Thinking In Bets – Book Club Facilitation Guide

If you’ve read my blog you might know that I like book clubs and that I try to make them interactive or experiential as opposed to the typical conceptual “What did you learn and think of these chapters”-approach.

During October and November 2019 I ran a book club on Thinking in Bets, written by Annie Duke. To help anyone else planning on reading the book as a book club I’ve written the exercises I ran in our book club and here they are, including some other information like suggestions for length of sessions, chapters to read, and times to meet.

We’ve divided the book into three parts and meet 3 times (every second week). We’re running two groups and they’re 8-10 per group. Typically when groups are larger I create small groups for the exercises and give them 15-30 minutes to talk in small groups and then we meet back in the larger group to share some findings/insights.

The basic outline of the book club:

  • 10 members in every book club group.
  • We meet for 2 hours per session.
  • Session 1 covers chapters 1+2. Session 2 covers chapters 3+4. Session 3 covers chapters 5+6.
  • We don’t do all the exercises I’ve listed below, I usually prepare a few more than we have time for depending on what the group thinks is most interesting.
  • Typically I wrap up every session with a 10-minute free conversation – what are your takeaways from this chapter or what are you going to try to do differently as a result of these chapters. But that comes at the end, after the other exercises.

The goal of the book club is not to create fluency. Instead, it is to make abstract concepts more concrete. In the book club, people get to play with the concepts in a different way than reading them so that they get a better understanding of what the author is talking about.

Guiding principles:

I have a few guiding principles for my book clubs.

  1. My book clubs are about exploring tools and concepts and getting to practice using them.
  2. Postpone judgment (it’s fine to not want to use these tools but first learn how to properly use them and then decide for yourself, and let’s not waste everyone’s time with explaining why something isn’t going to work or why it’s the salvation)
  3. Facilitate exposure of ideas to people (and not necessarily my own)
  4. Make the book clubs concrete with exercises

Note that this is not an official author approved guide, this is just how we’ve run it and we may have gotten some of the author’s points wrong.

If you use this facilitation guide, please let me know on viktor@cessan.com or connect with me on linkedin. It would be great to know how to improve my coming guides and to understand if it’s helpful.