“Blink—The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell: Part Two

  1. The next war is not just going to be military on military. The deciding factor is not going to be how many tanks you kill, how many ships you sink, and how many planes you shoot down. The decisive factor is how you take apart your adversary’s system. Instead of going after war-fighting capability, we have to go after war-making capability. The military is connected to the economic system, which is connected to their cultural system, to their personal relationships. We have to understand the links between all those systems.”
  2. From the book Sources of Power: other people who make decisions under pressure, and one of his conclusions is that when experts make decisions, they don’t logically and systematically compare all available options. That is the way people are taught to make decisions, but in real life it is much too slow. Klein’s nurses and firefighters would size up a situation almost immediately and act, drawing on experience and intuition and a kind of rough mental simulation.
  3. You’ve got to let people work out the situation and work out what’s happening. The danger in calling is that they’ll tell you anything to get you off their backs, and if you act on that and take it at face value, you could make a mistake. Plus you are diverting them. Now they are looking upward instead of downward. You’re preventing them from resolving the situation.
  4. “I mean that the overall guidance and the intent were provided by me and the senior leadership, but the forces in the field wouldn’t depend on intricate orders coming from the top.” ~Kevin Kelly.
  5. Allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly turns out to be like the rule of agreement in improve. It enables rapid cognition.
  6. When you write down your thoughts, your chances of having the flash of insight you need in order to come up with a solution are significantly impaired.
  7. As human beings, we are capable of extraordinary leaps of insight and instinct. We can hold a face in memory, and we can solve a puzzle in a flash. But what Schooler is saying is that all these abilities are incredibly fragile. Insight is not a light bulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.
  8. You know, you get caught up in forms, in matrixes, in computer programs, and it just draws you in. They were so focused on the mechanics and the process that they never looked at the problem holistically. In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning.
  9. We take it, as a given, that the more information decision makers have, the better off they are.
  10. All that extra information isn’t actually an advantage at all; that, in fact, you need to know very little to find the underlying signature of a complex phenomenon. (See “The Signal and the Noise” as well as “Dataclysm”)
  11. Extra information is more than useless. It’s harmful. It confuses the issues.
  12. They (decision makers) gather and consider far more information than is truly necessary because it makes them feel more confident—and with someone’s life in the balance, they need to feel more confident. The irony, though, is that that very desire for confidence is precisely what ends up undermining the accuracy of their decision. They feed the extra information into the already overcrowded equation they are building in their heads, and they get even more muddled.
  13. Deliberate thinking is a wonderful tool when we have the luxury of time, the help of a computer, and a clearly defined task, and the fruits of that type of analysis can set the stage for rapid cognition.
  14. If you are given too many choices, if you are forced to consider much more than your unconscious is comfortable with, you get paralyzed. Snap judgments can be made in a snap because they are frugal, and if we want to protect our snap judgments, we have to take steps to protect that frugality.
  15. When we talk about analytic versus intuitive decision making, neither is good or bad. What is bad is if you use either of them in an inappropriate circumstance. Suppose you had a rifle company pinned down by machine-gun fire. And the company commander calls his troops together and says, “We have to go through the command staff with the decision-making process.” That’s crazy. He should make a decision on the spot, execute it, and move on. If we had had Blue’s processes, everything we did would have taken twice as long, maybe four times as long. The attack might have happened six or eight days later. The process draws you in. You disaggregate everything and tear it apart, but you are never able to synthesize the whole. It’s like the weather. A commander does not need to know the barometric pressure or the winds or even the temperature. He needs to know the forecast. If you get caught up in the production of information, you drown in the data.
  16. Say you are looking at a chess board. Is there anything you can’t see? No. But are you guaranteed to win? Not at all, because you can’t see what the other guy is thinking. More and more commanders want to know everything and they get imprisoned by that idea. They get locked in. But you can never know everything.
  17. When we put something in our mouth and in that blink of an eye decide whether it tastes good or not, we are reacting not only to the evidence from our taste buds and salivary glands but also to the evidence of our eyes and memories and imaginations, and it is foolish of a company to service one dimension and ignore the other.
  18. The problem is that buried among the things that we hate is a class of products that are in that category only because they are weird. They make us nervous. They are sufficiently different that it takes us some time to understand that we actually like them. (See “Dataclysm” and why a “10” is less popular than an individual rated as a “3” or “7”).
  19. Whenever we have something that we are good at—something we care about—that experience and passion fundamentally change the nature of our first impressions.
  20. Emotion can also start on the face. The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner I the emotional process.

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