picked up many things second time round that I missed to begin with.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Kenny Marshall
  • 09-10-2016

Great book about learning from mistakes

Lots of critical life and death real life examples. It's a very enjoyable listen and challenged my thought processes. However, I was expecting some more ideas on what approaches can be used to encourage people to learn from mistakes and how to move current thinking forward.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-02-2016

Really, really interedting

Really interesting concepts discussed and brought to life with real case studies. The first chapter wasn't a pleasant read, but that was just because of the nature of the story being told.

Before I had finished this book I has already ordered the author's other book, Bounce.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Maximus Decimus Meridius
  • 24-09-2015

Simple, informative and bursting with ‘scribble th

Would you listen to Black Box Thinking again? Why?

Yes, it is one of those books you'll come back to, to remind yourself of things.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not applicable, seriously audible, this generic form does not work. Listen to the Black Box Thinking book and then TAKE ACTION!

Have you listened to any of Simon Slater’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I've not, yet, I have just bought one though.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

None of the above, don't be silly.

Any additional comments?

Stay strong during the first 9 minutes of chapter one, do, as I was, be tempted to stop listening and go back to your Archers podcast. As the campaigns says It Gets Better.

I am just starting chapter four and already this book has been worth the money / credit. Even if the rest of the book turned out to be Winnie the Pooh singing along to ABBA this book would have been worth it. Three chapters in and I’ve got a page of notes for both my professional and my personal life.

I can happily recommend this book, it’s one that I can see myself listening to repeatedly over the coming months / years. (Less than a week after buying Black Box Thinking, I’ve logged on to Audible to buy his other book Bounce.)

32 of 39 people found this review helpful

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  • Louise
  • 28-08-2016

Must listen

I'm a careers adviser in a school in the UK looking for ways to improve my practice. Having heard the quote from this book that a psychotherapist with years of experience gets no better results than one who is newly trained, I was intrigued as I wondered if it may be the same for my profession. I got answers to this conundrum and much more besides. This is a book for anyone who wants to improve or help others to improve. It sits well alongside the likes of Gladwell, Seligman and Csikzentmahayli on issues such as the value or practice, the growth mindset and learning from mistakes. I will try to be much more careful in the future before apportioning blame on myself and others. The narrator is excellent too.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Margarita Millere
  • 01-02-2016

Great book to understand importance of mistakes

Any additional comments?

It's a great book, which helps to understand importance of making mistakes and learning from them.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • D. Faulkner
  • 07-10-2015

Truly brilliant. Should be mandatory reading

Thoughtful, insightful, compelling and incredibly important, this is a real page turner of a book which kept me glued to my headphones for hours on end. If I were King of the World I would make this mandatory reading in all schools and social institutes, not just because it's a great read but because the information within should shape our future.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Greysnowogre
  • 16-10-2017

Unnecessarily graphic

I shouldn't have to hear of the graphic details of child rape cases in order to learn about success in business. The book should come with a warning. The distressing detail I've heard far undermines the value of the rest of the content on the book. Consequently, I didn't finish it.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Finnur
  • 23-02-2016

very interesting and mind changing

I loved this book and the ideology it brings forth in a very clear, simple and fast flowing way. I was hesitating before I began because of some reviews stating a slow and difficult first three chapters. I did not experiance the book like that, I got suck into the story right away. I have already changed few things in my personal way of looking at things and how to respond to "failures" both my own and those of my loved ones. It will be harder to implement at my office but I will strive to do just that though.

I do also expect to listen to the whole book again this year to freshen myself up on the whole message it brings.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Genc Tasbasi
  • 03-10-2016

So repetitive

What disappointed you about Black Box Thinking?

This book is really repetitive. It keeps talking about the same thing. It says something, then you hear about it again in next 10 mins. It repeats things. Repetitive book. Same thing. Oh my I think you get it now.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful