PMI - BOOK REVIEW - by Gregor Nicolas 

Who is the author? 

Adam Alter is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and the author of Drunk Tank Pink, and Irresistible. 

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Alter was recently included in the Poets and Quants “40 Most Outstanding Business School Professors under 40 in the World,” and has written for the New York Times, New Yorker, Wired, Washington Post, and The Atlantic, among other publications. He has shared his ideas at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and with dozens of companies around the world. 

Alter received his Bachelor of Science (Honors Class 1, University Medal) in Psychology from the University of New South Wales and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University, where he held the Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Honorific Dissertation Fellowship and a Fellowship in the Woodrow Wilson Society of Scholars. 

Adam has also written for the New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, Atlantic, WIRED, Slate, Huffington Post, and Popular Science, among other publications. He has shared his ideas on NPR's Fresh Air, at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, and with dozens of companies, including Google, Microsoft, Anheuser Busch, Prudential, and Fidelity, and with several design and ad agencies around the world. 

Adam’s academic research focuses on judgment and decision-making and social psychology, with a particular interest in the sometimes-surprising effects of subtle cues in the environment on human cognition and behavior. His research has been published widely in academic journals, and featured in dozens of TV, radio and print outlets around the world. 

https://adamalterauthor.com/ 

Summary 

Adam is tackling a subject that he labels “behavioral addiction”. However, if a great percentage of the population suffers from the same disorder, it may just be human nature. 

The book reveals the alarming addiction we do have to keep ourselves kidnapped by our devices. It gives some healthy solutions for the relationship we can develop with our devices. 

Some of these changes are neither easy nor hard to implement. 

1. Recognize that addictive behaviors like checking our smartphones are similar to drug addiction and can also have harmful health effects. 

2. If you want to be more productive, turn off your email notifications entirely. Find a block time to be involved in deep work and the flow. 

3. Rather than trying to quit phone addiction cold turkey, try replacing it with something else. Trick the mind. 

 

It is important to understand that in the history of technology progress, most creators of the tech addictions that we use did not allow their offspring to use the technology at the same rate as their customer do. 

You get anxious if your internet connection goes down, you fidget with your phone and other devices as you were able to bring the internet back and the engineered notifications created by the applications providers. Most of us start to get anxious if we’re separated from our device for just a few hours. 

Unsettlingly, this modern relationship with technology has revealed a new type of addiction. 

If you’re spending too much time on your phone and not enough time with your friends and loved ones, you’re not alone. This is exactly what Kevin Holesh was thinking in 2014 when he developed a new app called Moment. 

Moment’s purpose is to collect user data and determine exactly how much time people are spending glued to their mobile devices. While Moment’s users generally believe they spend around 90 minutes a day staring at their phone, the app reveals that people pick up their device roughly 40 times throughout the day and spend, on average, a total of three hours staring at it. 

Video games are another majorly addictive technology. 

Online gaming, and many multiplayer online role-playings game, have created immersive and interactive virtual worlds that allows people to create their own avatar and embark on quests where they encounter other online users in real time. Is that the Metaverse? Will the Metaverse be for gamers and transcend to the average users. 

These metaverses are embarking millions of people. 

While China, Japan, South Korea and other countries may have drastic measures to handle their populations addictions, there are different centers approaching the situation with different methods. 

Addiction is a hash word. However, loosing sleep, money, and destroying relationships are the negative effects of an addiction. The rainbow after the storm shows that the tech addiction is easier to break than other drug addictions. 

Attention spend is reduced to 8 second. Gold fish are we? It is important to reduce the notifications and get some deep work moment to allow the brain to get to the flow. Flow being a time when you get the best out of the time you are putting into the work you are producing. 

Last is to find a good habit to replace the bad one. Like the power of habit, it needs a Cue, a Routine, and a Reward. All three have to be strong enough to stick. Now this is where time is important. Give it time. 

We think that we are better than who we really are. It is necessary to enjoy the moment, the present. Get deeply involved into the conversations we have instead of looking at the digital devices (phone, TV, etc.). Hard to do when we do use a computer at work. But we should also get enough of it and turn this switch to reality as a gamification through habits. 

As project managers, we are busy in some reports and data. Our team depends on us to feel safe. We project managers need to give the time for the deep work to be completed. 

First, at the beginning of a project, the company has to allow the people on the project to receive time to work on the deliverables. This is where the Sponsor comes. 

The Sponsor’s role is to make sure the project has a significant value to the company. The Sponsor will be a high-level person within the organization who is able to pull resources and link the project to the strategy. 

The Sponsor will support the Project Manager in getting the right people at the right place for the success of the project. The team will be hard to find when projects and operations are competing for the limited skills present within the company. 

Building a team spirit is already difficult. Having this team focus on the project deliverables when notifications and real life is chasing them through their mobile devices is even tougher. 

This book is direct. It requests a moment to focus. Let us give people a purpose to focus. 

Now, evading technology is one. But the other side of the coins is to use the technology for a sort of gamification of work. If work is like a game, would this get people addicted enough to be deeply involved into the project or into the operational work they do. 

This is an insight for future workplace improvement. 

The team needs to build a safe and entertaining environment where the challenges are seen as game levels to complete together. Three points come around 

 

 Build Safety 

 

 Know you are at risk of addiction 

 

 Establish Purpose and rules 

 

Few lessons from the book: 

1. Irresistible Key Idea #1: You really can be addicted to your smartphone or video games. Build Safety 

2. Irresistible Key Idea #2: Certain situations and neurological stimulations can make you susceptible to addiction. 

3. Irresistible Key Idea #3: Behavioral addiction is similar to drug addiction and can cause serious health problems. 

4. Irresistible Key Idea #4: Email can be addictive, unhealthy and hurt productivity, so disable your notification systems. 

5. Irresistible Key Idea #5: Unpredictable rewards – like those offered by social media and gambling – increase the chances of addiction. 

6. Irresistible Key Idea #6: People have difficulty relaxing, which can lead to a dangerous habit: workaholism. 

7. Irresistible Key Idea #7: Children need to be protected from the dangers of technology addiction. 

8. Irresistible Key Idea #8: Substitution is a better method of curbing addiction than repression. 

 

Conclusion 

Addiction is lurking anyone given the right circumstances. This is just what today’s advanced environment provides us. By bringing mobile devices into nearly every aspect of our lives, we’re surrounded by addictive triggers that can lead to stress, depression and insomnia. Thankfully, there are practical solutions to fight these problems and help you regain control of your life. 

Avoid opening more than two tabs on your internet browser. 

Many people work with five to ten tabs running simultaneously on their internet browser. Jumping from one page to the next can create a false sense of constructive activity. Multi-tasking never did help. This is an addictive feeling – but it’s much more efficient to just stick to one thing at a time. 

Note that top management focuses on one subject at the time and try to solve 3 to 5 major problems per day. The average worker, on the other hand, juggles many tasks and expect to achieve perfection. 

Good luck in the new verse.