LIZZIE BOOK REVIEW 08: Messy by Tim HarFord

Welcome to the Lizzie Book Review for Messy: How to be creative and resilient in a tidy minded world by Tim Harford

All Lizzie Book Reviews are a 3 minute read, and in this format:

  1. Why I Chose This Book.
  2. The Review (under 300 words)
  3. My scores for Creativity, Insight and Precision.
1. Why I Chose This Book.

There is a tendency to want to live in an ordered world. For some it makes them feel more in control of what is going on. For others it brings a level of calmness. The reality is the world in which we live, with ever changing information and evolving customer needs, having things in complete order is unrealistic. The title of the book caught my eye and with an economist behind the words I was curious what wisdom he could share. More importantly reassure us that being messy is ‘OK’.

QUOTE:  “If you are planning more that 20 minutes ahead in this environment you are wasting your time” p136

2. The Review.

An insightful book that has some tips and ideas littered throughout. The simple message is that there are many winners in a ‘messy world’ and it provides evidence and reassurance it is all OK. It is a mix of mindset, opportunities and economics. How a messy mindset can enhance creativity, collaboration, workplaces, improvisation, winning, incentives, automation, resilience and life. Opportunities can be created throughout these with simple approaches and tips that have come from winners in a messy world. There is a sprinkling of reality with economics thrown in.

The carefully chosen stories, some you may be familiar with, means it can make it easy to read for travel and time away from your own ‘messy’ world. It is a type of book that may have you returning to it to remind yourself and guide you on your own ‘messy’ journey.

QUOTE: “There is more to creativity than elegance” p97

3. My scores for Creativity, Insight and Precision.

CREATIVITY – How interesting and innovative was it?
There is a mix of the familiar and new stories that gave a new perspective. Coming with an economic mindset kept things in the business space. Although application could be applied anywhere.


INSIGHT – What will it teach you?
Tips and tools on how to keep things messy and thrive on them. Insights from history and research makes you feel that the ideas are credible and realistic. As an example past successful ‘messy’ people have practiced (lots), have a habit of saying yes and coping with the impact of that and truly listen. Build messyness into your day by playing a game, going for a walk and taking a nap. I like Harfords idea of collaboration of being a combination of Bonding and bridging.


PRECISION – How exactly can you apply what it teaches?
You can apply this through recognising and reassuring yourself that the messyness in your world is OK in fact could be more productive than order. Where, when and how you apply it will need to be realistic in your world. Start small with just one thing that resonates with you. Then build from that.



QUOTE” Economies that do lots of things tend to do most of those things very well” 

Should I buy the book?

If you would like a book that gives you a brief background and shows you how:


If you would like a book with stories and long hand examples that you could twist a little to fit your context:


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