Book Club Discussion Guide

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman

Overview: In Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acclerations, Thomas L. Friedman exposes the movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. The author attempts to get the reader to look at the world differently: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis.

Chapter 1: Friedman reflects upon the speed of modern life. In what areas does Friedman highlight the impact of accelerating change in the world? What examples of accelerating change are most evident in daily life?

Chapter 2: Friedman recalls 2007 as a vintage year in technology with several major technology products and platforms being released almost simultaneously. How does the exponential characteristic of acceleration cause difficulty in comprehending the impact of that change? What is the best response to the difficulties posed by accelerating change?

Chapter 3: Friedman details accelerating change in technological capability with an examination of Moore’s Law playing out in processor speed along with similar accelerating change in complementary computing components. How is this computational growth manifested in your life?

Chapter 4: Friedman examines the power of the cloud and gives several illustrations on the impact of cognitive computing and the cloud on human endeavors. How does the cloud impact productivity at your work or in your home? How does cognitive computing impact the way you operate your home, live your life or conduct your work?

Chapter 5: Friedman discusses a variety of flows of information. How do the variety of “flows” described by Friedman contribute to an interconnected, globalized world? What will be the impact of “flow” between interconnected devices?

Chapter 6: Friedman examines climate change. How does the “rain room” described by the author illustrate the impact of human activity on the climate?

Chapter 7: Friedman addresses two questions: are things getting too fast, and how do we adapt? Friedman gives several examples of how the pace of technological change has affected him. How have you experienced these changes?

Chapter 8: Friedman examines the nature of work in the context of accelerating change and the need for “dynamic stability”. How can we incorporate “dynamic stability” into the way we live and work? What can you do to incorporate entrepreneurial thinking into your life or work?

Chapter 9: Friedman defines the post-post cold war era of international relations which are deeply impacted by accelerating change. How does the “age of accelerations” make it more difficult to revive a failing state? What roles do “super-empowered” individuals play in the “age of accelerations”? What can I, as an individual or as a member of an organization, do to “amplify” as defined by Friedman?

Chapter 10: Friedman describes natural systems as an extended metaphor for how political and social systems could better adapt to accelerating change. How do the five “killer apps” he lists for producing resilience and propulsion apply your life?

Chapter 11: Friedman discusses moral aspects of the increased scalability of individual behavior brought about by accelerating change. Technology, especially, has leveraged the power of the individual to be much greater than the past. What should be the place of the liberal arts in today’s STEM focused education?

Chapter 12: Friedman focused Chapter 12 on finding and creating an eye of calm in the storm of change. Friedman illustrated such calm with an example of community in his hometown. As accelerating change threatens to overwhelm our ability to keep up with today’s events, where is there room to learn from the past? How does your present sense of community compare to your sense of community in the past?

Chapter 13: Friedman examines the impact of accelerating change on the role of diversity in society. Friedman wrote that America is becoming a minority-majority country. How can we positively impact our society in the midst of accelerating changes?

Chapter 14: Friedman wrote that we need collaboration and trust to continue the pace of accelerated innovation. What are some ways to overcome forces that impose isolation and bring people together for durable communities?

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