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The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed [Hardcover]

Carl Honore
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Jan. 29 2013

In the tradition of his internationally bestselling In Praise of Slow, and drawing on examples from the most progressive and successful leaders in business, politics, science and society, Carl Honoré brilliantly illuminates why the best way to face our problems might just be to take our time.
 
If the high-flying fighter pilots of the RAF can own up to their mistakes, why can't the rest of us? Toyota was fantastically good at exposing its failings and correcting them, until it stopped, setting the company up for one of the most spectacular falls from grace in the history of the auto industry. BP couldn't bring itself to apologize for its catastrophic oil spill until the entire Gulf Coast of the United States was bearing the brunt of its technological shortcomings. 

Addicted as we might be to the quick fix--pills, crash diets or just diverting attention from things about to go wrong--the quick fix never really works. Trying to solve problems in a hurry, sticking on a plaster when surgery is needed, might deliver temporary relief, but only at the price of storing up worse trouble for later. For those looking for a fix that sticks, The Slow Fix will help us produce solutions in life and work that endure.


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Review

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
 
 “Mr. Honoré has a winning style and an infectious curiosity about the minutiae of other people’s lives.”
The Wall Street Journal
 
“Accessible, lucid and wise, this book should sit in every government and managerial office.”
The Independent
 
“With sharp, rhythmic prose, Honoré presents a number of guideposts to effective problem solving supported by intriguing anecdotes…. A feast of stories about people overcoming all manner of obstacles, with the promise of showing us how to better cope with our own struggles.”
Quill & Quire
 
“Honoré is a skilled journalist, well aware of the virtues of brevity in relating an anecdote or setting a scene or making a point. The narrative never bogs down.”
National Post
 
“After reading the first six pages of The Slow Fix at my desk, I turned to a coworker and exclaimed, ‘This is so good!’ . . . Honoré’s writing remains engaging throughout, with careful attention to the people and places that populate his examples of successful slow fixes.”
—Jack Covert, President of 800-CEO-READ

From the Back Cover

A doctor prescribes a pill to treat symptoms of a disease instead of the root cause. The CEO of a corporation takes a shortcut to financial growth. A new mom embarks on a crash diet to get rid of pregnancy pounds.

Quick fixes have become the commonly accepted approach to problems in almost every area of our lives. And yet these "instant" solutions don't work, lead to more problems, and end up taking more of our precious time.

With The Slow Fix, international bestselling author Carl Honoré doesn't only describe what's wrong with taking the quick or easy route; he shows us a new approach to problem solving that works in any area of life, from health and relationships to business and community. Honoré details a new paradigm for efficient, sustainable problem solving, teaching us how to utilize time to build expertise, take advantage of teamwork, find the right messenger to deliver our message, and much more.

The Slow Fix changes our understanding of problem solving. Whether we're negotiating the family chore load at home, addressing a delicate issue at work, or attempting to tackle something on a large scale, Honoré shows us ways to solve problems today that will prove sustainable for years to come.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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5.0 out of 5 stars Slowing down is quite refreshing.... April 4 2013
Format:Hardcover
The Slow Fix suggests that today's world is engrossed in going too fast, and not thinking about what is really at the crux of some society's big issues. I couldn't agree more on the concepts that are brought up in this engrossing book. The book suggests a series of concepts that we need change our mindset to tackle today's real concerns. We live in a world where we can't think beyond short political cycles, short-term economic growth expectations, instant stimulation. Some of the examples really make tremendous sense - a Norwegian Prison based on rehabilitation, new philosophies on public education and the downfall of Toyota as it raced to be #1. Not to mention the line "those companies obsessed with quarterly earnings grow less (from the book)." That line gives alone suggest that this book is a must read.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Long Haul and the Short Attention Span Dec 17 2012
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow read April 10 2013
By Mindy - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Slow Fix Jan. 31 2013
By galfrombrooklyn - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected Nov. 24 2012
By Book Fanatic - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haste Makes Waste Dec 4 2012
By John Chancellor - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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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