Anatomy of a good recommendation

Chris Littlewood May 22, 2017

We’re working on how to personalise training to optimise productivity. In one strand of that project we are trying to understand the characteristics that make a recommendation useful. The recommendation might be for a book, a course, a video, an article, an experience, a mentor, a conversation, a tool, a tip… anything that’s made a difference to the way we work and the results we see.

It might be that a recommendation is extremely topical, immediately applicable to our work. Or it might resonate with us as an individual, fitting our character and values. Or maybe it’s compellingly put or brilliantly explained. Maybe we respect the author. Maybe it’s nicely designed.

We’d love to hear about the recommendations that have made a difference for you.

To get you thinking, here are two from me that come to mind:

  • The book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ by Steven Johnson, which analyses how environments can foster innovation. I was recommended it by a friend who had a good understanding of my work and knows what’s likely to interest me - novel thinking, logically structured, drawing broadly from academia and business. I think about the book most days - it’s valuable as it underpins a lot of my work, so its scope for influence is large. There's a TED talk equivalent here.
  • A tip, to start items in my task-list with a verb (‘Write the evaluation’ rather than my usual shorthand ‘evaluation’...). It makes tasks easier to get into - the first action’s written right there - and forces you to break big items down (plan, write, consult, send, chase...). I first encountered this tip in a tutorial for a task-list app on my iPhone (so it was accessible exactly when I needed it).

Please get in touch with your thoughts - email, call, post, or fill in this very short form.

Wishing you a productive day,

Chris Littlewood | Chief Scientific Officer | | @filtered_chris 


About Chris Littlewood
Chris's first experience of Microsoft applications was as a PhD student, conducting particle physics experiments in Geneva. Since then he's worked in strategy and rail industry financial planning. From corporates to the public sector, he's found the same simple skills to be key to the presentation of research and analysis. Chris is in charge of the on-going improvement of our courses.
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