Wait: The Art and Science of Delay

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Overview

What do these scenarios have in common: a professional tennis player returning a serve, a woman evaluating a first date across the table, a naval officer assessing a threat to his ship, and a comedian about to reveal a punch line?

In this counterintuitive and insightful work, author Frank Partnoy weaves together findings from hundreds of scientific studies and interviews with wide-ranging experts to craft a picture of effective decision-making that runs counter to our brutally ...

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Wait: The Art and Science of Delay

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Overview

What do these scenarios have in common: a professional tennis player returning a serve, a woman evaluating a first date across the table, a naval officer assessing a threat to his ship, and a comedian about to reveal a punch line?

In this counterintuitive and insightful work, author Frank Partnoy weaves together findings from hundreds of scientific studies and interviews with wide-ranging experts to craft a picture of effective decision-making that runs counter to our brutally fast-paced world. Even as technology exerts new pressures to speed up our lives, it turns out that the choices we make––unconsciously and consciously, in time frames varying from milliseconds to years––benefit profoundly from delay. As this winning and provocative book reveals, taking control of time and slowing down our responses yields better results in almost every arena of life … even when time seems to be of the essence.

The procrastinator in all of us will delight in Partnoy’s accounts of celebrity “delay specialists,” from Warren Buffett to Chris Evert to Steve Kroft, underscoring the myriad ways in which delaying our reactions to everyday choices––large and small––can improve the quality of our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Frank Partnoy's fascinating, engaging new book…is wide-ranging and expansive, pulling in examples from fields such as journalism, politics and investing, and referring to a wide range of studies and research. He skillfully knits together these findings and anecdotes and shows us the importance of knowing just how long to delay…This isn't a book of platitudes, but one built on one simple imperative. Partnoy just wants us to think before we act or speak. Wait serves as excellent reminder that, when humanly possible, it's best not to hurry.
—Mark Berman
Publishers Weekly
Giving a thumbs-up to procrastination, financial expert Partnoy (Infectious Greed) notes that, while we “are hard wired to react quickly,” everyday experiences can be altered and improved by delaying decisions. He backs this claim with solid research across a variety of fields, from behavioral economics and neuroscience to psychology, animal behavior, finance, and law. Pacing is a key element in everything from race-car driving to comedy: “When a master comedian is on, he or she creates a new and warped world of time. The greatest comedians are masters of delay.” Even such quotidian questions as “When is the ideal moment to apologize?” are ruled by subtleties of time. Athletes know the value of delaying, as do CEOs and military strategists. Irene LaCota, head of the It’s Just Lunch dating network, refuses to include photos in profiles to keep her clients from making snap decisions. To illustrate the “slow hunch,” a full chapter details the two 3M scientists who patiently waited and persisted for 12 years while management decided whether Post-it Notes would be a good product. Entertaining and provocative, Portnoy probes and illuminates the complexities of human decision making with surprising insights and recommendations. Agent: Theresa Park, Park Literary Group. (June)
From the Publisher

A Fast Company Best Business Book of 2012

Roger Lowenstein, author of The End of Wall Street and When Genius Failed
“Having mined the best of American research in fields as wide-ranging as finance, behavioral economics, and law, Frank Partnoy has written a beguilingly readable treatise that boils down to a single, easily digestible conclusion: in our busy modern lives, most of us react too quickly. Wait will naturally and rightly be compared to Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow as a trail-blazing book exploring the hidden crannies and the treacherous pitfalls of human decision-making. I whole-heartedly recommend it."

Bethany McLean, co-author of The Smartest Guys in the Room and All the Devils Are Here
Wait is one of those rare books that will change not just the way you think, but the way you act. The book is full of ideas that are fascinating, useful—and at times mind-blowing. I was captivated.”

Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind“Frank Partnoy turns conventional wisdom on its head with this counterintuitive approach to decision-making. Rather than telling us how to make decisions faster and faster, he mines and refines a rich lode of information from experts in a surprising variety of fields to demonstrate the power of delay, whether measured in milliseconds, days, or decades. Wait is a great read, chock full of fascinating insights.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A fascinating addition to the study of decision-making…. While there is a high premium today for speed, the author suggests that there are serious downsides to rapid decision-making.… Partnoy’s results are groundbreaking and a potential corrective to modern pressures for rapid response, whether on the playing field, in high-speed computer trading and corporate boardrooms, or on the battlefield…. File alongside Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Ariely, [and] Jonah Lehrer.”

Strategy + Business“Gladwell-esque … the book uses case studies of ‘delay specialists’ in realms as varied as stand-up comedy and warfare, extending the implications of postponing responses in order to improve outcomes in every part of our business and personal lives. Procrastinators everywhere will rejoice.” Washington Post Express"Citing fascinating studies in tennis serves and first dates, [Partnoy] deftly makes a case for exercising something we could all use more of: patience. Plus, you gotta love a guy who dedicates his book to his golden retriever.”

