Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blink - book notes

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Fascinating book. Posting my notes here mostly for my own reference point. Got a few ideas of how I should be applying them, but still cooking on that. There is some good leadership lessons in here - the issue is that they are deep.
Intro - The Statue That Didn't Look Right
statue - all these experts thought it didn't look quite right
In the first two seconds of looking - in a single glance - they were able to understand more about the essence of the statue that the team at the Getty was able to understand after fourteen months.
Blink is a book about those first two seconds.

innately suspicious of this kind of rapid cognition. What do we tell our children? Haste makes waste. Look before you leap. Stop and think. Don't judge a book by its cover.
believe that we are always better off gathering as much information as possible and spending as much time as possible in deliberation. But there are moments, particularly in times of stress, when haste does not make waste, when our snap judgements and first impressions can offer a much better means of making sense of the world.

three tasks of Blink:
1 - decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.
2 - when should we trust our instincts and when should we be wary of them?
3 - to convince you that our snap judgements and first impressions can be educated and controlled.

Chapter 1 - The Theory of Thin Slices: How A Little Bit of Knowledge Goes a Long Way
Married couple - analysis of each second of conversation
Morse code - fists - pattern of specific individual that was tapping the code - translated to understanding where troops and armies were moving
Importance of contempt in marriage

Deciding what kind of employee a person will be by spending 15 minutes in their dorm room
alphabetized cds, clean vs messy, laundry, candles, diplomas

Thin sliced - people looking in the dorms, listening to the couples

Thin slice - doctors that get sued for malpractice
All they were using for their prediction was their analysis of the surgeons tone of voice.

Thin-slicing is not an exotic gift. It is central of what it means to be human.
'court-sense'' battlefield sense etc

Chapter 2 - The Locked Door: The Secret Life of Snap Decisions
Tennis coach could predict double fault but didn't understand why or how
idea of priming - questions on SAT test before about ethnicity
speed dating
Norman Maier test
two long ropes from the ceiling of a room that was filled with all kinds of different tools, objects, and furniture. The ropes were far enough apart that if you held the end of one rope, you couldn't get close enough to grab hold of the other rope. How many different ways can you come up with for tying the ends of those two ropes together?

Chp 3 - The Warren Harding Error
Why We Fall for Tall, Dark and Handsome Men

The Dark Side of Thin Slicing
Nissan dealership - Bob Golomb - "He assumes that everyone who walks in the door has the exact same chance of buying a car.
Regardless of looks, dress, context, etc.
classic Warren Harding error - they see someone and somehow they let the first impression they have about that person's appearance drown out every other piece of information they manage to gather in that first instant.

Taking rapid cognition seriously - acknowledging the incredible power, for good and ill, that first impressions play in our lives - requires that we take active steps to manage and control those impressions.

Chp 4 - Paul Van Ripper's Big Victory: Creating Structure for Spontaneity
Van Ripper - Marine in VietNam
called to be the enemy in Millennium Challenge 02
Napoleon - "a general never knows anything with certainty, never sees his enemy clearly, and never knows positively where he is."
Millennium Challenge was not just a battle between two armies. It was a battle between two perfectly opposed military philosophies. Blue Team had their databases and matrixes and methodologies for systematically understanding the intentions and capabilities of the enemy. Red Team was commanded by a man who looked at a long-haired, unkempt, seat of the pants commodities trader yelling and pushing and making a thousand instant decisions an hour and saw in him a soul mate.

The Structure of Spontaneity
Improv is an art form governed by a series of rules, and they want to make sure that when they're up on stage, everyone abides by those rules. Similar to basketball. Intricate, high-speed game filled with split-second, spontaneous decisions. But only possible when everyone first engages in hours of highly repetitive and structure practice.
**Spontaneity isn't random.
How good people's decisions are under the fast-moving, high-stress conditions of rapid cognition is a function of training, rules and rehearsal.
Important ideas of improv - idea of agreement - characters accept everything that happens to them. Bad improvisers block action, often with a high degree of skill. Good improvisers develop action.
If you can create the right framework, all of a sudden, engaging in this kind of fluid, effortless, spur-of-the-moment dialogue that makes for good improv theatre becomes a lot easier. This is what Van Riper understood in the Millennium Challenge. He didn't just put his team up onstage and hope and pray that funny dialogue popped into their heads. He created the conditions for successful spontaneity.

Perils of Introspection
Van Riper - once the fighting started, he didn't want introspection. No long meetings. No explanations.
He placed a lot of trust in his subordinates. One overwhelming advantage - allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly turns out to be like the rule of agreement in improv - It enables rapid cognition.
Recognizing someones face
Cook County - ER department (from the show ER)
heart attack patients - drilled down to decision tree of three major decisions
Extra information sometimes is too much. Confuses the issues. What screws up doctors when they are trying to predict heart attacks is that they take too much information into account.

Two lessons:
First is that truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.
Second lesson is that in good decision making, frugality matters. underlying patterns - to be a successful decision maker, we have to edit.
When we thin-slice, when we recognize patterns and make snap judgments, we do this process of editing unconsciously.

Chp 5 - Kenna's Dilemma: The Right and Wrong Way to Ask People What They Want
Kenna - rock musician

Pepsi Challenge
coke vs Pepsi taste test
sip test vs at home drink whole beverage test

Chair of Death
Herman Miller Inc
Aeron chair - new design, exoskeleton

Gift of Expertise

Chp 6 - Seven Seconds in the Bronx: The Delicate Art of Mind Reading
4 cops in South Bronx
Amadou Diallo - gunned down holding a wallet

Three Fatal Mistakes

Theory of Mind Reading
Tomkins - believed that faces, even the faces of horses, held valuable clues to inner emotions and motivations.
Three thousand facial combinations that display emotion
Kato Kaelin - from OJ Simpson case - disgust, anger

temporary autism - condition of high stress
heart rate - tunnel vision
police who shoot or are fired upon

Conclusion: Listening with Your Eyes - The Lessons of Blink
1st lesson - We are often careless with our powers of rapid cognition. We don't know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don't always appreciate their fragility. Taking our powers of rapid cognition seriously means we have to acknowledge the subtle influences that can alter or undermine or bias the products of our unconscious.
2nd lesson - Too often, we are resigned to what happens in the blink of an eye. It doesn't seem like we have much control over whatever bubbles to the surface from our unconscious. But we do, and if we can control the environment in which rapid cognition takes place, then we can control rapid cognition.
Art critic who asked dealers to put a black cloth over the piece and then whip it off when they walked in.
He valued the fruits of sponteanous thinking so much that he took special steps to make sure his early impressions were as good as possible. He did not look at the power of his unconscious as a magical force. He looked at it as something he could protect and control and educate.

auditions for orchestras - now behind screens - they used to only hire men
they hear them for who they truly are

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