Sharing my learnings from the book, Subtract by Leidy Klotz
Subtract by Leidy Klotz
Blending evidence across science and design, Subtract: explores the other approach to problem-solving: proving why we overlook subtraction, and how we can access its untapped potential. Leidy Klotz’s pioneering research shows why. Whether we’re building Lego models or cities, grilled-cheese sandwiches or strategic plans, our minds tend to add before taking away. Even when we do think of it, subtraction can be harder to pull off because an array of biological, cultural, and economic forces push us towards more. But we have a choice—our blind spot need not go on taking its toll on our cities, our institutions, and our minds. By diagnosing our neglect of subtraction, we can treat it.
- When we think about how to make things better, we usually think about adding things.
- Were people adding rather than subtracting because they couldn’t imagine subtracting – because it simply didn’t occur to them to remove Lego blocks or ingredients? If this was true, adding wouldn’t be about preference, but about mental accessibility. This phenomenon explains why some ideas seem more obvious to us than others.
- subtracting is less mentally accessible; we simply don’t think about “taking away” as an option.
- our brains evolved to react positively to acquisition. Adding makes us feel competent and happy.
- words, our overwhelming preference for adding, in the form of creating monumental architecture, was the catalyst for humans to go from living in small groups of wandering nomads to cooperative villages and settlements. In other words, when we started adding, human civilization took off.
- to embark on human civilization is to add – and addition is perhaps humanity’s oldest cultural heritage.
- modern capitalist economies encourage us to add – we’re also urged to think of constant adding as a good thing.
- Arguably, in our race to gain prosperity, we’ve sacrificed a commodity that we’ll never be able to make more of: time.
- all racism is systemic racism because the systems that govern our lives, like the justice system, are innately racist.
- When it comes to anti-racism, most people make the same old mistake: they seek to add rather than to subtract. Whereas these additions focus on helping people overcome the barriers to equality, subtraction focuses on removing the barriers to equality altogether. Removing these barriers is so much more effective because it releases, rather than adds, tension to the complex system of racism.
- satisficing: a blend of satisfying and sufficient. In everyday life, we often fall into the trap of thinking that satisficing is the best option – but when we satisfice, we miss out on a whole host of benefits.
- Subtracting isn’t the easy road – or the shorter process – but by actively taking away, you can transcend “good enough” and get to beauty, simplicity, and real progress.