Jack Covert, 800-CEO-READS
“Well-written…. Chapter Three is particularly fascinating in its implications for how we make decisions and manage the world.”

Margaret Heffernan, CBS Money Watch
“Marvelous … Wait is an impassioned and thought-provoking book."

Christopher Chabris, Wall Street Journal
“Mr. Partnoy's intention in Wait is to take on those who evangelize the power of thinking quickly, ‘getting things done’ and leading an organized life. We can praise efficiency but fail to take note of what is sacrificed in its name. Wait offers a valuable counterweight to this attitude, reminding us that quality should matter as much as speed."

Economist
“A popular new book…. Mr Partnoy argues that too many people fail to recognize what good public speakers and comedians all understand: that success depends on knowing when to delay, and for how long.”

Financial Times“A superior example of the genre. It is a departure from his earlier books about financial crises, but written with the same easy elegance. ... Partnoy makes mincemeat of the idea of ‘thin slicing’ – the art of making snap decisions based on very little information – that was made so popular by Malcolm Gladwell in Blink. ... As a collection of fascinating case studies, Wait is a gem." Winnipeg Free Press“[Partnoy’s] latest offering is a skeptical response to Malcolm Gladwell's 2005 bestseller, Blink... Partnoy spends a lot of time synthesizing recent scholarship, providing clear and accessible accounts of work in an impressive range of academic fields. While the breadth and the depth of his research gives the book's rather straightforward message its complexity and rhetorical power, the book's charm comes from Partnoy's ability to juggle such seemingly disparate topics as, on the one hand, an engaging discussion of recent science on animals and their conceptualization of future time and, on the other hand, an unabashedly doting analysis of the comic timing of Jon Stewart.”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Partnoy draws on the latest research in neuroscience and behavioral economics to provide a delightful, insightful and often surprising ‘Wait, wait, do tell me’ account of decision-making in many areas of everyday life, ranging from sports to surgery to speed-dating and stock-picking…. Wait is chock-full of arresting insights about the complexities of decision-making"

Creditcards.com
"A lively, reader-friendly survey of scientific research into the pros and cons of rapid decision-making."

Bloomberg
“An intellectual romp through the science of how timing influences human decision-making.”

Washington Post
“Fascinating, engaging…. This isn’t a book of platitudes, but one built on one simple imperative. Partnoy just wants us to think before we act or speak. Wait serves as excellent reminder that, when humanly possible, it’s best not to hurry.”

Kirkus Reviews
A leading expert on financial market regulation studies the virtues of delay and even inaction. In the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, Partnoy (Law and Finance/Univ. of San Diego; The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, the Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals, 2009, etc.) asked "why our leading bankers, regulators and others were so short-sighted and wreaked such havoc on our economy." While there is a high premium today for speed, the author suggests that there are serious downsides to rapid decision-making, unless it is accompanied by long-term strategic thinking and planning. Partnoy's interdisciplinary approach uses elements of behavioral economics, neuroscience and even sports, as he shows how professional tennis and baseball players give themselves the extra milliseconds needed to process the trajectory of a ball before responding. Good judgment depends on allowing enough time for necessary mental processing to occur. The decision may appear to be spontaneous, but prior experience is almost always a factor--whether it occurs preconsciously, in milliseconds, or consciously, in seconds or longer time frames. Partnoy's results are groundbreaking and a potential corrective to modern pressures for rapid response, whether on the playing field, in high-speed computer trading and corporate boardrooms, or on the battlefield. The author argues that although circumstances vary--each having its own requirements--and one size does not fit all, society must foster long-term decision-making in addition to making time for better shorter-term efforts. A fascinating addition to the study of decision-making. File alongside Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Ariely, Jonah Lehrer and other similar writers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610390040
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 6/26/2012
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,069,708
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank Partnoy is the author of F.I.A.S.C.O., Infectious Greed, and The Match King. Formerly an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and a practicing corporate lawyer, he is one of the world’s leading experts on market regulation and is a frequent commentator for the Financial Times, the New York Times, NPR, and CBS’s 60 Minutes. Partnoy is a graduate of Yale Law School and is the George E. Barrett Professor of Law and Finance and the founding director of the Center for Corporate and Securities Law at the University of San Diego.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 Hearts and Minds 1

2 Superfast Sports 19

3 High-Frequency Trading, Fast and Slow 33

4 Frontal Nudity in Fight Club 49

5 Bad Call 63

6 A Silce Too Thin 81

7 DON'T PANIC 103

8 First Dates and Fighter Pilots 117

9 When to Eat Crow 131

10 At Last, Procrastination 147

11 Master Class 173

12 Get Off the Clock 197

13 A Lifetime of Innovation 211

14 Go Long 233

Acknowledgments 247

Notes 251

Index 277

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Customer Reviews

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