Shortcut Book Summary - Shortcut Book explained in key points

Shortcut summary

John Pollack

How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas

4.5 (11 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

Shortcut by John Pollack is a captivating book that explores the art of finding unconventional solutions to life's problems. With thrilling anecdotes and real-world examples, the book shows how innovative thinking can help us achieve our goals faster and more efficiently.

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    Comparisons between unrelated things – analogies – can play a key role in creative innovation.

    You probably know a bit about the history of the modern assembly line, where an unfinished product moves along a line of employees who each perform the same task over and over again. It's well-known it was invented by the Ford automobile company.

    You might not know, however, how the Ford company managed to come up with this. The idea for the assembly line was actually inspired by an analogy.

    In broad terms, an analogy is a comparison between two unrelated things. It offers explanation of the terms, or creates deeper understanding of them.

    We use analogies everyday. For example, we compare the horrible sound of nails on a chalkboard to things we find annoying or grating. If we want to express that a group of people is noisy or destructive, we can compare them to a pack of wolves or other animals.

    What does this have to do with the invention of the assembly line? Well, a good analogy can help kickstart great innovation.

    The inspiration for the assembly line came when a Ford engineer named Bill Klann visited a Chicago slaughterhouse in 1913. While he was there, he noticed how the animals were quickly transported on trolleys through the various stages of the butchering process.

    He compared this to the way his company produced cars at the time. Before the assembly line, each worker was responsible for putting together all the parts they needed, which was not especially efficient.

    Klann imagined the workers approaching the cars like the butchers approached their meat instead. The assembly line was a huge success. The time it took to produce a single car was reduced by eleven hours, and several other industries in the country quickly followed suit.

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    Key ideas in Shortcut

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    What is Shortcut about?

    Analogies are powerful and persuasive tools of communication. They can deceive us, or lead us to the right conclusions. Shortcut is all about how analogies work, how to use them effectively and how to differentiate between the good and bad.

    Shortcut Review

    Shortcut by John Pollack (2014) reveals the hidden power of shortcuts in our lives and why they are worth exploring. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It uncovers the intriguing history and fascinating stories behind well-known shortcuts, offering a fresh perspective on their significance in our daily lives.
    • By exploring how shortcuts are used in fields like science, business, and creativity, the book showcases the immense impact they can have on innovation and problem-solving.
    • Through compelling anecdotes and thought-provoking insights, the book challenges our assumptions and encourages us to rethink our approach to efficiency and effectiveness.

    Best quote from Shortcut

    Sometimes even one-word analogies, which sound innocuous enough, camouflage entire arguments.

    —John Pollack
    example alt text

    Who should read Shortcut?

    • Anyone interested in debate or argumentation
    • Anyone who wants to be a more effective communicator
    • Anyone interested in philosophy

    About the Author

    John Pollack was a presidential speech-writer for Bill Clinton, and a communications consultant for Fortune 500 companies and various public sector leaders. He's written many books on communication, including Cork Boat and The Pun Also Rises.

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    Shortcut FAQs 

    What is the main message of Shortcut?

    The main message of Shortcut is the power and effectiveness of finding alternative routes to achieving our goals.

    How long does it take to read Shortcut?

    The reading time for Shortcut varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Shortcut a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Shortcut is worth reading for its insights on unconventional problem-solving and thinking outside the box.

    Who is the author of Shortcut?

    Shortcut is written by John Pollack.